Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech Concept Car


1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech I Concept Car Development
The 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech I concept car project actually consisted of two versions -- a Long Tail car (foreground) and a Short Tail car (background).
The 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech I concept car project actually consisted of two versions -- a Long Tail car (foreground) and a Short Tail car (background).
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech I concept car development process owed much to Bill Porterfield, the General Motors engineer in charge of the original Aerotech high-speed project.

The engine of the Aerotech I was producing about 850 horsepower when A.J. Foyt set the record pace at Fort Stockton Test Center in Texas. Two versions were built: a long tail (LT) with twin turbos, and a short tail (ST) that ran a single turbocharger. The LT reached a peak of 278 miles per hour in one direction, 257 the other way, for an official average of 267.399 mph in the "flying mile."

The Oldsmobile Aerotech concept car could run through the quarter-mile trap in around 8.1 seconds, reaching 181 miles an hour. Chief engineer Ted Louckes noted that Aerotech I was designed around the Quad 4 engine, to demonstrate its capability "in an extreme testing environment" -- and no one could deny that 267 miles an hour was extreme.

The Long Tail version of the Aerotech I set the 267-mph flying mile speed record in Texas.
The Long Tail version of the Aerotech I set the 267-mph flying mile speed record in Texas.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Aerotech wasn't a single-company production. A large number of subcontractors were employed for the record-setting Aerotech I project, including one that provided the cockpit's Lexan cover.

A carbon-fiber body sat upon a specially-designed ground-effects Indy-car chassis, and the whole vehicle weighed just 1,600 pounds. High-speed racers need to stick close to the ground and the Oldsmobile Aerotech I concept car was no exception, with an inch or less of airspace between its lowest body point and the ground surface.

A replica of the original Aerotech I toured the 1988 auto shows, while a subdued edition of its Quad 4 engine emerged under the hood of the Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais. This new engine was the first multi-valve powerplant to come from Detroit in recent times. As designer John Perkins said, "concept cars stretch the imagination" and show the public what stylists have in their minds.

A toned-down version of the Aerotech I's Quad 4 engine later appeared in production Olds models.
A toned-down version of the Aerotech I's Quad 4 engine later appeared in production Olds models.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Oldsmobile hit the jackpot with its Aerotech trio, delivering a record-breaker, a high-tech car of the future, a sedan to whet potential customers' automotive appetites, and a surprisingly muscular little engine that found its way into a broadening selection of GM vehicles.

Keep reading for specifications of the 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech I concept car.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out:


More to Explore