General Motors was founded in 1908, effectively consolidating numerous carmakers, including Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, and others. It quickly grew to become one of the big three car-making giants based in Detroit, and to this day, is one of the top vehicle manufacturers in the world. Many great cars have come out of its assembly plants, including many classics that paved the way for the cars, trucks, and SUVs that are driven today. The advancements developed throughout the years have been incredible, leading up to the electric car revolution of this decade. Before the plug-in car was even a thought, though, old classics ruled the roads. Let's take a look at some of the best GM classic cars ever made.

1940 Cadillac Series 90 V-16

A parked 1938 Cadillac V-16 convertible
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Front and side view of a yellow 1938 Cadillac V-16 convertible

The 1940 Cadillac Series 90 V-16 was the last of its kind ever built, but the Classic Club Car of America recognizes it as a full classic, which is a significant accomplishment. At the time, the V-16 Cadillac was the fastest accelerating car in the world. It was marketed to compete head-to-head with cars such as Bugatti and Duesenberg. All the components were built custom for each order received. When the smooth-running engine was installed under the hood, a truly outstanding car was born each and every time.

1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

A parked red 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
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Rear and side view of a beautiful red 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

The 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 is arguably the first muscle car ever built. It has been given that distinction by experts and fans from every walk of life, including the car industry. The 305 V-8, dubbed the "Rocket," was a new design for the year, offering up to 135 horses. When added to the lighter body of the Oldsmobile 88 series, the car could scoot from 0 to 60 in under 14 seconds. It may not sound like much now, but in the early '50s, it was fast enough to give even the most devoted adrenalin junkie a thrill.

RELATED: 1931 Cadillac Series 370 Phaeton

1957 Chevy Bel Air

A parked baby blue 1957 Chevy Bel Air
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Rear and side view of a baby blue 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Today fuel injection systems are taken for granted because they are such a common thing to see on a vehicle. In 1957, when the Chevy Bel Air was designed and produced with it replacing the carburetor, it was a huge deal. Along with the bigger 283 V-8 engine, Chevy added power to its lineup along with smoother fuel delivery. Unfortunately, the system was not standard on the car, but it could be added as an option, which would upgrade the Bel Air to what was commonly known as the "Fuelie." This is the time in history that brought on the technological era within the car industry, which has continued to improve as the years have gone by.

1961 Chevy Impala SS

A black 1961 Chevy Impala SS 409
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Front three-quarter view of a black and white 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS 409

In the '60s, car buyers wanted speed, power, and all-out performance. The SS lineup of cars from Chevrolet created a muscle car that was affordable for most. The Chevy Impala SS took the engine from the pickup after discovering that it could make a lighter, more nimble car propel down the track in record times. The 409 could get the Chevy Impala SS from 0 to 60 within a matter of six seconds, which was a considerable feat in 1961. This made it possible for the Impala SS to go head-to with the Corvette, which was not an easy task for any car to even contemplate.

RELATED: 1963 Chevy Impala SS by West Coast Customs for Kobe Bryant

1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire

A parked black and white 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire
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Back and side view of a black and white 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire

In 1962 the GM corporation made another giant stride in the direction of technological advancements in motor vehicles. The Oldsmobile Jetfire and the Chevy Corvair Monza Spyder came out of the factory with turbocharged engines. The system was extremely complicated for the time, and even by the standards of many today, but it worked effectively enough to propel the car from 0 to 60 in under nine seconds. Unfortunately, after just a couple of years of production, due to the errors of owners that had scooped the car up, the car and the turbo technology were put on the shelf to be revisited at a later time in history.

1963 Chevy Corvette

A parked white 1963 Chevy Corvette
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Front and side view of a white 1963 Chevrolet Corvette

The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette is one of the most iconic cars in the 'Vette lineup. The split window design is the visual centerpiece of the Chevy. At the same time, the performance and technology gained the attention of all test drivers that have climbed behind the wheel. The 1963 Corvette was the first of the second generation, bringing the first rear-independent suspension system to the Corvette line. When this new system was combined with a rigid anti-sway bar in front and stiffer leaf springs in the rear, it created a car that could excel on tracks across the country. However, it still needed some improvements to make it an actual road-worthy performance car. To this day, the '63 is one of the most sought-after cars by collectors worldwide.

Related: Top 10 American Performance Cars

1964 Pontiac GTO

A parked black 1964 Pontiac GTO
Front three-quarter view of a black 1964 Pontiac GTO standing outside a factory

The 1964 Pontiac GTO has been linked as the main reason people became interested in muscle cars. Some have dubbed it the first muscle car, but as mentioned earlier, that is not the case. It was, however, the first car created by Pontiac that was built around speed, power, and performance. The GTO was a package option available on the hard-top, two-door sedan of the Pontiac Le Mans. This car made it possible for the average person to own a high-performance car that compared to the Ferrari GTO, which was why the car was designed and marketed in the first place.

1966 Oldsmobile 442

A red 1966 Oldsmobile 442 convertible
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Rear and side view of a red 1966 Oldsmobile 442 convertible parked near a field

By the time the middle '60s rolled around, it was apparent to all the car manufacturers, including Oldsmobile, that muscle cars were the trend for the decade. Even though some affordable performance cars were already offered on the market, the engineers at Oldsmobile wanted to go one step above them. That is where the 1966 Oldsmobile 442 came into the picture, bringing the carmaker into the same arena as the top three Detroit car monsters. The design, power, and performance all matched up with the competition, but the sales were not as big as they should have been, bringing the demise to the 442 in 1972. The name lived on until the '80s, but the muscle car version was retired.

Related: 1966-1970 Oldsmobile Toronado

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

A parked brown 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
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Front and side view of a brown 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

Oldsmobile was fast on the way to becoming a well-known car for innovation and technology, along with the idea of an affordable luxury car. The 442 brought the muscle and performance to the table. At the same time, the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado leaned more into the side of new and improved. The '66 Toronado was the first of its kind in America to come from a factory with a front-wheel drive system. In 1966 the car also received the "Car of the Year" award from Motor Trend, increasing the popularity of the car and the brand, all in one shot.

1969 Chevy Camaro

A blue 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL1
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Front and side view of a blue 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

The Camaro is perhaps one of the most well-known muscle cars of all time. The 1969 Chevy Camaro made its way into the limelight not because of the basic car that could be purchased, but rather because of the ZL-1 model designed for racing. It had an aluminum 427 block that could push around 430 horses and pound out 450 lb-ft torque. It was a beast to be reckoned with, creating a substantial public following for the Camaro, which is why it is still such a popular muscle car today.


Q: What Was The First Muscle Car?

This question will cause a sure-fire debate to erupt because experts in the field have dubbed various cars as the first. The first American muscle car was built in 1949 when Oldsmobile produced the Rocket 88. It has been credited as the first-ever, even before the Pontiac GTO that many feel was the first.