In the 1960s, GM led the auto industry with important research in alternative technology, from steam to electric to fuel cells, and the automaker boasted it to the world. This original 1969 GM film tells the story.
In May of 1969, General Motors launched a major presentation to the national press at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Called Progress of Power and hosted by GM president Ed Cole, the exhibition featured much of the automaker’s research on alternative power and vehicles to that date. And it was an impressive show indeed, including:
+ The Electovair and Electovan, the company’s experiments in silver-zinc batteries and hydrogen fuel cell technology.
+ Two cars with advanced steam powerplants, a Chevelle and a Pontiac Grand Prix. (The Grand Prix steamer resides today in the Jay Leno collection.)
+ A heavy-duty military truck powered by an engine-generator set with electric motors in the wheel hubs.
+ The company’s ongoing work in turbine and free-piston engines, including its latest project at the time, the TRX gas turbine bus.
+ A mini-fleet of subcompact urban vehicles, powered by both gasoline and electric drivetrains.
+ Research on reduced-emissions gasoline engines, including two rather advanced developments for 1969: catalytic converters and intake-valve throttling.
Fortunately for us, GM Photographic produced an excellent film on the presentation, and it’s a fascinating look back at the technology of the future—as it was understood in 1969, anyway. Video below.