Back in 1988, GMC rolled a concept truck out onto the Detroit Auto Show floor that combined two unrelated vehicles into one. The GMC Centaur concept was a sedan and a pickup truck with an engine under its bed and combined into something that resembled a Dustbuster vacuum.
Back in the 1980s General Motors was on a roll releasing rounded concept cars with huge greenhouses. There was the Buick Wildcat, the Chevrolet Corvette Indy and the Pontiac Trans Sport. All of them looked ripped out of the pages of science fiction from the era. A GMC concept from the time had a fitting name: Centaur. In Greek Mythology, a Centaur is a creature with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse. In GMC’s case, it’s a vehicle with the front end of a sedan and the rear of a truck.
It’s an idea that we’re used to today with unibody-based trucks, but back then it was more novel.
According to an archived press release at All Car Index, GMC’s intent was to explore the possibility of a vehicle that was as comfortable as a family sedan, yet retained the utility of a truck.
Up front, the driver and front seat passenger get to sink into plush bucket seats. They sit behind a futuristic dash with a floating center console. There’s an equally plush bench in back that’s said to seat three adults. The whole passenger cabin is pushed as forward as possible, which GMC said helped the vehicle’s aerodynamics. It looks like it’s great for visibility, too.
The business end of this Centaur is in back. That bed was said to have a payload capacity of 2,000 pounds and the vehicle had a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
And if you’re thinking that those vents mean a mid-rear engine layout you’d be correct.
With the passenger compartment pushed up so far forward, the engine — a 3.0-liter inline six paired to an automatic transmission — is placed under the bed.
Rounding out the stats on the concept was an air-ride suspension and technologies like four-wheel steering and ABS.
GMC touted this as having 21st Century tech and honestly it wasn’t far off. A number of cars today have floating center consoles and of course, trucks carry many of the luxuries from cars today. Of course, the Centaur was never put into production, but you do see hints of its design in production vehicles like the Chevrolet S-10's bed. And thankfully, GM did dabble in putting some of this cool 1980s design into production in vehicles like the famed “Dustbuster” minivans.
Hat tip to Concept Car Bot!