This is an installment in a series of posts looking back on show cars that we feel deserved a little more attention than they got. If you have a suggestion for a Forgotten Concept topic, please shoot us a line or leave a comment below.
First Seen: 1988 Detroit Auto Show
Description: Compact utility vehicle that combines car comfort with pickup utility
Sales Pitch: “It’s not just a truck anymore”
First seen at the 1988 Detroit Auto Show, the GMC Centaur concept was designed to fuse the comfort of a passenger car with the functionality of a compact pickup truck. Roughly the same length as a GMC S-15 small pickup, the Centaur featured a 5-passenger cab with a usefully sized pickup bed.
In part to facilitate the Centaur’s cab-forward silhouette, the Centaur’s inline 6-cylinder engine and 5-speed automatic transmission were located under the cargo-bed floor. Other features included all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, self-leveling suspension, and 4-wheel steering. The concept was claimed to handle a 2000-pound payload and be capable of towing 5000 pounds.
The half-car/half-truck GMC concept was aptly named for the centaur of Greek mythology, a creature which was half man/half horse.
The only serious thing GMC got wrong here was going with a 2-door cab instead of a 4-door cab, and assuming that future truck lovers would want vehicles that looked more like cars than pickups. Given the Centaur’s plush cabin, this hybrid car/truck concept might just as well have been named Denali.
We couldn’t help but take note of how much the Centaur’s cab resembles that of the Pontiac Trans Sport concept van (above) of a couple years prior. Also, our hats are off to the designer who came up with the Centaur’s “floating” center console, a design feature seen in a few present-day production vehicles.