Jay Leno And The Original Concept Car: 1938 Buick Y Job

Jay Leno always drives the best Collector Cars! As a concept car in 1938, the Buick Y-Job traveled around the country to show future design elements that would be incorporated in upcoming GM products. When the Y-Job was initially designed by design legend Harley Earl in 1938, its purpose wasn’t to go into production, but rather to highlight items and features that would be seen on future GM vehicles. Today, that’s called a concept car, but 80 years ago it was the first of its kind.

General Motors Vice President of Global Design Michael Simcoe is Earl’s modern-day equivalent, so it’s appropriate that he brought the Y-Job to California for Jay Leno to take it for a spin.

The Buick Y-Job features power-operated hidden headlights, flush-mounted door handles, electric windows, and the then-new Buick waterfall grille design—trick tech for the time. It later served as Harley Earl’s personal car for a decade and was fondly remembered on Detroit’s streets.

With Leno, Simcoe acts a bit poetic about Harley Earl himself, while walking the famed entertainer through all of the lines of the Y-Job. Eventually, the hood is closed, the key is put into the ignition, and the two venture out onto a nearby airfield to drive the car.

Leno says that it rides and drives very nicely. That’s even with the car having no power steering and is clearly a heavy auto machine. At the 17:34 mark in the video, you will see a perfectly timed bit of GM past and future. As Jay remarks about American luxury back in the day, a 6th-generation Camaro roars through the shot in the background.

All of us have to assume this Y-Job was driven on the airfield because it’s far too valuable to drive on the street. Just click play and treat yourself to a nice and wildly rare machine being let out into the world for a bit.

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