Pontiac Trans Sport – The Full Wiki

6 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Pontiac Trans Sport – The Full Wiki
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Contents

Background

The Trans Sport and its sibling models were produced by General Motors to compete with the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Because the larger Chevrolet Astro and the GMC Safari mini-vans were based on a body-on-frame. rear wheel drive truck platform, they appealed to a different segment of the market and did not put a significant dent in Chrysler ‘s almost complete dominance of the minivan market in the late eighties. The GM minivans, while more successful than the Astro/Safari duo in terms of market share, were able to capture a large chunk of the market away from the Chrysler models.

Original concept

First shown to the public in 1986, the Pontiac Trans Sport concept car was extremely well received. It featured futuristic styling, individually removable bucket seats with built-in stereo speakers, a gull-wing rear passenger door and extensive use of glass including a glass-paneled roof as well as many other dream car features.

Based on the warm reception the concept vehicle received, the Pontiac Trans Sport was approved for production, but as is often the case, the styling and features showcased on the concept did not make the translation to the mass-produced edition. The gullwing door was deemed too expensive to produce and would probably have hit overhead garage doors in suburban garages.

The glass roof was too heavy and too expensive, so the resultant production vehicle made-do with high-gloss black painted panels for the roof to suggest the glass canopy the concept sported.

Chevrolet and Oldsmobile were also given production vehicles based on the Trans Sport in order to cover the widest possible range of potential customers. It was intended that the Lumina APV would be the value-priced version, The Trans Sport would net the more sport- and style-oriented buyers, and the Oldsmobile Silhouette would be the minivan for the premium market.

Technology and innovative features

The side view of a Trans Sport may explain the origin of the minivan’s dustbuster nickname.

Assembled in the now-defunct General Motors Tarrytown, New York assembly facility, these U platform vans consisted of a galvanized steel space frame wrapped in composite plastic body panels that were impervious to rust and minor dents and dings, a manufacturing technique developed on the Pontiac Fiero and used extensively on General Motors’ Saturn line of vehicles.

The Trans Sport was available with seating for seven, with the five light-weight (34 lb or 15 kg) rear seats being individually reconfigurable and removable. In 1994 built-in child seats were added to the option list, which provided the ability to switch two of the rear seats between adult and child seating with the pull of a seat-mounted tab.

Included with the level ride package, which utilized a compressor and air-pressurized rear shock absorbers to maintain vehicle height regardless of load, was a control panel and air hose kit that allowed the vehicle to be used to inflate tires, air mattresses, sporting equipment and the like.

In 1994, a remote-controlled power sliding door feature was added, a General Motors innovation, which is now found in almost every other minivan available.

For the 1994 and 1995 model years traction control was available with the 3800 engine option.

Modest sales success

The design of these minivans was controversial. At the time that the Pontiac Trans Sport and its siblings were conceived, no one had tried to market a stylish or sporty minivan, and GM felt that this represented a potentially large market segment that the class-leading Chrysler minivans failed to address. They styled these minivans to be lower and sleeker than any of the competing brands on the market.

The extremely large, long and sloped windshield and the resultant long distance to the base of the windshield when sitting in the drivers seat made for a disconcerting driving experience until a person could adjust to the different proportions. Automotive magazines christened the new minivans dustbusters after Black and Decker ‘s trademark for handheld vacuum cleaners, since the minivans shared a similar side profile to the handheld vacuum cleaners.

European Pontiac Trans Sport

The first engine in these vans was a meager 3.1 L V6, that produced only 120 hp (89 kW), which was not up to the task of hauling these fairly heavy vehicles around with any authority. In 1992, the Trans Sport and its siblings received the 170 hp (127 kW) 3.8 L 3800 V6 as an option, which provided much better torque and acceleration for the vans, making them the most powerful as well as best handling minivans in production at the time.

In response to criticism (and relatively modest sales) attributable to the vehicles’ avant-garde styling, feedback from potential customers, automotive publications, and even chiding in Chrysler Corporation’s advertising, in 1994, the Trans Sport and Lumina APV received a facelift, shortening the nose by 3 inches (76 mm) and toning-down of the cladding to effect a more conventional look. Additionally a ridge was added to the interior dashboard to lessen the perceived distance to the base of the windshield.

Europe, which had grown accustomed to sleek minivans thanks to the Renault Espace. did not object to the futuristic styling, and sales were respectable, so the decision was made to retain the original shape on the European version which, from the 1994 model year onwards, was an Oldsmobile Silhouette, transformed into a Pontiac Trans Sport by the addition of Pontiac badging and wheels. Another specificity was the 1995 introduction of a, vital for the European market, diesel version. It used a PSA 1.9 litre turbodiesel outputting 90 hp (67 kW) which was clearly underpowered.

Production of this generation of U Platform minivans ceased in 1996, at which time the Tarrytown plant which produced them and had been in operation since 1900 was shuttered and scheduled for demolition.

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