GM ‘Parade of Progress’, looking at the Futurliner…

Having discovered the GM Futurliner while researching for an earlier post, we were very excited to see one ‘in the flesh’ at this years Goodwood Revival. Unfortunately it was only a static exhibit and in it’s location it wasn’t really possible to get the full effect but it was still pretty awesome. It’s main feature being, it’s so tall!  Unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to look inside.IMG_6674DSC04472 DSC04475 DSC04477 DSC04521 IMG_6675

Actually seeing a Futurliner spurred us on to do a bit of research and find out a bit more about them…

streamliner streamliner2Streamliner3In the 30’s GM wanted to take their latest car models to the people and show what was happening in the industry and in research, technology was developing at a pace and they wanted the American people to know about it. This evolved into the ‘Parade of Progress’ – a travelling exhibition across the country, promoting technology. For the first event held in the 1936, GM used a group of customised Streamliners (as above). They were such a success that for the 1939 New York World Fair, the GM Futurliner was custom built and then they went on the second ‘Parade of Progress’ tour which travelled to more than 150 locations across the USA and Canada. The ‘e’ in the ‘Future Liner’ name was dropped so that GM could copyright/trademark it easily.early-parade Early2 early4

Styled by Harley Earl, the first Head of Design and later President of General Motors in the 40’s and 50’s, each Futurliner had a self contained stage, a light tower and each vehicle featured a unique subject such as jet engine technology, agriculture, microwaves, stereophonic sound and televisions.

display1 display2 sound display4They featured heavily stylised Art Deco Streamlined bodywork with the driver centrally located in a high command position with a panoramic view. Twelve were produced and it is believed that nine are still in existence.The Parade was mothballed after Pearl Harbour  but later the vehicles were refurbished and the event resumed in 1953 before being discontinued in 1956 – ironically as televisions, which they had promoted, became more popular and the parade became obsolete.cockpit-view cockpit2parade-logoParade1 parade2 parade4 parade6 parade7 parade8 parade9

The Futurliners were constructed by the Yellow Coach Bus division in Pontiac, Michigan and were 30 feet long, 8 feet wide and nearly 12 feet to the top of the high level cockpit and were powered by a 6 cylinder OHV GMC diesel engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission and 2-speed gearbox. With dual wheels front and rear they stretched bus technology of the time to the limit. Weighing 13 tonnes it would appear that the brakes weren’t very efficient, as after an incident where one run into another, the drivers were told to keep them 300 feet apart! Despite their size they could only take the driver and two passengers on a pair of upright jump seats that flank the ‘captains’ chair.

Once in situ at the exhibition site, the light bar ascended vertically above the roof and the massive clam shell side doors opened to display the futuristic exhibits. The Futurliners were accompanied by support vehicles which made the parade 50 strong and took along a huge 1500 capacity ‘Areodrome’ tent.showground showground2display5aero2 aero3 aero4 aero5

In the 50’s when the Futurliners went on the road for the final parade they were slightly modified with larger GMC straight six petrol engines and the original glass bubble canopy was replaced with a panoramic windscreen with a metal roof to shield the driver from the intense sun and added air conditioning.1941-magazine 1953-magazine

The last parade was seen by 13 million people in 300 cities. Recently the Futurliner has been added to the National Historic Vehicle Register which documents important vehicles in American History.

The twelve vehicles were sold and two of the original twelve were donated to the Michigan State Police for safety displays, one became a portable stage for the televangelist Oral Roberts who used it for his crusades in the 60’s, it was known as the Cathedral Cruiser. One bus sold for US$4 million in 2006 and again in January this year when it’s owner liquidated his entire collection. It fetched the same amount and the money went to an Armed Forces Charity. Several have been restored, one converted to a motorhome and another which was too badly damaged for a full restoration has been covered into a flat bed transporter! Reportedly more are under restoration, including one in Sweden.safetylinerOral Robertsmotorhomemotorhome-interiorPeterpan1

transporter2

Futurliner No 10 is owned by the National Auto and Truck Museum in Auburn, Indiana, between 1999 and 2006 is was restored by a group of volunteers, led by a retired GM plant manager. It’s 23,000 hour restoration is detailed online. The bus now appears at events in the States.no10-before restoration

restored

Although at Goodwood we didn’t see the inside, following our research I believe that it was the number 9 bus which was converted to a motorhome by Bob Valdez in California and is now thought to be owned by a collector in Germany. It was great to see it, just a shame we couldn’t get a ‘selfie’ with Mario!

 

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A warm day for the London to Brighton Veteran run…

The weather was unseasonably warm for the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run although for much of the route it was rather misty and foggy, in Brighton it was glorious sunshine… This year we were only spectating and hoping to meet up with and support several groups of friends and clients taking part.

We had considered taking Mario along as lots of people turn out in their classics of all ages and join in or park up and watch the veterans going by but we weren’t organised enough and to be honest by the evening when we were travelling back, the fog was so bad that we were really glad we hadn’t as the visibility was terrible on our cross country route home.

Not being very good at getting up on a Sunday morning we went to just North of Hassocks which is fairly close to the finish to watch from outside the Friars Oak pub. We quite am assortment of vehicles come past including our friends Mike and Jan in their De Dion Bouton and Radio 2’s Chris Evans, Ken Bruce and Alex Jones in classic buses which were driven for Children in Need raising £320,000. Chris had been talking the event up on the radio for weeks and whether it was this or the mild conditions but there were certainly loads of supporters out lining the route.

We went on into Brighton although the amazing November sunshine had brought people out in droves and getting into and parking in Brighton was horrific. Luckily we had passes and so were able to go into Maderia Drive and the Bonham’s area to meet up with friends and enjoy a bowl of finishers chilli. Most of the people we knew finished the event although it would appear that quite a high percentage of the entrants didn’t make it to Brighton, a bit strange as the conditions were so good.

Anyhow it was a great day out as always…DSC06116 DSC06117 DSC06118 DSC06119 DSC06120 DSC06122 DSC06127 DSC06132 DSC06133 DSC06135 DSC06142 DSC06143 DSC06144 DSC06148 DSC06149 DSC06151 DSC06152 DSC06153 DSC06157 DSC06155DSC06161 DSC06172DSC06164 DSC06169 DSC06173 DSC06197 DSC06198 DSC06203 DSC06206 DSC06212 DSC06213 DSC06215 DSC06216 DSC06217 DSC06223 DSC06224 DSC06227 DSC06228 DSC06229 DSC06230 DSC06233 DSC06251 DSC06266 DSC06267 DSC06270 DSC06276 DSC06277 DSC06282 DSC06283 DSC06287