Greatest GM Creations Of The 1980s

GM was on fire in the 1980s, producing what seemed to be a classic at every chance. GM was loaded with cash and the market was leaning towards them. The rise of SUVs, the comeback of muscle cars, and the new market for small economy cars created an ideal market for America’s biggest car manufacturer.



While the 1970s were frowned upon for poor performance and the 1990s were seen as a decline of quality for GM, the 1980s seemed to be the sweet spot. The new rise in performance cars combined with GM’s quality of old was asking for some truly great automobiles. While no car or car brand is perfect, we really think GM hit its strides in the 1980s.

From the bread and butter Chevrolets to executive Cadillacs that braced TV screens across America, here are GM’s greatest creations of the 1980s!

9 Cadillac Allante

The Allante was a step in the right direction for Cadillac. Until then Cadillac lost the elegance and performance that made the brand so popular in the ’50s and ’60s. Hard to call a massive square with a slow V8 a sophisticated and sporty machine, isn’t it?

The Allante was actually assembled by the popular Italian design house, Pininfarina. The range of V8 engines made anywhere from 200 to 300 horsepower, and the suspension had a sportier ride compared to most 80s Cadillacs. HIt 80s TV show Dallas chose the Allante as the main character’s car as a testament to its popularity.

Related: Auction Dilemma: Cadillac Allanté Vs Mercedes Benz 500SL

8 Oldsmobile Hurst

The G-Body was the platform of choice for many of GM’s performance cars, and this is one of three that found its way on this list. Oldsmobile elicited the help of Hurst to make their flagship performance car. The Oldsmobile Hurst featured new body panels, a sleek paint job, three stick shifter, and a high-output 307-cubic-inch V8.

The Hurst Olds was offered with all the 80s goodies anyone could ever want, including a t-top roof, plush upholstery, and cassette deck. The Hurst Olds could hit 60 in under 8 seconds, not bad for a car coming out of the malaise era. Around 5,000 units were produced between 1983 and 1984, so it might take some hunting if you want one for your collection.

7 Pontiac Fiero

Pontiac wanted to bring a mid-engine sports car to people, especially to buyers sensitive to the buy-American theme that was prevalent in the 1980s. The Fiero used either a 2.5L Iron Duke inline-4 or the 2.8L V6 found in cars like the S10 and even some mail trucks. The highest-rated motor was only good for 140 horsepower. Pontiac never wanted the focus to be on the power plant though.

The main focus on the Fiero was the drive itself. Stiff suspension, a mid-engine layout, and Muncie 4-speed made the Fiero an absolute joy to drive. A 1984 Pontiac Fiero even had the honor of being the pace car for the Indianapolis 500. Over 300,000 cars were produced, so there’s no shortage of them waiting to be parked in your driveway. If it was up to us, the Fiero would make a comeback!

Related: The Pontiac Fiero Is a Killer Rally Car

6 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS

Another G-Body car, this time from Chevrolet. The Monte Carlo began life as a personal luxury car, more in the vein of the Buick Riviera and the Ford Thunderbird. After the Chevelle was discontinued Chevrolet needed a car to use in NASCAR, and the Monte Carlo SS was the only car that fit the bill.

To meet homologation regulations for NASCAR, Chevrolet equipped aerodynamic body panels on the top trimmed SS model and used it as free advertising for their racing program. The SS came with the 305 cubic inch V8 and was only offered with a 3-speed automatic, which many consider the Achilles heel of an otherwise great car.

5 Chevrolet/GMC C/K1500 OBS

The OBS generation Chevy/GMC pickup might be known as the truck of the 1990s, but it first hit production in the 1980s. Chevrolet revolutionized the truck game with the 4th generation C/K, bringing in sporty characteristics. The look was seen on the 4th generation OBS set the tone for the design of Chevrolet trucks to this day.

The 4th generation C/K could have had with a range of engines, from gas-saving V6s, stump-pulling diesels, and even the legendary 454 cubic inch V8. Plenty have been made with thousands of combinations of options, so there’s an OBS to fit anyone’s needs.

Related: OBS Trucks Explained And If It Is Right For You

4 Chevrolet S-10/GMC S-15

Another pair of trucks from Chevy and GMC, this time the little brothers to the full-sized 1500. The S10 and S15 were the first American-built mini trucks, Ford switching to an American design two years after GM did. Dodge never built an American mini truck, importing Mitsubishi trucks throughout the 1980s.

SUV versions were produced, dubbed the S10 Blazer for Chevy and the Jimmy for GMC. A range of engines was offered, from the Iron Duke I4 to the bulletproof 4.3 Vortec V6. V8 swaps are popular too, a 350 Chevy motor will bolt right in with little to no hassle. Some versions came with tough 4×4 systems too, making the S10 and S15 the truck for off-roaders and hot rodders alike. We’d call these little trucks true American icons.

3 Chevrolet Corvette C4

After taking a break in 1983, the Corvette was back in 1984 with the 4th generation. A new design motif and new fuel-injected engines made the C4 a massive upgrade over its predecessor The 1982 C3 Corvette would only make 200 horsepower compared to the 245 from the C4. By the end of its run in 1996, the C4 was pushing 400 horsepower.

The C4 is typically considered the cheapest Corvette on the market, but you’re still buying a Corvette, no matter how low the price. Depending on the options a C4 could get to 60 in under 6 seconds and hit a top speed of 151. Parts are cheap, and the hood opens like a clam to give mechanics ample room to work. If it’s good enough for Michael Jordan, it’s good enough for us!

Related: Here’s What Makes The C4 Corvette A Practical Sports Car

2 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

The Chevrolet Camaro ruled IROC racing throughout the 1970s and 1980s, so Chevrolet sold the IROC-Z trim to commemorate the real race car. The IROC-Z could be had with either a high output 305 cubic inch V8 or the 350 cubic inch V8. The 350 would power to car to a 6.7 second 0-60.

Other than just a bigger engine, the IROC-Z had bigger injectors, stiffened suspension, and enough stickers to please fans at Radwood for generations to come.

1 Buick GNX

The Buick GNX (Grand National Experimental) was the highest performing car in GM’s line-up until executives at Chevrolet angry demanded the horsepower come down to protect the sales of the Corvette. The Grand National began as a trim for the Buick Regal, giving the car a turbo 3.8L V6 and sporty appearance. The car’s pedigree increased as Buick began to win in NASCAR throughout the 1980s.

The rear-wheel drive Regal that the GNX was based on was going to be phased out at the end of 1987, so Buick decided to send the car off with a bang. Buick sent a plain Regal Grand National to McLaren for tuning, which included a bigger turbo, new injectors, bigger intercooler, high-flow mufflers, and an upgraded ECU. Final horsepower figures were around 300. The GNX clocked a faster 1/4 mile time than both the Ferrari F40 and the Porsche 918 and could still crush some modern day sports cars…pretty impressive for a Buick with a V6. Just for the record, the final 1/4 mile time was 12.7 seconds.