General Motors Company, best known as simply GM, has been around for quite some time and with all that time, this company has brought many great designs, ideas, and solutions to the personal vehicle market. Among GM’s cars, there are those every collector should buy, but there are also those you should avoid at all costs.
In the past, GM brands included Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Hummer, Saab, McLaughlin, Daewoo, Oakland, Saturn, Opel, and Vauxhall. The current GM brands are Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, Wuling, and Holden. Today, we are going to take a better look at all of them and determine which 10 GM cars every collector should buy and which 10 they should avoid. Some of those cars are good old classics, but there are even some newer vehicles that the collectors have good reasons to be interested in. Especially, if the cars were made as limited models.
When talking about rare cars and limited models, one should take into the consideration things such as the number of the models produced and sold, the production year, whether or not the cars have participated in any races or appeared in films or TV shows etc. So without further delay, let’s take a look at some of these vehicles.
20 Buy: 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6
When talking about the ‘70s, the cars from that era were known for their power and big engines – and 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 was one of the best. If you wanted a powerful muscle car with a cool and edgy design, this Chevelle was simply the way to go.
Even today, almost 50 years later, the Chevy Chevelle SS 454 LS6 is a great investment for any collector.
The L6 version featured more horsepower than the regular version, a forged steel crankshaft, 500 lb-ft of torque etc. So if you are a GM car collector and want another pearl in your car collection, this is definitely the way to go.
19 Buy: 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible
What does every collector want? Well, many things but every true car collector’s wish would be a car that no one else has. Or at least, almost no one. And that is the case with the 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible. There were only 17 of these cars ever made so this car is sort of a rarely seen car unicorn. As stated elsewhere on HotCars, “The real Ram Air hood hides a GM 455 cubic-inch engine, more exactly a 7.4-liter V8 HO big-block that produced 335 horsepower with 480 lb-ft of torque." The car came with an automatic TH-400 gearbox that gave 3 speeds.
18 Buy: 1969 Chevrolet AstroVette
Another really rare sight in the car world is the 1969 Chevrolet AstroVette. Only 3 copies of this car were produced back in the days and one of them was offered to Alan L. Bean, the lunar module pilot from the Apollo 12 mission.
We don’t know where the other 2 are so good luck tracking them down.
However, if one could find this beautiful Corvette, its value will only climb. Hopefully the owners of these cars don't know the value and we can still get one at an affordable price, though that is highly unlikely.
17 Buy: 1962 Pontiac Catalina Super Duty
Back in the days, Pontiac was known for dominating NASCAR. In 1962, however, they decided to design a vehicle that would compete both in NASCAR and NHRA – and the 1962 Pontiac Catalina Super Duty was born. This car seemed fairly ordinary for its time, but under the hood was a great engine that pushed it a quarter mile in just 12 seconds. Definitely a vehicle worthy of getting any serious car collectors’ attention. With this combo of looks and speed, it is a must have.
16 Buy: 1967 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro
The 1967 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro was basically a very rare, upgraded version of the SS Camaro. As stated elsewhere on HotCars: “This muscle car had received a Corvette 427 CID L72 V8 engine with 425 horsepower and a number of high-performance components mounted by Yenko. The Yenko Super Camaro’s engine was said to be able to deliver approximately 450 horsepower when tuned.” If all that doesn’t seem like enough, the 1967 Yenko Camaro also had Rally wheels, power brakes, a side pipe exhaust system, a Muncie four-speed manual transmission etc. That being said, there is no doubt in our minds that this vehicle is a good collector’s choice.
15 Buy: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1
1969 being the production year of this particular Camaro ZL-1 was quite symbolic. There were only 69 copies of the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1 which makes it a perfect collectors’ car.
However, the limited production is not the only reason why this vehicle is worth getting one's hands on it.
With a 427 aluminum block engine, and nothing but the best performance parts thrown in for good measure, the ZL1 Camaro churned out a face twisting 430 horsepower out of the factory, with numbers going as high as 500 hp.
14 Buy: 1953 Chevrolet Corvette
The thing that makes the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette really special is the fact that it was the first Corvette ever made. It was revealed in 1953 at the GM Motorama in NYC. This vehicle being the first Corvette ever is a reason enough to have it in your GM collection. But aside from that, this car was pretty amazing as it was with its classy and gorgeous design and top-notch performance. Interestingly enough, this car did not have any door handles on the outside. This sleek look came with a price. Both drivers and passengers needed to actually reach into the car to open the door.
13 Buy: 1954 Oldsmobile F-88
Since the ‘80s, the GM’s concept cars have been stored in the warehouse but that wasn’t always the case. Back in the ‘50s, all of their concept cars had to be destroyed right after the car shows where they were presented. However, the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 somehow survived this policy and is still out there. As far as we know, a man from Seattle, Gordon Apker, currently owns the only one in the world. No one is really sure how this car escaped its destiny and got into Apker’s hands, but it did. Get ready for some heavy negotiation with the owner if you want to buy it!
12 Buy: 1940 Buick Series 60 Century Phaeton
Not only was the 1940 Buick Series 60 Century Phaeton but it was also one of the rarest Buicks out there with only 194 copies made.
Equipped with a straight eight engine, this car produced what was at the time a whopping 141 horsepower.
As these cars become harder and harder to find, they can only be classified as perfect collectors items. The 1940 Buick Series 60 Century Phaeton has everything you want in a car if you are a GM collector. Good luck, however, in trying to get your hands on one.
11 Buy: 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville
According to Hemmings, the 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville was one of the most beautiful vehicles of its time and also one of the rarest Cadillacs ever built. Only 2,150 copies of this vehicle were made and it is definitely a model worthy of every GM collection. Cadillac's famous V8 engine was dropped in to power this car. While its power offered a very fun ride, the real attraction to this car is definitely in its exterior appearance. Finding one will not be easy but if you do, you will own a true gem.
10 Avoid: 1984 Pontiac Fiero
While the 1983 Pontiac Fiero seemed cool on paper, the practice has proven differently. Several years after the beginning of its production, people became well-aware of some technical issues and the car’s unreliability. After 5 years, this model’s production was stopped but even though it was produced for a relatively short period of time, 370,168 copies of this car were manufactured. With the expensive maintenance and a history of technical issues, we don’t recommend adding this vehicle into your GM cars collection. It’s neither that good not that rare to be worth the money you would spend on it if you bought it.
9 Avoid: 1971 – 1977 Chevrolet Vega
There is a bit of a legend about the 1971 – 1977 Chevrolet Vega. The story goes like this: The Chevrolet Division Manager, John DeLorean, came to check on the building of the prototype of this vehicle and at that moment, all the parts in front of the car suddenly and out of nowhere fell to the ground.
The people in the room believed it was a bad omen.
However, since bad omens aren’t really a legitimate reason not to put a car on the market, the 1971 – 1977 Chevrolet Vega was produced and sold like planned – but maybe it shouldn’t have been. The entire build quality was bad and the engines were known to fail all the time.
8 Avoid: 1978-1985 Oldsmobile Diesel V8
According to Popular Mechanics, during the ‘70s and ‘80s, the most popular car in the United States was the Oldsmobile Cutlass. Of course, the brand was well aware of their popularity so they decided to make a new diesel engine for their 1978-1985 Oldsmobile Diesel V8 and they hoped that people would just naturally stay loyal to the brand, buy it, and be happy with it. The only problem was that the engine sucked. Sorry for putting it like that but it is the truth. These engines were not made to last long and eventually, they would just fail and be impossible to repair.
7 Avoid: 1997-1999 EV1
Back in the late ’90, the 1997-1999 EV1 was a big news. After all, you couldn’t buy that many pure electric vehicles at the time so this one was really something different. Unfortunately, there was a catch. HotCars explains: “There were two generations made for this car, one that lasted for 75 miles (driven with care) and the other with a 150 miles range, but there was a problem after all: it could not be driven in traffic because it lasted approximately 40 miles and the driver was sweating to reach a charging station really fast. General Motors crushed the 1117 models ever produced in the end, starting a lot of conspiracy theories along with this decision.”
6 Avoid: 1978-1980 Chevrolet Corvette C3
The Corvettes manufactured between 1978 and 1980 were not at all reliable vehicles, according to Edmunds. For example, the 1979 Chevrolet Corvette L48 didn’t offer enough power to properly move the car while the design was a little bit off as well, especially the interior. Even if you are a fan of the disco era, this vehicle is still not something you should add to your GM cars collection. Considering that the Corvette (any Corvette) is basically a sports car, it makes no sense to have a sports car that cannot move as it should due to its bad engine.
5 Avoid: 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier
To quote HotCars, “Back in the days, the only type of person who could have bought and wanted this vehicle was an old lady that wanted to drive to church every Sunday.” Wow.
That is definitely not a description of a car that a collector would want to have in their GM cars collection.
When you check out the car’s reviews on Edmunds, you will see descriptions such as “sloppily constructed” and “dissolvable in rainwater”. Everything about this car was just wrong; from the not-so-cool design, through the wimpy engine to the low-quality car body. With that in mind, you should probably just skip this one.
4 Avoid: 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Generally speaking, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo was one of the most popular models Chevrolet has ever created and you probably should have one of those in your car collection. However, not the 2000 model because that one was an absolute disaster. If you check out Carcomplaints.com, you will see the endless list of issues people have been complaining about with this car since the day 1. Most of the trouble with this car is connected to engine failure and expensive maintenance. There is also the questionable design since this car resembles as unpainted NASCAR. So no, one could definitely say this car is not a must for a collection.
3 Avoid: 1997 Chevy Malibu
The 1997 Chevy Malibu was a vehicle that was so boring it bores us even to describe just how boring it exactly was. There was nothing remotely cool about this car and Jalopnik called it the worst car Chevrolet made in the ‘90s. To quote HotCars, “When this line was first released by Chevy, it was expected to be known as solely a family car. However, it is quite apparent that it even failed with this simple task at the end of the day.Whether one looks at the finish or even the engine of the car, this clearly was a mistake of a project by Chevy. Therefore, no collector should ever waste their money on one.”
2 Avoid: 2005 Chevrolet Uplander
The 2005 Chevrolet Uplander is nowhere near the standards of the today’s car and to put it simply, no collector should waste their money on it. Except if you are making a collection of the worst GM cars to date; in that case, knock yourself out.
The main issue with this car wasn’t its boring and bland design nor the lack of creativity put into it; the main problem was the bad quality of everything inside the car.
Many things were made out of really bad materials such as plastic so the car is prone to breaks and all kinds of different issues.
1 Avoid: 1980 Chevy Corvette 305 California
You know how rare or special edition cars are great for the collectors? Well, the 1980 Chevy Corvette 305 California is the exception. It is rare, it is a special edition, it is unique yet it is still not worth your money. It was made in accordance with California’s regulations which resulted in smaller and weaker engine. So if you expect your Corvette to be a sports car (as it should be), the 1980 Chevy Corvette 305 California will be a huge disappointment because its performance is simply not what one would expect. So while this car looks pretty cool, due to the engine, this car is simply not worth the money.
Sources: premiercadillac.com, jalopnik.com, popularmechanics.com