Step aside George Jetson we have discovered what we think should have been the RV of the future. This little rig was driven by a gas powered turbine and first saw the light of day at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. While little is known of its origins, the design looks similar to the work of Tom Semple and Syd Mead, GM designers of the era.
The prototype Bison for the 1964 World’s Fair.
GM had been the first to ever put a gasoline powered turbine on the road with its original “Firebird” concept car in 1953, a vehicle that would become an American legend some 23 years later when Burt Reynolds drove one in Smokey and the Bandit to win a bet – ironically as the chaperone of an over the road truck – which this concept, the Bison GM’s #657, was envisioned to become.
The cab unit displayed without the trailer.
In addition to the unusual power plant, this “truck” was part of GM’s bid to enter the race to develop a universal cargo container. A simpler, bulkier and much squarer version won out and is still in use today on truck trailers, train cars and cargo ships around the world, but all we see is some great potential living space!
Displayed on the grounds of the New York World’s Fair.
The cabin is attached to the trailer with a rig similar to today’s fifth wheel trailers, allowing for a close turning radius. According to the display featured in these photos, it’s designed to carry two passengers in ultimate comfort and built with four wheel steering for some serious maneuverability.
Front view of Bison on display.
While the trailer looks tall enough to support standing room for the average adult, the low slung, car-like cab would put the driver down at street level, where visibility is much better for those up-close hazards like pedestrians, curbs and guard rails.
The lightweight metal shell would make an ideal hull for RV components. While we can’t make out the rear entrance on this vehicle, its cargo hold origins lead us to believe that the conversion – if anyone knew where a Bison could be found – would be a snap.
The Bison’s futuristic cockpit, featuring a “car phone” and joystick controls.
On the cover of overdrive magazine.
Of course, the fact that no one really knows if the Bison ever drove at all is just a minor glitch in our RV conversion dream. I’m sure that if an example were found, the details could be worked out – and just think of how much fun you would have telling fellow campers about your World’s Fair prototype RV around the campfire at night.