General

Best GM Classics Ever Made

A parked black 1963 Chevy Corvette

General Motors was founded in 1908, effectively consolidating numerous automakers including Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac and others. It quickly grew to be one of the three major automakers in Detroit and remains one of the top automakers in the world to this day. Many great cars have come out of the assembly plants, including many classics that paved the way for the cars, trucks and SUVs driven today. The progress developed over the years has been incredible, leading to the electric car revolution of this decade. Before the plug-in car was even a thought, old classics dominated the roads. Let’s take a look at some of the best classic GM cars ever made.


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10/10 1940 Cadillac Series 90 V-16

Front and side view of a 1938 yellow Cadillac V-16 convertible

The 1940 Cadillac Series 90 V-16 was the last of its kind ever built, but the Classic Club Car of America recognizes it as a complete classic, which is a significant achievement. At the time, the V-16 Cadillac was the fastest accelerating car in the world. It was marketed to compete directly with cars like Bugatti and Duesenberg. All components are custom made for each order received. When the smooth-running engine was installed under the hood, a truly outstanding car was born every time.

9/10 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

Rear and side view of a beautiful red Oldsmobile Rocket 88. from 1949

The 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 may be the first muscle car ever built. He received that award from experts and fans from all walks of life, including the automotive industry. The 305 V-8, also known as the “Rocket”, was a new design for the year and offered up to 135 horses. When added to the lighter body of the Oldsmobile 88 series, the car was able to go from 0 to 60 in less than 14 seconds. It may not sound like much now, but in the early ’50s it was fast enough to give even the most dedicated adrenaline junkie a kick.

RELATED: 1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton

8/10 1957 Chevy Bel Air

Rear and side view of a 1957 baby blue Chevrolet Bel Air

Today, fuel injection systems are taken for granted because they are so common on a vehicle. In 1957, when the Chevy Bel Air was designed and produced with the carburetor replacement, that was a big deal. Along with the larger 283 V-8 engine, Chevy added power to its lineup, along with smoother fuel delivery. Unfortunately, the system was not standard on the car, but it could be added as an option, upgrading the Bel Air to what was commonly known as the ‘Fuelie’. This is the time in history that spawned the technological era in the automotive industry, which has continued to improve over the years.

7/10 1961 Chevy Impala SS

Front three-quarter view of a black and white Chevrolet Impala SS 409. from 1961

In the 1960s, car buyers wanted speed, power and top performance. Chevrolet’s SS series of cars created a muscle car that was affordable for most. The Chevy Impala SS pulled the engine from the pickup after discovering it could get a lighter, more agile car around the track in record times. The 409 could take the Chevy Impala SS from 0 to 60 in six seconds, which was quite an achievement in 1961. This allowed the Impala SS to compete against the Corvette, which was no easy task for any car to even consider.

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6/10 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire

Rear and side view of a 1962 black and white Oldsmobile Jetfire

In 1962, the GM concern took another huge step toward technological advancements in motor vehicles. The Oldsmobile Jetfire and Chevy Corvair Monza Spyder came from the factory with turbo engines. The system was extremely complex for its time, and even by the standards of many today, but it worked effectively enough to propel the car from 0 to 60 in less than nine seconds. Unfortunately, after only a few years of production, the car and the turbo technology were shelved due to the mistakes of owners who picked up the car to be revisited at a later point in history.

5/10 1963 Chevrolet Corvette

Front and side view of a 1963 white Chevrolet Corvette

The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette is one of the most iconic cars in the ‘Vette’ series. The split-window design is the visual centerpiece of the Chevy. At the same time, the performance and technology captured the attention of all the test riders who climbed behind the wheel. The 1963 Corvette was the first of the second generation and brought the first independent rear suspension system to the Corvette line. When this new system was combined with a stiff sway bar at the front and stiffer leaf springs at the rear, it created a car that could excel on tracks across the country. However, some improvements were still needed to make it a real performance car. To this day, the ’63 is one of the most sought-after cars by collectors worldwide.

Related: Top 10 American Performance Cars

4/10 1964 Pontiac GT

Front three-quarter view of a black 1964 Pontiac GTO standing outside a factory

The 1964 Pontiac GTO has been linked as the main reason people became interested in muscle cars. Some have called it the first muscle car, but as mentioned before, that’s not the case. However, it was the first car made by Pontiac built around speed, power and performance. The GTO was a package option available on the hard-top, two-door sedan of the Pontiac Le Mans. This car made it possible for the average person to own a high-performance car compared to the Ferrari GTO, which is why the car was designed and marketed in the first place.

3/10 1966 Oldsmobile 442

Rear and side view of a red 1966 Oldsmobile 442 convertible parked near a field

By the time the mid-60s rolled around, it was clear to all automakers, including Oldsmobile, that muscle cars were the trend of the decade. While there were already some affordable performance cars on the market, Oldsmobile engineers wanted to go one step above them. That’s where the 1966 Oldsmobile 442 came into the picture, putting the automaker in the same arena as Detroit’s top three car monsters. The design, power and performance were all matched by the competition, but sales weren’t as great as they should have been, causing the 442 to go under in 1972. The name lived on into the ’80s, but the muscle car version was retired.

Related: 1966-1970 Oldsmobile Toronado

2/10 1966 Oldsmobile Toronto

Front and side view of a brown Oldsmobile Toronado. from 1966

Oldsmobile was fast becoming a well-known car for innovation and technology along with the idea of ​​an affordable luxury car. The 442 brought the muscle and performance to the table. At the same time, the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado leaned more towards new and improved. The ’66 Toronado was the first of its kind in America to come out of a factory with a front-wheel drive system. In 1966 the car also received the “Car of the Year” award from Motor Trend, increasing the popularity of the car and the brand, all at once.

1/10 1969 Chevrolet Camaro

Front and side view of a blue 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

The Camaro is arguably one of the most famous muscle cars of all time. The 1969 Chevy Camaro came into the limelight not because of the base car that could be bought, but rather because of the ZL-1 model that was designed for racing. It had an aluminum 427 block that could push about 430 horses and deliver 450 lb-ft of torque. It was a beast to be reckoned with, it created a significant public following for the Camaro, which is why it remains such a popular muscle car today.

FAQ

Q: What was the first Muscle Car?

This question will spark a surefire debate as experts in the field have named several cars as the first. The first American muscle car was built in 1949 when Oldsmobile produced the Rocket 88. It is considered the very first, even before the Pontiac GTO, which many believe was the first.