Four Harley Earl Classics From GM Heritage Visit Detroit Streets

The Concours d’Elegance originated in France but now comes in many forms. One of these was completed last month at Pebble Beach where we saw a series of extensive car launches.

In Michigan, the Detroit Concours d’Elegance takes place this weekend. But unlike the typical glitzy, glitzy show during the Concours, this one takes place on the streets of Detroit. And for this year, the exhibition is dedicated to one of the most influential designers who have made an impact on the automotive industry.

We’re talking about the legendary General Motors chief design officer Harley Earl, and for the Concours, four of his iconic pieces – all part of the GM Heritage Center’s permanent private collection – will join the celebrations. Much like the illicit relationship, these cars are rarely seen together in public, which will happen on September 18, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

1920 Cadillac Type 59C

1920 Cadillac Type 59C - Harley Earl Classics For Detroit Concours d'Elegance

Earl’s work as a designer began in Los Angeles creating custom bodywork for wealthy clients at his family business, Earl Automobile Works. It was later acquired by California distributor Cadillac Don Lee and renamed Don Lee Coach and Body Works.

One of Earl’s early works was this: a blue-black Cadillac Type 59C coachbuilt sedan.

1927 LaSalle Series 303

1927 LaSalle Series 303 - Harley Earl Classics For Detroit Concours d'Elegance

In line with the task of then Cadillac President Lawrence Fisher to launch the LaSalle brand, Earl was hired to provide the brand visual panache according to the custom work he was doing in California. The product was the 1927 LaSalle Series 303, which was inspired by Hispano-Suiza.

It was then that GM hired Earl to head the newly created Art and Color Division, which continues and becomes GM Design today.

1938 Buick Y-Job Concept

1938 Buick Y-Job Concept - Harley Earl Classics For Detroit Concours d'Elegance

The Buick Y-Job is celebrated as the industry’s first concept car. It was Earl’s interpretation of the future of automotive design, and it also served as Earl’s personal vehicle for more than a decade. The Y-Job was unlike any other of its time and became the design benchmark for General Motors.

In 2016, the Y-Job was enshrined in the National Register of Historic Vehicles.

1951 General Motors LeSabre Concept

1951 General Motors LeSabre Concept - Harley Earl Classics For Detroit Concours d'Elegance

The GM LeSabre concept is considered the Earl’s greatest work. Its style is inspired by the design of jet aircraft, hence, its name comes from the first supersonic fighter jet. The body is made of aluminum, magnesium, and fiberglass, and is the centerpiece of GM’s show circuit.

Just like Y-Job, LeSabre became Earl’s personal vehicle.

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