Monday, August 11, 2008

Motorama comes to Pebble Beach

Suddenly, today's SUV's don't seem so big.

As this Futurliner from 1953 shows, G.M. designers got a little nuts when production feasibility was not an issue and they were creating futuristic masterpieces for the traveling showcase known as Motorama.

The G.M. flights of fancy will be featured at this years prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance car show.

"In its heyday during the 1950s, Motorama delivered the automaker’s message of postwar optimism to millions of curious spectators," reports Don Sherman for The New York Times. "On display will be the 1938 Buick Y-Job that begat the dream-car era; 17 Motorama showpieces from the 1950s; a 1959 Corvette racecar that forecast the ’63 Sting Ray; and one of the custom-crafted trucks that hauled Motorama exhibits around the country."

The Firebird III from 1958. The final "dream car" built by Harley Earl.


  1. Maybe it's just the photo angle, but is that bus/van/SUV thing only 3 or 4 feet wide? I have to say it's pretty awesome.

  2. yeah, and looks as top-heavy as can be. but, it does have a wee bit o'class, nonetheless. probably got at least a mile to the gallon of leaded, eh? but, I'd rather travel in that beastie than a winnebago or an itasca. ahh the good old days...when women shellaced their hair and men did not hug or cry or ask for directions. And timmy and missy never did drugs or listen to muddy waters. Capt. Muddy maybe...most def. miss raedean and johnny ginger.

  3. That "SUV Thing" is one of the 12 GM Futureliners that GM built for its annual National Tours of the GM Motorama Displays they would set up in cities all over, like a carnival. Each bus contained a mechanical display and people could watch the action from the ground.

    A similar bus sold at the big January Scottsdale auction in Arizona 3-4 years ago for over 4 million bucks! AND it wasn't even NEAR as restored as this one in the picture!

    If you look closely, there are dual wheels in the back AND IN THE FRONT TOO! If you ever get a chance to see where it is displayed do so. The schedule is on the internet. Just "Google it".

    This one belongs to NATMUS, the National Truck Museum in Auburn Indiana, and has been completely restored from a rotting hulk by a group of volunteers in Zeeland, Michigan led by Don Mayton. He and several of the volunteers are retirees of GM.

    I'd say those guys did a wonderful job, don't you?

    Does anyone out there remember traveling with the Motorama convoys back in the '50's. A lot of us would like to hear from you! You were a part of marketing history!


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at