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2003 Chevy Cheyenne Concept Car - The Shape Of Things To Come

Posted in Features on July 1, 2003 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Courtesy of General Motors Corp.

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is the world's most prestigious auto show, so it's no surprise that an organization of automotive designers created an awards show to correspond with the NAIAS event. Eyes on Design has taken on such a high status with automotive designers that its importance for designers has been compared to that of the Oscars for movie stars. What is surprising is that at the 2003 NAIAS, a loaded concept truck took home the lion's share of the 3rd Annual Eyes on Design kudos.

The Eyes on Design competition recognizes and honors "vision in automotive design," and it's judged solely by automotive design professionals. The 40-member judging panel includes practicing automotive designers, design school faculty, and student designers from around the world. This highly competent jury awarded the Chevrolet Cheyenne concept the Most Significant Design Concept, Best Concept Interior Design, Best Concept Exterior Design, and Best of Show.

Dick Ruzzin, chairman of the judging board, said "Cheyenne was an exceptional design composed of very strong solutions, both in its interior and exterior design themes. Supported with innovative functional attributes, it stood out for its quality of execution and harmony. It represented the visual brand character of Chevrolet Truck extremely well and is very well proportioned. The Cheyenne concept has a strong and robust presence that clearly enhances the Chevrolet Truck brand."

We recognize that often designers speak in an obscure code that doesn't automatically translate into plain English. However, we agree with Ruzzin's sentiments. We'd just clarify things by saying the Cheyenne concept is radically stylish.

Chevy Truck HeritageThe Cheyenne concept is perhaps as significant as the '55 Chevrolet Cameo Carrier that Clay Dean, director of design, small truck/Hummer, says influenced the developmental thinking behind the Cheyenne concept. The Cheyenne not only draws from the heritage of the well-known Cameo Carrier, but it was also inspired by the '60 redesigned pickups as well as the '67 and '73 production Cheyennes and even the '88 Silverado.

But the real story of the Cheyenne, at least in our view, is how the design team dreamed up such an aesthetically appealing package loaded with the type of functions and accessories that we never knew we needed until we saw the Cheyenne concept.

According to Dean, the design assignment was aimed at how to take the next step in fullsize truck design. Dean said Chevrolet recognizes the market is changing. New competitors are entering the segment, and there are many first-time truck buyers coming into the market. The design team's job was to create a noteworthy design that would make a statement about the Chevrolet brand.

Dean said the Cameo Carrier was unique. It was the first pickup design that directed the pickup truck into personal use. The '60 redesign of Chevy pickups was the first with a low and wide fuselage. This allowed a larger cab space and easy entry and access to the cargo bed. Essentially, the '03 Cheyenne concept takes the main themes of personal use style and the ergonomic benefits of the low and wide platform of the '60 pickup and artfully blends them into a highly contented and functional vehicle with a refined yet masculine design presence.

Interior
In designing the interior, the Cheyenne's designers focused on a refined, roomy, and comfortable interior environment; we'd say the designers met their goals. The Cheyenne has a great sense of space and efficient ergonomics. The generous use of glass, including the moonroof, gives passengers lots of exposure and produces a sense of openness beyond that of most crew cabs. In addition, the interior is rife with storage space, including little niceties such as the lockable storage area under the rear seat.

In addition to the functional and ergonomic considerations, the interior designers managed to create a design that hints at the design heritage of Chevy truck styling. This is most evident to us in the styling of the instrument panel and console-mounted controls. These areas have the modern sensibilities of proper and efficient ergonomics, but instead of a high-tech cosmetic, they have the exuberant style of the 1950s. The combination is refreshing and fun.

Cargo Management
Concepts offer a public discussion of design ideas. Good ideas get applause; not so good ideas get ignored. Regarding the cargo box of the Cheyenne Concept, we'd give it a standing ovation. This is an area of pickup design that has long been neglected by the factory and much embraced by the aftermarket.

In fact, says Dean, it was obvious the cargo box was an area they could innovate. To find inspiration, the company drew on long standing relationships with designers in aftermarket companies. You can see the influence of the aftermarket in the cargo area, but it's taken to the next step. For example, Dean cites the Fox SEMA project truck as the main influence for the Cheyenne's cargo box. That vehicle had side access doors, and they worked very well. It became evident that when you're loading dirt bikes into a truck's bed, a front/side access door was convenient. So, that's how the Cheyenne is equipped. GM also integrated Amp Research-style retractable steps, making access to the cab and the front of the cargo box easier.

The creative thinking didn't stop there. The cargo box is filled with unique storage concepts, such as integrated tie downs, an LED cargo lamp, 110- and 12-volt outlets, and an air compressor outlet.

From our view, it is gratifying to see the creative energy of the aftermarket exert such influence on a factory design concept. If most of the design of the Cheyenne concept makes production - we believe it will - then our friends in the aftermarket will have a great platform from which to innovate, and the cycle will continue. Dean said we wouldn't see a new fullsize pickup platform from GM until around 2006-2007. But chances are, you're getting a fairly accurate preview of the new GM truck.

'03 CHEVROLET CHEYENNE CONCEPT TRUCK
SPECIFICATIONS
Body/chassis structure : Body on frame
Body material : Steel
Chassis : Aluminum
Suspension : Upper and lower aluminum control arms
with coilover shocks (front); independent
suspension with upper and lower aluminum
control arms, coilover shocks, and rear
steering capabilities (rear)
Wheels
: Aluminum 22x8.5-inch
Tires : BFGoodrich P285/60R22
Brakes : Baer, six-piston fixed Alcon calipers with
15-inch rotors (front); Baer, four-piston fixed
Alcon calipers with 14.75-inch rotors (rear)
Engine : Supercharged 6.0L V-8<\f>
Horsepower maximum : 500 (with 10 pounds of boost)
Torque maximum : 580 lb-ft
Transmission : Hydra-Matic 4L85-E
Fuel cell capacity : 10 gallons
Height/length/width : 76.6 inches/233.9 inches/91.9 inches (with
mirrors; 81.9 inches without mirrors)
Wheelbase : 154.9 inches
Track width : 69.7 inches (front); 69.7 inches (rear)
Weight : 6,000 pounds(estimated production weight)

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