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Futurliner for sale on eBay

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.

Bortz donated Futurliner #10 to the National Automotive and Truck Museum.  Today it is considered to be the most accurate restored example, and here it is in action:

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.

7 comments

  • Zachary Garland April 29, 2012

    this is a cool bus even though I’m only 12 almost 13. I’m thinking about what my first car is if it will be a classic or a new car. This is a bus i want for when i get my license.

    Respond
  • RON January 16, 2013

    MY FATHER DROVE ONE IN 1960-61 FOR ORAL ROBERTS MINISTRY, I REMEMBER IT SAT IN FRONT OF OUR HOUSE, BIG GIANT RED BUS, I WAS 8 YRS OLD THEN.

    Respond
    • Corey January 27, 2013

      Ron, maybe you could give us a clue as to its location then? That is the three missing buses. One was totaled in the parade, the Oral Roberts bus is thought to maybe be somewhere in Central or South America, and I’m not sure about the other. If you could tell us what happened to it, that would be a big piece of automotive history that could be found or maybe accounted for.

      Respond
  • craig March 3, 2013

    A month or so back i saw one of these buses being hauled on RT.80 in illinois, it was unrestored and I cant find any pictures that resemble the thing. Wonder if this is one of the missing few?

    Respond
  • Frode April 1, 2013

    One bus is under restoring in sweden. The story ånd pictures where published in å magazine about 2 years ago

    Respond
  • clint halverson February 19, 2014

    i have the oral roberts bus it is at my house right outside of hawkeye iowa in USA

    Respond
    • Kenny Nipp March 18, 2014

      Clint do you have some photos of the bus to share? What are you going to do with it?

      Respond

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