Curbside Classic: Pontiac Transvertible – GM’s Long Lost Prototype Rediscovered

(first posted April 1, 2011)     GM’s infamous “Dustbuster” minivans were a notorious flop. In GM’s desperation to salvage the first generation Trans Sport, radical ideas were solicited from the marketing mavens and development experts. A few niches were discovered and described, and the result was several prototypes were commissioned, including this “Transvertible”. Why not an open-air mini-van? And not really a convertible either, as a folding top for a van was way beyond the technical expertise of the vaunted GM “skunk works.”

To be sold only in the Sun Belt, the Transvertible had a completely water-proof interior, borrowed from the boating industry. In fact, an advanced amphibious version was underway when the metaphorical plug was pulled on that overly-ambitious project. The prototype was last seen being towed out on a lake near the GM proving grounds, due to the difficulty in engineering a driveshaft for the proposed propeller.

But the “conventional” Transvertible prototype has survived, and miraculously ended up just blocks from my house. I’ve always hoped to run across a vaunted GM Motorama concept, like a Futureliner, but living in Eugene, I feel mighty privileged to be able walk past the Transvertible anytime I feel the need to steep myself in GM’s creative genius.

Speaking of steeping, Eugene’s rainy winters have not been overly kind to the interior components of the open-air concept. Perhaps that’s why it’s here, as part of a long-term weathering test. Although, according to a neighbor, it’s there because of “something to do with a divorce.”

Now that’s hard to figure. How could anyone’s wife not want to make sure she ended up with the ’vertible as part of a divorce settlement? Oh well; her loss is my serendipitous gain.

I’m smitten. Now that the sun’s out, and intimations of summer are in the air, I’m considering giving Dahlcraft Customs a call about having a similar conversion done on my car : the Xvertible.