Saturday, September 24, 2011
The GM Futurliners were a group of stylized buses designed in the 1940s by Harley Earl for General Motors. They were used in GM's Parade of Progress, which traveled the United States exhibiting new cars and technology. The Futurliners were used from 1940 to 1941 and again from 1953 to 1956. A total of 12 were built, and 9 were still known to exist as of 2007.
Parade of Progress
Each Futurliner displayed modern advances in science and technology such as jet engines, stereophonic sound, microwave ovens, television and many other modern innovations of the time.
The Parade of Progress was halted by WWII. The vehicles were refurbished by GM and the Parade resumed in 1953, and were discontinued in 1956, a victim of the technologies the Futurliners had featured: television.
In addition to the Futurliners, the Parade of Progress included 32 support vehicles.
After the Parade
Following the Parade of Progress, the twelve Futurliners were disposed of by General Motors.
Two Futurliners were donated by GM to the Michigan State Police. Rechristened as "Safetyliners", they were used to promote safety on the roads.
At least one Futurliner was purchased by Oral Roberts and used as a portable stage during evangelical crusades of the 1960's. This vehicle may have been taken to Central or South America.
Futurliner #11 sold for a record US$4,000,000 (plus premium) on Jan 21, 2006 at a Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona. Too large to ship, it was driven to its new home in Chandler.
Futurliner #10 is believed to be the most accurately restored of the Futurliners.
As of summer 2008 Futurliner #8 was delivered to its new Swedish owner Nicklas Jonsson who plans to restore it over a 10-year period. It's the first and only Futurliner in Europe.
Of the other six known surviving Futurliners, one is used as a motorhome and two in advertising. One is in Maine and is currently being restored. It is owned by Tom Learned and is powered by a GM V-8 with an Allison automatic transmission. The other four are generally beyond restorable condition.
Other GM Futurliners
The GM Futurliner Restoration Project
The General Motors Futurliner: A History
Posted by Palmer at 8:01 AM