This ride is truly a blast from the past and one of the rarest birds on the road. This endangered species is a GM Futurliner, #3 to be exact and is part of Dennis Albaugh extensive, all things insanely awesome Chevy collection. For the uninitiated, these deco coaches were an off shoot of GM’s display at the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair. Shortly after the Fair, General Motors wanted to spread the good word about their “exciting new advancements”, so they hit the road with their “Parade of Progress”. The parade originally consisted of 8 Streamliners, specially built vans to house displays, along with 9 semi truck-trailers housing tents and support items for the show.
The “Parade of Progress” was so incredibly successful that GM decided to revamp the program, making it bigger and better. Enter the curvaceous coaches. In 1939 12 Futurliners, hand built buses designed by Harley Earl, hit the road and joined the Parade. Estimated to have a price tag of $100,000, each of the heavily stylized deco coaches had a unique theme. They ranged from Miracles of Heat & Cold, Our American Crossroads, Around the Farm House Clock, March of Tools, Energy & Man and Diesel Power Parade.
All good things must come to an end. With the help of a National obsession with television, attendance at the “Parade of Progress” events began to diminish. The party ended on July 4th, 1956. The procession of technological predestination was put out to pasture and the contents of the parade were scattered to the four winds.
10 of the 12 Futurliners are still above ground. Futurliner #3, “Power for the Air Age” is at home in Mr. Albaugh’s stable. “Power of the Air Age” you ask? A cutaway version of an Allison J-35 jet engine was the focal point of the display. A rolling introduction to a dawning of a new chapter in aviation. Welcome to the “Air Age” folks. Lucky for all of us, Mr. Albaugh brought out his piece of rolling history for the Goodguys Heartland Nats. this year and I was over the moon to see it in person.
Futurliner # 3 is the most period correct restoration rolling. Dave Kindig and his crew at Kindig-IT Design undertook the daunting task of restoring this beautiful behemoth. At 33 feet long, a little over 11 feet tall, an eight foot beam and weighing in at 12 tons, this was not a one man job. In fact Kindig said “from 4 to 12 of his crew were working on the resto at any given time,” going on to say, “actually, all 29 in the shop had their hands in this thing.”
During the restoration only two aspects of the Futurliner were updated. Epoxy resin now covers the structural metal to protect it from corrosion and the air brakes were updated to modern standards. Although 60% of the sheet metal needed to be replaced, Kindig used a 3D laser scanner to map the Futurliner which enabled them to precisely recreate Harley Earl’s design. After 22 months of work, it was up and rolling and hit the road in 2014.
It tears up the pavement with a military grade GM 302 straight six turning out 145 horses. A Hydra Matic transmission ties it all together. Albaugh was so happy with what Kindig and company did with Futurliner #3, that Kindig says “we’re building a Futurliner 2.0.” Albaugh, the owner of a tech company, is going to use it to display his wares at trade shows. Something tells me that will be the most popular booth!
What’s old is new again. Welcome to the Future.
I was lucky enough to grab a seat in a different Futurliner at the Back to the 50’s show a few years back. Here’s a view from the top of a rolling time capsule.
By the by, Mr. Kindig and his crew are quite popular members of our Builders Nation. Check out their Builders Showroom, this is one shop to follow.
Dive into the motor madness and “Bitchingly” bad to the bone world of Mr. Kindig and his crew. Check out Kindig-It Design site.
For more information on the fates of the remaining Futurliners visit a wonderful site that has loads of info.
None of the historical photos are mine. Thank you World Wide Web and photos tagged “GM Parade of Progress”
Till the next time – Keep on Kruzin!