The words “cool” and “bus” rarely belong in the same sentence, but in the case of the General Motors Futurliners it just fits. Now a rare opportunity to pick up one of the coolest buses around is happening this summer.
The ex-Peter Pan Futurliner is up for sale on eBay. This one gets its name from once being owned by the bus service company, and for a brief part of its history was painted in Peter Pan livery.
Futurliners were part of GM’s Parade of Progress, an educational caravan that went across the country in the 1940s and 50s. These buses would ride through town like the circus gathering attention, and then the massive 16×5’ cargo doors on both sides would open to reveal technology of the future (like microwave ovens.)
This Futurliner is number seven of the twelve total built (nine are known to still exist.) This bus and many of its siblings exist only because car collector Joe Bortz intervened when he saw five of these buses together on one lot. That owner had plans to cut the buses in half to create a restaurant, but Bortz bought them all so that they would be sold or given away to those who would preserve the legacy.
The eBay ad for #7 does do some disclosure on the vehicle, but those who are interested in purchasing will likely discover much more. For example the engine is listed as a Detroit Diesel 4-71 turbo motor. This is a replacement for the original 5.0-liter six-cylinder gasoline engine.
Also running a Futurliner is not as easy as laying down a few dollars and driving away. The front hubs must be well maintained because each side has dual front wheels. This means that during a turn, the two paired wheels have a different turning ratios, and the hubs allow for correction.
Still, it doesn’t seem like they are trying to pass a lemon off as a peach in this sale. The auction company has already pointed out some problems with the vehicle, and they don’t seem to be trying to sell this as an all-original Futurliner (the National Automotive and Truck Museum knows how tough it is to make one of those.) Instead, this is a decent example of a well-maintained nearly one-of-a-kind vehicle that has made some sacrifices over the years to keep it on the road.
How much is Futurliner #7 really worth? Although you can count the number of the known buses left on two hands, the condition seems to really dictate what collectors are willing to pay. A decent example of one sold for $4 million at a Barrett-Jackson auction in 2006, but last May an unrestored example failed to get any bids above $340,000.
Futurliner #7′s condition falls in between these two examples, and it is reflected in the current bid price of over $500k. It is hard to know how much the owner wants for the bus, but it is likely quite a bit more — the reserve is not yet met and there are still three months to go in the online auction.