Best and Worst GM Cars of the 90s
† What about the 90s? I don’t have one – all my experience with GM cars was like it was in the ’80s and now since I started driving them for work. I have no experience with 90s GMs.
† I think the 90s was a great era for GM, especially in terms of design. When you look at the cars, you’re like, it’s hard to see how they competed in any way with the, like, a Camry or Accords, like those things, just because they were always a different size. They just went for other things.
I would have hated doing a comparative test then because it would have – or maybe it would have been interesting. I don’t know. But I’m going to say the best was the Oldsmobile Aurora because yes, I have a model of this thing.
† Yes, from the Indy 500. I was living in Indianapolis at the time. My father owned this car. It was kind of because I begged and begged him to get one because I thought it was the coolest thing.
It was new. It was different. It was futuristic, and it was an attempt, albeit a fleeting one in the end, to make Oldsmobile unique and coherent, because when you look at what they sold just two years earlier, it’s like pulling out a badge of tech stuff. .
They were everywhere. And this indicated that it would be new. I mean, it didn’t even say Oldsmobile on the car, except on the face of the radio. But other than having the ultimate, like, melting, stoked, super 90s look, I still think it looks neat.
† And maybe I’m just such a kid of the ’90s that I’m just indoctrinated, but I still think it looks great. The interior was really cool. Like, it wrapped around the driver to an absurd degree. Like the passenger controls for the… the passenger had their own temperature controller on the door as everything had just moved away from them.
It’s not quite like a C8 Corvette, but it was kind of close, just a lot of really cool, unique stuff in that car that wasn’t scattered. It was most closely related to the Buick Riviera at the time, which was also pretty neat. But it in no way resembled a four-liter Northstar V8.
It had a lot of power, front-wheel drive, so yes. But yes, it is comfortable. I spent a lot of time in the backseat in that car on family vacations to Florida. And my dad, I think to this day, says it’s his favorite car he’s ever owned. And it looked great…
† It looks great in purple, which he had. It was like the color of wine. It was beautiful. They had two purple colors. They had purple, and then they had burgundy, beautiful, gold packaging. And on that car was…
† oh man.
† –there was just the badge and the word “Aurora” on the back.
† So it wasn’t like a Lexus. It was actually kind of free, so yeah. That’s mine. That’s for the best, because I have the model.
† What’s the worst?
† So I’m going for the Oldsmobile Ciera, because it was made in ’95 and ’96, the early years of the Aurora. They sold this along with that 1982 thing. I told you I was brought home from the hospital in the Ciera. I was born in ’83.
So, yeah, there was a pretty big makeover in ’89. But in fact it was the same car. Look at the inside of the thing. It’s the same as the 80s. So they sold a car that was old in the early 90s to the mid-decade.
So you can say it was like… I’m not sure you can really say it wasn’t competitive because nothing that… nobody was selling anything remotely like this thing by then, I mean , because they also had the Cutlass Supreme as a mid-sized sedan. And I think the Olds Acheiva was a compact one.
It was clear that people were buying them because they kept trotting them out. And maybe they were actually better made than the Corsicas — than all those other things — and the Lumina. And that’s why they could keep making them because the… also, the Buick Century, the same car. So I think just for the lack of a fossil to trot for so long, that was the worst of the 90’s.
† Okay, Byron, the best and worst of the 90s for you?
† Okay, so the best is hard. And honestly, it’s like James said. There are really a lot of good choices in there. And I actually wrote down three different ones. So I’m really going to continue with the C4 Corvette because it’s… I mean, it’s a super cool and underrated Corvette.
At that point, the C4 Corvette was no longer a complete joke. It was really just a joke because it was way underpowered when it was first introduced in the 80s. And then, by the mid 90’s, when it kind of phased out, it had actually gotten pretty good. And then we got this cool Lotus-designed V8 with overhead camshaft, as a super awesome car.
They are actually quite affordable too. As for collectible Corvettes, you can still get one, at least before the pandemic. You could get them for under $20 grand which is very reasonable for what will one day become a very collectible car. Now they are probably more than that.
Still, I mean, it’s a really interesting Corvette until, well, we’ll see what happens in the next few years. But the idea of an overhead camera and Corvettes never really worked out that well. And of course it spawned a very successful kind of sub-brand for Corvette that had some stamina and a pretty cool car.
The others I put down were the GMC Cyclone, which just made the cut because that was a ’91. And now that fast trucks are all big, heavy, fast trucks, it’s kind of fun to look back. With the exception of Ranger Raptor, it’s cool to look back at really compact, fun, sporty trucks.
And then of course Typhoon. So I mean, those are pretty cool. I wanted to recognize Firebird the same way you wanted to recognize IROC. The Trans Ams there towards the end, when that generation of that body was making its way out to the turn of the century – man, we got some wild, wild looking Firebirds. I had friends who built them and loved them. They have reliability.
† So you’re not talking about the one that was made in the 80s, but the one in the 90s?
† Is that the fourth generation?
† Yes, that should be the fourth generation, that body, yes.
† Oh, the one with the four nostrils in the front?
† Absolutely yes.
† Was that ’96?
† Yeah, I think that was… we were maybe in ’99, 2000-2001 if I remember correctly, but yeah. Oh, man, they look wild. You don’t see much of it today. They are crazy.
† That fourth-generation Camaro, when it came out, I think it still looks pretty good. Like, when it had such a tiny, so tiny… the headlights that looked like they couldn’t be more powerful than your regular household flashlight. They were so small.
† And then they screwed up. They set like a big old Chrysler Concorde lower plastic grille on the front. They had the big, bumpy headlights, maybe because the old ones weren’t good. But either way, that ruined it. I never thought that thing would look good again.
Again, you have to– I never hear a lot of good things about that car dynamic. But in terms of them going for something completely different, and a little bizarre, and… good for them, because those cars definitely were. They have sold many. But for them, that’s kind of out there, which is kind of cool.
† What is your least favorite from the 90s? And then I’m going to hit you with some questions that you’re not so well prepared for.
Well, I wanted to bash the Malibu again. But then I realized that the super, super boring Malibu of the late 90s wouldn’t have been possible without the intermediate vehicle, the Chevy Celebrity. And the Chevy Celebrity was so uninteresting to anyone after its decade and a half or however long it took, that they just had no qualms about it. They were like, oh, let’s just do Malibu again because that didn’t work.
There was a Malibu, and then there was no Malibu. And then we got Celebrity, and then they killed Celebrity because it wasn’t going anywhere. And then we got Lumina. And then we got Malibu back. That’s about three revisions ago if you’re watching Celebrity. I mean–
† The Celebrity ended in ’90. So that was, uh, I think you’re on the border here.
† Well, I mean, it’s what you got because, like, from them… I mean, do we mean they’re all together? The Celebrity, the Lumina and the Malibu are all terrible because realistic…
† Yes, actually, the Celebrity, speaking of the Cutlass Ciera. It’s the same damn thing.
We chose the same car.
† Man, so many were just rebadging after rebadging.