So many cars do badge engineering and this is usually prevalent among cars who are under the same umbrella and General Motors was not ashamed to admit this. Yes, it reduces the cost of developing new chassis and platform for the cars or minivans in this case. The Opel/Vauxhall Sintra started life not as a boring minivan but a futuristic-looking vacuum cleaner that made it the coolest looking minivan in the Western hemisphere.
Cars Time Forgotten will be a weekly article which focuses on cars that were completely forgotten by time. Some are bad, some are pretty good, and a few that are bonkers.
In 1989, the future arrived in the form of a minivan. Minivans weren’t a new thing as five years before both Renault and Dodge gave the world a van that can transport families comfortably. A people’s carrier you might say. The Espace and Caravan were revolutionary in 1984 but when Pontiac launched the Trans Sport, it was the coolest and most eighties-tastic looking thing on four wheels that every kid wanted to have a ride in. It looks more like a space ship than a family-friendly minivan. Granted, it doesn’t look as futuristic cool as the original concept from 1986 but it was still pretty cool. Pontiac even sold it in Europe as a Pontiac and not an Opel which is weird since I have never heard of Pontiac being officially sold in Europe prior to this.
When it came time to replace the Trans Sport which by the mid-90s seems a little bit on the age side, the replacement came in the form of an Opel for continental Europe and Vauxhall for the UK. It was called Sintra and as Wikipedia pointed out, the name comes a computer-generated program to see which is the easiest way to name it and not from a Portuguese town with the same name. Just like the Trans Sport, the Sintra will be built in good ol’ US of A. Unlike the Montana/Venture/Silhoutte that is based on the minivan is slightly shorter in length because Europeans prefer their cars to be small and easy to maneuver and park.
Even so, the Sintra has the largest interior space in its class. It has configurations which allows it to be occupied with up to eight people seated. With that in mind, the Sintra is also narrower than the Trans Sport it replaced and this continued on for all subsequent U-platform minivans the Sintra and Trans Sport are based on. Engines that were offered were all sourced from Opel with a choice of either a 2.2 L petrol or diesel engine as well as a 3.2 V6 petrol engine. Unlike its American counterpart, a five-speed manual is offered besides a four-speed automatic.
However, the Sintra was a sales disaster for Opel and Vauxhall mainly because it had reliability problems. Quality of the Sintra was seen below standard even for an Opel, Sales were hampered because of this unreliability and the Sintra was pulled out from the market after three years in 1999. Opel/Vauxhall did not give up with a minivan and saw success through the Zafira which is smaller than the Sintra. The rest of the U-platform minivans continued on until today in the form of a Buick minivan. As for the Sintra, it goes on to become a Car Time Forgotten.