GM's Junior concept car was designed for the outdoors, and featured a raft of clever interior features as well as compact dimensions
Matt Burt
26 November 2015

The Vauxhall Adam was codenamed Junior during its development, harking back to a concept that was unveiled at the 1983 Frankfurt show.

The original car was the work of GM’s European design studio in Germany, headed by Wayne Cherry. They were given a brief to build a “realistic study of a future-orientated mini”.

Starting with the mechanical package of a Vauxhall Nova 1.2, they made a smooth, aerodynamic bodyshell that was eight inches shorter overall than a Nova and had a drag coefficient of 0.31.

The Junior was a three-door with accommodation for four and the usual seat-folding capability of a hatchback. The tailgate was double hinged so it ‘jack-knifed’ when opened, thereby needing 12in less space than a conventional tailgate. The concept featured a fixed plastic roof, but the idea was that it could be a removable glass panel or a fold-back canvas top.

The interior of GM’s design study – “designed for the young and the outdoor life”, according to Autocar’s description at the time – contained a wealth of clever ideas that were intended to filter into production cars of all shapes and sizes.

The modular dashboard was essentially a row of cubes sitting atop the fascia rail – some essential like the speedometer and fuel gauge, others optional. All were easily moved to other locations, as they were attached via integral plugs to a ‘ring main’ of wiring along the mounting rail.

The design made it easier for left or right-hand-drive versions to be made and would enable an owner to select and install extra instruments with ease.

The seats had tubular frames with moulded plastic back supports that could be adjusted up and down by ski boot-like buckles. They were covered with padded nylon one-piece cushions, like duvets, which could be unbuckled, removed and opened out to be used as sleeping bags or ground sheets.

Our Verdict

Mini Cooper 5-door hatch

Third-generation Mini hatchback comes with a range of new engines, more equipment and a practical five-door shape, but is it stretching the Mini name too far?

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

The rear seat featured similar cushions, but the seatback was a nylon net on a tubular frame which, when swung forward to increase the load space, formed a full-depth luggage barrier or dog guard.

GM’s designers had a lot of fun creating specially formed luggage to fit into the Junior. “There is room in the bottom of the wide doors for big net pockets that can contain either soft bags or ‘modular’ hard-shell cases,” explained Autocar at the time.

“The latter have been made into beauty cases, camera holdalls, tool kits and so on, and the same size box shell can be used in the fascia itself and on runners under the front seats. They seem to have thought of everything.”

The tailgate had a warning triangle on the roller blind in its trailing edge, while the seatbelt pivot points on the door pillars could be moved up and down to provide the optimum belt run for drivers and passengers of all sizes.

While the Junior was purely for show, some elements of the interior packaging were intended for production cars.

“It is not for sale, but more than one visitor to the show was prepared to buy it at any price,” wrote Autocar. “We can be sure that the Junior will never go into production in its present form, but we are equally confident that ideas and themes from it will find their way into cars of the future.”

Previous Throwback Thursdays

4 March 1899 - Steam, electric or combustion engine? 

26 June 1906 - The first French Grand Prix

9 July 1907 - The beginning of Brooklands

14 February 1913 - 100 miles in one hour

8 April 1916 - Making post-war predictions

25 March 1922 - Caterpillar tracks are the future

4 July 1925 - Citroën lights up the Eiffel Tower

28 September 1928 - Engine tech takes a great leap forwards

2 February 1934 - The ethics of skidding

6 July 1934 - A tour of Cowley

1 June 1935 - Introduction of the driving test

22 June 1945 - Driving through post-WW2 Europe

21 January 1949 - Tidier tails

25 August 1950 - The evolution of transmissions

27 April 1951 - Frankfurt hosts its first motor show

24 April 1959 - Aston Martin enters Formula 1

16 September 1960 - The beginning of MOT tests

28 October 1960 - Economy driving 1960s style

27 January 1961 - Ford Thunderbird road test

17 November 1961 - TVR Grantura road test

10 September 1965 - The birth of modern Audi

19 August 1966 - Four-wheel drive on test

Join the debate


26 November 2015
This car was amazing when it came out it was the talk of many a car design studio at the time, but sadly it never became reality aprt from some coloured knobs on a corsa

26 November 2015
- and then parked it in a shed somewhere and forgotten all about it.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week