Back in its day, the GM Futurliner was aptly named. Debuting in 1939 and styled during the 1940s by iconic automotive designer Harley Earl, this then-futuristic, wheeled behemoth proved an integral part of the company’s Parade of Progress traveling exhibition, created to promote innovative vehicles and technologies. Fast forward more than half a century and the Futurliner is still turning heads.
One of just nine Harley Earl-designed Futurliners known to exist today (and one of just three still running), a gorgeous 1950 model drew a $4 million gavel drop this past weekend at the 2015 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale event. Measuring an intense 33 feet long, eight feet wide and more than 11 feet tall and topping 12 tons, this red, white and chrome-paneled Art Deco beauty boasts a military-grade 302-cubic inch GMC straight-six gasoline engine and automatic transmission, prominent, high-mounted, centrally located driver command position with a panoramic windshield and whitewall tires. The ride’s 16-foot side panel opens up to reveal a retractable stage, complete with a deployable light tower and PA system. It’s also impressive under the hood. Originally, Futurliners were powered by a four-cylinder diesel engine. But this restored model now boasts a 400ci GM truck engine.
But what’s even more impressive than this historic beauty itself or its massive selling price is what seller Ron Pratte did with cash immediately after the sale. He donated every penny of the proceeds to benefit the Armed Forces Foundation, which supports America’s military service members, veterans and their families with financial assistance grants, recreational group therapy programs, education initiatives, advocacy and awareness campaigns, wounded veterans athletics programs and a newly released documentary, That Which I Love Destroys Me, that chronicles the struggles of two veterans battling PTSD.
From all of us here at E3 Spark Plugs, much respect to our nation’s military members, vets and families and to Mr. Pratt for his generous show of support.