It’s ironic that the Grand National nameplate was created during the ’80s as such in commemoration of Buick’s first NASCAR racing success since the ’50s, because it was during the 1950s that Buick first tried their hand at the sports car sector, creating a prototype coupe that would become the company’s closest rendition of the Corvette.
That prototype was the ’54 Wildcat II, a two-seat sportster stuffed with a 322-cube mill with a side-draft carburetor setup that was good for 220 horses. This particular Electric Blue specimen currently belongs to the Sloan Museum of Flint, Michigan, and until being restored to its original color scheme appeared for years to be tan.
The original Wildcat prototype was developed in 1953, and considered a revolutionary sports car for its time, the small and sporty Buick was originally rated at 188 horses and featured a fiberglass body, along with a set of front hubs that remained stationary as the car’s front wheels spun.
Even though the first Wildcat, a full-sized model, would not actually go into production until ’62 and was introduced to the buying market as a luxury sports coupe, the “Wildcat” nameplate became associated with a brand new performance section for Buick. It was also this nameplate that would become attached to so many of Buick’s performance engines during the mid-’60s.
If you were never told about the Wildcat II would you have associated Buick with sports cars?!