The 1955 Wildcat III was characterized by some very traditional Buick styling cues, though somewhat downsized. Up front, the very prominent grille was incorporated into the hood and featured a chrome mesh insert. It was framed by the front bumper and its Dagmars, which also housed the turn signals. A rolled pan was located under the front bumper and featured large air ducts at each corner.
The low profile of the Wildcat III’s beltline gave it an athletic appearance, accentuated by a sweeping chrome sidespear. The bodysides featured a definite “coke-bottle” shape, tucking in at the rockers and proving a trim appearance. The sidespear arched down to meet the rear wheelwell, then followed the leading edge of its contour before once again becoming horizontal and extending to the rear of the car. The rear wheelwell shape was similar to the front, and the inner wheelhouse was also body-colored. A brake cooling vent was located just ahead of each rear wheelwell.
The Wildcat III’s tail section featured what were perhaps its most unique design features. Bladed rear quarter panels were highlighted by small vertical taillamps which mimicked the trailing edge of the quarters and were set off by large chrome bumper Dagmars. Actually, the Dagmars were the rear bumpers, as there was no full-width bar that extended between them.
The ribbed theme was a styling cue that was a favorite of GM Styling Vice President Harley Earl, and showed up on the production Chevy Nomad, Pontiac Safari and elsewhere. With its chrome accents, this treatment closely resembled the “Silver Streaks” made famous on 1935-56 Pontiacs.
The decklid was of a unique clamshell design, and actually incorporated the tops of the rear quarter panels. A quick inspection of the body seams might have given the impression that the Wildcat III actually had rear doors, but such was not the case.
Whatever happened to it, the 1955 Buick Wildcat III was a very attractive concept car that actually predicted key styling elements of the 1956 Buick line. It also helped reinforce GM’s role as the absolute leader in automotive design.
If the Buick Wildcat III existed today — I’d make a few changes to it. Not much but just a few subtle ones so it would appear like the above.
Revised edition June 13th, 2019This is another example of digital restyling and design by ModenaWest