Buick Wildcat EV Concept: The Promising Future of America’s Oldest Car Brand

The Buick Wildcat EV Concept is something we expect from a legacy automaker that’s been languishing in obscurity. Buick is America’s oldest automaker and was the cornerstone for the founding of General Motors in 1908, so it needs to enter the electrified era with a huge bang.

“The Wildcat EV Concept represents the real design future for the brand,” said Sharon Gauci, Executive Director, Global Buick and GMC Design. “Buick has always been forward-looking, and this expression is a glimpse of where we’re going and the optimism we have for the limitless possibilities of an electric future.”

Sleeper Cars & Snarky Bumper Stickers

Buick is amidst a reinvention and is straying away from its existing lineup of rebadged crossovers. There’s a lot to like about the 2022 Enclave, Envision, and Encore, but we’re talking about an auto brand that invented the overhead valve engine, owned the “personal luxury car” mantra in the Riviera (which Bill Mitchell first conceived as a Cadillac), and designed the ultimate sleeper in the Grand National. Old school enthusiasts and long-retired Detroit auto workers still remember the sibling rivalry that existed within GM over Buick.

Later in his career, veteran automotive journalist and editor Marty Schorr handled Buick’s East Coast public relations and was involved in the GNX program in 1987, one he credits with changing his mind about Buick as a whole. Schorr owned a 427 Corvette at the time, but the Grand National was a rising star within GM. And everyone knew it.

“It was quicker and faster than the stock Corvette, and Chevrolet didn’t like that, but there was no denying it,” Schorr recalled of the 1987 Buick GNX. The car’s 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 created 245 horsepower and spawned this wonderful bumper sticker. “We did tests at Popular Mechanics with one of our GNXs versus a Callaway, and we mopped up the track with the GNX,” Schorr continued. “We clobbered the Callaway into the next zip code, and that was a twin-turbo Corvette! We really started a whole little revolution within General Motors with that car.”

While the GNX is unlikely to return to deliver such a knock-out punch, things are changing in terms of what Buick can offer on the performance spectrum. Buick is now committing to an all-electric lineup by the end of this decade, and you won’t have to wait long to witness Buick’s transformation. You can expect to see the first-ever Buick EV on sale at dealerships by 2024, and it will likely (hopefully) resemble the Wildcat EV Concept.

Buick Wildcat EV Concep
Buick Wildcat EV Concept. Photo: Buick.

Fourth Time Is a Charm

This Wildcat EV Concept is not the first Buick to wear the “Wildcat” name. The original Wildcat Concept (Wildcat I) came in 1953 and was a low-slung convertible with a concave grille, buffer bombs on the wraparound front bumper, and front hub caps that remained stationary as the wheel rotated. The second Wildcat Concept (Wildcat II) appeared in 1954 as a Corvette with twin-swiveling headlights, flying wing front fenders, and a 220-horsepower Buick V8. From 1963 to 1970, the Wildcat became a series of convertible and four-door hardtop sedans.

Buick unveiled Wildcat III in 1955, but the one that stole our hearts before the EV variant came along is the 1985 Wildcat Concept that looks straight out of The Jetsons. Buick’s spaceship-looking 80s concept has a canopy roof and an exposed V6 engine tuned by McLaren. Unsurprisingly, the Wildcat Concept shares its futuristic silhouette with the Wildcat EV Concept, and that’s a good thing.

“From every angle, the vehicle looks like it’s ready to pounce,” said Global Buick Design Director Bob Boniface, and he’s right. The Buick Wildcat EV Concept sits low and wide on the ground and has a bold, forward-leaning front end highlighted by a trapezoidal grille. It also has a ridiculously sloping roofline to accentuate its forward-oriented proportions. The concept’s face reminds us of the 1936 Buick Century minus the round headlights, while the wraparound windshield harks back to the 1985 Wildcat concept.

1954 Buick Wildcat II Concept
Radical in its design, the 1954 Buick Wildcat II Concept was developed to test the viability of a fiberglass body. A specially modified “Nailhead” V8 was underneath, an engine Buick had only recently introduced. Photo: GM Media Archive.

All About The Details

Typical of most concept vehicles, the bespoke detailing is always fascinating. The Buick Wildcat EV Concept has thin-beam projector headlights with micro-LED technology and blade-style taillights sitting prettily in the roof’s tail panels. Of course, it has a groovy set of semi-swing doors, while the 18-spoke turbine wheels are worthy of admiration.

Sitting front and center is a new tri-shield logo that will appear on all Buick vehicles from now on. “The more you look at the Wildcat EV Concept, the more details reveal themselves,” Boniface added. “Its timeless proportions acknowledge the brand’s rich design legacy, while our latest technology moves you forward.”

Inside the two-plus-two cabin is a prominent center console that extends front-to-back, cockpit-style seats (that look remarkably comfy) with cantilevered headrests, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Furthermore, the interior is resplendent with Legato Green ambient lighting, brushed and polished aluminum trim, and contrasting orange elements.

AI & Zen Mode

The unique styling is not complete without a collection of new tech gadgets. Buick claims the Wildcat EV Concept is built to be a platform for futuristic features, like advanced aromatherapy, biometrics, and artificial intelligence. For example, the vehicle can automatically detect the driver’s heart rate and adjust the interior settings to calm them down. The car will dim the lights in Zen Mode, activate the massaging seats, and fill the cabin with aromatic scents.

We’ve seen this thing before in late-model Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and we’re glad Buick is catching up with the higher echelons of the luxury segment.

Buick Wildcat EV Concept interior layout.
Buick Wildcat EV Concept interior layout. Photo: Buick.

Buick Wildcat EV Concept Powertrain

Buick failed to mention the powertrain components hiding under that futuristic shape, but we strongly feel GM’s Ultium architecture is up to the task. The Wildcat EV is more of a grand touring sports cruiser than a supercar, but Buick has a new range of Electra-branded electric SUVs debuting in the coming years. It seems the future of America’s oldest-living automaker is pointing (and heading) in the right direction.

Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Photos & Source: Buick.