Now here’s a sight I haven’t seen in years – a Chevrolet Lumina APV. While widely panned as looking like a popular hand vacuum cleaner on wheels, a bit of time (and distance) actually has softened my opinion of their styling…
Let’s do a bit of comparison, won’t we? Introduced in 1979, the Black & Decker Dustbuster was powered by a battery-operated electric motor recharged by 120 volts (single phase) and had a distinctive shape formed from injection-molded plastic. The original Dustbuster was wildly popular, selling over a million units its first year of production – in fact, it’s still in production today, and under the same name.
Introduced in 1989, the Chevrolet Lumina APV was a sibling of the Pontiac Trans Sport and Oldsmobile Silhouette (CC here), and utilized the same plastic-panel-on-a-steel-spaceframe design as the Pontiac Fiero. In fact, the APV in the name stood for “All Purpose/Plastic Vehicle.” Originally introduced with a gutless 120hp 3.1l V6, an optional 170hp 3.8l V6 became available in 1992, starting a horsepower race in the minivan segment. GM was going for a “stylish minivan” look and indeed, the Pontiac Trans Sport concept still sets my heart aflutter – they simply flubbed it when it came time to turn the concept into a production reality. I would be remiss to not mention the aborted Pontiac Transvertible concept at this point, too.
I was unable to locate production figures for the 1993 Lumina APV, but I suspect it was well under one million. 1994 would bring a mild facelift, and the polarizing ‘dustbuster’ minivans would be completely redesigned for 1997. The Trans Sport and Silhouette names would live on, but the confusing duplication that came with using Lumina on both sedans and minivans would be corrected by renaming the APV to the Chevrolet Venture.