- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009

The history of his 1964 Buick Wildcat is incomplete but Larry Holton says papers with the car when he purchased it indicate that it was purchased new in Jacksonville, Fla. The base price for such a Buick Wildcat was $3,267. Only 22,893 such models were manufactured.

From that point on, the whereabouts of the Wildcat are unknown until 20 years ago when it made an appearance at a police auction in Baltimore. How it got there remains a mystery but it was sold for $51 for use as a parts car to a man who was restoring a similar car. After a closer examination it was determined the condition of the parts car warranted a restoration.

Four years later, the restoration of the 17-foot, 10-inch-long car was complete. Unfortunately, the owner’s health began to deteriorate soon thereafter. He knew Mr. Holton and his interest in antique cars and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse regarding the Buick. Mr. Holton purchased the car in the autumn of 1993.

The gargantuan Buick, 15 years later, still appears the way it looked when Mr. Holton became the owner. The previous owner overhauled the big 425-cubic-inch V-8 engine as well as the automatic transmission. The gear shift lever protrudes from the console on the floor between the front bucket seats. The interior is upholstered in tan leather.

Although the well-appointed Buick is equipped with power steering and power brakes, all six of the side windows are operated by hand cranks. If the weather gets unbearable, Mr. Holton has the option of rolling the windows up and turning on the air conditioner. The powerful 340-horsepower engine doesn’t notice that the air conditioning unit has been turned on.

The white paint on the outside of the car is accented by the distinctive five-spoke chrome wheels that was a Buick style statement. The rocker panels are trimmed with brightwork, however, the rest of the car is relatively free of trim. The cornering lights are mounted forward of the front wheel wells and three decorative chrome strips are to the rear of that wheel well.

The designers of the car wanted to leave no doubt to the car’s identity. On the engine hood separate chrome letters spell B U I C K. At the other end of the long car, W I L D C A T is spelled out in chrome letters on the trunk lid. In the center of each wheel hub is the three shield Buick emblem. That same emblem is found throughout the car, in the grille, the cornering light bezels, the trunk and even on the back side of both side mirrors.

A wildcat emblem, around the corner from the rear window, graces the top. The top, as on many General Motors cars of that era had a couple of creases above the rear window to simulate the lines of a convertible soft top.

Settling behind the two-spoke steering wheel, Mr. Holton has a clear view of the 120 mph speedometer. He says occupants in the car are insulated from the outside world thanks to the 123-inch wheelbase and because the 4,003-pound Buick smoothes highway imperfections. Beside the speedometer needle indicating the car’s speed, a second hand-operated needle can be set at any speed.

If the driver exceeded the pre-set speed a buzzer would sound to warn the driver. That feature is necessary because, as Mr. Holton says, “this car flies.”

The cabin is extremely spacious, as is the cargo space in the trunk. The full-size spare tire rests horizontally on a shelf over the rear axle leaving the main part uncluttered. “The trunk can sleep three comfortably,” Mr. Holton says.