"Experimentation, of course, is the life blood of this industry..."
The above quote came from the NY Times news story featured directly below. It's no surprise that a lofty phrase like this one would appear in an article on Earl's experimenting and/or inventing the concept of the dream car for which ever major car company in the future would exploit as a key element in marketing and selling their product-designs.
One of the most influential cars of modern times, Harley Earl's Y-JOB, was the first significant experimental car to be built in the United States. It was so far advanced that ten years after it was made in 1938 it was still attracting attention. Even as General Motors celebrated itís 50th anniversary in 1958, many of the Y-JOB's features had become standard on production cars.
It was the first car of a parade of 38 "dream" and experimental cars designed by Harley Earl and his highly trained appearance engineers that then allowed GM exclusive rights to thrill audiences throughout the world with their visions of automotive tomorrows.
The following 1940 New York Times newspaper story shows an early shot of Earl's pre-war creation. But, it was only after WW II that Designer-Earl christened General Motors' first dream car with the "Y-Job" moniker...that still lives on to this day thrilling audience members.
Earl's legendary Y-Job, that he personally designed (the LA Times article directly below gets this history right...and quotes Earl designing this vehicle), "Harley J. Earl, a native of Los Angeles and vice president in charge of styling staff for GM, designed the 'Y-Job' ..."GM has built 38 such cars..." The Y-Job was still a major attraction with the auto press and car lovers even almost two decade had gone by; examine the details inside the following Los Angeles Times newspaper story from Feb., 1956. This seminal dream car spawned every future GM concept car that would follow, even the concept vehicles of all this company's competitors over the last seventy years, too!
Finally, the reason for bringing up the question --- Who designed the Y-JOB? --- explains one of the reasons with why Detroit remains a little upside down today on this history. Read the little event, below, for evidently, many a Motorcity auto exec don't know much behind the roots of Harley Earl's greatest modern milestones.
Anyway, in March of 2002 I got a phone call from Lawrence (Larry) R. Gustin, a resident "Buick historian" who still currently works for this GM division. Gustin told me he was revising his 1980 book titled, "The Buick: A Complete History" for a reprinting because of Buick's 100th anniversary in 2003. Well, Larry wanted to ask a question he was trying to clear up in order to put the answer in his book reprint. Essentially, he asked me something that blew my mind, "WHO DESIGNED THE BUICK Y-JOB?" Gustin then went on saying, "how he was never able to track down this history in any of his interviews conducted or that he could never find any hard evidence in print." I was kind of surprised, since it was easy for any historian to find articles like the ones that are up at this section of the website.
Well, I about fell out of my chair when one of GM's supposed "No. 1 historians" didn't know this important modern auto history! Gustin and I also clashed because he didn't even understand how "Harley Earl and his design sword, the auto design profession, became the No. 1 reason for car sales in the 20th century." Obviously Gustin had only skimmed over Buick's contemporary history and then primarily focused on the angle coming from the traditional engineering side. How could it be that Gustin, who was originally a Flint Journal newspaper reporter before he went to work for Buick, had never even seen or read any of the newspaper stories (like the one directly above) from the mid-century-years that answers the question of WHO DESIGNED THE Y-JOB. To this day, guys like Gustin (who have already wrote their history...and are never going to change their tune on how they wrote it in the past) will simply never understand how the car design profession is the central universe behind what makes the modern auto industry tick today. Here's what some refer to as, "Harley Earl's Dream Car Patent":