Pontiac Trans Sport

Car of the Day #135: 1986 Pontiac Trans Sport – This is not That

Pontiac Trans Sport
• via GM

Where were you the first time a Pontiac Trans Sport drove by? Not this concept car, mind, but the production versions of it sold by General Motors.

Forget, for a brief moment, the pains of adulthood and focus back to a time when a vast percentage of minivans were offered in practical Dustbuster varietals. When a domestic automaker not named Tesla had sketched out its own people-moving crossover.

The electric Tesla Model X is a crossover, yeah? With gullwing doors…made in the U.S.…an advanced design…perhaps you may think that the fancy doors are a coincidence, but original renderings clearly show a people mover designed with entry points vast enough to swallow more than half-eaten animal crackers and overbearing relatives.

Point is, you may remember the Trans Sport as a memory, while the Model X is largely forgettable — as outwardly exciting as the cover of a faxed quarterly earnings report.

Yes yes, the 1986 Trans Sport concept wasn’t envisioned as an SUV…er…”crossover”, as the Model X was. However, this now-iconic GM family van shape is only an earlier form of the family crossover, isn't it? Problem was — in design terms — was that the concept got watered down enough to appeal to the largest audience possible.

Period newsreel of the Trans Sport concept in 1986 • via Chicago Auto Show

I’m not new to this; a decade ago, Raphael Orlove titled a Jalopnik article, “Was This GM Minivan The Greatest Letdown In Automotive History?”


For the record, the Trans Sport concept had (for the kids, of course) a Nintendo, and was heavily promoted as part of the General Motors collaboration with Disney and, specifically, Epcot. (Ever ride the Test Track?)