Buick Just Whipped Up Another Attractive Coupe Concept That Will Likely Never See Production

Buick Wildcat Top Shot 1

Roughly a decade ago, General Motors decided to aim Buick squarely at Acura in the near-premium space. This had the benefit of largely washing away Buick’s Bingo and backgammon image and banishing the joke that Buick was an acronym for “Butt-Ugly Imitation Chrome King,” but it also left Buick with a fairly anonymous lineup. The Regal sedan and Cascada cabriolet were neat, but they were really just re-packaged Opels. After GM shipped Opel off to go live with Peugeot, Buick was left with a lineup of largely mediocre crossovers. There’s the small and spiteful Encore, the more upscale Encore GX which is the only subcompact crossover capable of sending its occupants to the Shadow Realm, the whale-sized Enclave, and the midsize Buick Envision. Envision what, a world where Buick makes better cars?

Buick Wildcat Ev Concept Front Three Quarter.
Photo credit: Buick

Thankfully, at least someone at GM envisions just that. On Wednesday, Buick dropped the Wildcat concept, a styling exercise that’s so 2008 in all the best ways. See, back when Lehman Brothers was losing its shirt, Bloghaus was popping off a genre of remixes, with bedroom production and shameless sampling bubbling up from the underground. In a similar fashion, the new Wildcat concept takes a bit of this, a bit of that, merges them with a sharp line or two, and creates a reasonably interesting vision of the future. Mind you, it wouldn’t be the first Wildcat to do so.

The 1954 Wildcat II concept car
Photo credit: Buick

While Wildcat used to denote a full-size Buick with plenty of power, it was first used on a series of concept cars. The first, Wildcat I, was a large, low-slung roadster with a grille that set the precedent for the 1955 Buick. While Wildcat I looked futuristic for 1953, Wildcat II was far more radical.

A weird mashup of jet-age sleekness and pre-war stodginess, Wildcat II (pictured above) looked like a cross between a Corvette and a hammerhead shark.

Wildcat III dialed things back a bit and ended up looking just right. Harley Earl melded his “longer, lower, wider” mantra with scooped-out arches and a wild wrap-around windscreen to create on hell of a four-seat roadster. So what did Buick’s stylists do with the new Wildcat concept? They went longer, lower and wider, of course.

Buick Wildcat Ev Concept Passenger Side Profile.
Photo credit: Buick

The result is a four-seat coupe in classic form, but there’s no big V8 under the hood. This Wildcat is said to be all-electric. Truthfully, it could be functional or it could be a rolling model. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is the styling, as there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on. Let’s start with the silhouette, long hood, short greenhouse, and a kammtail. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure the design is cohesive, but the details are so exquisite that I’m not sure how much cohesion matters.

Buick Wildcat Ev Concept Front View.
Photo credit: Buick

Up front, those slim headlights feature diffused lenses for an unusually soft look. It’s definitely not a touch we’ll see on a production car anytime soon, but it’s interesting. The proud leading edge of the front bumper and angular strakes on the edges of the grille remind me a lot of the McLaren 570S. The little wings off of the headlights certainly don’t help shake that notion. Mind you, any notes of McLaren might get lost in the massive billet front grille. It’s very MTV Cribs, but in a good way. The strong horizontal slats emphasize visual width, a great attribute in any coupe.

Buick Wildcat Ev Concept 005
Photo credit: Buick

The rear end of the Wildcat almost seems influenced by the Volvo C30 — deep glass, vertical tail lights, massive haunches, rounded rear bumper. Hey, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. What Buick’s done differently is lay the rear glass down farther and pop a vertical vent below each tail light. However, that laid-back rear glass poses a problem. With such a sloping roofline, you’re going to bonk your head on the roof rail. Thankfully, Buick’s thought of this by using hinges in an unhinged manner. A section of the roof above each door opens upward for ease of entry and egress, an insanely complicated solution to a probably likely best solved with vertically-opening doors hinged mid-roof. Hey, something that isn’t derivative for once! While we’re at it, check out those crazy turbine-style wheels. They’re so much more complex than say, the turbine-style wheels on a Mercedes-Maybach S 580. Good stuff.

Buick Wildcat Ev Concept Interior.
Photo credit: Buick

Speaking of good stuff, check out this interior. From the floating dashboard to the ornate metal detailing, there’s a lot of cool sculpting and material use going on here. Gander at those seats; they’re like modernized Eames chairs with headrests. Far out. Arguably the most striking interior component, the massive in-dash screen, seems entirely feasible for mass production given the enormous display in the Cadillac Lyriq. That being said, there’s a lot of stuff in here that I hope to never see in an American-market production car. Digital side-view mirrors are cool, but digital mirrors simply don’t work. Any digital mirror requires the driver to refocus their eyes, and is often more distracting than useful. Also, that metallic-rimmed steering wheel must get awfully hot in the sunlight. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of getting branded by my car.

The Buick Wildcat Ev Concept Includes Cockpit Style Seats.
Photo credit: Buick

While Buick whipped up the Wildcat as a design study, it does offer an inkling hope for the future of the brand. Even if nobody will likely be able to buy one, certain styling elements should work their way into production models as Buick works towards an all-electric portfolio by the end of the decade. According to a press release issued on Wednesday, the first electric Buick should come in 2024 bearing the iconic Electra branding. Buick’s been in the doldrums for a long, long time, but it seems like we might finally be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

Then again, we also thought this in 2016 when Buick rolled out the Avista. It was also a really interestingly-styled 2+2 coupe that never made it to production. Instead, we got stuff like the Encore GX. The more things change…

Lead photo credit: Buick

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48 Responses

  1. “The strong horizontal slats emphasize visual width, a great attribute in any coupe.”

    Somebody PLEASE remind the designers at Audi, VW, Lexus, and any other company that transitioned to a “shield-style” vertical-themed center-mounted cohesively-branded monstrosity of a grille (I’m looking your way too, BMW) that WIDER IS BETTER.

  2. This is Buick.

    They had buyers lined up around the fucking block from every demographic for the Avenir. Young, old. It was feted as a real competitor to BMW and Mercedes’ best, and did many things better than them. Instead they slapped an ‘Avenir’ badge on the LaCrosse, a sedan that was about as exciting as watching beige paint dry, less reliable, and had build quality that was getting worse every year because they said poor sales didn’t justify new tooling.
    Spent the next year whining about how Buick was only sell cars to AARP members and their demo was dying.

    Then they had the Avista. The crowds at the auto shows were dozens deep, non-stop, and they had thousands of young buyers demanding to know when they could put down a deposit on one. The market demanded the car at the top of their lungs.

    GM refused to even consider building it, removed the manual from the Regal GS, shitcanned the Verano which was the only thing selling in the under-45 demographic, lobbed the godawful Cascada over the fence, spent 4 years bitching about how only old people buy Buicks, and shitcanned everything but 2 garbage compact ‘SUVs’ made in China and the thoroughly mediocre-at-best Enclave. Three models where the best day build quality wouldn’t be deserving of the Buick name in the 1980’s.

    Calling it now. There is absolutely no fucking way this will ever get built, and absolutely no way Buick will ever make an EV. Period.
    GM is just going to beat the Buick horse in China with worn our tooling and shittier and shittier build quality until the brand is synonymous with a 1995 Kia over here, claim there was nothing they could possibly have done, and ask for another fucking bailout.

    1. I agree with 90% of what you said.

      But Buick will absolutely build an EV. They will have to in order to remain relevant in China. Of course by “build” I mean slap a Buick badge and a different grille on a GM platform EV crossover. Or slap a Buick badge and a different grille on a Chinese partner’s EV crossover platform.

  3. I’m confused by the badging/emblems. From the wheel to the hood to the trunk, they all appear different. I guess I like the one on the wheel as it appears to mimic the number “5”, which is sorta(?) appropriate for homage to the ’55 model year, but that’d be dumb as a theme for the brand as a whole.

    In the end, all three versions sorta look like used upside-down used condoms, which probably isn’t the best look. Or, maybe Buick shot their load on the design decision…

      1. Jeez, bud. I get the feeling you are a tad angry about Buick. ha.

        I was just making funsies. For the record, I think the car would be pretty sweet if it was able to keep 75% of the design language.

  4. This is one of those concepts where all I do is scroll down until I can see the back. If it has a liftback, I am happy. If it has a bunch of glass and a disappointing little trunk? Hate. I call fastbacks that don’t lift “fakebacks.” Disappointment and pain.

    Long hoods on EVs also annoy me. Eventually you just end up with a reversed pickup truck posing as a sports car.

    1. Wow, I had forgotten all about the Aero-X concept. Loved its looks but just too many difficult to execute parts without it costing way more than most would pay for the brand. I love unusual concepts, but like the Saab, these concepts don’t translate to production.

  5. As an admittedly biased Regal TourX owner, there are not words sufficient to describe how badly I want this thing to spawn the electric Buick Estate Wagon the world needs.

    3 rows, 400 miles on a charge, not a crossover: shut up and take my money.

  6. Since electrics can be any kind of car you could want to build, I would love to see the PLC make a comeback on battery electric platforms. This is interesting, but is that a C8 Corvette inspired divider between driver and passenger? That needs to go or be something else. Also, no metal rimmed steering wheels. A bad idea for the obvious “IT BURNS, IT BURNS!!” reason. GM will not give us this car in anything even closely resembling this form.

  7. Build it or GTFO, GM. Fool me with your pretty concepts once…err, twice…err, thrice…err, screw it I’ve lost count.

    Although to be fair, they built the Camaro pretty close to the concept and all enthusiasts can do is complain about the compromises necessary to make it look like that.

  8. “Any digital mirror requires the driver to refocus their eyes, and is often more distracting than useful.”

    I don’t get this statement. I mean I get that you’re saying that mirrors retain long focus to see objects that are outside of the car. But I don’t get that refocusing your eyes is an issue. I constantly move my eyes around between what’s ahead, the mirrors, and the dash. I have never noticed any issue going from speedo/tach to traffic ahead or behind.

    1. Tell us you’re young without telling us you’re young!

      Geezers like me (a ripe old 52) definitely don’t get that near-instaneous rack-focus happening anymore. The eyeball stiffens somewhat, and doesn’t deform as fast or as far or as easily as it did when we were younger. Starting a couple years ago, my glasses prescription allowed me to see surrounding traffic, signage, and whatever was in the rearview mirrors perfectly clearly, but I’d need bifocals to, say, read my odometer, or the smaller kph numbers on the speedo. And for years before that point, the focus-change required grew noticeably longer. Far as I know, this eyeball ossification happens to pretty much everyone as they age.

  9. 3 thoughts:

    1. Better looking than the Delorean vaporware.
    2. Those taillights though. Who raided the CR-V parts bin?
    3. Good looking evolution of the Buick badge. I love modern evolutions of classic emblems.

    1. Looked at them again side by side, and that Delorean design is growing on me in a good way…..and the taillight design of the Buick is growing on me in a bad way.

      Tell folks the Delorean render is a Rimac grand tourer concept and I bet people would be much cooler with it…..

  10. Jack it up a few feet, put it on a diet of Cheetos and ham, and you’re probably looking at the Buick Electra. I’m so sick of crossovers. This is beautiful as it is. Also, that console is giving me Chrysler Turbine vibes. Love it.

  11. As a concept, it is not a bad one. Typically concepts are just bit thrown in to see what works. Very few cars end up looking like the prototype.

    For this one, I don’t dislike it and it looks better than most out there.

  12. There’s a lot to like in this concept, but what’s with all the goofy shit at the corners, especially ahead of the front wheels?

    I see a whole sleek car, graceful and cat-like, ruined by unexplainable slashy crap below the headlights and turn signals, and at the rear corners.

    It’s as if comic book artists have invaded all the design studios these days. It’s not a good trend.

  13. I find it senselessly ugly. It’s electric? Why the massive wall down the center of the interior? What is going on where dash, door and A pillar meet? That’s a mess. The tail lights are like fingernails on a chalkboard. The rear window, side view, and front view need more separation. On different vehicles preferably.

    1. At least it has better ground clearance than just about any McLaren, or does it?! Even the 12C can’t stand above 5 inches.

      Had it not look too much like a McLaren 570S/GT in a fat suit, I would find the design direction quite bold for Buick, but we all know what usually happens when automakers show us the interesting stuff, modern T-tops be damned.

  14. My mom’s favorite car that she ever owned was her ’63 Wildcat convertible. I wonder if she’d have liked this one. I like it a lot. I kinda see some ghostly echoes of the ’65 Riviera in it, and that was a gorgeous car. No, they’ll probably never make anything remotely like this, but if they did, I’d buy it.

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