First shown to the public in 1986, the Pontiac Trans Sport concept car was extremely well received. It featured futuristic styling, individually removable bucket seats with built-in stereo speakers, a gull-wing rear passenger door and extensive use of glass including a glass-paneled roof as well as many other "dream car" features.
Based on the warm reception the concept vehicle received, the Pontiac Trans Sport was approved for production, but as is often the case, the styling and features showcased on the concept did not make the translation to the mass-produced edition. The gullwing door was deemed too expensive to produce and would probably have hit overhead garage doors in suburban garages. The glass roof was too heavy and too expensive, so the resultant production vehicle made-do with high-gloss black painted panels for the roof to suggest the glass canopy the concept sported.
Chevrolet and Oldsmobile were also given production vehicles based on the Trans Sport in order to cover the widest possible range of potential customers. It was intended that the Lumina APV would be the value-priced version, The Trans Sport would net the more sport- and style-oriented buyers, and the Oldsmobile Silhouette would be the minivan for the premium market.
Assembled in the now-defunct General Motors Tarrytown, New York assembly facility, these U platform vans consisted of a galvanized steel space frame wrapped in composite plastic body panels that were impervious to rust and minor dents and dings, a manufacturing technique developed on the Pontiac Fiero and used extensively on General Motors' Saturn line of vehicles.
The Trans Sport was available with seating for seven, with the five light-weight (34 lb or 15kg) rear seats being individually reconfigurable and removable. In 1994 built-in child seats were added to the option list, which provided the ability to switch two of the rear seats between adult and child seating with the pull of a seat-mounted tab.