1939 GM Futurliner Was a Blast from a Retrofuturist Past, Now Collector's Item

1939 Futurliner 5 photos
Photo: Kindig
1939 Futurliner1939 Futurliner1939 Futurliner1939 Futurliner
If we look back at how our grandparents were envisioning their future, we can’t help but smile. From jet-powered personal boats to flying cars and art deco trains, their ideas painted a picture that couldn’t be farther from the truth in our present.
A good source of inspiration for these dreams came from carmakers, whose products and concepts fueled imagination. As one of the most important companies of its kind, GM did its share in this respect, including with something called the Futurliner.

And it didn’t even try and make a secret out of the fact these machines were nothing more than ideas for a future that may never come. The company started with remaking Streamliners into art deco-styled builds for the 1939 New York World Fair, and continued to release them into the wild well until 1956 as part of various initiatives, including the Parade of Progress promotional caravan.

There were originally twelve Futurliners made, powered by 302ci (4.9-liter) engines with automatic transmissions and boasting bodywork the likes of which will probably never get old.

The last garage we know of to have tried to bring the Futurliner back into focus is Kindig. Close to a decade ago, one of the few ever made, the no. 3, which is a 1939 model year, landed in their lap and underwent a 22-month restoration process that transformed into something called the Air Age. It was all documented on film as part of the Bitchin’ Rides show.

The revived behemoth boasts the same powertrain as fitted from the factory, and a custom interior where the original gauges are still to be found. Because the machine was always envisioned as a display vehicle, an Allison J-35 jet engine was fitted inside it.

The build went on sale at an auction in 2016. Considering how earlier, in 2015, a similar one sold for over $4 million, the builders were confident the $2.6 million reserve they asked for would have been easy to reach. That didn’t happen, and the Futurliner entered the circuit of private collectors, where it exchanged hands several times, landing in the Dennis Albaugh collection.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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