General Motors got its start in Flint, Michigan and was officially formed on September 16, 1908. It was co-founded by two purveyors of horse-drawn carriage manufacturers and quickly acquired a number of auto brands. These very acquisitions caused GM to suffer financially just two years after the company was established, and it went under the control of a bankers’ trust in 1910. In one of the most well known proxy battles in the history of American business, one of GM’s founders, William Durant, gained back a controlling interest in the company only to lose it again shortly thereafter.
The brand has gone through a roller coaster of changes, and today General Motors is comprised of twelve different auto brands including Buick, GMC, Cadillac, and Chevrolet. Here are ten of the most influential cars in the history of General Motors.
1937 Chevrolet Carryall Suburban
Most people know of the Chevrolet Suburban today and it’s a common vehicle on the roadway, but few know that the model has the longest continual production of any car in the history of automaking. It has gone through a substantial amount of changes throughout the years and is still a favorite of those who prefer full size SUVs.
The first Suburban was produced for the 1935 model year, but the 1937 Carryall Suburban is the early model that sticks out the most for its design and performance. It was a hefty two door wagon with an all metal body and seating for up to eight. Because of how much it was able to carry, the Suburban went on to be used for military transport during the second World War.
1940 Cadillac Series 90 V16
Also known as the Cadillac Sixteen, the 1940 Cadillac Series 90 V16 is a true classic gem. One look, and you’ll instantly see why this model was Cadillac’s creme de la creme back when it launched. The car is notable not only for elevating GM’s status, but also for being the first V16 car to be put into production in the US. At auction today, the 1940 Cadillac Series 90 V16 can command more than $250,000 because it’s seen as one of the best vehicles to come out of the pre-war era.
1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
The Chevrolet Bel-Air made its debut in 1955, and the car is best known for its distinctive styling. This model was upscale and decidedly cool, making its looks a hit. Though the 1955 Bel-Air was a show stopper, the model reached its prime in terms of styling a few years after it was first made available for sale.
1959 Cadillac Eldorado
When people think of classic cars made by General Motors, the Cadillac Eldorado often comes to mind. The standout of the series was the 1959 model, which will forever be remembered for its outrageous styling that was developed by iconic auto designer Chuck Jordan. Dual bullet tail lights, sharp tailfins, and its awesome grille represented 50s car design at its finest. When it makes an appearance at car shows these days, the 1959 Eldorado is always a crowd pleaser. Back when it ruled the streets, its engine impressed with its 345 hp output.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The Corvette was always a crowd pleaser, but the 1963 Stingray is what gave the car its reputation as a high performance machine. It had sleeker lines and a sportier aesthetic than its predecessors, plus it was the first Corvette model to be made available as a coupe. The 1963 Corvette Stingray is the only one that had a split rear window, which has since become legendary by itself.
1966 Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO is widely considered to be the first real muscle car, and its name came courtesy of Ferrari’s GTO. This groundbreaking model made superb power and performance available to the masses, and its V8 engine wasn’t too much to handle. The GTO’s price point was also accessible, which was part of what made it so popular.
1969 Chevy Camaro
The award winning and accolade-garnering Camero is a true icon, and it’s considered a triumph for General Motors as far as styling and design go. The 1969 model was impressive in every way and is one of the brand’s most loved models. It’s so highly regarded that the Camaro was revived for a fifth generation of production in 2010.
1987 Buick Grand National GNX
Try to buy this car today and you’ll easily find asking prices of over $150,000, making it a real collector’s item. Back when the 1987 Buick Grand National GNX debuted it made a huge splash. Its all black color scheme, and the fact that it was released during the height of 80s Star Wars mania, had people associating it with villain Darth Vader. The stealthy car didn’t just make pop culture history, it became one of GM’s most well known vehicles that the company ever produced. That’s saying something, especially since the model was a limited edition release.
1999 Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade wasn’t just the brand’s first vehicle based on a truck, it was developed in the shortest amount of time ever in General Motors’ history. The 1999 Escalade was immensely popular, thanks in part to so many high profile celebrities flaunting theirs — everyone who wanted to at least give off the appearance of living the high life wanted to own one. The Escalade is still in demand today and is known as the perfect combo of style, luxury, and class.
2014 Buick LaCrosse
The 2014 model year brought forth a revamped Buick LaCrosse, which many feel brought an overall boost to GM. It sported a new wheel design, instrument cluster, leather seating, and redesigned fascias. This iteration of the Buick LaCrosse epitomized luxury and elegance. Its 3.6 liter V6 engine produced 303 hp, giving this car a performance that matched its good looks.