GM Futurliner Pictures and History

As a byproduct of General Motors' hugely successful industrial exhibits at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, GM decided to build a fleet of behemoth "Streamliner" trucks, packed with amazing exhibits and demonstrations showcasing GM's latest inventions and technology. Named the "Parade of Progress", this fleet of 8 "moving van sized" buses and attendant support vehicles lumbered across America during the depression era and dazzled rural Americans with appliances, technology and science that they had only read about in dime store comic books or si-fi novels. The Parade of Progress was a huge hit for General Motors and exposed over 10 million consumers in 220 cities, to the technological wonders of the day. After touring GM's displays at the 1939 World's Fair in New York, Charles Kettering (Vice President of GM's Research and Development) decided it was time to "modernize" the Parade of Progress, so he authorized construction of 12 new "Futurliner" buses (dimensions: 33' x 96' x 11'7"; weight: 33,000 lbs.; wheelbase: 284") at GM's Pontiac, Michigan plant, to replace the out-dated and road-weary fleet of "Streamliners" (the Streamliners were retired and their fate is unknown). Each new Futurliner was fitted with 19 display and access doors as well as an impressive lighted roof panel that could be raised 16 feet in the air, to illuminate exhibits at night. Packed with wondrous exhibits and displays (including demonstrations of early forms of television and microwave ovens!), this new Parade of Progress and its fleet of 12 "bubble-topped" 2-story Futurliner buses and support vehicles, hit the road in February 1941 and began introducing more Americans to the wonders of technology. After only 9 months, more than 2.5 million consumers in over 30 cities had experienced the wonders of this travelling Parade of Progress, but the WW-II attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 brought an end to the tour and GM mothballed the entire fleet of Futurliners. Probably coinciding with the introduction of Chevrolet's new Corvette fiberglass sports car in 1953, General Motors pulled the Futurliners out of storage, installed new larger motors and comfort features like air conditioning, and launched a new Parade of Progress tour. This 3rd tour was not as successful as the first 2 had been, so after 3 years, GM brought the tour to an end in 1956. It's interesting to note that during this final tour, two Futurliners collided, inflicting major rear end damage to one of the Futurliners. However, the other 11 rigs successfully finished the tour. At the end of this tour, the Futurliners were sold or given away - some were repurposed by other companies but others ended up rotting in a field or junkyard. At this time, most of the Futurliners have been restored or are currently being restored. Our featured Futurliner was acquired by the current owner in an extreme state of deterioration, so a full restoration was not possible. The cab was transferred to a Peterbilt truck chassis with a 230hp motor and the owner has restored this "survivor" Futurliner as a flat bed with a "roll-back" carrier for vehicle transportation, while retaining much of the original Futurliner's unique trim, style and dignity.
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1941 GM Futurliner
with driver's door open
1941 GM Futurliner
showing large GM trim
1941 GM Futurliner
impressive front view
1941 GM Futurliner
open driver and access doors
1941 GM Futurliner
driver's seat up top
1941 GM Futurliner
mechanic's access door open
1941 GM Futurliner
beautiful art-deco style
1941 GM Futurliner
side view shows flat bed
1941 GM Futurliner, unique
molded GM front bumper
1941 GM Futurliner
stylish vehicle transport
1941 GM Futurliner
stairs to driver's cockpit

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