• 1985 Buick Wildcat Concept - The Car You’ve Definitely Forgotten About

Here’s what we know about Buick’s forgotten mid-engine concept car

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Cars of the 1980s often stand out as some of the most exaggerated and unapologetic when it comes to their styling. Most of you probably know about cars like the Ferrari Testarossa and Lamborghini Countach, which was actually conceived in the 1970s. Although these are some of the poster cars from that era, there were many other interesting designs that never made it to production. In 1985, Buick decided to show us what their interpretation of a mid-engine supercar would look like. This endeavor spawned the 1985 Buick Wildcat Concept, which was undeservingly forgotten, like many others.

  • 1985 Buick Wildcat Concept - The Car You’ve Definitely Forgotten About
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It debuted at the 1985 SEMA Show

Buick was mostly known for making land yachts, but the Wildcat a more performance-oriented car. The main purpose of the mid-engine prototype was to showcase the brand’s newly-developed 3.8-liter V-6 DOHC engine, co-developed with McLaren. To be more specific, we are talking McLaren Racing from Livonia, Michigan, and not the British supercar manufacturer – a common misconception made by many.

The car featured a canopy-style cockpit, which would tilt-up, allowing the occupants to enter. The Wildcat had a very rounded front end and from some angles looked like the Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor. The most distinctive feature was the low flat rear end, which accommodates the exposed V-6 engine. In fact, from some angles, one could mistake the rear end for the front and vice-versa.

There were two versions of the V-6 engine

1985 Buick Wildcat Concept - The Car You've Definitely Forgotten About
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The 3.8-liter V-6 engine that was developed in cooperation with McLaren Racing was first put to work in the Buick Grand National.

Apparently, the Wildcat had both a normally-aspirated and a turbocharged version of the 3.8-liter V-6.

The first one developed 230 horsepower (172 kilowatts) at 6,000 RPM and 245 pound-feet (332 Nm) at 4,000 RPM, while the second version brought these figures up to 360 horsepower (269 kilowatts) at 7,000 RPM and 398 pound-feet (540 Nm) at 5,000 RPM.

The car also featured all-wheel drive and a four-speed automatic transmission. Among the engine’s features were a Double-over-head-cam design (DOHC), four valves per cylinder (24 valves), a 9.1:1 compression ratio, and an electronically programmable sequential fuel injection.

1985 Buick Wildcat Concept - The Car You've Definitely Forgotten About
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It is believed that the normally-aspirated car was a show car and had a speed muzzle, which allowed it to reach only 70 mph (112 km/h) and reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in a mediocre 8.4 seconds. It also had a very low rev-limiter preventing it from using its upper RPM range. Some sources theorize that, unrestricted, the normally-aspirated version actually had a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 157 mph (253 km/h). The turbocharged car, however, was able to reach 60 mph from a standstill in around 4.4 seconds, while topping out at 180 mph (290 km/h). Depending on the source, power was split 33:67 or 35:65, between the two axles.

1985 Buick Wildcat Concept specifications
Engine 3.8-liter V-6 3.8-liter V-6, turbocharged
Horsepower 230 HP @ 6,000 RPM 360 HP @ 7,000 RPM
Torque 245 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM 398 LB-FT @ 5,000 RPM
Transmission four-speed automatic four-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 5.9 seconds 4.4 seconds
Top Speed 157 mph 180 mph

It featured extensive use of lightweight materials

1985 Buick Wildcat Concept - The Car You've Definitely Forgotten About
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In 1985, carbon fiber still wasn’t as mainstream in the supercar world, as it is today. Nevertheless, the Wildcat featured a carbon-fiber composite body. This meant that despite all the new tech it had, the concept tipped the scales at just 2,910 pounds (1,320 kg).

Jet fighter-inspired cockpit

1985 Buick Wildcat Concept - The Car You've Definitely Forgotten About
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The interior was very futuristic, featuring a display on the center console that gives you various info, such as G-force, torque, oil pressure, and even a compass, among other things. The biggest quirk of the interior is the spokeless steering wheel, similar to that of the 1971 Maserati Bumerang and 1969 Holden Hurricane concepts. Such design allows for an unobstructed view of the digital instrument cluster. At the same time, much of the information, like speed, engine RPMs, and gear, is also shown on the heads-up display on the canopy.

The sleek design allowed it to be very low and aerodynamic

1985 Buick Wildcat Concept - The Car You've Definitely Forgotten About
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The 1985 Buick Wildcat Concept had a height of 1,110 mm (43.7 inches). At the same time, the mid-engine car had a wheelbase of 2,591 mm (102 inches) with a front and rear track of 1,511 mm (59.9 inches). The overall length was 4,387 mm (172.2 inches) and the overall width – 1,836 mm (72.3 inches). The 1985 Wildcat would have had no trouble cutting through the air, as it had a drag coefficient of 0.28.

1985 Buick Wildcat Concept exterior dimensions
Wheelbase 2,591 mm (102 inches)
Length 4,387 mm (172.2 inches)
Width 1,836 mm (72.3 inches)
Height 1,110 mm (43.7 inches)
Front/Rear Track 1,511 mm (59.9 inches)

The name Wildcat was used before (and after)

1985 Buick Wildcat Concept - The Car You've Definitely Forgotten About
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It’s not the first time Buick named a car the Wildcat. There were three other concepts from 1953, 1954, and 1955 that also never made it to production. In 1962, the name was used for a full-size coupe, from Buick’s lineup, which was produced until 1970. The Wildcat was actually a trim level of the Buick LeSabre, featuring, featuring different trim and emblems, unique to the Wildcat. The base engine was a 401 cubic-inch (6.6-liter / 6,571 cc) V-8 Nailhead, rated at 325 horsepower (239 kilowatts) at 4,600 RPM. The name was used again in 1997, for the Buick Riviera Wildcat.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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