1968 Buick Wildcat Convertible
I have been asked to comment on our new acquisition of our 1968 Buick Wildcat Convertible and why this vehicle brings back so many personal memories. Well here it goes:
This car was born in 1962 as a luxury package to the Buick Invicta and by 1965 was evolving into a huge Electra Custom Series and sold for about $3600.00. Although 1965 was a big year for the Wildcat, for me, I learned to fly an airplane at the ripe old age of 14 yrs.
I used to work at the local airport in Naples, Florida where I helped service aircraft for the wealthy owners of beautiful airplanes and cars, one owner in particular, had a 1965 Wildcat and we certainly had some adventures in his vehicle. He was also a great flight instructor.
By January, 1968 both the Wildcat and I had grown. The 1968 version had a 430 cid/360hp 4bbl engine for power. I was flying regularly having soloed on my 16th birthday the year before. My family moved to Sarasota so I left my flying buddies behind in Naples to tackle the remaining two years of High School in Sarasota, but I continued to fly and develop and joined the Air Force ROTC and continued to train extensively.
Its funny how I finally realized that our Sarasota neighborhood was experiencing the losses of family members in Vietnam. Indeed my only friends elder brother was lost the year before and my friend had occasional behavioral difficulties in school.
January started out with the light at the end of the tunnel, later that month Laugh-In debuts and ran until 1975 where Saturday Night Live kicked in. North Korea seized the USS Pueblo and imprisoned its crew, and lastly, the Tet Offensive showed the country we really were losing the Vietnam War-and my friends brother was gone for nothing. Walter Cronkite later that month confirmed what we already knew.
In February, two black Memphis sanitation workers were killed in a freak accident with their garbage truck. Their deaths led to a strike that became the civil rights movement.
March was about politics, it was an election year. Both Nixon and McCarthy won their respective New Hampshire primaries which fueled Bobby Kennedy’s entry into the political arena. Then, President Johnson announced he would not run for re-election, then it got really scary.
On April 4, 1968 Dr King was assassinated in Memphis while supporting the garbage strike and the whole country went up. By May the world followed, labor riots in France, mass starvation in Biafra, Russia started preparations to invade Checkoslovakia, Draft Cards burned and the Supreme Court ruled it was not ok to actually burn them either.
June 4th saw Bobby Kennedy win the California democratic primary and also his assassination in Los Angeles, and on June 8th I turned 17 and got my Draft Card and number 007, so I had a year to determine Air Force, College or the War. James Earl Ray was also captured in London and extradited to the US for Dr King’s murder.
In August Hubert Humphrey was nominated to be the democratic nominee for President without ever participating in a primary election, power had spoken and once again, the country went crazy in Chicago. In Mexico City two African-Americans were stripped of their Olympic gold and bronze medals for raising gloved fists during the national anthem.
In November, Nixon won the election, Shirley Chisholm of New York became the first black woman ever elected to the US House of Representatives. After 260 years, Yale went co-ed, 78 West Virginia coal miners died which led to regulation of the mines, the teaching of evolution in Arkansas schools was deemed legal by the Supreme Court, O.J. Simpson won the Heisman Trophy, later auctioned off for $225,000 in 1999.
By December the country and world were exhausted and so was I. I spent a lot of time in the second half of 1968 flying back to Naples to fly and drive my friends new 1968 Wildcat, black on the outside, white on the inside and a convertible as well. What fun we had.
On Christmas Eve I watched the Apollo 8 astronauts beam a grainy black and white photo of the earth rising above moon and recite passages from Genesis. I was struck by how small the Earth was, and the last thing one of the astronauts said was Merry Christmas to all on the Good Earth.
Just when you thought 1968 was finally over it wasn’t. The Beatles broke up too. But, FM radio was here and they were playing entire albums with no commercials , wonderful. My Naples friend called me and invited me back to the Naples beaches and said there was a new English band that was way better than the Beatles, born from the Yardbirds. For the few months we had left of our growing we had girls, booze, beaches, and Good Times, Bad Times, generally Dazed and Confused in his 1968 Buick Wildcat Convertible.
Named the “Beauty Winner”by the Dodge company, the 1936 Dodge made significant changes compared to the 1935 car.
This 4 door showed a roomier interior with chair height seats , rounder convex radiator grills, chrome striping along the hood and more aerodynamic lights. The suspension was improved and the headlights were upgraded for safer night time driving.
Dodge continued the 1935 217 cid 6 cylinder engine which was rated at a whopping 87 hp. This Beauty was a winner! Priced from $640 .
Sounds quite affordable to us in 2020 right! Consider that the average annual salary was $1713.00, the average cost of a new home was $3295.00 and monthly rent was $24.00.
This “Beauty Winner” was not a cheap car. The 1936 Willys was the low price leader at $395.
In 1936, The world was struggling to come out of the Great Depression, unemployment still remained at 16%, Germany hosted the XI th Olympic Games, the rights to the games were won in 1931 before Hitler rose to power . Berlin wrestled the right to host from Barcelona, to which Spain boycotted the games.
Hitler wanted to forbid any country that was not of Aryan decent from participating. Faced with the threat that every country would boycott, he backed down.
Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals in track and field, besting the Germans who managed the bronze medals. Hitler was not pleased and refused to shake Jesse Owens hand.
Other events in 1936 included the inaugural sailing of the Queen Mary, the Hoover dam was completed and King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne to marry the twice divorced American ,Wallis Simpson .
Call or message Us at Vintage Car Tours Los Angeles to book this lovely old “Beauty Winner”.
Our services include customized Los Angeles-Santa Barbara Tours, wine tasting in the stunning Ojai Valley, transportation for weddings events and photo shoots.
All of our cars are rented with a chauffeur and options to add on are individualized.