There were only 12 Futurliners built between 1939 and 1940, and of those 12 only nine have been found. Two of the finds are beyond restoration but will live on as parts for other restorations. The GM Futurliners are custom built vehicles that were styled by Harley Earl in the 1940s; they were also a very important part of the Parade of Progress.
Parade of Progress was a North American exhibition put on by GM in hopes of promoting future cars and technologies.
These Futurliners were massive; they stood at 11 feet tall, 8 feet wide, 33 feet long and weighed over 12 tons. They featured heavy Art deco styling.
The engine was a military-grade 302-cu.in. GMC straight-six gasoline engine and had an automatic transmission.
It rode on whitewall tires and had a central driving position. The Futurliners were usually set up around a large tent and kiosk with their own stage.
The exhibition covered topics like jet engines, traffic engineering, agriculture, microwave ovens, stereophonic sound and television. The Parade of Progress was interrupted by World War 2, but in 1953 the vehicles were refitted, and it once again went on the road.
The parade was stopped after 1956 since television was becoming much bigger – which is funny since they were one of the first to promote television.
GM then sold off the Futurliners and even donated two of them to the Michigan State Police who rebranded the “Safetyliners” and used them as a way to promote road safety. One was bought by Oral Roberts and used as a portable stage for their evangelical crusades of the 1960s.
One of these beauties was wrecked during the Parade in 1956 and was never replaced.
The most well-known Futurliner was sold in 2006 to Ron Pratte at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona at the whopping price of $4,000,000. In 2015 the Futurliner was sold once again at the same auction by Mr.
Pratte for the exact same price, the proceeds from the sale were given to the Armed Forces Foundation.
One of the Futurliners was restored and sits in the NATMUS museum in Auburn, IN.
One is being used as a motorhome and bus #8 was bought by a Swedish man and shipped to Sweden where he plans to restore it over a ten year period.
This Futurliner is the only one to ever be shipped to Europe. Peter Pan Bus Lines in Massachusetts has #7 and #6 in storage.
Bus #5 is refitted to be a flatbed hauler. #3 was on two episodes of the Velocity Channel show “Bitchin’ Rides”. #4 is currently being restored in Maine, and the final two are still unaccounted for.