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The 10 Best GM Cars Ever Built

General Motors (GM) just issued its first Initial Public Offering (IPO) of stock since the company emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. With the automotive industry’s eyes once again focused on GM and its future, perhaps it’s time to look back on the auto giant’s “glory days” and celebrate its most important contributions to automotive design and performance.

Here then, in chronological, are our picks for the Top 10 GM cars ever built:

1957 Chevy Bel Air
Chevrolet Bel Air (1956-57)

If there was any one car that symbolized the “all-American car” in the post-World War II period, it was the classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air, a/k/a the ’57 Chevy.  The last of Chevrolet’s “shoe-box” style cars, it did not sell as well as GM had anticipated, but its ability to accommodate the low-priced 365 horsepower 327 engine, introduced in 1962, made the ’57 Chevy a favorite with hot-rodders, eventually turning it into an American auto icon.

1959 Cadillace Coupe DeVille
Cadillac Coupe DeVille (1959)

Fins. ’nuff said.

1963 Buick Riviera
Buick Riviera (1963-65)

The first-generation Riviera is today considered a styling masterpiece. Unlike other GM cars produced during this period, its body shell was unique. With the same power as other Buicks but carrying less weight, it delivered excellent performance for its time. Today it fetches high prices on the collector’s market.

1964 Pontiac GTO
Pontiac GTO (1964-74)

This was the “muscle car” that defined muscle cars. Its 335 horsepower V8 could pump out a mind-blowing 441 torque. It even got its own song.

1987 Buick Grand Nation GNX

Buick Grand National GNX (1987)

In the words of Car & Driver magazine, “Lord Vader, your car is ready.”

1994 Chevrolet Impala
Chevy Caprice/Impala SS (1994-96)

Virtually identical to the concept car that toured auto shows the previous year, the 1994 Impala SS took the Caprice’s C1 police package and ran with it. This included a sport-tuned suspension with reinforced shocks and springs, a high-capacity upgraded reverse flow cooling system, larger and more powerful four-wheel disc brakes, transmission cooler, dual exhaust and a higher-output electrical system. It remains an American classic.

 1994 Oldamobile Aurora

Oldsmobile Aurora (1994-2003)

Little remembered a mere seven years after it ceased production, the Oldsmobile Aurora supplanted the Toronado and 98 as the brand’s premiere luxury car. Stylish, powerful and crammed with luxury features, this was the poster boy for Old’s “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” campaign. The Aurora didn’t even carry any Olds branding, which led to some confusion among onlookers when the car first hit the road.

1999 Cadillac Escalade
Cadillac Escalade (1999-Present)

Created in response to the success of Ford’s Lincoln Navigator SUV, the Cadillac Escalade has come to epitomize American excess. If you want to put a $20-million-a-picture movie star, a Beverly Hills trophy wife or a Mexican drug kingpin in a car worthy of his/her stature, you choose an Escalade. Preferably a black one. This is one big, mean, luxurious, gas-guzzling monster that says “F-U” to the world. No wonder it remains the best-selling SUV in GM’s line.

2003 Cadillac CTS
Cadillac CTS (2003)

This was the car that signaled Cadillac’s comeback. It was the first Cadillac in a while that could go toe-to-toe in terms of engineering, power and performance with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Infiniti.

2009 Saturn Aura

Saturn Aura (2009)

Introduced in 1985, Saturn was GM’s grand experiment in haggle-free auto sales. Although shuttered this year as a result of GM’s bankruptcy, the Saturn went out with a bang. Its 2009 Aura was universally hailed as one of the finest mid-sized sedans GM had ever produced.

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