The 1969 Astro III was a sleek, two-passenger experimental car resembling an executive jet aircraft, even down to its low center of gravity tricycle-type wheel arrangement. The Chevrolet Volt’s battery lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity, enhancing stability and handling in inclement weather.
Though the first two prototype cars to carry the Astro namesake were relatively well known, the third entry in this conceptual saga was somewhat obscure and significantly more bizarre. At the 1969 Chicago Motor Show, Chevrolet unveiled the Astro III which was a gas-turbine prototype that featured a tricycle wheel arrangement.
The Astro III’s design was highly reminiscent of a business jet and showcased an aggressive, sloped front end, which tapered gradually to its point, starting at the vehicle’s cockpit. Behind the Chevrolet Astro III’s space-aged design was John Delorean, who was then managing GM’s Chevrolet Division at the time. Delorean was known for his fondness of unique, and sometimes outlandish designs. He eventually went on to pioneer the car which carried his name, the Delorean.
The Astro III employed the use of a helicopter-grade Type 250-C18 gas turbine and produced 317 horsepower, which was distributed to the vehicle’s rear wheels via a Hydra-Matic transmission. Though this seemed relatively off-cuff for GM, the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s were a time in which gas propulsion was often seen as a viable alternative to use of the internal combustion engine.
Outside of its conical design, and single front tire stance, the Astro III also featured several other design characteristics of note. The most prominent of these features included a power actuated canopy, pistol-grip steering controls, and closed-circuit television enabled rear vision. The Astro III was also specified to have a gross-weight of only 1,966 LBS.