I was in Oldsmobile 2 Studio when Ed Welburn was given the assignment to develop the Aerotech. The car was modeled in an out-of-the-way basement studio away from prying eyes. It is interesting to note that two years earlier when the Achieva styling model was being developed, Dave Holls decided to pull the clay out of the studio and put it down stairs so its development could be hidden until it was finished and ready for review. I think the Achieva clay was really starting to look good in the studio and Dave didn’t want Chuck or others meddling with it until it was further along. It came out pretty good and was the subject of a previous post on Dean’s Garage. I did the initial design of the car, full-size renderings, centerline and 3300 sections. But I wasn’t able to see the car through myself, as I was in Olds 1 and the Achieva was in Olds 2. The sculptors did an outstanding job surfacing the Achieva styling model. I wish I could remember the names of those involved.
The Oldsmobile Aerotechs were a series of experimental high-speed vehicles created between 1987 and 1992 incorporating the latest in performance technology with the intention of breaking multiple automobile speed records. The first such car was driven by four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt to a world closed-course speed record of 257.123 mph (413.788 km/h) on 27 August 1987 at the 7.712-mile (12.411 km) test track near Fort Stockton Texas. Prior to this, on 26 August 1987, the car had posted a top speed over a mile of 267.88 mph (431.10 km/h). The car consisted of a March Indycar single seat chassis enclosed in an extremely efficient aerodynamic body shell. It was powered by a highly turbo-charged version of the 2-litre Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine. The Aerotech body was designed by GM Design staff and was one of the sleekest vehicles ever developed for use on a high speed track. The design of the Aerotech included the capability of adjusting underbody sections to control the distribution of downforce, front to rear. Oldsmobile produced three versions of the original Aerotech to prove the capabilities of the company’s Quad 4 engine. Two were short-tailed (ST) versions and one was long-tailed (LT).
Subsequently, between 7–15 December 1992, another version of the Aerotech, this time powered by a 4.0 litre Oldsmobile Aurora V8 engine and fitted with lights, broke 47 speed endurance records including the 10,000 and 25,000 kilometre world speed records. Other national and international speed records ranging from 10 kilometres to 24 hours were accomplished by a team of drivers working 24 hours a day for 8 days. These records were also set at the Fort Stockton test track.
The Aerotech is also featured in a previous Dean’s Garage post entitled ’80s GMs Image Cars. There is another video of the car in that post.
Fantastic! One of my all time favorite designs from GM.
The Aerotech was a neat project. Welburn’s renderings are prettier than the actual car, but his version probably didn’t leave enough room for A.J.!
Fun to remember reading about these cars in OnTrack way back when. Thanks and keep ’em coming.
Great article, and thanks for bringing back the memories of my youth. I was just a kid dreaming of the Aerotech and making my own drawings of the car.
Photos culled from Automobile’s story of Wellburn finally driving the car:
I bought a new 1992 teal colored SCX which I loved, only switching out the ’92 PROM for a $50 ’91 W-41 PROM which raised the rev limit from 6,800 to 7,200RPM’s. Hot Rod magazine at the time tested a Cutless W-41 which ran the 1/4
mile in 14.7 seconds @ 97mph, that’s what prompted me to buy the ’92 SCX. The car didn’t disappoint, & while delivering an average of over 30mpg with aggresive driving! My wife dropped a tooth off the car’s specific to SCX’s close ratio transmission & the car was at the dealer for 2 months while they searched for the very rare correct replacement, finally bought from a CA racing team’s spares. I loved the car’s look (Thank you Dean!), performance (Thank you Olds Rocket Parts Division!), color, steering wheel, dash styling & full instrumentation. It would have benefited better quality interior fabric, or perhaps premium vinyl or leather. One of my favorites of limited production cars I’ve owned.
I was lucky enough to get an autographed poster (very big one) and some photo reproductions of the record car from Mr. Welburn, whom I almost met at the Indy 500. Quite a guy. A lot of interesting designs in his portfolio. A Dean’s Garage article here somewhere?
Here’s a race-ready SCX https://www.cargurus.com/Cars/inventorylisting/viewDetailsFilterViewInventoryListing.action?zip=33908&showNegotiable=true&sortDir=ASC&sourceContext=untrackedWithinSite_false_0&distance=50000&sortType=DEAL_SCORE&entitySelectingHelper.selectedEntity=d445#listing=322638707/NONE
These were meant to excite!