Thursday, May 8, 2014


Designing futuristic vehicles - trucks and buses, as well as cars - is in every transportation designer’s genes, and sometimes a concept vehicle does hit the highway almost unchanged.

Nearly 75 years ago, General Motors (GM) built a fleet of high-style bus-cum-trucks called Futurliners, their purpose, to travel around the USA as the 'Parade of Progress' to display advanced technology to consumers. At stopovers across the country, bus sides unrolled to reveal a travelling roadshow of goodies, designed to impress the public with the shape of things to come.

The chrome-trim Futurliners were a massive draw, the video showing a classic bus that's been made drivable again. It must be great to get behind the wheel, if only for the view from the hugely high cabin, with its panoramic wrap-round windows. The Futurliner Parade of Progress rolled from 1940-41, and again from 1953-56, the latter shown on the Life magazine cover (above).

These are no kits available of these spectacular retro-future machines, more's the pity. But the French company Norev does produce the one shown here, to 1:64 scale. It's a pity that Norev cannot manage a super-detail 1:43 scale edition, or perhaps a model-train standard 1:87, but Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning collectors are OK, for this is the scale used across these ranges.

Even better, how about a 1:24 scale kit of this beautiful beast, Revell? The Revell London bus to this scale is a terrific kit, and adding a subject like the Futurliner would expand the range concept well, and be a big talking point among model builders, collectors, and the legions of retro-Americana fans.

Awesome Diecast do not have the Futurliner at present, but there are plenty of other exotic buses featured on their website, link below.

Awesome Diecast have a wide range of futuristic buses (though not the Futurliner) here.

Visit the Futurliner at Norev here.

Click here for bus kits and collectibles.

The post-World War II era for transportation designers became a hotbed for blue-sky thinking, with motor shows revealing dream cars and concepts, many taking their inspiration from the jet age, with styling echoes of aircraft fins and streamlining.

We'll be looking at these exotic creations soon, so keep watching for that. Below, the ultra-sleek Pontiac Firebird III and F-104 Starfighter.