Name: Buick Y-Job

Debuted: 1938

Specs: 320-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) inline-eight engine with 141 hp & 269 lb-ft, 208.4-inch long, fully operational

Why We Remember It Now:

Basically because this is generally considered as being the very first concept in the car industry. It was penned by GM’s first chief designer, Harley J. Earl, and he actually drove it throughout the 1940s as the Y-Job was fully functional.

Based on a Buick Century chassis, the long two-seater convertible was envisioned with a power-retractable fabric roof which when not in use was tucked away in a metal deck panel. This was a novelty in the late 30s and the concept also had power windows, yet another first back then.

It was developed without running boards which made it look considerably more modern compared to cars of that era while the hidden headlamps (as seen in the 1937 Cord) were also a neat feature. Up front it came with an elegant wide grille featuring chrome vertical slats and had a bombsight hood ornament that later on was implemented on production cars.

The front fenders flowed into the doors to create a cohesive look and made the car appear longer. Both front and rear fenders were adorned with horizontal chrome fins and the concept received 13-inch wheels unlike the other cars of those days that had 16-inch wheels. More interesting stuff was going on at the back where it had flush taillights and a pop-up deck lid handle.

The low-slung convertible made an appearance at the 1950 Chicago Auto Show before it was stored in a General Motors warehouse. Later on, it was donated to the Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan, and eventually it was restored to its former glory and displayed in Dearborn, Michigan at the Henry Ford Museum. Since 1993, the Buick Y-Job has a place of its own at the GM Design Center in Warren, Michigan.

Gallery: Concept We Forgot: 1938 Buick Y-Job [video]

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