In the mid-1930s Buick General Manager Harlow Curtice pressed Harley Earl, General Motors' design chief, to develop an exciting vehicle that would shed Buick's "old man, banker" image.
The result was the Y-Job, the industry's first dream car. Today, it would be labeled a concept.
When the Y-Job debuted in 1940, the car's styling leap from the tall, boxy Buicks of the late 1930s was profound.
The vehicle never made it to the assembly line, but many of its styling elements were used on Buick production cars.
But more important, the Y-Job exemplified Earl's styling principles that would guide Buick and GM after World War II. Stylists such as Earl became pre-eminent, and the Y-Job was a key part of that trend.
Earl believed in low and long automobiles, "at times in reality and always at least in appearance because my sense of proportion tells me that oblongs are more attractive than squares," he said in Buick: The Complete History, by Terry Dunham and Lawrence Gustin.
The Y-Job's sleek appearance was aided, the authors say, by disappearing headlamps, curved-door glass windows, a low vertical front grille, flush door handles and recessed taillamps.