Buick Y-Job

Famous General Motors stylist and engineer Harley Earl made a career introducing innovation in the automotive world. In his early years he worked for Cadillac designing models for Hollywood celebrities and American nouveaux riches.

Earl designed Cadillac La Salle model in 1927, one of the first luxury cars fully assembled within a large professional manufacturer. It was common practice at the time to produce vital luxury car parts by the main factory, while the body was built by a specialized company.

In 1938 Earl designed the first concept car in the American automotive industry named Buick Y-Job. Entire concept car approach was created from his work to show future innovations. Elements found in Buick Y-Job can be easily seen in the styling of different Buick models until the 1950s.

These included power operated concealed headlamps, a gun sight hood design, wraparound bumpers, vertical grille, electric windows and many more. In fact, wide horizontal grille with vertical bars remains a Buick styling characteristic even today.

There are two main explanations for the Buick Y-Job name. Because vehicle prototypes usually had a letter X in the name Harley Earl simply chose the next letter in the alphabet. Another theory suggests that the name was inspired by a practice in the aviation industry to give Y mark to the most technologically advanced models.

Buick Y-Job wasn't just a showroom car. Harley Earl used it as his personal vehicle on the streets of Detroit for thirteen years and made over 25,000 miles before he switched to Le Sabre dream car.

Power performance was based on 320 cu in Inline-8 Buick engine capable of generating 141 horsepower. It wasn't the most powerful engine, but it perfectly balanced power with comfort. The ride in a Buick Y-Job was very quiet and smooth, unlike other models of the era. Model was all about comfort and not really about the speed or racing.

Charlie Chayne, Buick's chief engineer, personally modified the original production Buick chassis. Unfortunately, concept cars are often overshadowed by other futuristic models.

The Buick goal was to see public reaction to different changes in style, in order to help them make investing decisions on future models. In this case, Buick Y-Job was equally brilliant on paper as it was in real life. It showed an engineering vision of future automotive design well and people viewed the prototype as incredibly impressive.

Buick Y-Job prototype was finally consigned to a warehouse. It was completely restored in 1990s by Dale Jacobsen, a manager of General Motor's fleet of heritage and concept vehicles.

The model was moved between several highly reputable automotive history museums until 1993, when it was returned to General Motors in Warren, Michigan. Nowadays, Buick Y-Job is considered an honored member of General Motors heritage collection. As a tribute, company redesigned the same special features and styling in 2001 Buick Blackhawk.

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