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

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FUTURLINER
DESIGN

The man behind the desk is Robert E. Bingman, credited with designing the project in GM's Industrial Design department. The men are reviewing the model design against the artist's concept drawing. Note that because of the bubble canopy (designed by Raymond Smith) over the driver, this is the "first edition" of the Futurliner. In the "second edition" the canopy was designed out because of how hot the drivers got.

FUTURLINER
CONSTRUCTION

This photo shows some very preliminary assembly of a Futurliner. A notation on the back of the 1940 photo says "Yellow Truck, Pontiac, Michigan."

    The red and white Futurliners were one of the leading attractions of the Parade of Progress. The Futurliners were built by the GMC Truck & Coach Division and the Fisher Body Division in cooperation with the GM Styling Section and the GM Research Laboratories Division.
    They were 33 feet long, 8 feet wide and 11 feet 4 inches high. The wheelbase was 248 inches and the frame, 32 feet long. Conventional cross bars were used to strengthen the frame. Outriggers were attached to the main frame to hold the body.
    The driver's compartment bears some resemblance to an airplane cockpit of the period. It was entered through a door at the right front of the vehicle. A stairway leads up to the compartment, which sits high above the wheels.
    The driver's eyes are 10 feet above road level. He has a single seat which is located at the front center of the compartment. Behind him are twin relief seats for assistances or special guests.
    The compartment is kept at a comfortable temperature by a Frigidaire air conditioner similar to what was available on some 1953 GM passenger cars. Upholstery of the compartment is of vinyl coated fabric in two-tone lime and hunter green. The windshield curves almost completely around the compartment and was of green-tinted E-Z Eye glass. Futurliner windshields were the largest E-Z Eye installations ever made up until that time. Futurliners were equipped with the Guide Lamp Division's Autronic-Eye, which automatically lowered the headlight beams when another vehicle approached, then raises the lights again.
    Power Steering was developed by the Saginaw Steering Gear Division. The steering wheel is mounted on a streamlined column at the front center of the compartment. Foot pedals for the brake and accelerator are treadle type with corrugated rubber treads, set off by chrome plates. There was no clutch. Transmissions are Dual-Range Hydra-Matic manufactured by the Detroit Transmission Division.
    Each Futurliner was powered by a 145 horsepower, 302 cubic inch GMC gasoline engine, which is located directly under the driver's compartment. Compression ration is 7.3 to 1. Bore and stroke are each 4 inches. They produced 262 foot pounds of torque at 1,400 revolutions per minute. The engine is reached for servicing by a large door which is located at the left front of the vehicle. There are two gasoline tanks, each holding 45 gallons, located in front of the rear wheels.
    Safety features include dual front wheels which increase roadability and safety rubber covered bumpers give the steel bumpers added protection and rubber rail runs around the base of the body.  Other special equipment for the Futurliners include large power-operated side doors which swing upward to reveal enclosed exhibits and steel lighting towers.
    Note that the dual front wheels were not a new invention. We have a photo of an all-wheel drive Ford equipped with dual front wheels by the Differential Wheel Corp. Each wheel rotates separately.

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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