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Mario's Tribute to 1938 Buick Y Job by Harley Earl

1938 Buick Concept Car

The “Dream Car”, Harley Earl used this vision when he created the 1938 Buick Y-Job, considered to be the first concept car.

It was called the “Y-Job” due to the letter “Y” being used for experimental aircrafts at the time.

The Y-Job was GM’s first trial run at experimenting different designs on cars intended to show new technology.

Not only did Harley Earl and his team design the car, he later used it as his daily driver as well.

The Y-Job was a styling breakthrough, because it allowed the automobile to be lower and longer in terms of appearance and design.

The car had power-operated hidden headlamps, electric windows, wraparound bumpers, flush door handles, vertical waterfall grille design.

Electronically controlled windows & soft convertible top.

Vertical waterfall grille design.

Interior 2 seater. Automatic transmission.

Bendix power steering unit.

Radio and Heater.

Easy to read speedometer and gauges.

Push button AM radio.

Engine gauge.

There is an interior hood release.

320ci 141hp Buick straight 8.

The Buick-Y-Job is on display today at the General Motors Heritage Museum in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Long hood design.

Headlights shown open.

Roomy trunk even with the spare tire.

A Gunsight hood ornament.

Boat tail rear end later used on the Buick Riviera.

Harley and the 1938 Buick Y Job.

Harley and the 1938 Buick Y Job.

Harley driving his 1938 Buick Y Job.

Soft Top up.

Electronically controlled soft convertible top.

Soft Convertible top concealed by a metal deck.

Video and audio clips

1938 Buick Y Job

Jay Leno drives Y Job

First Concept Car

On tour.

GM Heritage Center

1938 Buick Y Job Up Close

On the road.

GM Heritage Museum


More Cars of the 1930s
More Buick Coverage

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Mario on Apr 25, 2021 said:

It's 1938 and the modern car industry now has it's first Concept Car. The "Car of the Future" as Harley Earl called it.

His design team at GM went all out with this first of many GM Concept Cars. It was an idea developed to inspire the Engineers, Designers, Craftsmen, Salesmen, to think forward and create new cars for the future.

A big Thanks to GM and Harley Earl for pioneering the "Concept Car".

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57timemachine on Apr 25, 2021 said:

The very first and no surprise that it was GM that came out with the very first.

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Mario on Apr 26, 2021 said:

Yes GM was a top dog back then and went flying past Ford who wanted to remain still. Lots of great people did so much to make GM the King and they had good leadership to steer the way. Cheers.

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azmusclecar on Apr 25, 2021 said:

I see some shots with the rear fender skirts on and some without. That ride really looks awesome with the skirts. That long line of chrome on the rear fender really looks good as it flows over the rear wheel area.

Awesome front end especially with the concealed headlights.

It is nice to see the top of the tires tucked up into the fenderwell increasing that low look to go along with the sleek body lines.

A winner in my book. Great post Mario.

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Mario on Apr 26, 2021 said:

Thanks Rob, it must have been a wild looking car back in 1938! It set the pace for forties and fifties car design.

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Mario on Apr 26, 2021 said:

How about the Boat Tail rear end like the future Riviera and did you notice no running boards which took 10 years for that to become the norm.

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azmusclecar on Apr 25, 2021 said:

Just noticed some shots has a driver side mirror and other shots it's not there. Hmmmm ....

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Mario on Apr 26, 2021 said:

Yes over the years since 1938 there have been many changes and improvements to the car. Harley drove this car back and forth to work for about 10 years before it was turned over to GM.

Good catch on the differences since the pictures scan a period of over 80 years! But fortunately the car is safely tucked away at the GM Museum.

[Reply to this comment]

Mario on Mar 18, 2024 said:

I colorized all the B/W pictures.

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