Feature Story

FEATURE: 1968 Buick Wildcat

This 1968 Buick Wildcat is painted in Desert Sand and was sold at Palm Buick, in Oak Park, Illinois.Buicks have always had a reputation for being large, comfy cruisers packing plenty of panache and this 1968 Wildcat is no exception. During the 1960s, the Wildcat model was the Detroit brand’s midsize offering and was readily identifiable by its characteristic style line that swept from the headlights, down along the goes-on-for miles body and finally ending at the stylish rear chrome bumper.

This 1968 Buick Wildcat was restored in Desert Sand paint and was first sold at Palm Buick in Oak Park, Illinois.

Kurt Fredricks

Kurt Fredricks owns this plush Desert Sand two-door example. He found it in Madison, WI in 1998. “It was parked at the Jefferson Car Corral and was in fairly good condition.  The previous owner had restored most of it and was almost through. All I had to do was finish the old girl up.”

The skilled handyman is no stranger to the GM brand, having already completed a full restoration on his 1953 Buick. For this second undertaking, he was looking for a project that would come together a bit more quickly, allowing him to be out on the road sooner.

“I bought this Wildcat simply because I just loved the timeless lines of it. It’s design is so unique and just a fun car to be in. I knew I could have it wrapped up in no time.”

Just because the seemingly turnkey ride was nearly complete, that didn’t mean Kurt was left with absolutely nothing to do. “Inside, the main problem was with the driver’s seat. It was pretty torn up and well worn. A new cover went on and it was good as new. Out on the exterior, the back end needed a repaint. Some of the body work on the rear fenders wasn’t as good as it could have, or should have, been.”

This 1968 Buick Wildcat was restored in Desert Sand paint and was first sold at Palm Buick in Oak Park, Illinois.

Rally Wheels give a hint of sportiness to the massive coupe.

This 1968 Buick Wildcat was restored in Desert Sand paint and was first sold at Palm Buick in Oak Park, Illinois.

A 430-cid V8 is underhood.

Underhood resides the stout original 430-cid V8, packing all its 360 horsepower and freight train-like 475-lbs./ft. torque. The colossal powerplant was left untouched, as well as the 3-speed Super Turbine 400 transmission.

Slide inside and the luxurious all-black cabin treats occupants to cozy bucket seats, separated by a center console, power windows, power brakes and power steering. A factory 8-track is mounted in the dash and allows Kurt to cue up his favorite yesteryear tune.

 

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This 1968 Buick Wildcat was restored in Desert Sand paint and was first sold at Palm Buick in Oak Park, Illinois.

An 8-track is ready to play Kurt’s favorite tunes.

This 1968 Buick Wildcat was restored in Desert Sand paint and was first sold at Palm Buick in Oak Park, Illinois.

Other than a minor driver’s seat repair, the interior is all original.

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“Driving is astoundingly fast – don’t let the massive size fool you – it can really move. When you get out on the highway, you’ve got to be careful otherwise you’ll be doing 75mph (or more) without even blinking!” Naturally, the downside to that rapid rate of velocity is bringing the nearly 18.5 foot long Buick behemoth to a halt. “Stopping is another issue. It’s equipped with four, very large drums but it can still be a chore to brake. You really have to think and plan ahead about where you want to go and how you want to get there. Finding a parking spot can also be a pain in the neck.”

This 1968 Buick Wildcat was restored in Desert Sand paint and was first sold at Palm Buick in Oak Park, Illinois.

Palmer Buick, in Oak Park IL, was the first dealership to sell Kurt’s Wildcat.

Despite the motoring annoyances, Kurt still enjoys piloting his cruiser around his home state of Illinois but has taken his ride up to the roll through the back roads of Wisconsin on a few occasions, participating in shows and events.

When it comes to official production numbers, a total of 68,068 Wildcats, available in four-door, convertible or two-door configuration, were sold in 1968. Kurt’s 4,250lb fastback never strayed far from its original dealership where it was first sold all those years ago.

“After leaving the factory, the car went to Palmer Buick in Oak Park, not far from downtown Chicago. I still have the original dealer name badge on the rear trunk. Given its remarkable condition, it’s hard to believe it’s stayed in the Mid West for its entire life. Normally, vehicles like that have been chewed up with rust and are beyond saving.”

Given Kurt’s hands-on proclivity for tinkering, he already has future plans for the four-wheeled feline. “While the car is good to go as is, I’m planning on doing some minor engine work. I just can’t leave it alone. I want to pull it out, get my hands dirty and  play with it.“

This 1968 Buick Wildcat was restored in Desert Sand paint and was first sold at Palm Buick in Oak Park, Illinois.

The long, low and sleek body measures almost 18.5 feet long.

A Look at Back Then:

We’re not sure how many contractors or engineers used a Wildcat to get from job site to job site as portrayed in this period advertisement, but assuming some did, they would certainly be wrapped in comfort and luxury.

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Check out our photo slideshow below for more photos of Kurt’s ’68 classic.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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7 replies »

  1. At 16 years old,a 68 Wildcat was my first car! Just like this,except it was YELLOW,and had wire wheel covers that was BAD! When I had it tuned,it had so much torque,you could not stand on it. It would spin on and on,if you could hold it. I outran many muscle cars in 1974 with that beast. And top end speed was way past 120 on the dial. It was so long and fast,I once went around a city block and met my tail end! lol Lost my virginity in that cat!

  2. Wonderful Wildcat! Dad bought ours as a used car in 1969 and it was very similar to yours – only difference I can spot is that ours had the console-mounted shifter, and steel wheels with wire hubcaps. The 430 engine was a genuine monster! And yet, when held to around 60mph and driven like an adult would return 20+ mpg. Unfortunately, my brother and I both learned to drive (and crash) in our Buick, and it didn’t survive our teen years. It was a real treat to find your Wildcat on the internet with the same color scheme as ours, it really takes me back. My brother and I did our part to carry on the Buick tradition. His first new car was a 1974 Century Regal with the 455-4bbl. My first-ever car was the 1961 Skylark with the 215-4 bbl aluminum engine. It was a humble beginning, but a great Marque! Thanks for sharing your ride with us and stirring the old memories!

  3. Real nice Wildcat. My dad had a ’68 back in 1975 when I was 8 years old. It was black inside and out. I just loved the site of that car with the buick mags and a smooth rumble sound from the duel pipes he had on there. The 1968 Buick Wildcat gets my vote as the coolest of the line of Wildcats.

  4. My dad always drove Wild cats back in the 60s, he worked for a steel company on jefferson ave. in Detroit companys name was White Head & Kales he sold structarlar steel to G. M., Chrysler, and Ford he was there salesman for the company. Love your Buick would like to see some of these cross the stage at Barrett&Jackson. you never see any there. thanks for sharing your great photos of a great car, boy does this bring back old memories of me as a boy seeing my dad pull up from work and getting out of his wild cats.

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