The 1988 GMC Sierra AR400 Prototype Was the Perfect Winter Pickup Truck
Eight inches of extra wheel travel and active suspension!
By the late 1980s, active suspension systems were expected to make it into series production vehicles well below the price range of a Cadillac Allanté, GM's luxury car featuring Speed Dependent Damping Control from 1989. While the "SD²C" system could only firm up the shocks and was less advanced than GM's updated semi-active Computer Command Ride introduced in 1991, the company's Advanced Vehicle Engineering Group suggested active suspension technology may be applied first to GMC's trucks. Cue in the GMC Sierra AR400 Prototype.
The proof of concept was built by the team in 1988, equipped with not only a computer-programmed hydraulic pressure system but also a concealed winch, a cab-mounted spoiler, high-beams, and a two-tone paint job to make it ready for the auto shows. The Sierra AR400 gave up its glovebox for a sizeable computer to program the hydraulic actuators and came with eight inches of extra wheel travel to make sure it was the most capable GMT 400 pickup truck out there.
A year earlier, just in time for the Chicago Auto Show, GM's Advanced Vehicle Engineering Group also produced the Chevy Blazer XT-1 research vehicle, a minivan concept with an advanced independent suspension, powered by the 4.3-liter V6 producing 202 horsepower and 250-pound-feet of torque. This yellow and black show car was much more out there than the GMC AR400 pickup, the division's trusty winter warrior.
Unfortunately, MotorWeek of 1988 had only bad news to report after the introduction of the GMC Sierra AR400, as the industry in general hit some rough spots, let alone the active-suspension pickup that never was.
Any Sierra AR400 fans out there?
Got a tip on which experimental pickup GM should have put into production? Send us a note: firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE TO READ
This GMC School Bus with 49-Inch Tires and a 454 V8 Is Too Cool to Just Shuttle Kids
Drive it anywhere—into town or across the country. But make sure you’ve got the gas money.
2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Is the Latest Vehicle to Add Super Cruise With Trailering Capability
With the Ford F-150 recently announcing similar tech, it looks like the pickup truck wars are getting even more competitive.
Truck Tailgates 101: The 2020 Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500
Once a ho-hum feature of the truck world, they’ve now have become a statement.