By VERN PARKER
In 1965, Jim Wolford was fresh out of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Back in high school he had driven a 1962 Buick Skylark, but now out from college he was ready to step up.
Soon after graduation he married Nancy, landed a position with an oil company and moved to west Texas. Life was good. He even treated himself to a new Buick. It was a 1965 Buick Wildcat four-door hardtop painted a bronze color with a black interior.
“I drove the car out of the showroom,” Wolford says.
Unfortunately, the part of Texas he was assigned to suffered a storm in 1968 that left him in chest-deep water. His water-logged Buick was totaled.
In 1990, Wolford went to the Houston Autorama where hundreds of cars are displayed – many of them for sale. While there he spotted a pristine 1965 Buick Wildcat, much like the one he had owned so many years before. The only problem was Wolford had two children in college, which left no extra cash for a Buick.
It wasn’t long before the children were out of school and the hunt for a suitable Buick was resumed. Wolford was out with his wife one day when he saw a 1965 Wildcat on the used car lot of an Oldsmobile dealer in Houston. Of course he had to stop to inquire about the car and learned that the asking price was reasonable.
“You might as well buy it,” his wife said with resignation. Her reasoning was that he wouldn’t have to return the next day to buy it then.
The Buick was a gargantuan Wildcat four-door hardtop powered by an equally large 425-cubic-inch V-8 engine that delivered about 350 horsepower. The 4,160-pound Custom Hardtop Sedan model when new had a base price of $3,626. The optional extras on his 1965 Wildcat include: power seats, power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, eight-track tape deck and an AM/FM radio with a rear seat speaker. A total of 14,878 such models were produced.
During that model year, Buick attempted to produce cars to suit the needs of every motorist. Buick offered models called the Special, Skylark, LeSabre, Wildcat, Electra 225 and Riviera. The size of engines ranged from 225 cubic inches up to 425 cubic inches.
Wolford’s Wildcat comfortably rolls on a 126-inch wheelbase. His Buick is painted an icebox white with a deep emerald upholstered green interior. The wall-to-wall padded dashboard, Wolford reports, remains supple to this day.
This latest Buick of his is satisfying to Wolford as he settles into the driver’s seat behind the two-spoke steering wheel. The speedometer tops out at 120-mph. Wolford says that he has replaced the tires while the headliner remains a deep green.
Typical of Buicks in that era there are side illumination lights mounted on the sides of the front fenders to assist in making turns in darkness. The Buick also has a dual-exhaust system, along with positraction.
“When I drive this car I’m 24 years old again,” Wolford exclaims.
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