This is an original Oldsmobile Aerotech Go-Kart. It’s believed that just 70 of these were made, each a fully functional go kart, with a design influenced by the record-breaking 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech concept car.
The go karts were made as fun and functional display pieces for Oldsmobile dealerships, to help get people into the showrooms and hopefully ensure that they left in a new Oldsmobile – or at least placed an order for one.
The Oldsmobile Aerotech Project
The 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech was a revolutionary concept car that was developed to both showcase Oldsmobile’s advanced new “Quad 4″ engine, and to help shift the public perception around the American automaker and help modernize its image.
Above Video: This is the original MotorWeek coverage of the Oldsmobile Aerotech project from the late 1980s. It includes period footage of the Aerotech running, and there’s also footage of it being started up with audio – which is well-worth listening to.
Oldsmobile’s endeavor began with the introduction of the double overhead cam 2.3 liter Quad 4 engine in the 1988 Cutlass Calais. Designed by Oldsmobile engineers, this cast iron block and aluminum head four-cylinder engine delivered 150 bhp in its original state of tune, but much more powerful turbocharged versions were developed – though they were never put into production.
To showcase the potential of the Quad 4 engine, Oldsmobile embarked on an ambitious project – creating the Aerotech prototypes which first began appearing in 1987.
Each of the three Aerotechs were based on a modified March 84C Cart chassis, the first two Aerotech were completed by the summer of ’87. Initially, two short-tail variants were built, but a third was added later.
The short-tail Aerotechs were designed with high-downforce characteristics which would be ideal for setting the closed course record at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while the long-tail variant emphasized top speed optimization, and it was heavily inspired by the Porsche 917LH.
All Aerotech prototypes underwent extensive wind tunnel testing to fine-tune their aerodynamics. They featured active ground effects for enhanced downforce. The short-tail Aerotechs were equipped with a rear wing and a turbocharged 2.0 liter Quad 4 engine tuned to an astounding 900 horsepower by Batten.
The later long-tail variant boasted twin-turbocharging, producing around 1000 horsepower and was tuned by Fueling Engineering. This amalgamation of Formula 1-like power and Group C-inspired aerodynamics was a testament to Oldsmobile’s engineering prowess.
On August 26, 1987, the short-tail Aerotech made its debut at the Fort Stockton Test Center in Texas, aiming to surpass Mercedes-Benz’s CIII-IV prototype’s closed-course speed record of 250.9 mph. While the short-tail Aerotech fell short, improvements were made to the aero package. Meanwhile, legendary four-time Indy 500 winner A. J. Foyt took the long-tail variant for a run, reaching 275 mph over a flying mile.
The following day, Foyt set a new benchmark by averaging 267.399 mph in both directions. Additionally, he established a closed-course speed record of 257.123 mph with the short-tail version, effectively toppling Mercedes-Benz’s record and etching Oldsmobile’s name into automotive history.
The remarkable success of the Quad 4-powered Aerotech encouraged Oldsmobile to develop a 32 valve 5.0 liter V8 engine called the Quad 8. Oldsmobile even displayed a mockup of this engine at SEMA. However, the Quad 8 project eventually took a backseat as GM shifted its focus to the Cadillac Northstar V8 development.
In 1992, the Oldsmobile Aerotech Aurora made its appearance. The production vehicle, released in 1995, utilized the 4.0 liter version of Cadillac’s 4.6 liter Northstar engine, a DOHC V8 also known as the Aurora. The V8 powered Aerotech prototype, now equipped with functioning headlights for the first time, went on to establish 47 speed and endurance records.
The Oldsmobile Aerotech Go-Kart Shown Here
As noted further up, this particular go-kart has been designed to resemble the iconic 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech concept car. It is believed to be one of only 70 produced specifically for display at Oldsmobile dealerships and the go-kart in question was reportedly showcased at a dealership in Maine before being acquired by the current seller in 2022.
The go-kart showcases a fiberglass bodywork with a striking two-tone silver finish complemented by red accents. It sits on a sturdy tubular steel frame.
Power is delivered to the rear axle through a 3 bhp Briggs & Stratton single-cylinder engine, equipped with a centrifugal clutch and a drive chain. Notable features of the go-kart include a rear drum brake, 6″ steel wheels, a removable fiberglass cockpit cover, a comfortable black vinyl seat, and a removable steering yoke.
This Aerotech-style go-kart is now being offered no reserve out of Londonderry, New Hampshire, on Bring a Trailer and will come with a bill of sale. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.