Back: 1988 GMC Centaur Concept
Mike Levine Posted:
08-15-08 13:54 PT
© 2008 PickupTrucks.com, Photography Courtesy of General Motors Design
recent announcement that its G8-based sport truck, set to debut for
the 2010 model year, would unimaginatively be called
the G8 ST brought a collective groan of disappointment from
the automotive press and truck enthusiasts. After receiving more than
18,000 suggestions in an online contest, Pontiac stuck with the car/truck's
original alphanumeric identifier rather than selecting a new name or
resurrecting a classic GM moniker, like El Camino, Catalina or Tempest.
Pontiac wanted to avoid waking classic GM nameplates from their historic
slumber, couldn't it have done better than G8 ST? We think so. We think
it could have been done in a way that would have created a new nameplate
that appropriately described the uniqueness of the G8 ST, with a bit
of GM heritage added to the mix.
ago, GMC created a bullet-shaped concept vehicle that blended "sleek
passenger-car lines with the rugged utility of a pickup truck,"
according to its debut press release, published Jan. 5, 1988. It was
called the Centaur, after the half-man, half-horse creatures from Greek
mythology. The name perfectly captured the fusion of automotive styling
and pickup truck utility - like the form and function of the Pontiac
G8 ST -- even though its cab-forward design looks too soft for a truck.
Centaur concept radically stretched the boundaries of what a pickup truck
could be, far beyond the sports-car-meets-hauler nature of the 2010 G8
cab-forward, jellybean-style shape prioritized passenger
space in a footprint roughly equal to that of a first-generation GMC
S-15 or Chevrolet S-10 extended cab pickup. Like the G8 ST, it had only
two doors, with bucket seats up front. But the Centaur also added
a full-width seat in the rear that provided room for three more passengers.
radical powertrain used an unconventional rear-engine
layout, like a 1960s Chevrolet Corvair pickup. A 3.0-liter,
24-valve horizontal six-cylinder engine was placed under the cargo box,
just forward of the rear axle. Shark-like gills on the sides of the
bed provided for both cooling and exhaust. A GMC press release at
the time said it was paired with an "experimental" five-speed
automatic transmission, but
photos show a manual shifter and clutch pedal. Power was delivered to
the road via all-wheel drive. Its payload was rated at 2,000 pounds,
and it could pull up to a 5,000-pound trailer. Other nifty ride and handling
features included a self-leveling air suspension and antilock brakes.
styling was a hodgepodge of knobs, dials and buttons spread
across rounded surfaces, like the information console of the starship
Enterprise. It looks like GM took every idea it ever had for how drivers
could interface with their truck and found a place in the cockpit to
try them out.
concepts, many of the ideas that were floated in the Centaur
never made it to production, but two key elements did: The 1994
Chevrolet S-10 and GMC S-15 borrowed rear styling elements from the
Centaur, implementing its angular rear bumper and taillights on their
back ends. We always wondered where the idea for that came from. The
Centaur also served to demonstrate four-wheel electric steering, which
would eventually find its way into production in the 2002 GMC Sierra
a third element we think should have been carried over: The
Centaur name from this long-forgotten concept could have been perfectly
resurrected for the G8 ST.