The Expression made its debut at the Chicago Auto show in 1990. The car had fiberglass exterior panels and featured four wheel steering. Inside the leather trimmed interior, there was room for six passengers. Two in the front buckets, two in the rear buckets and two in the rear facing third-seat. The back seat faced rearward to give passengers access to an entertainment center in the tailgate. It included a Nintendo and VCR in addition to a television screen. Additional features included a hot and cold storage area, a built-in vacuum cleaner and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Ransom E.'s brand had just begun selling its first minivan, the Silhouette, a few months before, but Olds designers nonetheless decided to cook up this interesting family hauler for the 1990 Chicago auto show. It sported three rows of seats, room for seven, and a bevy of electronic devices (including a VCR!) designed to keep the little ones occupied during longer stretches.
Hotness then (1-10): 5
Arguably, the production Silhouette, which sported a drooping nose, "dust buster" profile, and advanced space frame construction, was more radical looking than the Expression. Of course, it didn't help that the concept was born during Olds' quest to find its new look — the front fascia was a little like a Trofeo, but apart from the rocket emblems, nothing about this car screamed "Olds!"
Hotness now (1-10): 8
We're not talking about sheer looks — this is, after all, more generic and ovoid than a second-generation Ford Taurus — but designers had in effect created a crossover long before marketers invented the buzzword. Interestingly, once Oldsmobile's designers decided to flirt with the idea of a crossover a decade later, their concepts, including the 2000 Profile, looked a lot like the Expression.
Could it have saved the brand?
Perhaps not single-handedly, but it could have bolstered Oldsmobile's sales around the turn of the new millennium, possibly prolonging the brand's life. Sales of GM's Lambda crossovers, which have a similar three-row, seven-seat configuration, have proven strong. Oldsmobile could have benefited from this trend, although sharing the same vehicle across several product lines (GM had as many as four Lambda variants on the market) may have hampered sales.
Source: encyclopedia.classicoldsmobile.com; Orphaned Concept Cars - www.automobilemag.com