Oldsmobile Silhouette

The Oldsmobile Silhouette and its sister models Pontiac Trans Sport (later Pontiac Montana) and Chevrolet Lumina APV (later Chevrolet Venture ) were three vans that were presented in model year 1990. After giving up the brand Oldsmobile Silhouette 2004 was replaced by the Buick Terraza the following year 2005.

The silhouette of the first generation was used in the film Get Shorty in 1995, where he was referred to more often as the Cadillac of Vans. The appearance of the first front-wheel drive vans from GM in 1990 encouraged the company to launch one of the first luxuries of a van, as the Chrysler Town and Country published.

  • 3.1 Equipment lines
  • 3.2 Motor
  • 3.3 Low sales success

Original concept

The concept car Pontiac Trans Sport in 1986 was presented to the public and very well received. It had a futuristic styling, individually removable seats with built-in stereo speakers, a hinged door for the rear seat passengers and large glass surfaces, including a large glass roof.

Due to the positive response, the production of the Pontiac Trans Sport was taken, but the styling and the equipment details of the concept car were only partly taken into production. Especially the double doors would have been too expensive to manufacture. The glass roof was also too heavy and also too expensive, and so they left it at the standard vehicle with a steel roof, which was painted in high-gloss black, reminiscent of the glass roof of the concept car.

Also, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile were modified versions of the Trans Sport, to serve the widest possible clientele. The Chevrolet Lumina APV should be the cheapest version, the Trans Sport was designed for customers with a sense of " Style & Sport" and the silhouette of the van should be in the market for luxury vehicles.

First generation (1990-1996)

Oldsmobile Silhouette (1990-1994)

The first generation of Oldsmobile Silhouette production began on 1 August 1989 in Tarrytown (New York). The cars were built on the GM U- platform and consisted of a space frame made ​​of galvanized steel and wore a body made ​​of fiberglass, which was resistant to rust and minor damage. This production technique has been developed at the Pontiac Fiero and used for most of the cars from Saturn. The silhouette had seven seats; the five rear seats each weighing about 15 kg, and could be removed individually.

There was a level control system with compressor and gas -filled shock absorbers at the rear, so you could adjust the ride height regardless of load. In addition there was a combination of switches and a set of air hoses, so you could inflate the tires, air mattresses and other sports equipment to the compressor.


Low sales success

The styling of the Vans was very controversial. When the Oldsmobile Silhouette and its sister models appeared on the market, no one had ever tried an elegant or sporty van to market and GM thought they would have there discovered a large market potential. These vans were lower and sleeker than any other Vans designed so far. The extremely long and flat windscreen and the resulting large distance of the driver to the pane edge made ​​for a strange ride until the driver had used to the "different " proportions. Car magazines called the car " Dustbuster " because he looked like in its lateral silhouette of this hand-held vacuum.

The first engine in this van was a bit puny 3.1 -liter V6 with only 120 bhp (88 kW), which gave this rather heavy car no adequate driving performance.

1992 got the silhouette and its sister models on request a 3.8 -liter V6 with 170 bhp (125 kW), the Van gave a much better torque and better acceleration and made ​​them the strongest and handiest Vans her time.

In response to the criticism (and the very modest sales figures), which was ascribed to the avant-garde styling, and the response to potential customers, auto magazines and even a Chrysler advertising from 1994, the Trans Sport and Lumina APV received a facelift by her nose to 3 " (76 mm) shorter and the front of the vehicle turned down, resulting in a more conventional appearance showed. In addition, it took an edge of the dashboard in order to shorten the distance from the lower edge of the windshield visually.

European customers who have been accustomed by the Renault Espace to lean Vans, the futuristic styling took on well and the sales figures were impressive. The 1994 made ​​for the European market Oldsmobile Silhouette were. By Pontiac logo and wheels to Pontiac Trans Sport models The sales in Europe were - at least for a U.S. import cars - good, but economically justified not an independent, fourth model.

The production of the Silhouette ( including Lumina APV and Trans Sport ) of the first generation ran from 1996 and the plant in Tarrytown, where the cars were manufactured and operated since 1900, has been canceled. The last Oldsmobile silhouette of the first generation left this work on 17 May 1996.

Model history


  • A completely new model - the silhouette as a luxury model is available with leather seats upon request, a detail of the equipment, which his sister models can not offer, but the Chrysler Town and Country.


  • Customer complaints of reflections of the huge dashboard in the windshield to be answered with the exchange of bright plastic parts of the previous year against black carpet.


  • New this year, the 3.8 -liter V6 engine in conjunction with a Hydra -Matic 4T60 - automatic transmission with four stages and electronic control.
  • The mounted to the bulkhead fixed radio antenna is abandoned in favor of an integrated roof antenna. It is installed between the roof and headliner.
  • The side mirrors are now folded and larger.
  • The brakes are magnified and combined as standard with ABS.
  • On request there is a pop-top.
  • On request there are levers for the stereo on the steering column.


  • The design of the rear lights will change from a network design to all red lights that run down into the Black to the edge. These features were previously only in the Trans Sport.
  • There was a new center console with large, recessed controls for the air conditioning and large shelves.


The silhouette was given a facelift with border around the corners of the vehicle, combined indicators and parking lights and fog lights fitted as standard.

Additionally, there was an electric sliding door with remote control and the rear side windows received a darker tint.

By 1995, an ESP was offered in combination with the 3.8- liter engine and still there was an optional traction control and a standard driver's airbag. Optional built-in child seats were available that could be installed between two adults of the rear seats. To reduce the large distance from the lower edge of the windshield optical, was brought to an extra edge on the dashboard.


  • There were automatic door locks that locked the doors when the automatic selector lever has been shifted out of the park position and unlocked again when the car was parked.


  • Last year of production. In August, the series is replaced by a completely new car of the same name.
  • Both the 3.1 -liter V6 and the 3.8 liter V6 omitted, but there is the 3.4 -liter V6 engine.
  • The traction control is not required.

Second generation (1996-2004)

Oldsmobile Silhouette (1996-2001)

The revised silhouette for the 1997 model year was manufactured in Doraville (Georgia ). The first car left the assembly line on August 6, 1996. In Canada, the car was sold from 1998.

General Motors had it now twice failed, Chrysler snatch a crucial piece of the domestic van market and thus launched a third attempt with new Vans on the GM U platform, which - at least theoretically - based on the lessons learned from the previous failures. In memory of the criticism of the " Dustbuster " minivans, the new edition was entirely conventional in every respect. The car had a monocoque structure made of steel and styling was as conservative as possible. The previous generation was a little too big for European roads fall, and so the new vehicles were slightly narrower and smaller than it was normal for the U.S., so that they could be used also for Europe.

During the development of the new generation GM oriented significantly to the current Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager and the silhouette above all on Chrysler Town and Country. The resulting vehicles had significant similarity with the successful Chrysler trio, which operated at that time 50 % of the domestic market. Unfortunately for GM, Chrysler vehicles, which they used as a yardstick were replaced in 1996 by a whole new generation - much slimmer and more elegant than their predecessors failed - to the annoyance of GM. The new Chrysler vans also offered many new features details and packages that existed at that time in any other van on the market. GM finally had a nice new car, but one that was designed for a generation of competitors who had already survived.

There were two different wheelbases and two sliding doors. The silhouette as the top model offered many amenities available standard that had to be paid extra at its sister models and competition vehicles. In 1998 he was one of the first vehicles that offered a video recorder with LCD screen in the roof for the rear seat passengers.

2001, the silhouette got a small facelift, which was recognized by the enlarged and entirely chrome grille.

Equipment lines

  • Standard ( 1996)
  • GL (1996-2004)
  • GLS (1996-2004)
  • GS (1998-1999)
  • Premiere (1998-2004)


  • 60 ° V6 engine with 3392 cc capacity, 170 to 185 bhp (125 to 136 kW )

Low sales success

The Silhouette and its sister models achieved slightly better sales than their avant-garde predecessors, but did not achieve a significant market share. The silhouette was a serious opponent in many important categories, but could not decide against the Chrysler Vans for themselves. The market for vans was much more densely populated than earlier and the silhouette was seen as a second choice, certainly very beautiful, but in no aspect outstanding.

The model remained until 2004 without major changes in production. This year Oldsmobile was completely set. The last Oldsmobile Silhouette left the assembly line on March 31, 2004.

The successor to the Oldsmobile Silhouette in GM 's lineup is the Buick Terraza ( 2005-2007 ), who was born on a revised version of the GM U- platform and took the place of the premium Vans, which had been previously occupied the silhouette. But because the third generation of GM Vans did not sell well, the group to return the van market completely back decided. The Terraza was discontinued in 2007, the Chevrolet Uplander, 2008.