Nailhead V8: 1964 Buick Wildcat

From 1963 to 1970, the Wildcat was Buick’s performance-oriented full-size car. Its name was derived from a series of concept cars on display in the 1950s. The Wildcat was retired going into 1971 as the focus shifted from muscle to luxury in the “medium-price” class of automobiles. This 1964 edition has Buick’s 401 cubic-inch “Nailhead” V8 and looks like a survivor ready for cosmetic TLC. Located in Hartland, Wisconsin, the weathered GM hardtop is available here on craigslist for $5,500. Our thanks to local_sheriff for his continued diligence in locating these classic cars!

The Wildcat filled a gap between the family-oriented LeSabre and the larger, luxurious Electra. Its first generation ran from 1963 to 1964, so changes in the second year would be minimal yet kept the autos fresh. The ’64 Wildcats did not have Buick’s signature horizontal Ventiports, though the other nameplates did. If speed was in your blood, you could order a Wildcat with a 425 V8 that came with a pair of 4-barrel carburetors, but most were purchased with a 401 like in the seller’s car. 1964 Wildcat production topped out at 57,700 units across four body styles, with the 2-door hardtop like the seller’s accounting for just 21% of output. Even with the car’s muscle mantra, 4-door models comprised the lion’s share of the cars that left dealer lots.

No history is provided on the seller’s car, so we don’t know what it’s been up to for 58 years other than accumulating just 78,000 miles. We’re told it has the 401 engine, but an aftermarket air cleaner replaces the original which would have had a sticker indicating torque output. While it was officially called the “Fireball V8” by Buick, it became known as the “Nailhead” by enthusiasts for the unusual vertical alignment of its small-sized valves. The motor is paired with a Super Turbine 400 automatic transmission, and we assume both the engine and tranny are original. The car runs great, though the paint on the engine block looks newer than the rest of the auto.

This Buick could be wearing its original paint given the dealer script on the trunk lid. But the finish is quite tired and there is an assortment of dents, dings, and dimples in almost every body panel. Also, some rust is brewing below the bodyside trim. But we’re told the floorboards and door sills are solid. The upholstery is showing its age on the front bench seat and the seatback is leaning too far in reverse, suggesting a hardware adjustment is needed. You could drive this car indefinitely before restoring it since they’re only original once.


  1. local_sheriff

    Well, when I first saw this listing I was wondering whether this indeed was a Wildcat because I was under the impression all ’64 Wildcats except 4doors had separate seats and console. But I also figured no one would go through the hassle of cloning a LeSabre either.

    To me it looks like the Wildcat could be had with (at least) 3 different interiors:
    One with cloth/vinyl bench and vertical door panel ribs with buttons:
    A vinyl bench with long vertical ribs door panels:
    And a vinyl separate seats with diagonal ribs door panels:

    Like 1
  2. Bob C.

    First year for the TH400. I would think it wasn’t all that wild with the previous Dyna slush.

    Like 3
  3. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking Buick. 1963 and 1964 are my favourite years for the Buick Wildcat. Assuming it’s only surface rust, and the body is intact, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to restore.

    Like 2
  4. Glenn Hilpert

    Had a White one with Red interior, Bucket seats and console. Very sporty. Unfortunately, rain water enjoyed entering all areas of the car and was a mess. Could never get rid of the mold odor. Otherwise, the car was a joy to drive.

  5. JBP

    The Wildcat was also made in 62. 61 im not shure, but in 1962 they also made wildcat, with the old Dyna flow.

    • local_sheriff

      Wildcat was introduced ’62 as a subseries to the Invicta, only available as 2dht the first year and only 2.000 made

  6. Fran

    Was that ca available with a 4 speed?

    • local_sheriff

      Apart from the ST300 available in the LeSabre Buick would install the new TH400 in their B-bodies, and yes you could now also order a Wildcat with 4spd! Unlike previous years base tranny for ’64 Wildcat was a 3spd manual though

      Like 1
  7. angliagt angliagt Member

    Wildcats are really cool cars,plus this one has Orange heater hoses!

    Like 2

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