GMC Centaur

No, this is not a Geo Prizm that has been rammed by a Chevrolet S-10. (Or, if I'm allowed to go off-brand, it's a spitting image of what I'd imagine a Toyota Sera truck to look like.)

It is, however, one of the closest one of the most accurate looks at the trucks people would actually be buying more than 25 years later…except all of its details are pretty much the opposite to what you'd expect.

It was conceived around the same time that GMC started to court car buyers, as the wonderful Autos of Interests article on the Centaur states, quoting the brand's new slogan: "It’s not just a truck anymore." Here's the rub: GMC wanted to court car buyers at precisely the time that car buyers were discovering SUVs and, later, extended and crew-cab pickups.

Amazingly, a lot of what GMC designed here has actually happened. They were right to assume that drivers would want a more comfortable, car-like interior, a larger cab for additional passengers and cargo, great payload capacity, air suspension, four-wheel steering, and advanced technology. (OK, in this case "advanced technology" is really just a Volvo-like floating dashboard, complete with Digital Audio Tape player.)

The difference is, of course, that all of it is backwards.

Its transmission is an automated (clutch-less) manual that retains its traditional shifter. Its engine is a mid-rear-mounted horizontally-opposed 3.0-litre six-cylinder—just like Corvairs of old. It's unlikely the concept had an engine, however, the only similar motor that I can think of from that era is Subaru's 2.7-litre ER27 flat-six from the XT6 coupé. Imagine if GMC secured a Subaru motor for the concept via its mutual partner, Isuzu… Heck, official materials do state the Centaur is all-wheel-drive, not four-wheel-drive. 

Gills on the rocker panels took care of both intake and exhaust, but given their location, it's unlikely Mitch Buchannon would have started his Los Angeles County Lifeguard career in a Centaur back in 1989. A shame, because its bed looks perfect for a Jet Ski.

Smaller overall than the Chevrolet S-10/GMC Sonoma—and shorter in length—the Centaur gives an intriguing look at what most people need in a pickup, not just what they want. It's just too bad that it looks kind of dopey.