Auto News: Meet the Original Hellcat, the Buick M18 Tank

Buick M18 Hellcat

Buick’s Original Hellcat

You’ve heard of the Dodge Hellcat, but what about Buick’s Hellcat.

Yes, Buick used to make WWII tanks and one of them is currently up for sale by a Massachusetts man. The restored, almost fully functioning, M18 is currently listed on Hemmings for $250,000 bucks.  Notice we said almost functioning because the tank’s been demilled, which basically means the gun doesn’t work. Otherwise the owner says it’s in tip-top shape right down to the 9-cylinder engine, rebuilt in 2013.   According to the seller:

This M18 was restored from the ground up by us in 2013.
It has a very rare fully functional little-joe generator and the more powerful
R-975 C4 motor. Turret is fully functional. Gun/Breech are Demilled. – Seller

For a little history, the Buick M18 could be considered the hot rod of WWII. It entered the battlefields of Europe in the summer of 1944 and was the latest in tank destroyer technology.

Though it weighed about 20 tons – the same as almost nine modern day Buick Enclaves – the Hellcat was designed to be one of fastest tanks on the battlefield and was capable of traveling upwards of 60 mph. Its power came from a nine-cylinder, 450-horsepower radial-type aircraft engine paired with a three-speed Hydramatic transmission.

“The Hellcat was considered the hot rod of World War II,” said Bill Gross, a historian who restored an M18 now on display at the Sloan Museum in Flint, Mich. “To give perspective, most German tanks of the day were capable of just 20 mph and even today’s M1 Abrams tank is outpaced by the Hellcat.”

Production of the M18 Hellcat began in mid-1943 and ended in October 1944. The project was so secretive that a story about the “new” tank destroyer ran in newspapers just a month before production ended.

In addition to 2,507 M18 tank destroyers, Buick factory workers produced nearly 20,000 powertrains, a half-million cartridge cases, 9.7 million 20-mm shells, and a number of other war goods during WWII

1 Millionth Corvette

General Motors is now restoring the 1-millionth Corvette ever produced.

The 1992 ‘Vette was one eight historically significant Corvette’s damaged when they fell into a sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky last year. Repair crews hope to have it  as good as new by September, in time for the museums 21st anniversary celebration.

The restoration crew is part of GM’s Mechanical Assembly group at the Design Center, which typically spends its time building prototype and concept vehicles.  The white 1992 Corvette is a challenge because rather than build an all-new vehicle from the ground up, the workers are trying to preserve the original appearance of a production vehicle.

The ’92 is the second of three sinkhole-damaged Corvettes that Chevrolet plans to restore. The first, a 2009 Corvette ZR1 prototype known as the Blue Devil, was only lightly damaged and was returned to its original condition last fall. The National Corvette Museum will oversee the restoration of the third car, a 1962 Corvette.

Photo Credit: Northeast Military Vehicle Services
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