My Car Quest

December 16, 2019

Buick Y-Job Concept: A Re-Creation By Gary Wales At Benedict Castle Concours

Text by Wallace Wyss –

Photographs by Richard Bartholomew –

Nobody in the old car collecting field is as irrepressible as Gary Wales of Woodland Hills, California.

Formerly known first as a Ferrari collector when still in Detroit, and then as an old Bentley guy, in recent years you never know what direction he will go next.

He jumps from one marque to another, like his matched set of ’37 RR boattail cars, and then a 1915 car called La Bestioni Rusty Two, the second time he has done a “beast of Turin.”

At the Benedict Castle Concours in Riverside on March 31, 2019, he showed up with his latest creation–a pretty convincing copy of the 1938 Buick Y job.

1938_Buick-Y-Job-Concept-Image-001-800

1938 Buick Y-Job Concept

The original GM show car was honored in 1993, when it “came home” to the GM Design Center in Warren, Mich., where it now resides as an honored member of GM’s heritage collection.

Gary Wales and the 1938_Buick-Y-Job-Concept

The 1938 Buick Y-Job is generally considered the industry’s first concept car. Created by General Motors Styling and Buick Engineering, it was designed by Harley J. Earl, GM’s first design chief.

Earl had been hired away from the business he and his father had built customizing cars for Hollywood stars (and before that, unbelievably, wagons and carriages!). He had learned as a boy how to create a car design by molding scale models of clay drawn from a nearby riverbed. Once he came to GM he began having full size “dream cars” built, most of those being featured in the stage shows he had travel the country, called “Motoramas.”

Gary Wales and the 1938_Buick-Y-Job-Concept

In between shows he would drive the dream cars to and from work, every so often having the car brought in and updated. This original Y-job was built on a production Buick chassis modified by Charlie Chayne, then Buick’s chief engineer. Power was supplied by a Buick 320 cubic inch straight 8.

Always the contrarian, Earl had called it ‘Y’ because so many makers dubbed experimental cars ‘X.’ (later GM went back to “X” for later dream cars, though…)

Gary Wales and the 1938_Buick-Y-Job-Concept

Gary Wales and the 1938_Buick-Y-Job-Concept

Styling cues and mechanical features of the Y-job showed up on GM products, particularly Buick and Cadillac, throughout the ’40s though the hidden headlamps were particularly show to make the showrooms.

Gary Wales and the 1938_Buick-Y-Job-Concept

Noteworthy is the introduction of a wide horizontal grille with thin vertical bars, which remains a Buick styling feature to this day.

Doubtless we will hear the story of Wales’ creation of the car in the future but meanwhile I wanted to congratulate him for completing another project….

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of 18 automotive histories and co-host of “Autotalk” broadcast weekly from KUCR FM Riverside.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Richard Bartholomew is an artist and photographer based in Southern California. He is open to interesting consignments and can be reached at zeroagenow@aol.com

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Gary Wales and the 1938_Buick-Y-Job-Concept

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Summary
Buick Y-Job Concept: A Re-Creation By Gary Wales At Benedict Castle Concours
Article Name
Buick Y-Job Concept: A Re-Creation By Gary Wales At Benedict Castle Concours
Description
Always the contrarian, Harley Earl had called it 'Y' because so many makers dubbed experimental cars 'X.'
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Comments

  1. imwithstoopid says

    Why do I like it? Because it has a personality, Something today’s electronic marvels has none of.
    wonder if Mr. Simpson feels that way

    • Completely agree, the thing that made the Earl era concepts shine was their ability to get people to dream about cars in ways they never had. He most definitely started a trend that we look forward to every year in the hopes that the next thing to completely capture our imagination will be at just the next show, and some times we are still rewarded.

  2. wallace wyss says

    I don’t have the big book on Bill Mitchell but read one on Earl but I wish I could hear about how many European cars they bought for analysis, I know when they were developing a Corvette race car they were tempted to rebody a D-type Jag they had bought. Another time they had a gullwing. Another time an Iso Fidia.

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