Nothing ventured, nothing gained

1988 Chevrolet Venture ConceptThe year 1988 was pretty significant for Chevrolet. Its Monte Carlo sales were down almost 35 percent in 1987, so the nearly two-decade old nameplate was discontinued mid-year 1988. Offsetting that loss the brand got an all-new full-size truck line and gained two new models: Beretta and Corsica.

Besides those and other less notable changes to their production line of vehicles, they revealed the handsome, sleekly-styled concept sedan named Venture.

Four-passenger sport sedan
The Venture had crossed my mind a few times recently, so I asked General Motors what they had on it. They graciously responded with a copy of the press release, dated January 15, 1988, and a slew of pictures.

1988 Chevrolet Venture concept

Thinking back, the Chevrolet Venture is a concept that seemed to fly low throughout the years having largely passed under the media’s radar. I’ve only come across honorary mention-type articles on it.

1988 Chevrolet Venture conceptI wonder if that has to do with Chevy’s concise, two-page write-up. In fact, of that short document, roughly only one page of text is devoted to the Venture.

I find it strange that it wasn’t promoted more heavily. I’m naturally left desiring more information and with a curiosity regarding its limited exposure. In my opinion, it has the goods to have been spotlighted.

Speaking of spotlights, it actually was under several at a rather ritzy location. Below is a picture of the Venture at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. In the same picture, to the right of the Venture, you can see the GMC Centaur concept. (To read more about that concept truck in a post I wrote, follow this link: 1988 GMC Centaur Concept.)

I’m glad that this particular shot was taken and provided to me since the Venture’s open hood reveals that it is hinged in the front; something the press release didn’t bother to mention. Under that Corvette-like covering resides a “production derived” 3.1-liter, 60-degree V-6 engine with Multi-Port Fuel Injection, rated at 160 HP.

The press release refers to the Venture as a “four-door sports sedan” but I’m not sure 160 HP qualifies as sporty. Also, it isn’t stated anywhere but I’m pretty sure it is pulled by the front wheels. (I’m not even certain which platform it rides on.)

1988 Chevrolet Venture and GMC Centaur concepts at Waldorf Astoria NYC

Something else that is made evident in that picture is the glass-paneled roof. Although, that was mentioned in the press release which went so far as to describe the car as having a full-glass upper structure. Maybe more provocative, the panels are removable and in two parts; from over the front and rear seats. They detach targa-style, as the then-current C4 Corvette’s one-piece unit did.

1988 Chevrolet Venture concept interiorBesides appearing with the Centaur at the Waldorf, the Venture was accompanied by a round of concepts from each of GM’s divisions. Those can be seen in some of the gallery’s pictures of the event and in a piece of marketing material that I wrote about last July. (To read more about that literature in a post I wrote, follow this link: Marketing Material: 1988 General Motors Technology Ad. Eventually, each of those concept cousins will be reported on by me.)

To the right and below are pictures of the Venture’s interior. I like it, a lot. It has buttons and displays galore. I love buttons and displays. The design is quite fluid for a Chevrolet, looking like it would have been right at home in a first-year, top-model Lexus for 1989.

The front seats are 15-way adjustable and I believe those multi-button controls are located between the seats, on the console (similar to how the Pontiac Bonneville would one day arrange them). The front seats also feature a lower back massage function, and the side and lower bolsters automatically fold away for easy entry and exit.

Many of the radio functions are voice-actuated, I suppose in a possible effort to minimize the number of buttons.

1988 Chevrolet Venture concept interior

I think the color choices offer a great contrast. I’m not usually a fan of light-colored interiors but this lush environment features a soft, buttery base which is accented by black trim that appears to use differing textures for the various surfaces.

Amongst Venture’s other features that were sparsely detailed in the press release are an infra-red keyless-entry, door opening system. I presume that means more than just a key fob for unlocking the doors since there are no apparent door handles on the concept.

Also, the car featured Bosch ABS II anti-lock brakes and was equipped with a four-wheel independent suspension system including the “Delco 3-position computer command ride control.” If I remember correctly, Corvette had something like that available at the time; if true, maybe there was some relation.

1990 Lumina Euro sedanThe closest production vehicle that I can think to relate the Venture concept car to would be the 1990 Lumina sedan (shown left). They appear to share some visual similarities, at least on the outside. The Lumina’s interior, on the other hand, was quite different having employed angular panels and vast flat surfaces, in addition to being devoid of buttons, by comparison.

Then, less than a decade later, Chevrolet did make a production vehicle named Venture; however, it was a minivan (shown below).

2001 Chevy Venture minivanI’m a little baffled by Chevy’s use of the name Venture, though, for a concept or production vehicle. Phonetically, I think it sounds great. But it is the definition that has me scratching my head. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, venture means: to expose to hazard; to undertake the risks and dangers of; or, to offer at the risk of rebuff, rejection, or censure. Peculiar choice, don’t you think?

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Venture concept sedan. Be sure to visit the photo gallery on the next page to see many more pictures, in larger sizes.

Continue below to the photo gallery.

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