Photos and text courtesy of William Quan.
Oldsmobile wanted to highlight the introduction of the Quad Four engine by showing it off as a highly modified engine mounted onto an Indy type racing chassis. The goal was to have the car break the world lap record around an Indy-style oval track and be driven by former Indy 500 winner, A.J. Foyt.
Our goal was to develop an eye-catching interior to complement the exterior development for an introduction at the Chicago Auto Show. So in the summer of 1984, our design team made a trip to the Michigan 500 track to research the car chassis and to understand the driving needs of the racers. Upon returning, I started developing the design themes. We wanted to convey a design that was not only reflected the essence of a race machine, but also incorporate some high tech electronics such as Head-Up Display, Flip-Up Digital Info Panels, Access Panels to the onboard computers, and video cameras. My design themes were inspired by the F-16 fighter aircraft cockpit as well as some of the fantastic robotic models coming from Japan.
One minor problem that developed during our design phase was that we could not obtain any reference drawings from England where the March racing chassis were built. Without those drawings we could not accurately build our upper portion of our design to properly interface with the real car. We found out that the people in England knew their job well enough to complete the cars without reference drawings since they were all hand-built. Luckily, GM Design Staff was able to obtain a body chassis that had been involved in a crash, allowing us to take critical reference points. We had the unique opportunity to work closely with some very forward-thinking engineers from GM’s Delco Electronics that provided us with the digital display panels and supported us in developing all the electronic components, including the head-up display unit.
The interior design was completed by 1986 and introduced with the exterior show car model at the 1987 Chicago Auto Show. This was one of my most favorite projects. I had the pleasure to work with a fantastic group of people at Design Staff, incorporate cutting-edge electronics, and establish a great working relationship with various other GM groups such as Delco.
Thanks very much to the very talented William Quan who now works as an Industrial Designer for Teague in Seattle, Washington.