Tom Learned Futurliner
GM Futurliner Restoration Project
National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States

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We received the following from Tom Learned and posted it March, 2008. He acquired the Kendrick Robbins Futurliner.

In November of 2005, Kendrick Robbins stopped at my excavation company office on a cold rainy day and told me of this vehicle that he has had for 20 years. He was selling his house and his wife told him to get it moved. I told him, “Sure we can move anything what have you got?” When he showed some pictures, I still couldn’t figure it out and then he said “Futurliner”. I looked back at the photo and still didn’t have a clue as to what it might have been. He said, “I need to have it towed and stored. Steve King and I took a ride up in the old Mack tow truck. By now the rain had turned to snow. We arrived and scouted out the situation. Out behind an old barn on a small know, half frozen to the tundra was the Futurliner. We looked at it, then at each other, and then to the truck for some rigging.
    We couldn’t get the Mack but within 75 or so feet of it. It was parked around a corner so we implemented block and tackles and an offset anchor pin and began to inch it with the winch. All went well for the first 10 feet then the frost under it broke thru and, with me at the helm, the drivers side sank and I almost capsized it right there! The afternoon had turned ugly so we managed to get some planking under the wheels and called it a night.
    The next morning went back out and in no time had it hooked up to the truck and it was at that point I got my first real good look at it. Hoses and wiring were hanging all around, sheet metal was flapping in the breeze, the doors were missing and junk was piled through out.
    Thankfully someone had disconnected the drive shaft on an earlier trip. We tied everything off and headed out. What a site it was when we got onto the main road. People could see it from a ways off, gawked and nearly drove off the road.
    Kendrick contacted me a few days later and asked how it went and I said it was just another adventure! He then told me it was for sale and twenty years prior he had done some disassembly on it and had a basement full of parts. I took a ride down to see the parts and found doors intact, trim bundled up carefully, the drivers compartment pieces, captain’s chair, rear jump seat, dark green upholstery, knobs, switches, horn buttons bags, dozens of bags clearly marked were the contents came from along with step by step diagrams. Hubcap covers, gas tanks, A.C. system with the Fridgedaire logo and just hundreds of parts, all in excellent shape. They had been in dry storage since 1984.
    All of Kendrick’s research came with it including some Square D photos from the late 1950's or early sixties. We found a folder full of pictures, magazines and newspapers stories.
    The history as we know it goes like this:
    - 1939 debut Parade of Progress
    - 1953 remained at GM with A.C. and new roof.
    - 1956 sold to Square D Electrical for promo purposes and traveled as such.
    - 1960 used by a NH race team as a service vehicle.
    - 1964 drove into Bealues junk yard and ran out gas.
    A V-6 gas engine was in it at this time and it sat there for 20 years until Kendrick came along looking for a salad bar for his restaurant. The year was 1984 and Kendrick bought it for $3,000.
    - 2005 I (Tom Learned) bought it from Kendrick Robbins.
    My plans? Restore it and drive it!

    The lower half tin work was in bad shape, the upper half was, for some reason, in very good condition. The roof and all supports are solid, the operating light tower {yes operating} is extremely well preserved and boosts the Square D "Wherever electricity is distributed and controlled" logo.
    We have stored the Futurliner inside and have begun the long laboring task of restoration.
    Last winter (2007) and early spring was time for sandblasting, cleaning, organizing, sheet metal work and priming. The 2008 winder plan was to work on the engine and install the No. 1 tranny. After speaking with Don Mayton, Bruce Berghoff and others, I am leaning away from the inline six and the hydramatic tranny because of lack of power and the stress on the tranny. I am also leaning away from using any type of diesel. The right choice at this time seems to be a late model GM 366 gas with a 475 automatic. The rear tranny is in place and will be used, the P.T.O. is complete and will run an onboard generator. Someday it will be painted correctly and with the cast lettering. The upper doors have all the mounting holes already to receive the letters.
    Its an exciting project, its going to take some time, focus and money. Right now I have the first two.
    By the way did I tell you the reason we call it # 7? I have found on dozens of items "job # 7 " written on the back, in a white marker on some and pencil on others. On the back of the upholstery, gas tanks, on the inside of drivers compartment panels and so on. I would like to know more about that and the many more questions that I have.

Picture of the Futurliner when it was used by Square D.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
If you have any additional information about the history or whereabouts of additional Futurliners, we would like to hear from you. Our objective is to capture as much of the history of these vehicles as possible.
Contacts:

Don M. Mayton, Project Director
4521 Majestic Vue, Zeeland, MI 49464
616 875-3058

Dean G. Tryon, Newsletter Editor
2516 Laurelford Ln., Wake Forest, NC 27587
919 562-4660

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