Or should that be GMC Truck Centaur?

1988 GMC Centaur conceptIn 1988, GMC was still going by its full name GMC Truck. Almost a quarter century ago now, trucks were still fairly rugged machines having little in common with cars. But, in an effort to appeal to a broader audience, the no-cars brand was using the “It’s not just a truck anymore” slogan.

Later, in 1996, the word “Truck” was struck leaving the acronym-only name GMC. The intent was to market their “vehicles” as alternatives to cars. A sound strategy that helped to redefine the division but the timing seems ironic since America’s infatuation with trucks was only in its infancy.



A different sort of hybrid
1988 GMC Centaur front leftWhen many of us hear the word “hybrid” these days, our 21st century minds jump straight to a Prius or other dual powered vehicle. We can thank savvy marketers for that association. Despite my new-found caution when employing the word, it does have many other uses that predate Toyota.

Take for instance the Greek mythological creature called a centaur. It was portrayed as a half-man, half-horse hybrid. It is from that imaginary dual-nature body that GMC (I’ll be leaving out the “Truck” part henceforth) derived the name for this curious concept.

Growing up (pre-Internet), I remember this being sort of a unicorn among concept vehicles. Not a lot of media coverage and the information on it was limited. Well, I’ve got the imagery end covered; GM again provided me with an ample amount of pictures (23), but it seems information is a still a bit on the sparse side. GM did not have any press information archived but they did provide me with copies of multiple articles that had been written about it.

1988 GMC Centaur profile left

So, would you believe this truck is rear-wheel-drive? Yeah. I always assumed it was a puller not a pusher because the nose is so stubby.

There’s a reason for that.

1988 GMC Centaur front left

The Centaur is motivated by a 24-valve, 3.0-liter, horizontal in-line six cylinder. I emphasized horizontal since its flat design is important relative to its placement.

Having little to no intent to produce the show truck, I wonder if the motor was located out from under the hood as a matter of design, or if there was some other motivation. In any event, it is located behind the cab, under the bed. I’m not sure what that meant was under the smallish hood but the intake below it appears to route cooling air to the truck’s mid-mounted engine and out the side-mounted vents, just ahead of the rear wheel wells.

Check out this picture of Centaur below, from a 1980s car show.

1988 GMC Centaur on show stand with girl


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