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The first ever concept car in 1938 looks like an epic bit of kit

The auto industry's first-ever concept car, the Buick Y-Job, was a sleek convertible with a bunch of features considered ahead of their time.

Published on Jul 25, 2023 at 4:44PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Oct 18, 2023 at 9:08PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Kate Bain
1938 Buick Y-Job - the first ever concept car

What you’re looking at here is the auto industry’s first ever concept car.

Built in 1938 by GM’s styling section, the Buick was given the name the Y-Job, because it was one step beyond an “eXperimental” car.

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Led by legendary stylist Harley J. Earl, the first VP in charge of design for GM, his team created the sleek convertible in Art Moderne style.

The Y-Job represented the essence of Earl’s design philosophy – low and streamlined.

And it included a bunch of features considered ahead of their time.

It had fenders sweeping back into the doors, concealed running boards, a short horizontal grille (which became standard on automobiles that followed), and hidden headlights.

It also had a gunsight hood ornament, high “power dome” hood extending to a two-piece V-shaped windshield, hidden turn signals in the grille, and a boattail rear end.

That was in addition to integrated tail lamps in the fenders, recessed door handles, an electrohydraulic convertible roof, and power windows.

The Y-Job used a custom-lengthened Buick Series 50 Super chassis, indicated by the word “Super” located above the rear license plate.

Under the hood was a straight eight-cylinder 248-cubic-inch engine with a 1941-42 dual carb intake.

It was originally fitted with a three-speed manual transmission, but that was replaced with a Dynaflow automatic.

The prototype Bendix power steering system was eventually removed, too.

The Y-Job was originally fitted with aircraft style “expander-tube” brakes, but they were later converted to standard type hydraulic brakes.

At 6 foot 4 tall, the Y-Job had a sunken gas pedal to accommodate Earl – but why was that important?

Because the Y-Job wasn’t just the first ever concept car, it served as Earl’s daily driver throughout the 1940s.

By the 1950s, the car made its way into the Buick Heritage Collection and today, it remains in the care of GM.

In 2016, the Buick Y-Job became the 14th car added to the National Heritage Vehicle Register.

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