World’s first ‘dream’ car reborn and its story shared anew

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Tribute version of the 1938 Buick Y-Job concept car is among the cars displayed at the 7th annual Carmel Mission Classic, a car show within the walls of the historic mission | Larry Edsall photos

Gary Wales and Andres Aranda, his partner in what some might consider to be automotive crimes, are known for their creation of La Bestioni cars, often built on massive frames, such as those underlying old fire trucks, and with huge-displacement engines and exotic bodywork that looks both exotic and vintage at the same time.

But lately, they’ve been basking in the glory of a vehicle they didn’t build in their Woodland Hills, California, workshop, although they likely saved the car and completed its build.

The car is a tribute (clone/reproduction) of the Buick Y-Job, a creation of Harley Earl and his Art and Color team at General Motors back in the late 1930s. The Y-Job is considered the world’s first true concept or “dream” car. Only one was built and it is cherished, and rarely displayed, by General Motors.

Wales, now into his early 80s, and Aranda showed the tribute version of the car again Wednesday at the seventh annual Carmel Mission Classic, one of the mainstays of Monterey Car Week, and they did not need to ask forgiveness for the car’s display within the walls of the historic Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo.

The car show is staged by the Knights of Columbus fraternal organization and supports the mission’s charities. 

Gary Wales didn’t build the Y-Job tribute car, but he brought it to completion and shares its story at car shows

Wales shared the car’s story: Raymond Melioli, a resident of New York, loved the Y-Job so much he set out to build a duplicate after he retired from work. He found a 1941 Cadillac chassis, mounted it on modern Chevrolet Corvette suspension with four-wheel disc brakes, inserted an LS-1 V8 engine and linked it to a modern automatic transmission. He gave the car power steering and air conditioning and fabricated steel bodywork. 

Melioli spent four years working on the car, only to lose his eyesight before it was finished. When he died, the car still was not completed. 

A friend who had worked with Melioli convinced the family to sell him the car, which he finished to the point he could display it at car shows. Wales saw the car at a show in Southern California.

“I was gobstruck!” he said.

Mission courtyard provides a wonderful setting for vehicles to be displayed

Gobstruck, but also seeing that the car needed paint and other finishing touches, and he struck up a conversation with its owner.

As it turned out, what the owner really wanted was a couple of hot rods, and Wales struck a deal. The former owner could now buy his hot rods, and Wales and Aranda gave the Y-Job tribute proper paint and dealt with other details.  They have been able to share the finished car and the story of both the original Y-Job and its copy with people at car shows and concours.

Meanwhile, back in the shop, they’re at work on their next Bestioni project, their version of the famed Beast of Turin. 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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