Have you seen Buick’s Y-Job? It once was a future car

This article originally appeared on lehighvalleylive.com, written by Tony Rhodin, photos by Sue Bever, on August 2, 2016

Concept cars draw attention both for their cool potential and, after time, their impact on contemporary design.

Buick’s Y-Job, a “Car of the Future” developed by General Motors’ Style Section and Buick engineers in the late 1930s and announced in 1940, was one such effort, according to a news release.

On Tuesday, the car created under the direction of design maven Harley Earl will become the 14th entry on the National Historic Vehicle Register, the news release said.


The car is attaining its honor during the grand opening of the Historic Vehicle Association National Laboratory in Allentown, the news release said. The lab at 862 Fenwick St. and next to the 27-acre NB Center for American Automotive Heritage is a “state of the art facility for automotive photography, photogammetry, 3D scanning, videography and HVA’s … physical and digital archives,” the news release said.

The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage underwrote the development of the laboratory, the news release said.

“The Buick Y-Job is a true American design treasure and an incredibly appropriate vehicle to document during our national laboratory grand opening,” HVA President Mark Gessler said in the news release.

But back to the car.

Casey Lab

The coupe was built on a custom Buick chassis and the 13-inch wheels were powered by a Buick Series 50 engine, the news release said. It had brakes with airplane technology, a streamlined body and front fenders that extended into the doors, the news release said. It had a boat tail rear end with a hint of fins and a concealed convertible top, the news release said. It was lower and wider than most cars of the day and had rare for the time retractable headlamps and a one-piece ‘alligator-type’ hood, the news release said.

“Harley Earl and the Buick Y-Job expanded the boundaries of car design and drew the blueprint for concept vehicle design and execution,” GM Global Design Vice President Michael Simcoe said in the news release. “We thank the HVA for ensuring the world’s first concept car is documented and preserved for future generations.”

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