1987 Pontiac Pursuit Concept Car

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Written by Bill Bowman

The 1987 Pontiac Pursuit concept car was a two door, four place coupe with a removable roof, 187.9 inch overall length and a 117.4 inch wheelbase. It was powered with a 4 cylinder, 16 valve, twin cam, 2 liter, intercooled, turbocharged 200hp engine.

The Pursuit was steered by a unique Saginaw “steer by wire” system. Two 24-volt electric motors provided the power to steer the Pursuit’s four wheels through front and rear rack and pinion steering gears. Unlike conventional automobile steering systems with a shaft connecting the steering wheel to the axle, the Pursuit had all electric wiring leading to sensors, which relayed the car’s speed and steering wheel angle to the electronic control module. The module determined when and how much each set of wheels should turn and in which direction. Electric four-wheel steer improved handling and maneuverability at all speeds, particularly in driveways and parking lots, and better transient handling performance at high speeds.

Flush designed wheel skirts enclosed the wheels in sleeves, which moved outward, and inward as the tires turned, aerodynamically reducing turbulence. The skirts were easily removable for access to the tires. The Pursuit’s four-wheel independent suspension system included forged aluminum upper and lower control arms with horizontally mounted, race car type spring and shock assemblies with inflatable air chambers. To compensate for Pursuits 3.00-inch road clearance, these air chambers could be inflated manually or automatically to raise the vehicle up to a 6.00-inch normal clearance level, depending on road conditions. The driver could manually override the system to provide maximum ground clearance by activating the compressor to inflate the four corner pneumatic shocks to the full up position. A switch on the steering pod activated the automatic active pneumatic suspension system, which controlled body roll, pitch and dive. The system consisted of four-wheel height sensors and the control module, which inflated one or more shocks depending on the information relayed from the sensors to the electronic control module. This system permitted automatic lowering of the vehicle for improved aerodynamics and fuel economy on smooth, high-speed roadways; and automatically raised the vehicle at lower speeds and on bumpy surfaces.

Pursuit was equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS) coupled with a system of acceleration traction control. The latter system eliminated tire spinning when one or more tires experience reduced traction. Rear tires on the Pursuit were Goodyear P255/50VR17 with P185/70VR14 on the front. The puncture-proof tires’ unique tread design optimized all-weather traction with dry pavement ultimate handling, acceleration and brake performance. Pursuit had full-time all wheel drive, with a Getrag 5 speed manual gearbox.

Steering unit controls featured fingertip access with a head up display featuring speed and tachometer readings. The right rear seat contained a built in child seat. On the back of the front seats headrests, two portable color television sets with headphones were available for rear passenger entertainment.

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Video Courtesy of General Motors Archive

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