• Truck Rewind: 1964 General Motors Bison Concept: The Future Looked So Awesome!

    The General Motors Bison Concept debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, but to little fanfare. That same show was dominated by the debut of the Ford Mustang. This turbine-powered concept was quickly forgotten and that’s a shame because the General Motors Bison Concept was an outstanding looking truck.

    Featuring a tilt-forward canopy, four-wheel steering and a GT-309 turbine power plant that sat above and behind the cockpit, this aerodynamic design was meant to haul a new one-size-fits-all mobile container. This was four years before a world-wide standard for shipping containers was adopted.

    While the design, which looks like it came from famed designer Syd Mead, was space-age awesome, there was no additional development of this concept. We don’t know where this model ended up or if it was even a rolling test model. It remains a mystery and a sad one at that.

    Could you imagine driving something like this? Sure, it would be terribly dangerous in a crash and that massive glass canopy looks like it would bake in the sun, but that’s what makes it so desirable – its styling. If anybody out there knows what happened to this concept or has any details about its brief life, please let us know!


    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

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    27 thoughts on “Truck Rewind: 1964 General Motors Bison Concept: The Future Looked So Awesome!

      1. A micro turbine engine is the most efficient combustion engine. But conventionally, they are expensive because of the shaft. But there is a company that has developed air bearings, which makes the shafts cheap. So lets see when that will happen. Turbines are fantastic range extenders for electric drive. You can burn virtually any kind of fuel in the same turbine engine.

          1. Yes Lohchief, but because they were designed like that for airplanes, flying ever 30,000 ft in low density air. There is no problem to design more powerful(more air),more efficient,smaller turbine-generator for truck application, like turboprop, which has reverse flow and is designed for lower altitude.
            It’s all about trade-off.

            1. Zviera, look at helicopters. They are not designed for high altitude. We use EC 135’s and they are equipped with Pratt and Whitney turbines. Sure they make a lot of HP which is to required for ground vehicles but they consume a lot of fuel. And look at all the wasted energy in heat. They spin at 60,000 rpm’s if I remember correctly. And turbines are really designed for constant speed. Not stop and go like our cars and trucks encounter. So in their current duty in aircraft you get the most power for the fuel but IC engine for cars and trucks are better suited at this time.

            2. Another thing to consider is power plants use gas turbines for back up electric generation. It is very expensive for the power they produce.

            3. My point was, that you can’t take turbine from airplane or helicopter and make turbine-generator from it efficiently, but it can be done efficiently, if designed properly from the scratch.
              Natural gas turbine powerplant are very efficient, because they produce steam to run turbine . You keep forgetting one thing. This powerplants are installed next to the city limits, can be fired up in minutes when needed and power distribution doesn’t suffer a loss, like hydro, where only 50% of power gets to the customer, because of transmission loss.
              My very good friend works for the government environment agencies for the oil fields. He said, that most efficient way to get electricity to the house is to make small turbine generator for the area or house itself. That’s what study says and everyone knows that. Natural gas flows just with very little pressure everywhere. You can stop that with the finger on the pipe. No power loss, no sunshine dependant and we have so much of it , we don’t know what to do with it.
              I think,that Elon missed the ⛵, because he can’t get enough power to the areas without sunshine efficiently.

            4. You are correct about taking a turbine from a helicopter or an airplane and slap it in a car. But in order for a turbine to make power it either needs to be really big and can run at lower rpm or it can be small but run at really high rpm. A turbine in a car would have to be small and thus have to run over 50,000 rpm and through massive gear reduction. It just won’t do in a car where noise is and issue. Plus think of the exhaust out the back. And turbines are not emmissions regulated like IC engines. That is a whole new can of worms. And the powerplant turbines I was talking about we’re back up units. Similar to how they are in a ship. Turbine attached to a generator. I had a friend that worked at a powerplant and he took me for a tour once. They fired them up and they were loud. In my mind the only way for a turbine to work is by having a generator attached and electric motors do the propulsion. As far as efficiency, I don’t see it unless your hauling a lot of weight. Now if you can recoupe the heat energy into electricity from the turbine exhaust, maybe that could help.

            5. Now smaller natural gas power plants are right on in your comment. They are increasing around my area now. I don’t claim to know much about them, but I hear they are a good thing. But they are natural gas fired steam plants. Since your in Canada your natural gas pressures may be different but here in the states it is high pressure till it gets to the house meter. Then it drops down to 1 or 2 PSI. I believe that is the actual pressure. We only have to test for leaks at less than 5.

            6. I thought it’s clear enough, but I was never talking to drive a truck with turbine and transmission directly, but to run a generator with gear reducer, like turboprop has.

            7. I just don’t see how it will be efficient for the light loads of even an over the road truck. The power needed is not much for what it would take to keep a turbine spooled up.

    1. Again, the ter is “microturbine”. And they are not loud neessarily. Especially with new aire bearing technology.

      Ad yes, they are the most efficient way to burn fuel. So connecting it to a generator/alternator is the best way to poer electric motors for the wheels.

        1. This is not a communist country, you are free to present which fuel burning motor is more efficient than a micro-turbine with an air bearing.

          Until then, your comment is unproductive and childish. In a court of law, only evidence is listened to. But you didn’t even get to that point. You didn’t even present a claim. First a claim, then a citation of evidence..

          But we have come to expect kind of communication from Daniel.

          1. You take hopes and dreams and try to present them as facts. Jetson style flying cars may someday happen but I can’t claim their superiority until it actually happens. THAT is the issue with 99% of your claims, they are possible, but they haven’t happened. You’ve got the cart in front of the horse

            1. Any engineer will tell you a micro-turbine burns fuel more efficiently than any other fuel burning motor. So go ahead present a claim. If not, then your idea is even more a dream.

            2. Oh,, and by the way, Darpa has developed a very good flying car(among others). And Darpa does not mess around.

            3. And what does the rumored efficient microturbine cost? Is there even a return on investment ever? Can joe public handle the maintenance schedule? Is it idiot proof?

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