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Wednesday, 30 October, 2013 12:14 PM
New 'Truck & Bus' exhibit is now open at the Buick Gallery in Flint
1941 GMC Fire Truck is on display at the Buick Gallery in Flint.
FLINT -- The new "Truck & Bus" Exhibit at Buick Automotive Gallery in Flint opened today and runs until March 30, 2014. I had an opportunity to tour the exhibit with the help of Jeremy Dimick, Curator of Collections. The gallery shows the evolution of the truck from the 1800's to the present day. From their infancy as motorized versions of delivery wagons, these trucks have developed into essential tools used by farmers, ranchers, construction workers, and firefighters. "The big idea behind this exhibit is the truck has morphed into whatever we need to get the job done," says Dimick.
The Flint Truck Assembly, which is still known as the Truck & Bus Assembly, has been building GM workhorses for nearly 70 years. Opened in 1945, the facility began nearly a 30-year run of producing full-size Chevrolet cars and trucks. In the 1970's, the factory changed his name to Flint Chevrolet Truck Assembly, stopped building cars and eventually became the largest truck producing complex in the world.
There are a total of 13 vehicles within the exhibit--eight trucks, three cars, one amphibious vehicle and one futurliner. They are all roped off except for the Buick Phantom. However, you can still get close enough for a good photo. There is a collection of antique signs on the walls. There are two neon signs--one of them is of the Holiday Inn and the other is Shell gasoline.
The new Truck & Bus exhibit begins with the 1890 Flint Wagon Works Farm truck which was one of the largest carriage producers in Flint and shows that GM was making trucks before they were making automobiles. Next came the 1910 Buick Truck 2A, a light delivery truck in the short lived Buick line of trucks. The oldest Chevy truck in the exhibit is the 1926 Chevrolet Superior X, which was built for work only.
The 1940 GM Futurliner is a huge vehicle which was used in the "Parade of Progress" displaying modern advances in science and technology that traveled all over the country as a mobile world's fair. "General Motors had a huge pavilion showing the future of GM," Dimick said. "The Pavilion was so successful they took it on the road and went across the country in this." The Futurliner held the "Opportunity for Youth" (a model building contest held by Fisher Body) and "Three Dimensional Sound" where demonstrators used sound waves to break a glass. "They needed future Edisons. This massive vehicle is on loan from the Auto & Truck Museum in Auburn, Indiana," added Dimick.
The 1944 GMC DUKW referred to as the "Duck", an amphibious vehicle used in World War II is on display in its original condition at the gallery. This vehicle could transport personnel and supplies from ships to beaches without the benefit of prepared harbors and docks. The cargo compartment could accommodate 25 soldiers and their equipment or 5,000 pounds of supplies. Mass production began in 1944 and the DUKW's were also provided to the British and Soviets. It has a GMC over-head-valve engine with 94 horsepower built in Flint while the body was finished in Pontiac. The maximum speed on the road is 45 mph and in the water 6.3 mph.
Another truck there is the 1959 El Camino which is a hybrid car/truck. Although based on Chevrolet car lines, this vehicle is based and classified in North America as a truck. "Pickup owners wanted more car comfort instead of using it just for work," Dimick explained. In Spanish, el camino means "the road."
There are many other trucks on display. Whether it is a classic pickup truck, war machine, or moon rover, General Motors has been making vehicles to get the job done for more than 100 years.
Also included are some cars, such as the 1977 Buick Phantom, which is one of five concept cars created by William L. Mitchell, GM Styling Chief. In the showroom, this car is a fiberglass shell and is inoperable. It was Mitchell's last project before he retired in 1977. Another car displayed is the 1953 Corvette. The first 300 of these were built in Flint. This Corvette was number 26. It has 41,000 original miles with a 234 inline six- cylinder engine with automatic transmission and was donated to the museum. The original price was $3,513.
I thought the museum was very informative. I learned some interesting facts about the truck industry. It's a cool place to stop on your way up north, only a one hour drive from Detroit.
The Buick Automotive Gallery is located at 303 Walnut Street in Flint, Michigan. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday noon to 5 p.m. and is closed on Sunday. Admission tickets are $9 adults, $8 for Seniors (60+) and $6 for children ages 3-11 and free for ages 2 and under. For more information call 810-237-3440 or visit SloanLongway.org.
The Buick Gallery is located at 303 Walnut St. in Flint.
1926 Chevrolet Superior X
1959 Chevrolet El Camino
1953 Chevrolet Corvette
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