The 1990s were a busy decade for General Engines. Through its main automobile divisions, it launched new models and improved existing models throughout the decade. Despite suffering losses and having to cut production drastically in 1990, GM unveiled the General Motors EV1 (Impact) concept car. It was a zero-emission car that finally entered production in the 1997 model year. Another model that debuted in 1990 was Pontiac’s first minivan, the Trans Sport.
Other novelties in 1990 were the first Buick Reatta convertible and the Chevrolet Lumina. In 1991, Cadillac introduced the Northstar series of engines which remained in production until 2011. These high performance engines were used in 90s cars like the Oldsmobile Aurora, Cadillac Allante and Eldorado. To close out the decade, the Silverado was released in 1998 while the Escalade followed in 1999 as GM’s answer to the Lincoln Navigator. Here are 10 of GM’s best cars of the 1990s.
ten 1996 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am WS6
The fourth generation of the Firebird is available in 3 versions with 4-wheel ABS, power steering and several rustproof composite body panels. In 1996, the Trans Am received the WS6 performance package which added a functional “Ram Air” dual inlet hood. Engine power has increased from 285 hp to 305 hp while torque has increased to 335 lb-ft.
Additionally, it had dual oval exhaust tips while Bilstein shocks were offered as an option. It could hit 60 mph in around 5.8 seconds and top out at around 159 mph.
9 1997GM EV1
Following the 1990 release of the electric Impact concept car, the production EV1 arrived in the 1997 model year. The 2-seater coupé was powered by a three-phase induction AC motor driven by a 16.3 kWh lead-acid battery . Power was 137 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque while range was 79 miles.
On the regular 110-volt outlet, the EV1 took 15 hours to fully charge. On the other hand, it only took three hours for the 220-volt MagneCharge to reach full charge capacity. Weighing 2,970 pounds, the 1997 GM EV1 could hit 60 mph in under 9 seconds. Despite positive customer feedback and protests, GM discontinued the EV1.
8 1997 Chevrolet Corvette
Beginning with the 1997 model, the Corvette C5 featured a hydroformed box-section frame. By moving the transmission to form a rear-mounted integrated transaxle, it achieved perfect front-to-rear weight distribution that improved handling.
The all-new 5.7-liter LS1 V8 engine under the hood, hooked to the transaxle by a torque tube, developed 345 hp. Available only as a coupe, the 1997 Corvette was good for a top speed of 175 hp. Thanks to the improved structural platform, it was a stronger and quieter car than the C4 models.
seven 1991 Chevy Lumina Z34
Available from 1991 to 1994, the Z34 was the high performance variant of the Chevrolet Lumina. Offered only on the coupe, the Z34 trim wore lower side skirts, a louvered hood and a rear spoiler to show its sporty intent. Underneath it got the FE3 sports suspension package and a dual exhaust.
Hooked up to the standard 5-speed manual transmission, the 3.4-liter V6 engine under the hood developed 210 hp. He could do the quarter mile in 15.5 seconds and tackle corners with confidence. Equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes, it also had strong stopping power.
6 1996 Chevy Impala SS
With its understated looks and 4-door body, the 1996 Impala SS was a true ’90s sleeper. Thanks to a beefed-up LT1 V8 engine with an OBD-II computer control system, it had plenty of power of overtaking. The retuned 5.7-liter unit, featuring cast-iron cylinder heads, produced 260 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque.
Mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, it propels the Impala SS to 100 km/h in 7 seconds and a top speed of 142 hp. Despite the sport-oriented shocks, the large Chevy sedan offers a comfortable ride quality.
5 1990 Chevy Silverado 454SS
The 1990 Chevrolet Silverado 454 SS was developed as the high performance variant of the Chevrolet C1500. For better driving dynamics, it featured an upgraded suspension that included Bilstein gas shock absorbers and a stronger front stabilizer bar.
Under the hood, it sported a huge 7.4-liter V8 engine mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission to produce 230 hp. Although it doesn’t look like much by today’s standards, at the time, it was the bomb. Decked out in black, the 454 SS had body-colored bumpers/mirrors, a gloss black grille and bucket seats.
4 Syclone GMC 1991
Available only in black, the 1991 GMC Syclone was produced jointly by GMC and Production Automotive Services (PAS). It was powered by a 4.3-liter turbocharged V6 engine that powered all 4 wheels through a 4-speed automatic transmission.
With 280 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, it could hit 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds and complete the quarter mile in 13.4 seconds. Not only was it the fastest production truck in 1991, it was also the first production truck to feature 4-wheel ABS. Anyone who lines up against the Syclone does so at their peril.
3 1992 Cadillac Seville
The Cadillac Seville entered the fourth generation in 1992 as a stunning new sedan. Offered in 2 versions, the new Seville was longer and wider than the 1991 model. Under the hood of both models, they had a 4.9-liter V8 engine that produced 200 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque.
Mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, it sent the STS model to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. Although the Seville improved further in 1993, the 1992 model received rave reviews from motoring magazines and enthusiasts.
2 1992 GMC Typhoon
The GMC Typhoon is a performance 2-door SUV that was on sale in 1992 and 1993. Under the hood, it hid a 4.3-liter turbocharged V6 mill mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission and 4WD system. With 280 hp and 350 lb-ft on tap, the Typhoon could hit 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds.
Other features include a BorgWarner 4472 transfer case, upgraded brakes and self-leveling air rear suspension. While it certainly looks aggressive on the driveway, it’s downright scary as it thunders along the tarmac.
1 Camaro Z28 1998
Built on the F-body platform like the Pontiac Firebird, the fourth generation Chevrolet Camaro Z28 debuted with a 275 hp engine and dual rectangular exhaust tips. With a facelift in 1998, the Z28 received an all-new 5.7-litre V8 power plant. Mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission, the LS1 develops a power of 305 hp.
Zero to 60 mph happened in 6.8 seconds. The 1998 Z28 also featured a working coolant temperature gauge while its stopping power came from 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS. Also on the menu, stability control, cruise control, traction control and remote unlocking.