Back to the Future: General Motors Futurliner Bus Up for Auction

Want to own a big -- and we use that adjective in the literal sense -- piece of automotive history? A rare General Motors Futurliner -- built for the automaker’s Parade of Progress exhibitions in the 1940s and 1950s -- heading to auction next month.

Scheduled to hit the auction block (but likely not roll across it, given its size) at RM Auctions’ Auctions of America Auburn Spring event in Indiana is one of the 12 Futurliners built. GM first constructed the coaches in 1940 to help move its mobile marketing campaign from city to city, but updated the coaches in 1953 for a revived fair.  Built by GM’s Truck & Coach division in Pontiac, Michigan, Futurliners measured in at 33 feet long, 8 feet wide, almost 12 feet tall, and tipped the scales at 30,000 pounds. Despite the heft, the updated Futurliners used only GMC’s 302-cubic-inch I-6 for power.

Few Futurliners were built, and even fewer still remain on this earth. During the process of restoring its example, the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States located 9 of the 12, and noted two are well beyond restoration. This present example, once owned by noted concept car magnate Joe Bortz, is unrestored, but is still fairly solid and remarkably complete. The bus does, for instance, retain its original exterior lettering, much of which had to be fabricated from scratch for NATMUS’ restoration. This Futurliner isn’t running at this point, but does come with eight new tires (two at each corner), a new plexiglass windshield, new rubber moldings, and new fluted aluminum paneling.

So, what will this example fetch at auction? It’s anyone’s guess. A well-restored example famously sold for $4.3 million in 2006, but RM expects this particular truck to bring in somewhere between $450,000 and $600,000 before even factoring in the labor and cost involved with completing the restoration (judging by NATMUS’ work diary, a new buyer may have their work cut out for them). The Auburn Spring auction runs fromFriday, May 13through Sunday, May 15 in Auburn, Indiana.

Source: RM/Auction America

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