Tired of sitting in traffic? Just take the completely automated, high-speed safety lane! At least that's what the singing, time-traveling family of the 1950s did in this amazing film from General Motors.
In 1956, over 2.2 million Americans visited the General Motor's Motorama exhibit. It traveled from city to city showing off the latest and greatest in cars. But visitors also got a peek at the future, with this short film titled "Key to the Future," which transported a family of the 1950s into the futuristic world of transportation in 1976. The film is really quite fantastic, if completely bizarre.
To begin with, the entire family breaks out in song. Which naturally segues into Junior proposing a bit of time travel. Just twist that radio dial, and off you go 20 years into the future.
We gotta slow down, slow down
So much traffic cuts the flow down
Until they bring the highways up to date, you can bet your high compression we're gonna be late
How sad, poor dad, too bad
We're stuck, tough luck, yuck yuck
While we're waiting around, singing the blues, turn on the radio for highway news
But it wasn't just the futuristic highway that was special. The film features the Firebird II, a GM concept car that sported the most classically midcentury jet age design one could imagine. Every car company of the 1950s and 60s wanted to be associated with the jet age. And the Firebird II accomplished that aesthetically. Only now, the concept car featured something even more futuristic: self-driving capabilities.
Of course, after audiences got a look at the automated highway and cars of tomorrow, they saw the potential hotel accommodations for weary travelers of the future. Push-button living at its very best, indeed.
The one thing that film doesn't directly address is really the most distressing: Did the family stay in the future? It's one thing to just hop 20 years into tomorrow for a test-drive, but actually staying in the year 1976 poses serious problems for this family of 1956.
What if you bump into your future self? What will they do to earn a living? Will the family put some of their singing talents to use and become like a Jetsonian version of the Partridge Family? These are all important questions that GM needs to address, and I'm demanding a full congressional investigation. As always, Paleofuture will keep you up to date on this important retro-futuristic story.
Images: Screenshots from the 1956 GM film Keys to the Future