The 1938 Buick Y-Job is the concept car designed by Harley Earl, the reverable designer at General Motors Production and Concept Cars division, and this car became known as the most beautiful concept car of all time.
This is the car I have used as the header on my Facebook Classic and Custom Car Page and over time I have had inquiries asking what car is it – so here it is, and its history.
First off this video is a fascinating watch just to see some of the cars in the General Motors Heritage Centre, and to listen to the interview with Bob Lutz who is retiring after 48 years with GM.
Bob was Vice President of Global Production Development and was responsible for many of their new car releases, is very interesting to listen to as he describes not only his time with GM and other manufacturers, but also the many cars and military jets in his own private collection.
This is followed by a drive in the Buick, a rare treat as this car is very seldom allowed out of the Centre building.
Wow, some of the cars on display in the GM Heritage Centre are a must see.
The Buick Y-Job was the first concept car by GM and was released in 1938.
It is powered by the 320 cub in Straight 8 engine, has a wheelbase of 126 inches and is 208 inches long.
Harley named this car the Buick Y-Job as up till this time all experimental cars were named “X Cars” so he moved to “Y” the next letter in the alphabet which was also used to identify the significant advances being made in aircraft development.
Harley drove this Buick until 1951 when it was sold. It ended up in the Henry Ford Museum until 1993 when it was returned by Ford to the General Motors Heritage Centre. Nice gesture on Ford’s part.
Harley Earl born 1893 died 1969 was a coachbuilder by trade, and pioneered the art of free-form sketching car designs, and the use of clay to produce a full size model.
The Fisher Body company employed him to design the 1927 La Salle for Cadillac, beginning his career with GM.
He was responsible for the 1948 Cadillac, the first car in America to have tails fins.
This led to a competition over many years with Virgil Exner, designer for Chrysler who then added tail fins to his designs. Consequently the race was on to see who could incorporate bigger and bigger tail fins into car design until eventually common sense had to prevail with a lets just forget about tail fins and become sensible again.
Harley decided the USA needed a sports car ot its own, so in 1953 the Corvette hit the showrooms, with limited production for a start. Over time the Corvette, and the Corvette Stingray had many improvements, new generation models developed and a growing list of options to choose from.
It is obvious Harley’s Y-Job design influenced the design of Buick’s in the late 1940’s and early 50″s, then in 2001 the Y-Job car was virtually recreated with the release of the Buick Blackhawk retro style concept car.
Entirely hand built it was based on the 1948 Buick Roadmaster body but with the 1939 grill , body was 2+2 with a retractable hardtop, the engine was 455 cub in 463 HP V8 pushing it from 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds. Transmission was a 4 speed auto, with independant suspension front and rear.
Like the Y-Job the Blackhawk was intended to be driven with it often going from car show to car show throughout America. It was sold at auction in 2009 for $522,500.
Keep a lookout next week as I have a sequel to this video to publish as a new post, or join our newsletter.
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