The 1986 Oldsmobile Incas Had The Wildest Dashboard You’ve Never Seen

This Olds is straight out of Blade Runner.

Plenty of automakers today release autonomous car concepts that look like an ultra-modern living room inside. The steering wheel isn’t there, or it folds away, there’s big touchscreens everywhere—you get the gist. But 34 years ago, at the height of wonderfully strange ’80s design exercises, Italdesign really went for it in the Oldsmobile “Incas” concept with this Knight Rider-looking getup. It’s definitely not your grandfather’s Oldsmobile. Neither will it be your grandson’s, sadly.

The only control that hasn’t been placed on the ‘steering wheel’ is the turn signal, the rather plain stalk protruding from the left side of the column. Literally everything else in the interior is a button on the steering wheel: HVAC, lights, audio, cruise and automatic transmission controls are all present. This is actually the only detailed image I could find of the Incas interface. If you’re a dreamer like me, then really the only signal Oldsmobile didn’t want to actually build this is the conspicuous lack of air vents; you’d probably want some A/C in this thing considering how hot glass canopy cars tend to get in the sun.

The Incas had a yoke like an aircraft instead of a steering wheel, General Motors

The dash display is almost completely digital—strangely, they left an extra analog speedometer and tachometer—and completely Eighties. The seven-segment speedometer appears to show the car going 62 km/h just sitting there for the photo shoot, so perhaps that needed a little work.

The Oldsmobile Incas was bodied by Italdesign. Despite how impressive the concept may be, there’s very little information about it. Many cite the Incas as having a “quad turbo four-cylinder”, but it was more than likely equipped with a turbocharged version of Oldsmobile’s ‘Quad 4’ engine (out back, of course). It’s said to make 230 horsepower and power all four wheels.

The Oldsmobile Incas from the front, General Motors

The rear-mounted Turbocharged Quad-4, General Motors

The doors out back opened pelican-style like a Tesla Model X’s, but the fronts were far less conventional. The entire front windshield and doors pivoted up to allow the driver and passenger’s entry. I think one of the only other concept cars to have this would be the Lancia Stratos Zero. Italians must have some special sauce when it comes to coming up with funny new kinds of doors.

Unfortunately for us, Oldsmobile never went ahead and produced the Incas. They made a slew of other wild concept cars as well, but none of those saw the light of day either before Olds went out of business in 2004. GM doesn’t sound keen on reviving the brand considering it recently sold off the last Oldsmobile ever made to clear some space in its heritage collection. But we’ll always have the Incas and its lucid dream of a future without conventional steering wheels.

The Incas with all of its doors open, General Motors