When most people think of Buicks, cushy, quiet mid-level luxury sedans and crossovers like the Enclave generally come to mind. But when the full industrial resources of the country were needed in the World War II effort, Buick shifted its focus to a revolutionary light armored tank that came to be known as the M18 Hellcat.

Civilians may not think of military vehicles and equipment as having that much of a unique personality, but the Hellcat had it in abundance. Legendary General Motors design chief Harley Earl and his team came up with the Hellcat logo -- a fearsome-looking black cat chomping down on tank tracks, surrounded by the words, "Seek, Strike, Destroy."

Although the M18's weight of 39,000 pounds may seem crushingly heavy by civilian standards, the M18 was a lightweight in its day. The larger M10 of the day weighed 65,000 pounds, and today's Abrams M1 weighs over 110,000. Combined with power from a nine-cylinder 975-cubic-inch aircraft radial engine producing 450 hp mated to a three-speed Hydramatic transmission, the Hellcat could reach a top speed of over 60 mph, almost triple what enemy tanks could do at the time, earning in the reputation of being the "Hot Rod of World War II." Even by contemporary standards, the Hellcat is fast, with the Abrams M1 barely capable of 60 mph ungoverned, with most units governed to a top speed of 45 mph. The M18's agility made up for its relatively thin 1-inch armor plating, which made it vulnerable to enemy fire, but its high speed and maneuverability made it a tough target.

The Hellcat was developed in secrecy, with reports of its existence coming out only one month before its production ended in October 1944. Check out these photos and video of the Hellcat below!

Source: General Motors