Futurliner to join Motorama cars at Petersen Museum

Futurliner to join Motorama cars at Petersen Museum


NATMUS – The six 1950s General Motors Motorama show cars currently displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will be joined by another heavy hitter this fall.

In early October, the GM Futurliner “bus” owned by the National Auto & Truck Museum (NATMUS) in Auburn, Ind., will join the Petersen museum’s “GM’s Marvelous Motorama: Dream Cars from the Joe Bortz Collection” display.

“Never before have these six Motorama concept cars and the Futurliner, in my knowledge, never have they ever been under the same roof at the same time,” said Joe Bortz, who broke the news to Old Cars.

Twelve Futurliner buses were built by GM in 1936 to bring the company’s technology to Americans in its Caravan of Progress (later called the Parade of Progress). Of course, GM also hoped to sell new cars, refrigerators and its other products to those wowed by the parade of massive buses, which often displayed futuristic technology when their sides were lifted at each outdoor stop. The Futurliners were updated for the 1953 restart of the Parade of Progress campaign and again toured, this time until 1956. Concurrently, GM was separately hosting its traveling Motorama indoor shows where it displayed its concept show cars, and so rarely did the company’s concept cars meet its Futurliners. In fact, the Old Cars staff knows of no period photos of Bortz’s concept cars currently displayed at the Petersen museum—the 1953 Buick Wildcat, 1954 Pontiac Bonneville, 1955 LaSalle II sedan and roadster, 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne and 1953 Pontiac Parisienne—pictured with a Futurliner.

Bortz adds that, upon the arrival of NATM’s Futurliner at the Petersen, celebrity comedian and famed car collector Jay Leno is expected to be on hand to drive the giant vehicle.

“I called Jay and I said, ‘You’ve driven every type of vehicle that has wheels; if it has wheels, have you driven it. Have you ever driven a Futurliner bus? How would you like to drive one?’” Bortz said.

Bortz’s connection to the Futurliners goes back to the mid 1980s, when he owned five of the surviving Futurliners, although they were barely surviving. All needed serious restoration, and lacking indoor space to keep them, Bortz chose to rehome them. Four were sold, and the fifth—Futurliner #10—was donated to NATMUS. A team of volunteers restored Futurliner #10 for NATMUS, and now it travels the country. It will be on display at the Petersen until April 2025 while Bortz’s concept cars will remain on exhibit at the Petersen museum into 2026.

Learn more at www.petersen.org and www.natmus.org.

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