Rare GM Futurliner coming to town

Published 10:57 am Friday, August 3, 2012

The rare GM Futurliner is making an appearance in St. Joseph. Submitted photo

Few automobiles are more rare than the General Motors Futurliner.

Only 12 were built in 1940 and featured in the GM Parade of Progress, a traveling show that toured the United States during the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

Only four of the original 12 remain, and one will be in St. Joseph on Saturday for the eighth annual Concours d’Elegance of Southwest Michigan (formerly the Krasl Art Center Concours).

“Once again, our Concours is going to be a real crowd pleaser,” said Dar Davis, Concours founder.

The event, set to take place in Lake Bluff Park, will feature more than 80 vintage automobiles from all over the Midwest. The show begins at 10 a.m.

Awarding the best

In order to compete for the 15 awards offered by the Concours, vehicles must be at least 35 years old, run under their own power and meet rigorous standards of quality and authenticity.

“The oldest machine this year is a 1909 Economy Model G Surrey, which still runs, and is owned by the great-great grandson of its original owner,” said Davis, “and the ‘youngest’ is a gorgeous 1977 Lincoln Continental Town Car.”

Salute to Hoosiers

This year, the spotlight is on cars built in Indiana. According to Davis, Indiana was a hot bed of automobile design and manufacturing during the first three decades of the 20th century.

“There were at least 198 different Indiana-built automobiles produced in 42 cities and towns back in those days,” he said. “This year’s Concours will feature several classic cars built in Indiana, among them a 1919 Haynes and a 1937 Cord Beverly.”

Two categories of special note are streamlined cars and cars owned by the same family since new. Among the streamlined machines is a 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero, styled by Bertone Studio in Italy and once owned by Michael Jackson.

Heading the list of seven cars owned by the same family since new is a 1909 Economy G  owned by the great-great grandson of its original owner.

Davis, who writes a car column for the Herald Palladium, was director of the Krasl Art Center for 25 years.

He began in the Councours event in 2005 with 40 vehicles.

“I love cars. I’ve been a car nut since I was in elementary school,” Davis said.

“I don’t like fast cars. I don’t care what engine’s in it or anything about that — I like the way they look, the styling of them, the artistic part of it. We’ll have some beautiful cars here.”

Proceeds from the event will be donated to nonprofit cultural organizations in southwestern Michigan. Cost is $5 per person, $10 per family.