GM concepts: Think open air, think F-22

CARMEL, Calif. - Saturn gets sporty, GMC rethinks the pickup bed and Cadillac conjures up a Ferrari fighter in three General Motors 2002 concept vehicles unveiled here last week.

Concepts often are used as trial balloons for production vehicles. Still, few concept vehicles wind up in showrooms.

The Saturn Sky, a convertible that can be reconfigured for two or four seats, is aimed at young buyers who want 'an open-air vehicle big enough to carry their friends and their stuff,' according to David Smith, Saturn chief designer.

The Sky would weigh 2,300 pounds, powered by a supercharged 2.2-liter, 180-hp 4-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission. It would be built on the Opel-derived Delta platform, which will debut in North America on the redesigned Saturn S series for the 2003 model year.

GMC's Terra4 concept continues the industrial-precision design theme found in the Terracross and Terradyne concepts. The five-passenger, four-door truck features 'a complete rethink of what a cargo area should be,' said Carl Zipfel, GMC chief designer.

The hard, retractable lid can be left in place while the bed is loaded from the sides through movable panels, through the tailgate, or through a passenger cabin cargo door. It would use the 5.3-liter, 285-hp V-8 with GM's 'parallel hybrid' power-saving system and be built on the company's full-sized truck platform.

Cadillac takes advantage of a 7.5 liter Northstar V-12 concept engine to outfit the Cien, a mid-engine 'supercar' meant to mark the division's centennial. Cien means 100 in Spanish.

Cadillac chief designer Simon Cox said the vehicle drew inspiration from the F-22 fighter jet. It includes night vision, a digital display, a detachable half-top, a vertical spoiler that deploys at higher speeds, and vents in the doors that open when the car is in motion. A clear panel behind the passenger compartment leaves the engine visible.

You can reach Dave Guilford at dguilford@crain.com

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