By on September 28, 2017

1996 Chevrolet Impala SS - Image: ChevroletAztek. Cimarron. Le Mans. General Motors has gotten it wrong more than once.

But General Motors, in business for nearly 110 years — and eight years in its current post-bankruptcy iteration — also gets it right. Sometimes GM gets the styling right. Sometimes GM perfectly meets the segment’s needs. Sometimes the performance bargain is unbeatable. Every now and then, those factors merge together and General Motors introduces a thoroughly impressive vehicle.

You could make a case for the C7 Chevrolet Corvette. A 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham is a stunning example of GM knowing precisely what Cadillac should be. A mid-90s Chevrolet Impala SS represents GM boldly thumbing its nose at conventional performance. Cars such as the Pontiac GTO, Buick Regal GNX, and Chevrolet Nomad hold a special place in the hearts of many.

But what do you believe is the best General Motors vehicle of all time?

We’ll narrow our purview to vehicles sold in the United States, eliminating the Holden HSV Maloo and Vauxhall VX220 from contention. Ignore concepts like the Chevrolet Code 130R and Cadillac Sixteen. Don’t latch onto the choices our AutoGuide colleagues made without making a strong argument yourself. Other than that, it’s a free-for-all. We bet that the list of potential candidates is much longer than your F-150-loving, Camry-driving soul assumes.

For me, it’s easy. The Chevrolet Suburban.2014 Chevrolet Suburban - Image: ChevroletWhile virtually any Suburban will do, I’ll be specific and nominate the GMT900 Suburban of 2007-2014. GM moved the body-on-frame, people-carrying game far forward from its GMT800 predecessor with the 2007-2014 Suburban, a game that didn’t make the same kind of leaps and bounds when the GMTK2XX version debuted for 2015. The 2007-2014 Suburban nails the style, produces plentiful power and is a very efficient — yes, it’s true — way of moving up to nine people. At 21 miles per gallon on the highway, the nine-seat 2014 Suburban is rated at 189 pMPG, or people miles per gallon, compared with 150 pMPG in a 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Durable, relatively inexpensive to maintain, suited for weathered terrain, capable of towing 8,000 pounds, capable of swallowing 46 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row, and free from the pretentiousness of Yukon XL Denalis and Escalade ESVs, the 2007-2014 Chevrolet Suburban is the best GM vehicle of all time.

Or do you dare disagree?

[Image: General Motors]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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159 Comments on “QOTD: What’s the Best GM Vehicle of All Time?...”


  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    1963-64 Riviera. Well, you asked!

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Buick has had pretty consistently beautiful designs. I’m not a luxury car guy, but the early 1950s Buick convertibles just beg you to go for a ride, just for the fun of it.
      :-)

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      As much as I love that Riv…and I almost nominated it…

      a) I like the ’66 better. Call me a heretic.
      b) The Riv sold on styling. There wasn’t much there that was truly new or different, technically speaking.

      …therefore, the ’66 Toronado gets my nod.

      • 0 avatar
        SilverCoupe

        Yes, we had one of those too. Well, we had a ’70 Toronado, which was not near as attractive as the ’66 or even the ’69.I was proud that I was able to influence my parent’s buying decision when I was only 13. Of course the ’70 Riviera, which was their first consideration, was quite unattractive.

        And yes, both the ’65 and ’66 Rivieras were actually better looking than the ’64 that we had.

  • avatar
    incautious

    This is an easy one:Chevy Suburban, Since 1935 and STILL going

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I like all of the 60s-early 70s GM muscle cars.

    My favorite would be a 65 Chevelle Z16 with the big block 396. Loved the look of the 64-65 Chevelle, looks smaller than the later Chevelles.

    Runner up for me would be the LS6 454 Chevelle.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    My head can’t argue with the Suburban, but my heart says 1967 Corvette….

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    1966 Chevy Biscayne 2 door sedan with a 425 horsepower 427, 4 speed transmission, and 12 bolt rear end with 4.11 gears. Hold the power steering and radio, please. And dog dish hubcaps with skinny 14 inch bias ply tires so I can do 2nd gear burnouts at will from a dead stop. Cameo beige color with a bench seat.

  • avatar
    The Soul of Wit

    For me, the best GM car ever was the 1st Generation Monte Carlo, made from 1970 to 1972. Pete Estes and John Z. DeLorean at the pinnacle of their understated style game. They bloated this car up in 1973 and it was never truly the same, but in ’70-’72 it was the epitome: It was a chimera: it could be a tame, stylish coupe, or in 454SS trim, a savage beast, the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove.

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      I always liked these too. Sort of an upper class version of a Chevelle. Loved the horseshoe shifter. The fan shroud on these cars looked like a McDonnell-Douglas wind tunnel. If you took out the radiator, you could probably stand flatfooted in front of the engine to change the waterpump. Those hoods seemed to be at least 6 foot long.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Liked them, never loved them.

        For me, the first Montes looked too much like fancy Malibus, and after that, they went full Malaise Era.

        But ’69 Grand Prix…now we’re talkin’.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    1963 Corvette. Four wheel discs, fully independent suspension, etc., when even Colin Chapman had trouble delivering that performance in a road car for racing. Zora was a genius.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      The Achilles Heel of the Corvets was the Small Block Chevy. When put to the test to win races, it would always devour itself with lubrication and cooling issues. Cadillac and Oldsmobile power plants were just were superior designs.

    • 0 avatar
      msquare

      Not to take too much away from the ’63, but the disc brakes didn’t come out until ’65.

      And the split window so desirable today was removed for ’64 because customers complained about reduced visibility.

      The Lotus Elan was not that far off the Corvette’s performance envelope, though. It was indeed more expensive and far less reliable. Colin Chapman could come up with some awesome designs, but as DeLorean discovered, wasn’t so hot at refining them for mass production.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    71-73 boattail Riviera.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      One of their most beautiful machines.

    • 0 avatar
      MartyToo

      My friend’s dad insisted we drive his 71 to Arizona rather than take his son’s 72 Chevelle. I always thought he had it safety in mind.

      Recently his son informed me the Riviera was a company car that was about to be traded in. So miles on that made more sense to his dad than miles on the Chevelle.

      Nonetheless I’ll never forget the thrill of being pulled over for driving with NY plates at 6 AM in Norman Oklahoma!

  • avatar
    ajla

    1949 Cadillac.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Styling: late 60s Impala hardtop, mid-late 60s Rivieras are definitely up there too

    Overall competent design and re-engineering of mainstream sedans: 1977 Impala

    Overall personal favorite (design, durability, usability): GMT400 trucks

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      @gtemnykh – I heartily agree with the GMT400. Mine bought new in ’90 lasted 275k miles with only a burned out alternator bearing. Oshawa built mine and built it well. And it was pretty stylish for the time.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        waiting patiently for Akear to come along and opine that you are wrong and that 275k was an illusion and the alternator bearing was thousands of $$ to repair.

        • 0 avatar

          Lol!

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          My brother’s 1997 Sierra finally quit at 373k, and that was ONLY because he let it run out of oil.

          It had sat for a number of years, I wasn’t living around here as so every shade tree put in their two cents, oh its the computer, its this module or that connector, so lets unload the parts shotgun on it. I came over one day and said well, lets see what we can find out. Tested for spark. None. Replaced coil. Truck cranked and ran perfect.

          Unfortunately in the time that it had sat, he had forgotten that the front main seal leaked. I filled it up with oil that day and he drove it for a while until the oil leaked down enough that it caused the engine to seize. Sad, but oh well.

          The truck had to have some repairs over the years. Around 300k, he has the transmission rebuilt, and the rear axle had been replaced twice (both with junkyard units). But, I believe that 4.3L would still be running today had the oil been kept up.

          My cousin’s 1995 Z71 has 378k on its odometer. When he got it as a non-runner, the previous owner’s girlfriend had ran it hot to the point that it ruined the engine. So, another 350 was swapped in, and its a decent camp/fishing/hunting truck.

          Oh, and we fixed the issue I had talked about here earlier where it had difficulty going into park, the shifter linkage was loose where it connected to the transmission. We discovered this when we had it jacked up to replace the front brakes (not the ‘breaks’ lol). Now it works just fine. It still has its issues, but it is reliable and durable overall.

          • 0 avatar
            Heavymetal_Hippie

            I’m usually a Ford guy when it comes to trucks, but I agree the 1990s GM trucks were unstoppable. Did your brother’s ’97 not have a low oil light to alert him he was losing oil?

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            It has an oil pressure gauge, but I’m guessing he didn’t notice if it did give any indication of impending doom.

            He’s the classic “absent minded professor”, he works for Northrop Grumman, working on highly sophisticated aircraft and equipment, and is completely competent at his job. Its the little things (like checking the oil in an ultra-high mileage truck) that slip through his fingers.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        I’m a Ford guy and even I acknowledge those are great trucks. Such a clean and timeless design.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Same here.

          • 0 avatar
            CobraJet

            I bought my 94 Silverado extended cab new with only 5 miles on it. I still have it now with 205,000 miles. With two tone paint and bucket seats, it looks almost as good as new. It has spent the last 10 years garaged since I don’t drive it every day. The interior components wear like iron. I’ve done very little to the rest of the truck except a water pump and AC compressor. No squeaks or rattles either.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            Those trucks are impossible to kill, superb pieces of engineering. Even the styling has aged well on most of them. The front facia on the W/T models with the square sealed-beam headlights are not out of place anytime within the last 37 years.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I’d say 1963 Corvette Stingray or maybe 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. This was really GM’s best era and they are a shell of their former glory.

    The only modern GM car I’ve ever really liked is the second generation CTS-V, particularly the wagon. GM does deserve props for that vehicle.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    1959 Cadillac coupe de ville

  • avatar
    TheDoctorIsOut

    The 1955 – 57 “shoebox” Chevys. Handsome and competent sedans, coupes, and wagons that still look good today and also spawned the most classic Chevrolet of all time, the Nomad.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Amen. The template for decades of American cars to come.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      I would tend to agree not only because they were such good cars, but because the 1955 was an all new car – new frame, body, engine, suspension – everything was new and yet it had very few bugs or quality problems. Nobody seems to be able to do that today.

    • 0 avatar

      I always liked the 55 BelAir over the later “classic” 57. There was something about it that just said “I’m a hot rod and you’re gonna have major trouble keeping up with me.” The fins on the 57 actually took away from the sleek look for me. That said, I do like the 57 also – to buy: it’d be a 55. Also liked the 63 Impala SS – cool looking car.

  • avatar
    arach

    I wholly disagree that the Aztek was wrong.

    It was too early- yes, but not wrong. Similar to the EV-1. Way too early, but not wrong. You could argue the aztek sparked the current CUV boom.

    That doesn’t make it the best though. I think no question its got to be the Corvette. Its the only car that has built its own niche that no one else can even compete with. No one else can get that much performance at that much company profit, at that low of a price point. That combination is incredible.

    The fact that its been an untouchable niche for so long shows how dominate of a force that vehicle actually is. While there’s been other great cars from GM, no other vehicle has absolutely dominated and owned its own market with zero direct competition for that long, and that is an amazing thing.

  • avatar
    phreshone

    GMC built over 500,000 “Truck, 5‑ton, 6×6” during WW II… Those worked out pretty well…

    Car wise… either 67-69 Camaro or the mid-60’s Riv

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    wow Tim, we must be kindred spirits or something. I have had an 08′ Suburban 3 LT for 7.5 years now and love it and if I had to would replace it with another one. It is very versatile and super cheap to keep running and to your reiterate your mpg point, quite efficient for its size. We average 16 mostly city kid shuffling/carpooling miles to the gallon, better on the HWY.

    If we are going with the most attractive of all time, I go with the other car in my garage. The 57′ Belair. So much detail and visual cues, the polar opposite of the androgynous wind tunneled offerings of today that seemingly neither excite nor offend anyone. It was not however a big seller, and the 57′ body was a one year offering only so from a best of all time stand point probably knocks it out of contention.

  • avatar
    Corners

    63 & 64 Pontiac Grand Prix

    65 Buick Riviera

    65 & 66 Buick Wildcat

    67 – 72 Chev & GMC Pickups

  • avatar
    e30gator

    This may be an unconventional answer, but the best one that I’VE OWNED from GM was a 1999 Saturn SL2.

    With 190K miles on it when I sold it (still in great shape), it never had any real issues.

    It was safe for its time, cheap and easy to maintain, and drove like a 4 door Miata.

    It’ll never be a collector car, or worth anything other than as a transportation appliance, but it was a great car and better to live with than its segment-leading rivals from Honda and Toyota.

    That said, if I were in the market for a garage queen, I couldn’t think of a better candidate than a ’69 Chevelle SS 396–one of my top 5 favorite cars of all time.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      I had several of these and am in fact going to pick up a 92 SOHC this weekend as my sort of first car nostalgia project. They were very durable. Over 300k on one and 250 on the other. Yeah my favorite GM for nostalgia purposes.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I had a 1999 SL, and drove a 1994 SL, both very basic with no A/C, no power steering, etc.

      40 MPG everywhere I went, reliable, handled decent for an economy car.

      They weren’t without their issues. Oil consumption after 150K, some cheap bits like plastic shifter linkage that mimicked a broken trans, and the light weight was a handful in heavy storms.

      Overall, leaps and bounds above a Cavalier, and 50x better than the ION that replaced it. A worthy small car in its own right.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I had a ’95 SC1, it was a much better car that other vehicles GM was putting out in the segment. Not much power, but so light it could move pretty well. Still running at well at 156K when I had to part with it, though it was consuming oil at that point.

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      I loved my ’97 SL1. It had cruise and a good stereo. It regularly got 35-40 mpg. It took me 100k miles with very little more than regular maintenance and regular oil check/add for the burning oil every Saturn ever had. Even after 214k miles, I would have kept it until the wheels fell off. I was driving for a courier company, however, and I needed an automatic. I made some high schooler needing cheep transportation happy, though.

      Fast forward 3-4 years, and I was in search of a vehicle to replace my ’03 Vibe. No longer a courier, I would have taken an ’02 SLx (1 or 2) with a 5 speed. I only wound up test driving an ’02 SL2 with an auto, and after the Vibe spoiled me with it’s superior NVH, this thing was a crapcan.

      I miss my SL1, still. But I don’t think I can ever go back, especially since they are all getting old, now.

      Good cars? yes. Best cars? No.

  • avatar
    mikey

    The 82 Chevy Caprice 2 door..The entire 77+ “B” GM’s were great cars..I think it might of been 81-82..? GM made a couple of cosmetic changes .

    I believe the “box” Chevy “B” was the best vehicle GM had ever built to that point in time.

    Today I would have lean toward the Yukon/Tahoe/ Suburban.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    I may get beheaded by an Islamist for this but:
    1965-1966 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Turbo
    Engine picture:
    https://tinyurl.com/y8twlno6

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Oooooh, yeah.

      Love the styling on the later Corvair coupes…it was a very pretty little car.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Nope…my uncle had a 1965 Corvair Corsa…while he was stationed in Germany in the early 90s, he kept it in my garage (sadly, up on blocks as it was not drivable at the time). I often times would peel the cover back and just look at it. Ahead of its time, and misunderstood. When he came home, it came out of my garage and went on the road for the last time before he eventually sold it. Was a sad day to see it go. It would have been nice to see the restoration completed. No shame in appreciating that car.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      The last-generation Corvairs were certainly nice-looking cars, and GM fixed the handling vices of previous generations. I’m not sure about a turbocharged engine that runs the fuel/air mixture through the “cold” side of the turbocharger and into the intake manifold. I mean, what could go wrong with a hot mixture of air and gasoline vapor? I’d give up 40 gross horsepower and go for the normally-;aspirated dual carb model, rated at 140 horsepower.
      Other than the EV-1, the Corvair is certainly the most revolutionary car from Detroit ever. Air cooled and rear engine, with an available slush box to boot? I dunno; maybe the Tucker was air cooled, but it hardly qualifies as a mass production automobile.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Early 1930’s Cadillac V-16 (followed closely by the V-12). Cadillac at its height, being true coachbuilt luxury.

    1965-66 Corvair Corsa.

    1932 Chevrolet Confederate roadster. The first time Chevrolet came brought out a ‘junior Cadillac’.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I was born in the late 1970’s so I unfortunately cannot relate to earlier times that were perhaps GM’s glory days, but after seeing the general fall on hard times I think the 2003 CTS was particularly daring, bold remake of a classic nameplate and given us the Art and Science design language on a whole crop of subsequent vehicles. I think a good example of forward thinking and dare I say “art” in the automotive industry.

    Similarly, the Buick Enclave, was a stellar design. Beautiful when introduced and still elegant today. Regardless of the design, the large 3 row crossover to replace a minivan in 2006 was also forward thinking. Shame the platform didn’t receive more attention until this year.

    So I guess, 2 rather modern vehicles based on my own auto awareness lifespan. If I had to pick a historical example it would be the Corvette. I would own a 1967 if I won the lottery.

  • avatar
    CadiDrvr

    1949 Cadillac.
    The ‘48 brought tailfins, and the ‘49 introduced the modern OHV V8. Up to this point Cadillac was “The Standard of the World”, but with ‘49s added “The Car of Cars”.

    Honorable mention Suburban and original Corvette.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    By far, the best GM vehicle was the 94′ – 96′ Caprice with the towing package. Sorry SS guys, it was just not there. Runner ups, current Escalade, 50′ Oldsmobile, 65′ Riv, Pre War: Brass Era Buicks!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, I was going with the ’63 Corvette split window coupe…but since that name’s already been dropped…

    ’66 Olds Toronado.

    Anyone could make a big, luxurious coupe in those days – all it took was a standard frame, some fancy styling, a big V-8, and a bunch of power toys.

    But only GM had the balls, arrogance and genius it took to make one with all the technical innovations the Toronado had. It was big, bad, beautiful and brilliant.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Anyone who has read my musings here, would remember that I once owned a 1959 Eldorado Biarritz convertible. White on white, low mileage, only one previous owner and had spent its entire life in California. I just checked and could find 2 for sale. One at $250k US and the other at $299K US.

    I of course bought and sold mine for a fraction of that.

    Still believe that it is the ultimate American automobile. Created at the height of American optimism and power. A new car and design during the transition from Ike to JFK. Just magnificent and the type of car that only American companies could and would build and that came to represent American power and wealth.

    Emotionally also like the C2 Corvette, a thing of beauty.
    And the 2nd generation, ’55-’57 Chev. The ’57 is the one in most demand but I actually prefer the looks of the earlier years.
    The 3rd generation ‘boat-tail’ Riviera is a looker. And why don’t television stations broadcast Thunderbolt & Lightfoot anymore?

    Objectively I would have to pick the 4th generation, ’65-’70 Impala which set all kinds of sales records when it was launched. Still a nice looking vehicle and miles ahead of any of its competitors.

    GM also got it right when they downsized the Impala, the 6th generation ’77-’85 vehicles, were big inside, small (for the time) outside, looked modern (for the time) and were relatively reliable and robust.

    And yes, if I won the lottery, my daily driver would be a Suburban. Robust, easy to maintain, non-pretentious, and you could transport yourself and 5 family members/friends and all of their most precious belongings, in comfort and safety.

  • avatar

    1967 OLDSMOBILE NINETY-EIGHT LS.

    https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7707/17048932052_f46c67fe02_b.jpg

  • avatar
    vstudio

    2014 – 2017 Chevrolet SS, of course. It is as close to a perfect car as you can get. Unbelievable engine. Great manual transmission, magnetic ride suspension, handling of E39 M5, all creature comforts, huge trunk, roomy inside. What else can you ask for?

    • 0 avatar

      An interior of acceptable or better quality.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Some styling, really. But it is a great car.

    • 0 avatar
      Travman

      I’ll second the Chevrolet SS choice, especially if you just want a lot of space, trunk room and a great engine feel and aren’t really concerned about fuel mileage. I’ll restrict my choice to the 2015-2017 models because the magnetic suspension really works well and takes this car up a notch.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      A real name.

      Call it Chevelle, throw in some retro styling from the 1960s/early 70s era, price it in line with the high end Charger/Challenger and I believe it would’ve been a great success.

      Say what you will about retro-inspired styling, obviously it works when the car is a retro-inspired design (RWD, available V-8 power, with an American nameplate).

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        it should have been called the Commodore from the start in the US. But it was never intended to sell in high numbers, messing up the classic styling of this car would be a travesty.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I could ask for a warehouse full of replacement parts somewhere in the Western hemisphere, as opposed to having to source parts from Australia. From what I’ve gathered from owners of other Holdens (GTO/G8), repairs and maintenance are a real hassle on those cars.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        They’re easy to fix and pretty reliable in most areas. It’s purely an issue of parts availability and shipping time. But the parts situation is a real pain and will probably get worse from here on out.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          GM didn’t want the car to succeed in the US. It was literally never marketed and rarely stocked on dealer lots. With the right marketing/positioning it could have taken on 3/5 series BMWs, maybe even had a Cadillac variant, an STS revival that would have been an M5 killer in the V trim, but that wasn’t where they wanted to go.

          • 0 avatar
            Holden-SSV

            The SS sold just as many as intended from the start. The only reason we received the SS was due to an export agreement between Holden and the AU govt. They had to export a few to remain qualified for bailout funds/tax incentives and to keep the local workers busy.

            http://dailykanban.com/2013/11/why-gm-isnt-trying-to-sell-the-chevy-ss-and-why-it-matters/

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I’m going to restrict my answer to a time period in which I have personal experience; born in 1982 that means 1990 onwards, basically. I also think it’s ‘cheating’ to chose a product in a category in which essentially no one else competes, so that rules out the Suburban (I also feel this way about the 1950s and 1960s, there was little competition aside from other domestics).

    For me, in my lifetime, the first truly world-beating GM car was the C5 Corvette. And if you want to argue the C6 or C7 should be chosen instead, I’m good with those answers too. The C5 was basically the first GM car that could have its greatness described without the qualifier “…for a domestic” or “…for a GM” or “…compared with the last model.”

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      C5 was great (as long as you ignore the period-correct horrid GM interior), but I can think of a lot of “no-excuses-great” Corvettes. Just about every C2 definitely fit that bill, as did the ’69-’71 C3s, and the C4 (once they ditched the cross fire injected V-8).

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        I’m sure that’s true, but as mentioned, I don’t have any perspective on those. I was born in ’82, so I wasn’t really “aware” of anything until the early 1990s. So I can’t comment on how the C1/C2/C3 compared to their contemporaries, and the C4 was pretty long in tooth and outmatched by the early 1990s (see ZR1 coming in third after the 964 C4 and NSX in C/D’s test in that era).

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The C6 Grand Sport is my favorite post-’82 Corvette.

      The gigantic a$$ on the C5 is just too much and the Firebird of that era pulled off the front end better IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Came here to say exactly this, was beaten. The C5 is the single product GM’s ever made that stood the farthest above its competition, and the C6 and C7 have done a nice job of keeping the C5’s triumph going.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      My favorite is the C6 Z06. Big naturally aspirated engine in a stiff, lightweight chassis.

  • avatar
    Messerschmitten

    The 1967 Cadillac Eldorado. Its design — which was the second iteration of the project whose first generation created the Buick Riviera — set the standard that Cadillac and others are still trying to measure up to.

    Aside from the full-size GM cars it influenced (e.g. the second-gen Toronado), it also prompted Ford to build the carbon-copy Continental Mark III and even, to Bill Mitchell’s dismay, the Chevy Monte Carlo and the second-gen Pontiac Grand Prix. There have been Eldo design echoes since 1967.

    Engineering-wise, it was arguably more influential than the Olds Toronado (from which it took its UPP transaxle). The new Cadillac production line — built to assemble only the Eldorado — ran at half the speed of the standard production line. The goal was to boost quality to the point where you’d have an American production car that could successfully compete with the then-luxury benchmark: Rolls Royce. Cadillac arguably succeeded.

    Speaking of the original UPP transaxle (as I mentioned in a previous post), the Eldorado influenced its engineering design as well. Since Cadillac was considering using a V12 in the FWD Eldo, GM and Olds decided to design the UPP with a longitudinal, instead of a transverse, layout. Without the Eldorado on the horizon, the 1966 Olds Toronado may well have sported a transversely mounted 425.

    Finally, as part of the E-body family, the 67 Eldorado continued the E-body tradition (begun in 1966) of doing away with wing windows. :-)

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    1939 LaSalle coupe. I think they’re better looking than their Cadillac cousins.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    This one isn’t even fair.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    The Church of the 3800 is going to be unamused with this list so far.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    This is akin to asking people to FIND THE NEEDLE IN THE VERY TALL HAYSTACK –

    – but –

    Cadillac Type 53.

    It’s not even close*. The Type 53 really not only was legitimately the Standard Of The World, when introduced, but set the course for what would be the Universal Automotive Standard of The World in terms of function and ergonomics, being the first car to use the same control layout as modern automobiles- with the gear lever and hand brake in the middle of the front two seats, a key started ignition (electric start), and three pedals for the clutch, brake and throttle in the modern order.

    Runner-ups are the

    1967 Pontiac GTO

    -or-

    1965 Buick Riviera with the 425 2×4 super Wildcat engine

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    My personal favorite – that I’ve owned – was the Buick Roadmaster with the LT1 engine. In brown. With the towing package it was a lot of power (for the 90s), comfortable, fairly reliable (well except for the Optispark), and had a real presence on the road.

    Of course these days it could be bested by a V6 Camry in a stoplight drag, but I would still prefer the Roadmaster for it’s long highway legs.

    Best of the best? Pretty much the sweet spot of vintage GM muscle cars: 1964 to 1972. There are so many choices here: 427 powered Biscaynes, Camaro 302s, the Corvettes, the wonderful Chevelle SS, the budget Nova SS, the Olds 442, Buick Wildcats, etc etc and one that I owned, the first generation Firebird.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Hard to pick one given the length GM has been around – by decade:

    1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
    1967 Pontiac GTO
    1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic with 350 V8 and F41 suspension
    1987 Buick GNX
    1999 Chevrolet Silverado (GMT800)
    2000 Chevrolet Tahoe (GMT820)
    2014 C7 Corvette

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The GNX is the product of an aftermarket upfitter. GM had my attention and a good shot at my money during that era, but they frustrated at every turn. I could deal with the GNX’ p!ss poor brakes/suspension and no stick shift, but that $30K price tag and virtual non availability meant you had to bring an extra $10K and an once of blow, when you found a dealer with one.

      All kinds of frustrations with the IROC and Fiero. For just a shade under $10K I got a new LX 5.0 5-speed “notch” Mustang that was faster in the turns and off the line than the GNX.

      I don’t know what the heck GM was thinking, but Ford has had money ever since. Except for the Corvettes, the world wouldn’t miss a thing if GM died back then.

  • avatar

    I’d have to go with the Suburban as well. Basically built to last 300…400k miles with proper care. The Tahoe is just a more manageable Suburban with less room out back.

    The Tri-Five Chevies were a home run on every metric you may choose to measure.

    But the ’49s were spectacular in their own way, when the division was run by a refugee from Mercedes-Benz…Nicholas Dreystadt. Road tests from the period point to a car that might not have been the most exciting to drive, but was screwed together well.

    What about the Cadillacs before 1965? Or the 1963 Grand Prix whose styling influenced everyone’s 1965-66 models? Or the ’63 Riviera?

    The #1 reason GM earned its Deadly Sin series here (since moved to Curbside Classics) was that they’d had so many Greatest Hits. Before 1971, they weren’t all that hard to find. Today, I’ll argue they’re well on their way back.

    But the Suburban is one model they’ve generally gotten right.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    My personal choice would the the 1983ish Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Recency Braugham coupe.

    Second would be a Olds Delta 88 Royale Braugham.

    (These are the best looking versions, IMO, but earlier ones had better engine choices.)

    3rd goes to the Oldsmobile Cutlass, from the mid 1960s and the mid 1980s.

    From the FWD era, I like some of the two door, Quad 4-powered (and manually shifted) Oldsmobile-badged/styled N bodies. I also don’t hate the later models of the Corsica (please dont shoot me!) and the Regal GS.

    From the modern era, choices are slim but not impossible. I would take a GMC Canyon 4wd crew cab diesel. I would love a manual trans with it, but that combination wasn’t allowed when I did the build-your-own on GMC’s website.

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    The entire B body lineup from 1977-1983. I know, malaise era, yatta, yatta…. BUT they were the distillation of everything good that GM had done up to that point in making regular cars for regular people simultaneously with being the first large scale downsizing by any (not just American) auto maker. So complex to pull off, so elegantly simple in execution. Take your pick – Caprice/Impala, Catalina/Bonneville, Delta 88, LeSabre — sure they came in different flavors, but they all shared the same basic goodness, A platform so solid it last until the late 90’s.

    It’s easy to pull off feats of engineering with an expanding economy and few financial limitations. It’s quite another to make a mass market vehicle under the constraints facing GM in the mid/late 70’s. That’s when you really see what a company is made of. In the case of the B series cars, it was a home run.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The 61-63 Buick Special and Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire with the 215 V8. Nicely sized compacts which filled a niche, a bit larger than imports like the Beetle and Renault but smaller than the mastodons of the era. It was one of the most innovative engine designs for its time and offered an optional turbo in the Oldsmobile version. In typical GM fashion and probably one of their worst decisions they thought there no longer a need for a compact V8 design and sold off the tooling to Rover where it lived on in everything from Range Rovers, Rover TC’s and MG-B’s.

  • avatar
    fr88

    Best GM vehicle of all time is the 1957-58 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.

    Never before or since in GM’s history has it produced a vehicle more advanced for its time. Its engineering and design made it arguably the most extraordinary car on the road until the advent of the Mercedes 600 in 1963. It was the result of GM being at the pinnacle of its creative abilities, and it was created at a time when the sky was the limit and nothing was thought impossible. The Eldorado Brougham pioneered many innovations and design advances taken for granted today. Engineering advances include:

    • Quad headlights
    • Automotive air suspension. (A design that was faithfully copied by Mercedes.) Technology from this system was simplified into the air-shock automatic leveling system introduced by Cadillac in 1965.
    • Chromed cast aluminum wheels with center caps
    • Automotive application of the transistor radio
    • Automatic antenna that raised and lowered when the radio was turned on and off
    • Power trunk – that opened and closed at the push of a button.
    • First car with an electric fuel pump
    • First car with standard equipment air conditioning
    • First car with individual heating controls for all passengers
    • First car with automatic door locks. They locked when the car was put into gear. The rear center-opening doors were programmed to be inoperable whenever the car was in gear – they could only be opened when the car was in Park or Neutral.
    • First car with a programmable memory seat. Favorite positions could be programmed for two drivers. The seat automatically went to the full rearward position when the door was opened, returning to the programmed position when the driver re-entered the car.

    Design advances and features include:

    • First body design where the hood is lower than the fenders. Think about it.
    • First windshield that wrapped around AND wrapped over into the roof
    • Brushed stainless steel roof
    • Pillarless body design with only a chromed and upholstered latch stub for the center-opening doors
    • Pillarless power front vent windows – pillar was integral with the door glass and retracted with the glass when lowered.
    • Transparent polarized sun visors that darkened as they were rotated
    • 45 different interior choices vs. 4 or 5 typical of today
    • Full accessory kit including: ladies make-up kit, cigarette pack holder, tissue dispenser, magnetized chrome shot glasses that gripped a fold-out tray in the glove box. The rear armrest opened to reveal a Cross pen and leather notepad, a beveled hand mirror, and a bottle or Arpege perfume.
    • It should also be noted that in a departure from the longer, lower, wider ethos of the era, the Eldorado Brougham was smaller than regular Cadillacs. Lower, yes, but significantly shorter in length – a precursor to the Seville.

    The Eldorado Brougham was GM product development at its finest, an innovative and advanced car that proclaimed Cadillac was truly the Standard of the World in the late 50’s.

    • 0 avatar

      The ’57 Eldorado Brougham was General Motors effort to prove to Ford that they could lose more money on a Cadillac than Ford lost on every Continental Mk II they sold.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      But the unproven and unreliable air suspension was a huge flaw.

      • 0 avatar
        fr88

        Not flawed on concept (as Mercedes proved later), but flawed in not being thoroughly developed. The 1959-60 system was much better and many Cadillacs of that era are still riding on it today.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Fr88: a good choice, however the Broughams of ’59 – ’60 were hand assembled by Pininfarina in Italy. The exterior styling of the ’59 Brougham was different than that of all other Cadillacs.

      As you know, Wikipedia has an extensive explanation of them. They cost more than a Roll-Royce Silver Cloud.

      • 0 avatar
        fr88

        Yes, I LOVE the 1959-60 Broughams. I’ve spent a lot of time with a friend’s 1960. The are glorious cars, the last coachbuilt Cadillacs, but they are not the engineering pioneer that the 57-58 model was. I owned a 58 for many years, and it never failed to delight and amaze. And it was always dead reliable despite its staggering complexity. However, I’d vote the 59-’60 models the most elegant postwar GM product.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Holden Commodore 6MT

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    ’64-66 pickup trucks. Double-wishbones and coils up front, trailing arms/coils or leaf springs out back, small block Chevys or big block GMCs under the hood, and GM got rid of the kneeknocker cab. People like the ’67-72 body more, but those trucks had more plastic and dropped the wood bed and small window options after ’67.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    The one that’s in my driveway and fires up every morning to take me where I want to go. *That’s* the best GM car, ever.

    But seriously… I’ve owned a bunch of them over the years reaching all the way back to the early 1970’s and I have my favorites. I really can’t speak to much before the late 1960’s, as I didn’t experience those cars. But I think this exercise is attuned to everybody, depending upon their age, picking out the car they like the best.

    Which is fine, but it’s hard to say what had more impact on the world or the industry… The Cadillac V-16 of 1931, the Olds 88 of 1950, the Corvette, the Corvair, the Opel Kadett (staring in the 60’s), the Vega, the X-, J- or W-bodies and the EV-1.

    The only cars that come to mind that would have the world-beating and world-changing impact would be the Volt and the Bolt. I could see buying one and barring extreme circumstances, keeping it for 20 years as a daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I could see driving a succession of Bolts for 20 years, but the technology is moving too fast in that segment to keep one around forever. My C-Max lease is up in early 2019, and a Bolt lease will be one of the candidates to replace it.

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      I was thinking of putting in a vote for the Volt. If you have a commute like mine (about 50 miles a day) you’ll rarely use gas. If you need to go farther, you can with gas, at around 30mpg. The 0-60 times for the 2017 are almost 7 seconds, so not sports car material, but also not penalty box. It seats 4 with 4 doors, 5 if you count the hatch. To me, it’s almost the perfect car.

      If you get yourself a Bolt, make sure to get the darker interior, or that they’ve fixed the front window glare issue.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        You must understand that I have a life long love affair with the 1968-1972 A bodies and the 1977-1979 B bodies (after 1980, they lost all the good motors, etc.). I currently am on my second Epsilon body, which grows on me more every week, but none of these cars show any real innovation, at least that wasn’t reached by 1935 or so. Granted, some of the things I’m talking about were highly experimental or just seeing production at that time, I’m fully aware that some of these things would take decades to get to true mass production.

        With that in mind, I guess the Volt and Bolt are also developments of early 20th Century technology; it’s not like John Studebaker wasn’t building battery-electric vehicles in the 1910’s. But the combination of packaging, techniques and materials have made a leap in the current idiom of what we call transportation.

        I ultimately think that the next great leap in transportation will be teleportation to use the terminology from the Star Trek TV show. It’s already happening with small things, like atoms, but everything is made up of atoms. I don’t want to be the first human to be teleported to LA just yet, but I think it will happen by the end of the century.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    1977 to 1990 B-body sedans and wagons. The right car at the right time, showed other automakers “downsizing done right.” Once the 350 cubic in plus engines were killed off in 79 make mine one with a Chevy engine not an Oldsmobile, Pontiac, or Buick engine.

    If I could still walk down to the Chevy dealer and buy a late 70s Impala with 350/TH350 combo and handling package (or a Delta 88 with Olds 350 OR a Bonnevile with Pontiac 350) I wouldn’t be seriously thinking about a crew cab pickup.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I guess I’m going to be the first to say it… but the ’85 Grand National was pretty cool, straddling both the muscle car era with its menacing looks, and the future in terms of its turbocharged engine. The design and desirability of that car hasn’t diminished.

    Second choice: ’84 Fiero (just kidding).

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      I was going to say 1988 Fiero with no irony. The Miata eventually did the job better, but since we’re limiting it to GM I’d say that car was a winner. Imagine it with a Quad4/Twin Cam… or even better, Ecotec.

  • avatar
    volvo

    I don’t know about best but as another mentioned the most memorable IMO were the 1955-1957 Chevys (the tri-5s)
    My personal favorite was the 55 and next the 57. The 56 meh. Steady improvement in engine and transmission over the 3 years.
    There are a couple of companies that will sell you a like new turnkey tri five with updated engine, transmission, brakes and suspension for $70-90K depending on your choices.

    My second choice would be the first Gen K5 Blazer

  • avatar
    paxman356

    I am putting on my flame retardant suit, My vote is for the Volt. If you have a commute like mine (about 50 miles a day) you’ll rarely use gas. If you need to go farther, you can with gas, at around 30mpg. The 0-60 times for the 2017 are almost 7 seconds, so not sports car material, but also not penalty box. It seats 4 with 4 doors, 5 if you count the hatch. To me, it’s almost the perfect car.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      I own a 2013 Volt and like most Volt owners love it. It’s easily one of the best things GM has engineered and put on the road in a long, long time. In general I hate small cars like the Volt so the fact that I own one says a lot about the car and the way it drives.

      But for best GM vehicle I’m gonna have to nominate the 1963-1967 Corvette. Nothing sexier or cooler to look at & drive than my dad’s ’65 Corvette convert. He love’s my Volt BTW.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    1996 Buick Roadmaster wagon. Currently hunting for one right now…

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    1977-79 Chevrolet Caprice with a V8.

    Or ANY 1977-79 GM full-size car with a Chevy or Olds V8.

  • avatar
    RoninX

    C7 Corvette, definitely. Though I’m biased, because I drive one…

  • avatar
    ixim

    1966 Toronado. 1941 LaSalle coupe. 1962 Cadillac convertible. Stingray.

  • avatar
    Bercilak

    I’m not much of a GM guy, but my answer has to be the 1967 Corvette L88. It is the perfect iteration of its intended purpose.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    1978 Chevrolet Impala/Caprice. The ultimate refinement of the basic Chevy from 1955. Showed they could break out of the ‘malaise’ with crisp styling and solid engineering.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Pontiac Vibe

  • avatar
    stingray65

    1965 Corvette – only year with 4 wheel disc brakes, 4 wheel independent suspension, fuel injection, and knock-off alloy wheels. Nothing from Ferrari, Jaguar, Maserati, Porsche, etc. could touch these specifications, and they were also much more expensive. Then for the pièce de résistance – you could also get factory air conditioning that actually worked, power steering and brakes, and an automatic transmission – which were not available at all from the competition.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    There can be only one “best”; 1959 El Camino 283c.i.d. V8.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I’m a fan of my namesake, but I like the older Suburbans (’92-99). Amazing tansformation from its predecessor that dated back to the early ’70s with only minor changes. Same with the Silverado/Sierra.

    I like the Buick LeSabre and Park Avenue of the same era, too.

  • avatar
    jesse53

    2002 Yukon XL w/ 253k The best vehicle I ever had & still going strong.

  • avatar
    raph

    Damn that’s a tough one…

    I’m going to go with the 70.5 to 74 Pontiac Firebirds. In Trans-am and Formula guise they were sex on wheels.

  • avatar
    walt501

    Lots of vehicles mentioned here form the early 50’s on up. But what about those that went before? I know most don’t have any experience with them but I’ve had a brush with pre-WWII GM vehicles – my friends Dad who had a 1940 Buick with 70,000 original miles. Sitting in the back of that car immediately gave you a feel of style, comfort and luxury that little else can match today. Suddenly you were an important person driving your fine automobile to an event that would change the course of human history – all at the age of 16. In a lot of ways, our parents did have it better than we do, and most don’t even know it.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/591df11a6391471f008b4baf-480/1967-corvette.jpg

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    Lotus M100, built when GM owned Lotus.
    I think of it as a series 2 Fiero.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Although I’ve never bought a new GM car, I have to say that right now, from top to bottom, Chevrolet’s CAR lineup is about as strong as it’s ever been in the 45 years I’ve been looking at cars. (I don’t pay much attention to trucks.) I have rented Cruze and Malibu, and found they both had lots of things to like and nothing drastically wrong. The Impala is said to also be a good car, though I have never driven it. The Corvette – I always wanted one, I still do. I’d have to say the Corvette is the best model GM has ever come up with. The GM model I am most likely to buy though is the Volt.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    My nomination goes for the 1970-81 Camaro and Firebird. They had their weak points (can you say upper door hinges?) and the Z-28s and Trans Ams had a following at times that can be best described as “immature”, but they were undoubtedly a styling masterpiece. Even if the Camaro was a Ferrari ripoff.

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