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Memories Of The Old GM And Its Cars



  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    Jim Mateja, Chicago Tribune writer/tester for last 30 years, listed his 10 most memorable GM cars in yesterday’s newspaper.

    1959 Cadillac – sports largest tail fins ever
    2002 Cadillac CTS – saved the division with its leading edge design
    1954 Chevrolet Corvette – true American sports car
    1957 Chevrolet Bel Air – featured tail fins, one of most popular collector cars
    1960 Chevrolet Corvair – immortalized Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed
    1967 Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Firebird – double barrel competition for Ford Mustang
    1964 Pontiac GTO – launched muscle car era in US
    1984 Pontiac Fiero – last minute GM decision made it a 4-cyl econocar
    2001 Pontiac Aztek – defined butt ugly
    1996 EV1 – started life as Impact, the worse car name ever

    No Buick, Oldsmobile, Saturn, Hummer, GMC, Saab on top 10 list.

    Pictures of the cars were shown by decades: 50's, 60's, 80's, 90's, 00's. Nothing memorable from 70's by him.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    Yeah, that's HIS opinion. Notice there's nothing before the 1950s either and a few glaring omissions. Why mention the 1954 Corvette when the 1953 model was the first Corvette? The CTS debuted as a 2003 model, not a 2002. I wouldn't credit it as having saved the Cadillac division as much as the Escalade. The EV1 is memorable? By whom? Why is the EV1 a bad name? I'd say "Edsel" was a much worse name. Even the Ford family didn't really like it. Notice, he only mention three as to bash GM. I'm surprised the knucklehead didn't mention the Vega if that was his intention.

    Memorable Buicks:
    1936 Buick Century
    1941 Buick Limited
    1949 Buick Roadmaster
    1953 Buick Skylark
    1958 Buick Limited
    1963-65 Buick Riviera
    1965-70 Buick GS
    1966-69 Buick Riviera
    1971 Buick Riviera
    1987 Buick Grand National

    Memorable Oldsmobiles:
    1902 Oldsmobile Curved Dash
    1948 Oldsmobile 88
    1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta
    1962 Oldsmobile Starfire
    1964-1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
    1966-69 Oldsmobile Toronado
    1968-72 Oldsmobile 442

    Lemko's All-Time Memorable GM Cars, (Now, this is just my opinion! :P ):
    1955 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Starfire
    1961 Chevrolet Biscayne
    1962 Chevrolet Corvair
    1964 Chevrolet Biscayne
    1965 Chevrolet Impala
    1965 Pontiac GTO
    1967 Chevrolet Bel Air
    1968 Buick Special Deluxe
    1969 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
    1970 Chevrolet Impala Custom
    1971 Chevrolet Impala
    1973 Chevrolet Impala
    1974 Chevrolet Impala
    1975 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
    1978 Chevrolet Impala
    1979 Buick Park Avenue
    1979 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency
    1980 Chevrolet Citation
    1982 Chevrolet Malibu Classic
    1982 Chevrolet Caprice Classic
    1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic
    1988 Buick Park Avenue
    1989 Cadillac Brougham
    1994 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
    2001 Chevrolet Impala
    2002 Cadillac Seville STS
    2005 Buick LaCrosse CXL
    2007 Cadillac DTS Performance
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,119
    The most awesome Buicks on your list, in my opinion, considering their period were the first three ('36 Century [arguably the first muscle car with big engine in a mid size body], '41 Limited, '41 Roadmaster), and the '63 Riviera. The were drop dead gorgeous cars.

    I think you may have meant the '49 Olds 88, which was the first model year for the all-new Rocket V8. It was introduced in the fall of '48.

    The first generation Toronado was a break-through design, even though several European cars and Cord featured front wheel drive much earlier. I believe the Toro was the first powerful FWD V8 with automatic transmission, with available seating for six.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    Yeah, that's HIS opinion. Notice there's nothing before the 1950s either and a few glaring omissions.

    Remember, memorable can be postive or negative. I would agree that if list were expanded, then 63-65 Buick Riviera and 66 Olds Toronado should be added as positives to Mateja's list to bring it up to 12. Note that Mateja "actually" test drives cars (for 30 years) then writes about them in the Tribune.

    Perhaps we could start a GM Memorable list of its 100 worst cars. Start with Vega, then Cimmaron, Citation, Chevette, 4-6-8 Cad or was it Olds, etc, etc.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 17,707
    Let's stick with more or less positive things in this topic. :shades: There are plenty of other topics where the discussions have been allowed to be negative. :)

    This message has been approved.

  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    Given GM's sorry bankrupt state, there are of course many negatives that people have memories about. While I had good experiences and enjoyment from GM vehicles owned continuously over 35 years (3 at a time in one 7 year span), I had my share of grief. We can share all kinds of memories. Board topic does not say "Positive" Memories of the Old GM and its cars.
  • tomcatt630tomcatt630 Posts: 124
    My parents' 70 Monte Carlo was a great 2nd car and never broke down as our '68 Plymouth Fury wagon did. Had it only 2 years, 73-75. Ran great until it got rear ended and frame was bent, :sick:
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    We can share all kinds of memories. Board topic does not say "Positive" Memories of the Old GM and its cars.

    Well, the newest GM car I've ever owned was a 1986 Monte Carlo, and it was a great car until it got t-boned with 192K miles on the clock. So for the most part, my memories of GM have been fairly positive. At least, if I've gotten stuck with any crap GM cars, I can lay the blame more on old age/previous owner(s), than at GM's doorstep.

    I just have to keep that thought in my mind when I go home tonite, if I decide to try playing with my '76 Grand LeMons again and it decides not to start. :shades:
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,355
    Of the 50's and 60's were so much better than the cars Ford and Chrysler were putting out. Compare a 1965 Malibu to a 1965 Fairlane and the quality differences jump out at you.

    Lincolns and Imperials wre never up to the level of a Cadillac and a Buick Riviera was a much better car than a Thunderbird.

    My opinion, I know, and yours may differ.
  • iwant12iwant12 Posts: 269
    I meant to ask you, andre, is that the original paint on your Pontiac? In the pictures, it looks pretty sharp. The Grand Prixs of that era were also good-looking cars.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    I meant to ask you, andre, is that the original paint on your Pontiac? In the pictures, it looks pretty sharp. The Grand Prixs of that era were also good-looking cars.

    Thanks, it actually looks better in pictures than in person though! The car was repainted at some point in its life. It was originally a color called "Firethorne", which was kind of a dark metallic red. Last year, at a car show in Macungie PA I snapped a shot of this 1976-ish Ventura, which I think is Firethorne...

    It's now painted a darker burgundy color, and honestly, they didn't do the best job in the world. One of those jobs where if you open the trunk, hood, or doors you can see the original color. At least it's a similar color though, not like they took a white car and tried to paint it black, or something clashy like that!

    BTW, my LeMans was supposed to go to that car show, where I saw that Ventura, but it died then, so at the last minute, I had to substitute this...

    It was kind of amusing...I had a 1965 or so Chrysler on one side of me, and I struck up a conversation with the owner, who thought it was kinda neat to see my car, since the R-body Mopars are kind of rare. Well, I mentioned that I had originally planned on putting in a '76 LeMans, but the GM piece of crap let me down. I hadn't noticed that 1960 Caddy that pulled in beside me on the show field, and I think the driver heard me say that...he didn't seem amused! :blush:

    I think the 1976 Grand Prix is really sharp, but with the 1977, there's one little detail that bugs me. I just don't like the way they stuck the turn signal in between the headlights. Gives it sort of a clumsy, swollen look IMO. Still, in the right color, with the right engine, they're nice cars!
  • cisco19cisco19 Posts: 2
    It was 1971 or 1972 and my Mom and Dad purchased a beautiful Pontiac Bonneville two-door coupe it was a large white car with a black roof. I could still remember riding in it many a times then I guess it broke down and it was gone. Then some years later, my Dad's friends had a beautiful maroon red Oldsmobile Cutlass Sedan, it was just sheer beauty of a car. General Motors made some great and beautiful automobiles and I have not even mentioned Chevrolet or Cadillac. I pray to God that General Motors does not disappear.
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  • tomcatt630tomcatt630 Posts: 124
    The Ventura is nice, but it overlapped the Omega and Skylark. The Phoenix replaced it but it was overshadowed by Skylark as GM's 'mid priced compact'.

    Eventaully, the 1980-84 Phoenix was FWD, then replaced by 1985+ N body Grand Am, which had more character, and then it overshadowed the Buick and Olds versions.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,119
    Pontiac was very much on the right track with the '85-'91 Grand Am. I bought a new '86 4 cylinder (the OHV Iron Duke) 2 door with the 4-speed and handling package. Excellent car with attractive styling, and a super value for it's day. Drove it 188,000 miles before it blew a head gasket, at which point I junked it rather than fixing it, because someone had backed into the drivers side door shortly before the gasket went, and the A/C compressor broke at ~152,000. This car was very low maintenance, and still had the original clutch, although much of my driving at the time was highway.

    The only weakness of that car, given it's price, was the engine. It defined the term agricultural. A neighbor who heard it idling once asked me if it was a diesel, and he was serious. Once those engines had a few miles on them the timing gear wore, and they emitted a loud, crude sound, kind of like you'd expect an old diesel farm tractor to sound.

    I considered the 3.0 V6, which I believe was a small displacement version of the Buick V6, but the only transmission available with that engine was a 3-speed automatic. I was looking for better fuel economy at that time. The V6 was an okay engine, for its day, but not all that good. Nevertheless, I might have chosen it if I could have coupled it to a five-speed.

    For the '90 model year GM did an odd thing with the Iron Duke engine. They commissioned John Deere, of all companies, to substitute a timing chain for the timing gear. That accomplished the goal of quieting the engine down. A couple of other detail changes also boosted the horsepower, but GM then dropped that engine when it redesigned the "N" compact platform for the '92 model year. The results of that redesign were lackluster, at best. The Grand Am got tackier looking, the Olds Cutlass Calais was replaced by the underwhelming (un)Achieva(r), and the Buick Skylark acquired weird styling. I kind of liked the Achieva coupe and the rather strange looking Skylark coupe, though, but not the 4 doors. I though the unusual looking dashboard design of the '92-'95 Skylark was neat.

    Based on my experience with my '86 Grand Am I would have bought another "N" coupe if the Quad 4 engine hadn't been a disaster. That engine was very promising on paper, in that it was both powerful and economical. Unfortunately, it was a disaster, durability wise, so that '86 Grand Am was the last new GM car I ever bought.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,004
    I had a Ciera with the Iron Duke. It literally could not pass a semi on a wet interstate with a strong headwind! pathetic
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    I knew a guy who had a 1985 Somerset Regal with the 2.5 and a stick shift. I think he and his wife ended up getting around 190,000 miles out of it, and the only thing I can remember him saying went bad with it was the headliner...which they had some Amish people replace for around $150. I lost contact with him years ago, though, so I dunno how long they ultimately kept the car. I knew him through the Maryland DeSoto club, but I distanced myself from that club because I got tired of hearing the other members reminiscing about the War Between the States and such :shades: And he ended up selling his '55 Fireflite Coronado and getting a '72 Corvette that would have done Larry Tate proud.

    When my Mom wanted a new car in 1986, she initially wanted a Grand Am. However, my Granddad talked her out of it and she got a Monte Carlo instead. I think Granddad told her not to get any 4-cyl FWD crap because he wouldn't be able to work on it!

    Now that I think about it, my uncle was thinking about a Grand Am in 1990. He went to Bob Banning Pontiac/Dodge in New Carrolton to look at them. By that time though, I think they had changed the interiors enough that they were getting cheaper and weirder. At least I remember him saying he didn't like the Grand Am because it was too plasticky, so he bought, of all things, a used 1988 LeBaron coupe!

    I liked the N-body when it first came out. They seemed really well-appointed initially, although they did cheap out a bit in later years (plus that odd 1992 redesign). One reason they might have seemed so upscale is that, had gas gone to $3.00 per gallon and gov't kept tightening fuel economy standards, these N-bodies would have been replacements for the Regal, Grand Prix, and Cutlass Supreme. And most likely, there would have been a Monte Caro version, too.

    Back in 1992, I went to California, and was supposed to get a Dodge Colt or something like that as a rental car. However, they ran out of their cheap cars, and substituted a new Grand Am for me. I was excited at first, since these cars seemed like a big deal at the time, but unfortunately it was a piece of junk. It was crude, unrefined, and while it was kinda quick from, say, 0-60, it seemed to bog down at higher speeds. The 1991 Civic sedan I'd had as a rental 6 months before was actually a better highway cruiser. The Grand Am also had a short in the horn, that would make it honk when I hit a bump, or turned the wheel the wrong way. At first we thought it was cute, until it went off and got stuck late at night in a bad neighborhood. I looked all over for the fuse panel and couldn't find it. I think it was in the side of the dash and you couldn't see unless you opened the door, but I had never experienced that in a car before, so I didn't know to look there. I ended up popping the cover off the steering wheel and disconnecting a wire!

    That '91 Civic had actually given me a newfound respect for small cars. However, this '92 Grand Am made me think, what the hell is GM doing?!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,119
    Now that you mention it, I recall that I had to replace the headliner once also.

    "...there would have been a Monte Caro version, too."

    I'm not sure whether the Corsica/Beretta used the "N" platform, or a modified N. I've read conflicting things on these Chevy models. Maybe they had their own unique platform, and just shared some platform components with the other Ns. I don't really know.

    Corsica/Beretta had some engines that were exclusive to Chevy. For example, the 2.0 and 2.2 OHV 4 was not shared with Pontiac, Olds and Buick Ns. The 2.8 V6 was aslo a Corsica/beretta exclusive, but I believe the 3.1 V6 was shared only with the Achieva.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    The 2.8 V6 was aslo a Corsica/beretta exclusive, but I believe the 3.1 V6 was shared only with the Achieva.

    Recall reading back then that the Baretta with V6 had ridiculous requirement to undo engine from mounts, move somehow to get at some of the spark plugs when replacement needed. More GM excellence in engineering.
  • au1994au1994 Posts: 732
    I got an 89 Beretta in the spring of 1990. It was a former rental that my dad got at auction and had, less than 10k when I got it. It was a stripper, no cassettte, no pwr windows or locks. It had the 2.0 4cyl and a 3 spd auto and was absolutely dog slow. Even when I got it the top was already orange peeling, but really did not get that much worse in the 5 yrs I owned it. I put about 65k on it and in that time the drivers side window jumped out of track twice, alternator went at about ~40k, engine control module went at ~30k, freeze plugs went at ~60k.

    Decent enough looking car and the interior materials were not bad for the time. Obviously the alternator and computer module left me stranded, but it did get me through college and about a year beyond that when I traded it on a Tacoma 4x4. I gave the General another chance with a GMC Canyon, but it just wasn't me. Not an all bad little truck, but definitely miles away from the Frontier or Tacoma.

    I hope they emerge stronger an leaner. It seems that they do everything about 80%. Good design...poor interior. Good interior...poor assembly. Maybe the new company can get it right.

    2013 335i Sport Line Alpine White over Coral Red w/Black Trim

    2005 330cic ZHP Monaco Blue over Natural Brown w/Black Trim

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