A Look at History Through the GM Futurliner

By Max Resnik

May 12, 2011 Updated May 12, 2011 at 6:24 PM EDT

AUBURN, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Today is the first time that a restored and an un-restored GM Futurliner have been seen together since they toured the country more than 60 years ago.

They are symbols of American ingenuity and beauty. They are staples of America’s manufacturing capability and one lucky person will own one after this weekend’s car auction at the Auburn Auction Park.

Joe Bortz once owned five of these massive beasts. Only 12 ever existed. To Bortz, these buses represent a time of power for the country and the Motor City. He says, “These buses here represent the largest emblems of General Motors and Detroit from the most powerful period for Detroit.”

In the post WWII era, these buses would leave Detroit for other cities across the country. Twelve of them, in a row, would drive through small town America on their Parade of Progress tours teaching folks about things like microwaves, jet engines and the evolution of the highway system. Bortz says these were both teaching tools and pieces of Americana.

He says, “I look at these as artwork, as sculptures, as a representation and as an icon of a period in history that was and should be studied. These buses bring us into that realm.”

He also says, “These buses will be here for hundreds and hundreds of years and people will be looking at them and studying them and appreciating the artwork for what they are, but also at the same time wanting to know why in that period of time were they actually developed."

Bortz, who calls himself an automotive archaeologist, is also an aficionado of the car industry. He has worked with these buses for decades and says the reactions people have when seeing these cars never change. He says, "The reaction that they had was the same reaction that people get when they see the buses today. They just can't believe the size and the design and the art deco look. I think that they're just totally amazed."

Before it’s gone, you can check out the GM Futurliner this weekend in Auburn at the Auburn Auction Park. If you’ve never seen one, you’ll surely be amazed.

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