Back to the future with Buick Y-Job from 1938

Back to the future with Buick Y-Job from 1938

The world’s first concept car? Almost all historians now agree that this Buick Y-Job must have been from 1938. The car was not intended to be sold, but was allowed to showcase new technology and, of course, new design ideas.

>> AutoGids’ Back to the Future – a summary of the model from A to Z

The car of the future

The concept car, designed by or under the direction of Harley J. Earl, had “hidden” handles and ditto lanterns (electrically operated), electric window lifts (the very first show!) And bumpers around the corners. And also amazing: intended as an ornament on a hat. Y-Job, and time makerThe Future Carit also introduced a waterfall grille that would return to many Buicks for decades to come.

As mentioned, mass production was out of the question, but Earl drove his own car for several years. Until he replaced it in 1951 with a real production car. Buick original was later restored in…


Y-Job’s passion made its main company General Motors realize the importance of such innovations first. The big American car company even turned its identity into a pair of sunglasses, from 1949 to 1961 it visited the country regularly with its Motorama exhibition, which was highly praised by the enthusiastic public.

Several concept cars were displayed simultaneously in major cities, they also became more unique and undoubtedly encouraged other American (and European) manufacturers to do the same. So cars had little to do with what was offered to customers in retail showrooms, which are often no different today.

After X follows Y

Coming back to the Buick Y-Job, there are two descriptions of the use of Y in the first name of the concept car. The test cars were usually called X, so Earl would be “just” taking the next letter of the alphabet for his creation. But Y was also often used for high-tech models in space, which may (too) have been a source of inspiration for the American designer.