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GM Icons: Chevy, Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Pontiac History and Auto Parts


Topics:  General Motors

GM Icons: Chevy, Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Pontiac History and Auto Parts

GM’s Most Iconic Vehicles Throughout History

For more than a century now, General Motors has been manufacturing some of history’s most iconic vehicles. Some are remembered for their design, and others for their power under the hood – but all for their impact on the automobile world.

Having sold millions of vehicles each year for so long, many of which now considered to be American Classics, it is hard to narrow down the most influential vehicles over such a storied past. However, there’s no denying that the vehicles below have stuck in the minds of car enthusiasts for very good reason.

1959 Cadillac Eldorado

Classic cars have more than their fair share of enthusiasts, and you’d be hard pressed to find one who wasn’t a fan of the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado.

Though several models of the vehicle were released throughout the series’ lifespan, the 1959 easily takes the blue ribbon. With its unmistakable styling, courtesy of designer Chuck Jordan, comprised of an iconic grille, dual bullet tail lights, and eye-catching tailfins, the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado perfectly encapsulates the aesthetic of 1950s car design.

And, while it may not seem like head-turning material today, its 345 horsepower was truly a sight to behold upon the vehicle’s release.

1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

While the 1972 Vista Cruiser may not be the sleekest looking car on this list, it does prove once and for all that looks aren’t everything.

The Vista Cruiser was primarily designed as a family road trip wagon but sported some rather impressive power beneath its less-than-stellar exterior. The car featured a 7.5-liter V8 engine, a four-speed automatic transmission, an air-ride suspension system, and four-wheel disc brakes.

1940 Cadillac Series 90 V-16

The Cadillac V-16 wasn’t just the first V-16 model produced by GM; it was the first produced in all of the United States. The car was such a sensation that it remained among the top-selling models for 10 years and was even considered a contender with the likes of Bugatti and other high-end brands.

Each Cadillac V-16 body was custom built and, from 1938-1940, it was the fastest accelerating car in existence.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Even before the Stingray’s release in 1963, Corvette had already made a name for itself in the automobile world. However, it wasn’t until the arrival of the Stingray that Corvette truly earned the reputation for being a high-performance car.

In contrast to previous Corvette models, the Stingray had a much more distinct sporty look to it. Thanks in large part to its sleeker design and coupe alternative offering. Perhaps its most defining aesthetic trait, however, is the split read window that was only offered on the Stingray. A feature that is instantly recognizable even to this day.

1966 Oldsmobile Tornado

The 1966 Oldsmobile Tornado rightly earns its ‘iconic’ status alone by being the first car produced in the United States using front-wheel-drive. However, the Tornado best features don’t stop and end there.

The car also had an attractively sleek design that incorporated an angled rear window and flip-out headlights that made it an instant aesthetic icon of GM vehicles. Underneath the hood, the car continued to impress upon its release with its 425 cubic-inch Super Rocket V8 and 385 horsepower.

1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SE

The iconic Firebird hood logo. Its inclusion in the 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit. Need we say more?

The 1977 Special Edition Trans Am may not have been the first Firebird model, but is undoubtedly the most iconic. Any mention of the term “Firebird” will instantly have any car enthusiast envisioning its sleek design, eye-catching black-and-gold paint job, and, of course, the emblazoned Firebird design on the hood.

The 1977 Special Edition Trans Am has a design that has long stood up to the scrutiny of automotive history and will likely continue to do so for many more years to come.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro

Few cars embody the term “iconic” more than the gorgeous 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. Between its long list of awards and stylish aesthetic that still holds up to this day, the ‘69 Camaro is one truly impressive piece of machinery.

The ‘69 Camaro started off the line strong when it was given the honor of being the pace car for the 1969 Indy 500. The car was such a sensational site that it went on to sell 243,000 models; a number that wouldn’t be beat until nearly a decade later in 1978.

The car became so iconic, that it was used as a basis for the design of the fifth-generation Camaro in 2010 – 41 years after its release.

1964 Pontiac GTO

Created by the legendary John DeLorean, the 1964 Pontiac GTO is widely regarded as the first muscle car ever made (though, there is room for debate on that particular topic). The GTO name stemmed directly from Ferrari’s own GTO model, but Pontiac’s version was far more readily available to your typical driver.

The vehicle managed to somehow take lightweight and inexpensive frame and outfit it with a powerful 389 V8 engine. Pontiac management assumed this design would, at best, sell only a few thousand units. Management was dead wrong. The car became an instant hit and sales were through the roof.

While many GTO enthusiasts prefer other models to the ‘64, this was the car that started it all. And for the reason, it secures its spot on this list of most iconic GM vehicles.

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