Chevy’s gas turbine express concept was an 1980s version of futuristic mobility
Almost a decade before Chevrolet put the nickname Express on its full-size van, the American brand was showing off the Express concept car. Specially developed For use on a proposed high-speed state highway network, the gas-turbine-powered rod-shed express could theoretically travel from point to point at 150 miles per hour and traveling at approximately 25 miles per gallon (kerosene). Despite producing just 120 horsepower, the Express’s limited mass and aerodynamics (its drag coefficient was below 0.20), not to mention the powertrain’s healthy 350 lb-ft of torque, allowed the vehicle to achieve and maintain triple power. Digit speeds relatively easy.
Although neither the motorway network nor the powertrain of the four-seater Express would ever materialize, the concept turned out to be forward-looking in some ways. Credit features like the electro-hydraulic power steering assistant, a drive-by-wire accelerator pedal, camera-controlled rear view displays in place of mirrors, and a proximity key fob that allowed the car to automatically open and close its canopy – vehicle technologies that we arguably take for granted today .
Even better, the Express was a fully functional concept car. The gas turbine engine and technologies of the 21st century were not theoretical features, but functional elements that allowed them to perform their intended functions from the outset. So it’s no wonder that the Express made a cameo in 1989 Back to the Future Part II After all, with its nifty design and trick technology, the Express previewed the future of auto transportation while it was a cable in its own right – no Hollywood magic required!
As portrayed in 2015 Back to the Future Part IIThe future vision of the Chevy Express concept remained – at least for the time being – largely behind the reality.