The 1938 Buick Y-Job Concept has long been considered the vehicle that most influenced the design of American cars in the 1950s, and due to that accomplishment, the Y-Job will become the 14th automobile named to the National Historic Register.
That announcement came on August 2nd and coincided with the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) opening its own National Laboratory in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This laboratory is home to a 3D scanner, 40×40-foot white room, and digital archives, among other equipment, which will be used to document vehicles that have been added to the registry [ed. note: “register”].
Legendary designer Harley Earl and GM’s Styling Department were the parties responsible for dreaming up the Buick Y-Job. Many historians consider the Y-Job to be the United State’s first concept vehicle.
Notable features of the Y-Job included a lengthened 1940 Buick Series Super chassis and a Buick Series 50 engine, but this vehicle is most famous for its trendsetting exterior design. Because the vehicle sat so low to the ground and featured a wider than usual body, it didn’t need to use running boards, which were typically used in vehicles during that time period. In addition, the two-door convertible marked the debut of Buick’s trademark waterfall grille, retractable headlights, and tailfin.
Harley Earl actually used the 1938 Buick Y-Job as his daily driver for the better part of decade, and it’s sure to have caught the attention of car enthusiasts everywhere he visited due to its hydraulic-electric convertible top and unique fender design that extended into the doors.
“Harley Earl and the Buick Y-Job expanded the boundaries of car design and drew the blueprint for concept vehicle design and execution,” said Michael Simcoe, GM global design vice president. “We thank the HVA for ensuring the world’s first concept car is documented and preserved for future generations.”