Making The Register: 1940 GM Futurliner No. 10

Serving as a rolling, cross-country showcase for newest technologies of the 1950s, the Futurliner helped amaze and inspire thousands of Americans during the second half of the 20th century. But that’s only the start when it comes to why this special vehicle now occupies a place of honor on the National Historic Vehicle Register.  

Associative Value – Event (A vehicle associated with an event or events that are important in automotive or American history)

Futurliner Display

Following the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago that celebrated a “Century of Progress,” General Motors embarked on the first Parade of Progress. Utilizing a fleet of specially built, streamlined coaches, the first incarnation proved quite successful. In 1940, the Futurliners took over. World events, however, had other plans; with the outbreak of World War II, the fleet of Futurliners found themselves tucked away until the 1950s.

In 1952, all 12 Futurliners were restored and, by 1953, had begun the third Parade of Progress. Lasting three years, the GM Parade of Progress visited nearly 200 cities, brought the latest innovations in science and technology to the masses and reached some 11 million people in the process. Somewhat ironically, the growing popularity of television, one of the many technologies featured in the Parade of Progress, was one of the reasons for the parade’s cessation.

Design or Construction Value (A vehicle that is distinctive based on design, engineering, craftsmanship or aesthetic value)

Parade of Progress

Custom built by GM specifically for the Parade of Progress, the Futurliner held true to its name. Sporting futuristic looks and innovative styling, the rolling fleet of Futurliners proved quite a sight as they made their way across the United States and into Canada from 1953 to 1956. Functioning essentially as a rolling display unit, each Futurliner featured sides that opened to a presentation stage on which various technological innovations and advancements in science could be displayed and demonstrated.

Informational Value (A vehicle of a particular type that was the first or last produced, has an element of rarity as a survivor of its type or is among the most well-preserved or thoughtfully restored surviving examples)

This Car Matters

As one of only nine known survivors and the first to have been restored to its 1953-1956 configuration, the No. 10 Futurliner is a marvel of the age and providing a glimpse into the past that sought to showcase a future that perhaps never fully came to fruition. Restored by a group of volunteers over the course of seven years, the No. 10 Futurliner proved a labor of love that has, following its restoration and multiple public displays, stirred fond memories in those who remember encountering these massive vehicles as children.

For more information on the Futurliner, its history and the restoration of the No. 10 Futurliner, please visit www.futurliner.com. Further information on the National Historic Vehicle Register is available here.

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