Hooniverse Asks- What's GM's Greatest All-Time Shared Platform?


Whether hand-me-down clothes or communal toys, families do a lot of sharing. The bigger the family the more sharing goes on, and over the years there have been few automotive families bigger than that of General Motors. Today there are some members who have passed away, and others who don’t get cards at the holidays, but there’s still a lot of names at the table. And, while they all have their own personalities and needs, they do frequently share a lot of what goes on under their skirts.

Last week I asked if you thought the Ford’s Fox body represented that company’s greatest serving platform design. This week I’d like you to take a stab at the General, although not literally, after all we’re all friends here. Over the years and decades perhaps no other auto maker has been so generous in sharing among its offspring and certain models are better known by their platform codes – A-bodies, F-cars, etc, than their individual models.

What I want to know is, which of those is the code for greatness? Which multi-brand GM platform do you think is the company’s all-time best?

Image source: Pontiac Registry

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52 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What's GM's Greatest All-Time Shared Platform?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    My favorite is probably the A-Body/G-Body of 1978-1988. It includes the Buick Grand National/GNX, the El Camino and assorted 2 door, 4 door, and wagon versions of Chevys, Olds, Buicks, and Pontiacs.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/07/1987_Buick_Grand_National.jpg/800px-1987_Buick_Grand_National.jpg"width=500&gt;
    A close second is the GMT360 which includes the following: Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Oldsmobile Bravado, Isuzu Ascender, Chevrolet SSR, and Saab 9-7X.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fa/2006_Saab_9-7X_blue.jpg/800px-2006_Saab_9-7X_blue.jpg"width=500&gt;

    1. I Think Not Avatar
      I Think Not

      With regards to the GMT360, the question was "greatest", not "most whored out."

      1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

        Well, it did give us the moniker 'Trollblazer', which is great and wonderful.

    2. longrooffan Avatar

      Isn't the Pontiac Aztec in that family as well?

      1. Maymar Avatar

        The Aztek was derived from the GM U-Body, which got around as well – in addition to starting off as the Venture/Trans Sport-Montana/Silhouette, they spun it into the Aztek/Rendezvous and then rebodied the vans as the Uplander/Montana SV6/Terraza/Relay.
        They were just never great.

        1. longrooffan Avatar

          I never realized the Aztec started life as a DustBuster. Thanks.

          1. NotJustDucky Avatar

            Yep, that's why the original Aztek concept, while still being very far from pretty, looks so much better than the production version. The Aztek gained a bunch of upright ungainliness when they stretched the concept design to fit over the minivan mechanicals.

          2. Stu_Rock Avatar

            Not the Dustbuster 1st-generation vans. Those were derived from FWD A-body cars, which were stretched FWD X-bodies.
            There's no Citation heritage in the Aztek. They are derived from the 2nd-generation U-body vans, which were a clean-sheet redesign.

  2. darthmauled Avatar

    Original x-body even the four door sedans had nice lines.

  3. Maymar Avatar

    <img src="http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh214/diecastcarsusa/003-23.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
    It's a shared platform (if just barely), and it's pretty easy to say it's one of GM's greatest.
    If not, I'm going with the T-Cars, as GM got a hell of a lot of use out of it, both in breadth of applications, and how long they kept using it. And, unlike the J-Body that ran somewhat simultaneously, it's RWD and has certain models that are already getting some appreciation as classic.

    1. darthmauled Avatar

      Not to mention fun. I owned a 2 door chevette, one of the most fun cars i've had

      1. Maymar Avatar

        No kidding! Among the most fun I've ever had in a car was headed out in a decrepit, underpowered, slushbox'd Chevette on a snowy night, and holding a lengthy slide at slightly over walking speed.

    2. LTDScott Avatar

      Yeah, I'd say the T-Car is a good answer. That platform was one of GM's first global efforts. There's not much love for them here in the US, but Aussies and other parts of the world love their Geminis. My cousin in Australia is actually building up the Gemini his parents owned while he was a kid into a race car.
      <img src="https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/249163_10201093922451567_1966517609_n.jpg&quot; width=650>

      1. darthmauled Avatar

        That's because before the t-body gm inflicted the RWD h-body on the US. market.

    3. TurboBrick Avatar

      T-Body was even more versatile than that! Opel Kadett D (and it's successor E), introduced in 1979 was also a T-car but it was FWD
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6d/Opel_kadett_d_1_v_sst.jpg/640px-Opel_kadett_d_1_v_sst.jpg&quot; width="500/">

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        I don't think the FWD T-bodies were related to the RWD T-bodies in anything but name. Just like a 1970 Buick Skylark and a 1985 Buick Century are both A-bodies. Nothing shared but a name in the platform.

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      Now that is a nice looking modern longroof.

  4. PushrodRWD Avatar

    The most successful is probably the A-Body platforms (Four iterations between 64-81) and G-Body. Most of the iconic cars from that time are on those platforms. They also tended to be the best selling cars in their time.
    Some of my favorite cars are on these platforms.
    65 Mailbu, 66 Skylark GS, 69 GTO, 73 Grand Am, 76 Cutlass, 87 Pontiac 2+2, 88 GNx. All of them were great, in their time.

  5. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    It depends on what you mean by great.
    From the company's POV, the RWD T-platform was probably the best leveraged. It ended up as the basis for an amazing number of permutations around the world, and since they were all basic models, tallied up a crapload of sales for GM.
    <img src="http://home.comcast.net/~eapoole//pwpimages/.__448_299_Opel-Kadett-1-6-Aero.jpg&quot; width="320">
    <img src="http://dkarros.com/es/images/stories/1980/1982_chevrolet-chevette-brasil.jpg&quot; width="320">
    <img src="http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4003/4432957525_70bbaa94db.jpg&quot; width="320">
    For drivers, the most functionally excellent would probably be the current Zeta platform.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5e/2014_Chevrolet_SS_front.png/320px-2014_Chevrolet_SS_front.png"&gt;

    1. Rover1 Avatar

      And its predecessors based originally on the various Opel Commodores/Rekords
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Opel_Rekord_D_1975.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Opel_Commodore_vr_orange_TCE.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/45/Vauxhall_Viceroy_reg_Aug_1982_2490_cc.JPG/800px-Vauxhall_Viceroy_reg_Aug_1982_2490_cc.JPG"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/64/1990-1991_Holden_VN_Calais_sedan_08.jpg/800px-1990-1991_Holden_VN_Calais_sedan_08.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4a/1989-1991_Toyota_Lexcen_%28VN%29_GLX_sedan_01.jpg/800px-1989-1991_Toyota_Lexcen_%28VN%29_GLX_sedan_01.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/ca/1994-1995_Holden_VR_II_Berlina_sedan_03.jpg/800px-1994-1995_Holden_VR_II_Berlina_sedan_03.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b2/1996-1998_Holden_VS_II_Commodore_S_utility_03.jpg/800px-1996-1998_Holden_VS_II_Commodore_S_utility_03.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fa/1997-1999_Holden_VT_Commodore_Acclaim_sedan_05.jpg/800px-1997-1999_Holden_VT_Commodore_Acclaim_sedan_05.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/46/2004-2007_Holden_VZ_Commodore_Executive_station_wagon_04.jpg/800px-2004-2007_Holden_VZ_Commodore_Executive_station_wagon_04.jpg
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/52/2008-2009_Holden_VE_Commodore_Omega_Sportwagon_03.jpg/800px-2008-2009_Holden_VE_Commodore_Omega_Sportwagon_03.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/2000-2001_Chevrolet_Lumina_SS_01.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/87/2004-2005_Holden_VZ_Monaro_CV8_coupe_01.jpg/800px-2004-2005_Holden_VZ_Monaro_CV8_coupe_01.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/87/TEN_News_Adventura-02.jpg/800px-TEN_News_Adventura-02.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b4/Hsv_avalanche_rear.jpg/800px-Hsv_avalanche_rear.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="https://media.gm.com/content/media.suffiximg.w_550.maxw_550.maxh_367.jpg/content/dam/Media/images/ZA/Vehicles/Chevrolet/Lumina_UTE/2011/IG_luminaute_ZA_02.jpg/1309765907901.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wCygtamKZ2k/TaVZE7PWDII/AAAAAAAAEdo/GUhh5e-hVqU/s1600/Frontal_Lateral_Buick_Royaum_09_1.jpg"width="600"&gt;
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9b/Buick_Park_Avenue_China_2012-05-27.JPG/800px-Buick_Park_Avenue_China_2012-05-27.JPG"width="600"&gt;

  6. LTDScott Avatar

    Aww, you're saying that the Celebrity/Ciera/Century/6000 wasn't great? A-body elitist!

    1. Devin Avatar

      People have been known to kill for the chance to own a Ciera.
      <img src="http://www.altfg.com/Stars/f/fargo-peter-stormare-steve-buscemi.jpg"&gt;

  7. GTXcellent Avatar

    Agree with Tanshanomi on what the definition of "is" is. I think that GM got the most mileage out of the W platform – starting with the '88 Grand Prix and finally, finally, on it's last gasp of air with the current (2013) Impalas. That's 25 years of mediocrity!

  8. marmer01 Avatar

    I know many will disagree, but I liked the 90's B-platform cars. Caprice, Roadmaster, 98, Fleetwood. Well kept examples still have a nice presence today. Besides, having a soft spot for cars that were reviled in their day is one of the pillars of Hoondom.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/93-96_Chevrolet_Caprice_Sedan.jpg"width="600"&gt;

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Given that the B-body has given us the following, it has absolutely nothing to apologize for;
      <img src="http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/2886/3102/32214050872_large.jpg&quot; width=500/img>
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/94-96_Chevrolet_Impala_SS.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
      <img src="http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/comment-image/113265.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>

      1. marmer Avatar

        Seeing one of these still makes me smile, too.
        <img src="http://photos.ecarlist.com/3Q/at/Mk/tg/cj/Bj/MJ/eM/cp/1G/pQ_640.jpg"&gt;

        1. Maymar Avatar

          Those 98's were actually FWD C-Bodies (they made the switch in what, '86?). This was the last B-Body Olds, but I dig them as well.
          <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/Oldsmobile_Custom_Cruiser.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>

    2. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
      C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

      I always thought from '91, I think it was, on, they were the D-body, but yeah, the B-bodies…amazing amount of creativity went into marketing those.
      Chebby/Pontiac/Olds/Buick/Cadillac…for a long time, could all use the same doors.
      FWIW, I will never NOT want a '95 Fleetwood Brougham. That engine bay could easily fit a crate 572. Keep it bone-stock looking, though, and go trollin'.
      I need more gray hair to pull it off, though.

    1. frankthecat Avatar

      When I graduated from high school, I was looking for a 'new' car to buy, and happened upon an champange-colored E-body Eldorado for sale well within my budget and mostly rust free. I almost bought it, but I decided against it after watching the gas gauge needle drop way faster than I thought possible during the test drive.

    2. monkey_tennis Avatar

      So does this still count as platform sharing?
      <img src="http://my.net-link.net/~dcline/68toronado.jpg&quot; width="600">

      1. Devin Avatar

        [youtube fBWgmQYAQ90 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBWgmQYAQ90 youtube]

      2. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
        C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        There used to be one of those parked in someone's front 'yard' in the mountains west of Denver.
        Always wanted to rescue it, though I know it'd be a PCH of epic proportions.

    3. Ate Up With Motor Avatar
      Ate Up With Motor

      These are really the high water mark for creating cars that looked and felt quite distinct while sharing a lot under the skin. What's especially remarkable is that while the Olds and Cadillac are very similar in drivetrain and suspension (each has its division's own big V-8, but the same transmission, the same basic suspension and subframe, etc.), the Buick definitely wasn't — the Riviera had RWD, a conventional TH400, a different suspension, and a separate cruciform frame rather than unitized construction!

  9. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Opel Vectra, because they got both the Caddy Catera and the SAAB 9-5 out of it. But maybe I'm really making the case for the Trailblazer here.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Wasn't the Vectra responsible for the SAAB, while the Catera was derived from the Omega? Although, considering the Omega and Holden Commodore were also related, that's not a bad choice either.

  10. Tim Hogan Avatar
    Tim Hogan

    While I'd love to say they F-body is the best. I mean really they were powered by everything. Chevy, Pontiac, Olds and Buick engines made it into their engine bays.
    I think I'd actually have to go with the A-body though. Super Sports, GTOs, W-30's, GSXs. Convertibles, two door hardtops, posts, 4 doors, station wagons, Vista Cruisers, trucks. Tiny little I-6's backed by slush boxes, and 455's backed by 4 speeds. A-bodies are some of the fastest and slowest, luxurious and utilitarian cars GM has ever made.

  11. Stu_Rock Avatar

    The B-body is the obvious answer, but one that's really good and also underappreciated is the 1985-2011 fullsize FWD platform, which used letters C, E, G, H, K, V, and probably even more.
    For their era, the chassis was excellent–it was very stiff and the independent suspension offered handling that ranged from OK to excellent depending on what spring package you ordered. For their size and stiffness, many of them were lightweight because of extensive use of aluminum and, in some cases, fiberglass. Even in its last years, I don't think the harshest of critics felt that the chassis was uncompetitive (but GM's resistance to using modern engines and 6-speed transmissions in the cars sure was).
    The interiors were more spacious than other larger cars and seats were comfortable. I think you'd have to look at old Citroëns to find any FWD car nearly as comfortable. I can't think of any car more likely to make a 14-hour drive painless.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      [youtube DoQXao7Zjpg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoQXao7Zjpg youtube]
      I have a huge soft spot for both this commercial, and the DTS within it.
      Let's not talk about it.

      1. Stu_Rock Avatar

        Welcome to the world of gentlemen.

      2. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
        C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        We rented a DHS on an emergency trip to central Texas.
        Really, really liked the car, but I have an obvious weakness for luxobarges.
        Test drove a DTS a few years later…my wife said it didn't look 'right'. I was 35, or so, at the time.
        She does like the 2005 STS with me in it, though.

  12. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Early Y-body. Tempest, Corvair, F-85, Jetfire, Cutlass
    Unibody, 4 wheel independent suspension, rear transaxle (or engine), Aluminum motors, Turbo V8s, half-a-V8 slant 4 cylinders…seems more like 70s-80s BMW or Audi than GM.
    There's no shortage of awesome-but-not-quite-how-we-hoped to any of those features, but I'd love to build a "what could've been" version that captures the best of all the variants and adds a layer of engineering fixes.

  13. Bsphillips Avatar

    I have to vote A-body 68-72. Not only did it have all US/Canadian GM variations, but it lived well into the late seventies in various Holdens (commodore, manaro, ute…) and I think Opels as well.

  14. P161911 Avatar

    How about the 1973-1991 GM C/K truck platform? Chevrolet and GMC versions of pickups, Blazers, Suburbans, and closely related to the 1971-1996 G-series vans.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Chevrolet_K5_Blazer_–_09-07-2009.jpg/800px-Chevrolet_K5_Blazer_–_09-07-2009.jpg"width=500&gt;
    These are some of my all time favorite trucks. I grew up with them. Dad had a orange and woodgrain C-10 for a while, we had papaw's tan and white Cheyenne C-10 for many years, it was my first "car". I drove a 1979 K-5 Blazer from 1992 until about 2002. I had a jacked up K-10 for about a year. I pretty much learned how to work on cars with these things. Simple and rugged (but early ones were poorly rust-proofed).

    1. Stu_Rock Avatar

      Definitely an iconic truck design. None of the successive trucks have been able to pull off the squared fenders quite as well.
      The vans are a totally different platform, though. GM dipped into the C/K parts bin for parts like control arms and brake calipers, but the vans were a separately-concieved unibody design. A similar relationship existed for Dodge B-vans and D/W-series trucks. When GM went to BOF construction for vans in 1997, they were again a unique platform that used some parts from the GMT400 trucks of the day.

  15. theSwordswench Avatar

    Also, like most similar pickups of the era, these are the automotive equivalent of the cockroach because there was like a billion of them made and they refuse to die. As long as there's oil to be had, there will be a C/K somewhere happily chugging along.

  16. Tristan Avatar

    How has no one mentioned the Cavalier/Sunfire J platform… Grand Am/Alero/Malibu N body close second (obviously I'm not being serious)

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