The Cars That Money Can’t Buy – Buick Y-Job

Sun 11th Nov 2018

Sometimes your wallet won’t stretch to purchasing your dream motor. But don’t worry too much, there are some cars that even the biggest bank balances can’t buy, the dream cars that will forever remain a dream. These are the concept cars that never go into production.

Buick Y-Job
The Granddaddy of all concept cars has to be Buick’s Y-Job? Why? Because according to most trusted sources it was the first ever concept car? And Y? Prior to the Y-Job all ‘experimental’ cars were called X. Which begs the question… when did experimental cars become concepts?

The answer possibly comes from the fact that the Y-Job was the first time a major manufacturer had built a car for the sole purpose of testing public reaction to new design ideas.

Those design ideas belonged to Harley J. Earl. He was the man responsible for the Buick beauty, way back in 1938, the Y-Job was a convertible which came with hidden headlights that could be revealed at the flick of a switch, electric windows, wraparound bumpers and flush door handles. Gone was the running boards which had been attached to the majority of cars in the 1930s. The brief according to Earl’s plans was to build a car as long and low as possible, creating a car that lived up to the mantra that ‘oblongs are more attractive than squares’.

Earl pioneered freeform sketching of car designs and also built models out of clay to mould his ideas and thoughts into solid form before taking them to the factory floor where Buick’s George Snyder would turn the so called ‘dream car’ to reality.

The design notes from the Y-Job would endure for more than two decades, with the curvaceous Buicks dominated by Earl’s design. Earl was also responsible for the trademark vertical waterfall grille which is seen on Buick’s even today.

The brief for Buick’s Y-Job was to get a post-depression public passionate about cars again and despite the looming Second World War, they achieved that with a car that left an indelible imprint on the motor industry for decades.

The one and only Y-Job produced became a private car for Harley J. Earl’s collection, before being given a permanent position in the GM Design Centre in Michigan, United States.

As a side note, it’s also worth mentioning that Harley J. Earl’s influence on concept cars continued due to the fact that during the Second World War he worked on a camouflage research division at General Motors. Camouflage, as we know, is used by many manufacturers for hiding the secrets of test cars before they are revealed to the public.