Pete Phillips

1963 Wildcat conv. 4-speed

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Guest BJM

Matt,

For all intents and purposes YOU are the expert when it comes to early fullsize size 4 speed cars so your thoughts and insight on this subject always facinate me. Thanks for adding. My comments were, as some of my comments are, based on my vast GENERAL knowledge of everything old car and sometimes historically to understand an issue I try to look at the big picture. Your comments clearly indicate that although rare, early 4 speed cars were considered production. I figured they were production of course, built on the line but also thought that maybe Buick discouraged their production for obvious reasons. As you point out, Buick was not in the factory speed support group.

I am familiar with Pontiacs, Chevy and others efforts so I understand that difference. I was wondering where you were going with the silver engine paint.

Dave and others - what if (here I go again) the owner 'blew' up the original motor shortly after ownership, maybe even under warranty and it was replaced with a 425, same year but came in Buick Green instead of silver? Oh who knows, as Matt said, it's a 425 4 speed car, so it's cool.

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Nice find !! Now comes the fun part...restoration. I'm no expert on production numbers for these cars, but do know of another original owner since new 1963 4 speed Wildcat convertible. The car I've mentioned has under 70,000 original miles and was purchased new by a friend. 100% original except for the dual quads and chrome road wheels which he added in the mid 60's. This car could be taken to any car show and go home with a trophy. Same color White, but with a Black interior. If that's not enough, I remember back when I was more active in the Chicago Buick chapter, a member that had a '63 Lesabre station wagon with the factory 4 speed. Now, how rare is that ?

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Thank you, 3Jakes. I wouldn't say 'expert', though, rather just a hack that really, REALLY, digs manual Buicks. To sum all my drivel up, I would say that the 4-speeds were production cars, very rarely-chosen optioned cars, but production cars. I don't think Buick went out of their way to advertise or really sell their stick-shift cars, like Pontiac or Chevrolet, but if the 'gotta shift myself' Buick buyer hit the dealership, he could get his car his way. Someone on eBay recently tried to pass off a cobbled together geeen X-code 65 Wildcat 4-speed convertible as a 'COPO' car, and as it turns out it is a car with one car's body, a different car's data tags, and another car's X motor. Didn't work. If all the numbers pan out on Pete's 63, and it is a 425 car, it is as rare as a rare car gets, bottom line, and would make a stellar 'Cat when finished. I am not a convertible guy at all, and I really like it.

Pete, keep us updated on that car! Your Wildcat put the fire under my feet to re-persue a real-deal 63 Wildcat 4-speed coupe today that I was riding the fence about. When it hits my door, I'll post some pics.

Just4fun, if possible, it would be awesome to see a pic or two of that ginnie 63 4-speed convertible.

Enjoy!

Matt

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I don't have a ready pic available, but will ask my friend to get one to me. It's his dad's car and I'm sure he has some pics as I remember going through a pile of pics with him once. May take a bit, but I'll get one posted ASAP.

Rich

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Before you go blowing Matt's Buick ego all up ( not sure if that's possible anyway, it's already max'd ), I'd just like to say I taught him everything he knows about Buicks..... hee hee ! I grew up with him, so I can get away with that one !

For the record, I found Matt 2 of his rare Buicks ( the 63 lesabre 4 speed car, and the 64 Wildcat factory dual 4 car )... Just wanted to mention that because I love pointing that out.

Did Matt tell you when he's done with his 64 Wildcat X-code car we are racing on 'Pinks' ? It's on my friend !! It's on !

Ryan

Celina,TX

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Ryan, you're fired!

I can push my Buick faster than your R code...

hehe

Pete, any updates or progress on the Wildcat? Very cool car, I'd like to see its progress.

Matt

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Tremendous Find Pete!

Please update us on the work you've done and how things are coming along on this RARE '63 Cat.

Buick-Check

Convertible-Check

Wildcat-Check

425-Check

4 speet-Check Mate!

This one has all the marbles, hope she gets the full meal deal. Would love to see her looking new again!

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Well, the beast is running (beautifully, I might add), licensed, titled, inspected, and driveable finally. I had to replace the driveshaft carrier and carrier bearing after there was a terrible clanking noise underneath the car, the first time I took it out under its own power. Decided to replace one of the U-joints too, in view of the tremendous torque that thing has to withstand from the 425. Found a very rusty Am/FM Sonomatic radio in the trunk, which looks like a '63 radio. That would be the first year for the AM/FM in a Buick, so incredibly rare. Got it repaired and working, thanks to a radio repair place in Ft. Worth. After reinstalling the drive shaft, I took the car around the block, stabbed the accelerator while in third gear, and was completely awed (and scared, to be honest) at the unbelievable brute power this thing has. I run out of nerve way before it runs out of "go". Haven't had time to do much cosmetic work on the car (other than cleaning and painting some of the engine), but have been following some leads on a parts car with a better body. And I sold my '70 Electra convertible this month, but that only provides a down-payment on what it will take to restore this thing. Thanks for all of the encouragement from you guys.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

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Pete, no updates in a few months, you still looking for a parts car? Yes, the were only 30 63 Wildcat 4 speeds, 18 4 Door hardtops, 6 coupes, and 6 Convertibles.

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Hey Louie, please post a picture of the interior of your 4 door. I thought someone said the 4 speeds didn't come with A/C but if I recall correctly, your's has both, doesn't it?

JD

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JD, yes you are correct, my Queen Mary III is an A/C 425 CI with factory 4 speed.

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Louie, did your car come with the Buick valve covers and chrome air cleaner or did you add those later?

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Roy, The stock air cleaner and valve covers came in the trunk of the car when I purchased it, it must of been added by the second owner when he installed the dual quads. DSC01382.jpg

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We found a two-door hardtop Wildcat parts car (photo attached) for $400 plus several times that for transport. When it arrived, I checked the engine code and could scarcely believe that it is a 425 V8 also--this one an automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the engine is stuck and there is no interior nor side glass with the car, but it has a good body, which was the main requirement. It appears to have been a 40,000-mile Colorado car that was parked in the California desert outdoors in 1975.

Pete Phillips

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Pete, good for you, now you have a spare engine and the quarters you needed.

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Looks like an opportune time to deal with lubricating the window mechanism.

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Here's the latest progress on the 4-speed Wildcat conv. I guess you can call it progress--it looks like it is getting worse and worse! Engine and front clip, doors, and trunk lid were pulled out over the weekend in preparation for pulling the body off the frame. This project is getting more and more involved...!

Pete Phillips

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For all of you following Pete's adventure:

I have been Pete's partner on this one since the "git-go". We just finished 2 weekends of stripping our convertible and our parts car and I've got a 30 foot trailer full of 63 Wildcat parts, all tagged, bagged and labeled as to what they are and which car they're from. I'm trying hard to deserve the sign which my chapter buddies gave me after they toured my garage, which reads " A clean garage is a sign of a sick mind! "

However, this is the part that all of you will hate me for. As many of you recommended, we fund a solid rust free 63 WC coupe from California in Colorado. When it arrived here in Texas, we all had serious reservations about what we were about to do. It had been stripped of most of it's interior, but a very solid car with another 425 will cause you heartburn over a decision to cut it to pieces. However, my argument was "Hey, we went looking for a solid parts car and we need the parts. The convertible is worth the PAIN!"

All of us reluctantly agreed. By the end of this week, the coupe will be a stripped bare (no engine or transmission in it) chassis, and our body guy will have cut the floors, the trunk pan, the edge around the trunk lid out of it, leaving only a shattered hulk.

A hard and sad decision for all of us.

The good news is that the covertible will be like new again, after we clean and restore all the parts we need.

We have a long way to go, but we're well underway. The body comes off next week into the rotisserie frame.

Regards, Dave Corbin

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Guys,

Great work.

I'm jealous how quickly you are getting your rear fenders done. It took me more than 9 months just to get one replaced!

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Dear Joe (BamaWildcat):

It's only time and money! The three partners have several hundred hours of labor and some considerable $$$$ that we're investing in this historically significant vehicle.

Regards, Dave Corbin

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More photos that I will try to attach, showing the right rear (with rust cut out and ready to accept nice panel from parts car), and the "Flintstone-mobile" floor due to too many Michigan/Maine/Connecticut winters. Why someone would drive a rare car like this every day in salt, is beyond me.

Pete

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Gentlemen, please! Allow me to say <span style="font-size: 17pt"><span style="color: #009900"><span style="font-weight: bold">THANK YOU </span></span></span>for what you're doing. That car is already priceless. It will be a real motivation to me see how you tackle some of these issues. And while I hope I can see that car someday when it is done, I hope you continue to document your work as you go along.

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