7 brilliant and genius sporty GM cars

sporty GM cars

The most genius sporty GM cars from a long time ago!

Every brand or concern has had its ‘heyday’. At Volkswagen people think of the period from 2000 to 2005. Of course it is debatable, but there are certainly a few good arguments for this. What about BMW? The heyday was probably between 1996 and 2002. Alfa Romeo had them a little earlier, in the 60s. It is difficult at General Motors. This automotive juggernaut is responsible for extreme automotive failures with the Chevrolet Kalos in particular.

The funny thing is, when they do their best on an enthusiast car, they do really, really well all at once. For the overview, we look at a very specific period of the automotive giant. The period between 1987 and 1993. In one way or another, all those cars became legendary:

Buick GNX


sporty GM cars

One of the coolest Muscle Cars comes from a time when there were no Muscle Cars at all. The pony cars in the eighties drove around with neutered V8s (or V6s or four cylinders…). The Corvette was no shadow of what it once was. Buick made semi-luxury family cars during that period. The basis is a two-door Rule T-Type. This type of car is better described as a two-door sedan than as a coupé. The most basic Regal two-door was already badass, but there were faster and sportier versions. The Grand Nationals (GN) with V6 turbo were in many cases already faster than the V8 models from that period.

The GNX was developed in collaboration with McLaren. The engine was a 3.8 V6 with Garett T3 turbo and enormous intercooler, good for 280 hp and 488 Nm (very conservative statement). The GNX came in one color: black. The great thing was that all the chrome work and also black was done. Nowadays you see that more often, but in 1987 it was still really cool. Thanks to the black appearance and the turbo sound, the car was called Darth Vaders Car. Today very very pricey.

Lotus Carlton

1990 – 1992

sporty GM cars

Today, E-segment sedans with 625 hp are available from dealers. Still, when the Carlton was introduced, 381 horsepower was almost beyond comprehension. That was the level of a Ferrari Testarossa. In some intermediate sprints, the Lotus Carlton was also just as fast or even faster. Under the Derwent Green hood was a C36GET engine, a 3.6 liter straight six with two turbos. Good for 381 hp and 568 Nm. With that you could go from 0-100 km / h in 5.2 seconds.

  • sporty GM cars
  • sporty GM cars

The Carlton (Omega in the Netherlands) was not equipped with a limiter, so you could reach 285 km / h in fifth gear. It is a very special car where the technology and driving qualities are at the top. In addition, it still looks fat. Less than 1,000 of them have been built in two years (950 in total. 630 of them are Omega, the rest are Carlton).

Chevrolet Corvette Sport Coupe ZR-1 (C4)

1990 – 1996

sporty GM cars

You wouldn’t say it, but the Lotus Carlton and Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 have a lot in common. Lotus was owned by General Motors at the time. GM was already cleverly aware that Lotus is often better at developing cars than selling them. With the Corvette C4 it was almost the other way around. The Corvette had become a bit of a caricature of itself. The ZR-1 is a Corvette that has been taken care of by Lotus. In some ways, the ZR-1 is more modern than any Corvette that came on the market later. The aluminum LT5 5.7 V8 got four overhead camshafts and 32 valves in total.

  • sporty GM cars
  • sporty GM cars
  • sporty GM cars

This resulted in a maximum power of 375 hp, almost equal to the Omega. The transmission was the same six-speed manual with e-nor-me overdrive. However, it was not only an engine that Lotus had gotten more out of. The Corvette ZR-1 had a Bilstein chassis with adaptive dampers, Bosch ABS system and later even ASR! Only drawback: the Corvette ZR-1 had become very expensive now. Porsche and Ferrari snobs could afford it, but thought it was too little.

Saab 9000 Aero

1993 – 1997

sporty GM cars

Of course, the Saab 900 Turbo was much cooler and was built in the same period. However, that shitty Swede is a relic from the 1970s that Saab had ground up little by little. The 9000 was a seriously fat E-segment car. You could get it as a sedan, but the sportier liftback was cooler and nicer. The Saab 9000 got better and better over the years. Certainly, the fast Aero’s. Some 9000s you could get with a V6 from Opel, but you wanted that 2.3 four-cylinder with double balance shafts and thick sports fairings in the interior.

  • sporty GM cars
  • sporty GM cars

Despite the modest figures on paper, these were very fast cars. Especially on the intermediate sprint you had to have a really fast car to be able to keep up at all. The Aero was built until 1997. Fortunately, Saab did not deviate much from the recipe with the 9-5 Aero (YSGE), although the liftback did not make a comeback. Note: make sure you have a 9000 Aero with them manual gearbox, they have a Mitsubishi TD-04 turbo with 225 hp and 350 Nm instead of 200 hp (thanks to a smaller Garett AiResearch T25 unit.

GMC Syclone


sporty GM cars

Despite the fact that this list of sporty GM cars is full of very fast cars, this is the fastest at the traffic light. Yes, a small pick-up makes very fast Corvette’s the snot for the eyes. That is immediately why GMC entered a wrong 0-60 mp3 (zero to 96 km / h) time. The small cheap pick-up couldn’t be faster than the most expensive Corvette ever. The funny thing is that the car does not have a V8, just like the Buick GNX it is a V6 with a turbo.

  • sporty GM cars
  • sporty GM cars
  • sporty GM cars

In the case of the GMC Syclone, it is a 4.3 V6 that was completely overhauled: head gasket, cylinders, manifolds, injectors: everything was adjusted. Subsequently, a Mitsubishi TD06-17C turbocharger was set up. The result was ‘280 hp’ and 475 Nm. We put the power in brackets, because it was closer to 330-350. Partly thanks to the special four-wheel drive system from Borgwarner and the, for its time, quite smooth automatic transmission, you could get out of your place very quickly. Faster on the quarter-mile sprint than a Ferrari 348.

Opel Calibra Turbo

1992 – 1996

sporty GM cars

Admittedly, this was not the best car in its class at all. It was a particularly non-sporty car for a turbo-charged coupé. So compared to Escort Cosworth it is not that sporty. But the Calibra Turbo was a different type of car and certainly deserves a place in the overview of sporty GM cars. One that could deliver enormous blows on the Autobahn.

  • sporty GM cars
  • sporty GM cars
  • sporty GM cars

The Opel Calibra was very aerodynamic for its time (and actually still is), which resulted in an extremely high top speed of 245 km / h. In any case, you got all the good hardware, because four-wheel drive and a six-speed gearbox were just standard. Unfortunately, the Calibra never got the recognition it deserved, thanks in part to the special aftermarket strapping. That is why we set it right here.

Bonus: Holden Thing’s Case (HSV Maloo)


sporty GM cars

And we end the list of sporty GM cars with another pick-up that is not a pick-up, but still is. The HSV Maloo is the sporty version of the Holden Ute. A Ute is a passenger car with a loading platform. Perfect for going to church on Sundays, but for commemorating sheep during the week. Or something. The Holden Ute was basically a loadback Commodore.

  • sporty GM cars

HSV is Holden’s sporting branch, a bit like Mercedes AMG is. The HSV Maloo combined a thick naturally aspirated V8 with a manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. Thick spoilers, large rims and bright colors: it was impossible. It was once intended as a joke. 132 of the first generation Maloo (the VG) were built. The second generation (the VP) was even rarer with 49 copies.

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  1. often you’re too scared says

    Unfortunately, the hardware of that Calibra was not that good, it even turned out to be quite vulnerable. A good design, nice and clean. Provided not rejonnified, you can now come out fine with it.

  2. viezefreddyw says

    Such a Buick GNX. Purely because of the styling I want to have such a thing once. Or a ’88 Chevy Monte Carlo. Think those things are really cool.

  3. marcomanta says

    Do me the Lotus Omega, I once rode in it, just tapping almost 300 km / h without problems, what a brutal force that was for that time. Unfortunately, Opel also pre-built the rust.

  4. connexion says

    Like them all !!!

  5. leaper035t says

    Delicious cars. What does Grand Nationals etiquette refer to?


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