Here’s something a bit different: a load of Euro-spec Pontiac Trans Sports on an Iveco car Transporter. These 1994-1996 Tran Sports were actually Olds Silhouettes, as the the new 1994 Trans Sport front end had new headlights and GM didn’t want to go through the process of certifying them. The Silhouette’s headlights were essentially the same size and shape as the European 1992-1993 Trans Sport had been, a Pontiac badge was thrown on them.
And these European Trans Sports were available wit the 2.3 L Quad Four and 5-speed manual transmission, both of which were never offered on the US versions of these GM vans.
Amazed that those were sold at all in Europe. And yep, typical GM accounting office. Do it on the cheap whenever possible.
I knew they were offered in Europe; what’s amazing me is that this many of them—fully seven!—were sold there.
The low beltline on the original very Toyota Previa-like 1986 Pontiac Transsport prototype, would have helped lessen the poor visibility issues to the front on the production 1990 Lumina APV van and Pontiac Trans Sport. The long snout and high beltline gave the vans their dramatic looks, but created a large empty space in front of the dash for the driver. And trouble knowing what was directly in front of the vehicle, at ground level. Though, I did prefer the styling of the production vans to the prototype. The original 1986 design had a rounded shape, that probably would have been better received further into the 1990s.
The 1986 prototype also foreshadowed Pontiac’s later experimentation with steering wheel hub controls.
The 6000 STE had standard hub-mounted radio control in ‘86.
Thank you! Impressive. Didn’t remember they used it in production that early.
Wheel design very similar to the later Shelby ‘Pumper’ design, commonly seen on the Dodge Daytona.
1980s GM had the design talent and creativity. But it too often didn’t show in their production vehicles.
I always thought that a 3.8 and a 5-speed would be the ultimate powertrain for someone who enjoys shifting gears. But most American manufacturers seemed to offer sticks only with the smallest engines. Sorry, but the downsides of the Quad Four (short head gasket life and unpleasant lack of smoothness) would be a deal breaker for me.
And this shot answers a great question in photographic composition: how is it possible for a full color 3/4 shot also be a silhouette? 🙂
Parking them facing forward made for better aerodynamics. Parking them with the back facing forward would block a lot more wind.
The only van I like – somehow.
For extra oddity those Pontiac badged Oldsmobiles are being hauled by an Iveco badged Ford Cargo. Ford sold the European heavy truck operation to Iveco in the mid 80s and Iveco made then until the late 90s. The deep front quarter window and general shape around rge grille tipped me off so I looked up what a circa 1994 Cargo looked like.
One can say that the original 1981 Ford Cargo from the UK (a Patrick le Quément design) became a world truck. Below a Sterling Cargo from the late nineties, just one of the post-Ford UK versions.
Excellent, and somewhat timeless, truck design. The fibreglass flaring at the cab rear, for better box aerodynamics, is clever.
Agreed about the Cargo’s timelessness. And that also applies to its interior. Introduced 42 (!) years ago, very well done!
Image source and more:
Looks good. Clean and efficient design is less affected by trendy style going out of fashion.
@ Daniel M.: It sure is. This manner of design was also applied to the compact Mustangs, Capri’s and is to be seen in the 80’s Sierras. Unfortunately, Ford eventually moved with the flow
I remember some of these when i was a kid here in italy…they were not popular ’cause from what i recall they came with the 3,8 gasoline V6, hardly a competitive engine in a country where everything above 2,0 liters was big engine with big payments…magazines found them too thirsty, less space efficient than other minivans and didn’t like interior styling and quality and, obviously, styling was very polarizing…these were novelties for US cars enthusiasts willing and wealthy enough to get by their “shortcomings”…Chrysler was wise enough to fit their minivans with “friendlier” engines (mainly the italian built VM diesels) and the Voyager became a mega hit and a real status symbol of the ’90s, it was everywhere and really was THE classy minivan, especially in metallic green w/saddle brown leather seats…plum was another popular color too..!
I remember some of them too here in Italy. It was uncommon, but you could see some of them, were a bit of a niche players. Most sold were 2.3 anyway, and a good number of them were transformed to run on LPG in later years. I saw the last one in Gaeta in 2014/2015, and it was in that red/burgundy colour of the first two on the top. I remember it was quite tired, wonder if it still exists, I always liked it.
As said by the compatriot here, the Chrysler Voyager was very successful and had a good image when new. I still see some of them, especially the 2001 and 2004 series.
On the contrary, the late 90s/early 00s Chevrolet Trans Sport was extremely rare here, I only can remember seeing one, in Rome many years ago.
Chrysler Voyagers for European markets were (mostly ?) assembled in Austria, as far as I remember.
Yes, of course. They were assembled in Graz by Magna Steyr from 1992 to 2008.
Nice to hear from another Italian on this cool website ;)..!! Indeed, you saw the occasional one, a lady owner of an home décor shop near our home had an ice blue one, the second chevy badged generation..? I don’t recall ever seeing one…I guess the dustbuster at least had personality and it came out in a period when minivans were still relatively novel so maybe GM could play the niche card, the second generation was still over-engined and too big but was just a dreary dull box…about Chrysler yes, they were made in Austria, with the Voyager first and with the 300C wagon later really pushing for a good reputation and brand cachet, they were really popular. I still can’t understand the clumsy and shameless Chrysler/Lancia brand engineering under the marchionne management, it destroyed the presence that Chrysler managed to build for 20 years and it did no favors to the reputation of an already moribund Lancia either…
Yes, indeed, that’s very nice 🙂 I’m from the center-south, where are you from? 😉
Yes, I totally agree with your impressions. Also the Opel Sintra, derived from the second generation Trans Sport, was not a success here (I believe wasn’t a success anywhere), haven’t seen one in years, despite having Euro-sized engines, and even a diesel.
Anyway Chrylser’s reputation was already sinking before the Fiat merger, late 00s products weren’t very appreciated and didn’t sell like the previous models.
I’m from the north east, near Venice ;)..!
Very similar Iveco to one I used to drive, one of the parcel post fleet, a 6×4 tractor unit they were set up to meet a near impossible delivery schedule but it could be done,
Back then, Iveco offered three “Euro” models. From small to full-size: EuroCargo, EuroTech (the article’s car transporter) and the EuroStar, see below (and note the tiny Ford badge for UK-reasons only).
This confirms something I remembered. Around 1990-91 I knew someone whose dad worked for GM and they mentioned driving one of these with a 5 speed for a while. It was some sort of test unit because they wanted to sell them in Europe.
Completely off topic: Has Tatra87 gone AWOL? I miss his posts.
These “Dustbusters” quickly disappeared from the roads of America.
These were not that uncommon in the Netherlands. I like the styling, so different to other vans / people carriers.
A colleague bought one second hand and praised it a lot. However I recall him waiting for weeks for parts to arrive to replace a broken outer door handle.