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Has GM Given Up on Regular Enthusiasts, Or is There Still Hope?

One can not understate just how much General Motors has done for American auto enthusiasts over the course of its long history.

GM had the game-changing debut of the small block V8, the Corvette, they kicked off the muscle car era with the Pontiac GTO, launching the Camaro and Trans Am, the turbocharged Buick Grand National, and so many more.

Saving GM Lead Image

And one of the best things is that many of those cars were built with the working class enthusiast in mind, and the lineups of its brands were once filled with exciting cars that appealed to a wide range of buyers and their budgets.

Chevy Small Block V8

Performance at a Premium

Sadly, that’s not the case any longer. Yes, the Corvette is still alive and well, and by any objective measure is better and faster than it’s ever been.

C8 Corvette on Nitto NT555 RII

There’s V-Series Cadillacs, among which the CT5-V Blackwing and its blown V8 are considered one of the greatest sport sedans ever.

Cadillac CT5 Blackwing Rear View

The problem is that the 2024 Corvette starts at $70,000 and the cheapest Blackwing Cadillac is over $60,000. That stunning Corvette Z06 with its exotic V8 and supercar-beating performance? It's a helluva car for its price, but $115,000 is still $115,000.

C8 Corvette Z06 Orange

And beyond those flagship models, GM’s lineup right now is almost entirely devoid of anything that’s both fun and affordable.

The Chevrolet Camaro, that bastion of everyman performance, is now out of of production. GM hints that it will be replaced in the coming years by an electric performance coupe of some type.

Camaro 1LE Side View

EVs Aren't Enough

But are EVs the solution to this problem? It’s hard to see how. Chevy is currently rolling out its Blazer EV lineup, which will include the performance-grade SS with 557 horsepower, but we wager there aren’t many enthusiasts anxiously awaiting that one.

Chevy Blazer EV Red SS

For starters, the Blazer SS is a heavy, electric crossover SUV with a price tag that will start somewhere in the mid $60,000s. And unlike other SS-badged vehicles with V8 engines, it will be hard to distinguish the Blazer SS from any other quick-accelerating, electric SUV on the market.

Case in point, Ford’s similar Mustang Mach-E GT hasn’t quite set the world on fire either. But at least Ford will still happily sell you a proper V8 Mustang GT if electric SUVs aren’t your thing.

Blazer SS Badge

If anything, rather than looking to rekindle the excitement of younger buyers and every day enthusiasts, GM has seemingly made a decision to abandon that market completely.

The company that once teased us with this things like Pontiac G8 Sport Truck and the Chevy Code 130R Concept is now focusing on expensive vanity projects like the over $100K Hummer EV or the Cadillac Celestiq and its eye-watering $340,000 price tag.

Cadillac Celestiq EV Rear View

Power to the People: Some of GM’s Great Affordable Performance Cars Over the Years

There are dozens of cars that could be included on this list, but here are four stand outs from the 1960s through the 2020s.

Pontiac GTO

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge on Nitto NT555 G2

Stuff a full-size V8 into a mid-size and make history. Widely considered the first true muscle car, the 1964 Pontiac GTO had a base price that would be around $25,000 in today’s money.

Pontiac Fiero

Pontiac Fiero GT 1986

While many would say the mid-engined Pontiac Fiero of the 1980s never quite reached its full potential, it was a still a bonafide affordable sports car with a price tag well below that of the Corvette Corvette.

Chevy Cobalt SS

Chevy Cobalt SS Turbocharged Red

Though forgotten by many today, the Chevy Cobalt SS of the mid to late 2000s was an an affordable sport compact that punched well above its weight on the track.

Chevy Camaro LT1

2020 Camaro LT1 Red

As recently as the 2020 model year, GM added the LT1 trim of the V8 Camaro that was designed to be substantially cheaper than the fancier Camaro SS while bringing the same performance. Now both the LT1 trim and the Camaro itself are on their way out of the market, with nothing to fill that gap in the lineup.

Navigating the 2020s

Back to today now. In GM’s defense, the company, like other large automakers, is currently navigating a difficult period of balancing consumer demand with a heavy governmental regulatory push away from internal combustion engines.

Silverado EV Blue

For the moment, they are allowing their more profitable pickup trucks and gasoline SUVs to subsidize their move into an uncertain era of electrification, but that move has also resulted in some head-scratching and expensive new products.

Cadillac Celestiq Front View

We still don’t know how the dust will settle on the industry’s move toward electric vehicles, but GM has repeatedly told us they are “all-in” on an electric future.

And perhaps as a cost of that, for people who love cars and driving and don’t have nearly $70,000 + to spend on a vehicle, it seems GM has little interest in you.

Blazer EV Charge Port

So yes, some of this may indeed be caused by factors outside of GM's control. But other large automakers have done a much better job looking toward the future while still building exciting, affordable cars for today.

As we mentioned a moment ago, GM has abondoned the pony car market completely, handing the segment to Ford, who says its committed to keeping the V8-powered Mustang around and relevant for as long as it can.

2024 Mustangs Drifting

Toyota, meanwhile continues to develop a whole line of its GR-branded enthusiast vehicles that hit a variety of price points, all while developing EVs and hybrid vehicles at a substantial pace. Hyundai has also done well with their N-badged cars in recent years.

Toyota GR Corolla and GR86

There’s no reason GM shouldn’t be able to do the same — or at least attempt it.

Four Future Cars to Help GM Get Its Mojo Back

With the help of AI (excuse the crudeness), we’ve quickly whipped up four possible new vehicles that could help build some excitement for General Motors.

Retro Blazer

This one seems like a guaranteed hit.

Retro Chevy Blazer Concept

Take the proven Colorado pickup platform and build a proper Blazer 4x4 with some retro influence. Also known as the exact same thing Ford did with the Ranger platform and the Bronco.

Muscle Reborn

The Camaro may be gone, but there’s no reason GM can’t have some sort of modern muscle car in is lineup.

AI concept Chevelle

Even Dodge will likely be building a gasoline version of its new muscle car platform. Make it a little roomier and more practical than the Camaro. Maybe call it Chevelle?

EV Hot Hatch

GM remains very committed to EVs, and if that's going to be the case, why not do an an affordable electric hot hatch?

Chevy EV Hot Hatch Future

The power is easy to make. Keep the weight and price as low as possible and have some fun. It could be a modern version of the old Cobalt SS.

A New El Camino

As with the Bronco, GM has stood off to the sidelines watching Ford create an entirely new segment with the Maverick pickup.

Modern Chevy El Camino Rendering

Who wouldn’t want to see the El Camino name return in the form of a smaller, inexpensive pickup that slots below the Colorado? There could be Z71 off-road versions of an RS/SS performance version.

Hope Isn't Lost

Of course developing and building any of these cars would be far easier said than done, but General Motors absolutely has the ability and resources to do it.

1969 Camaro on Nitto NT01

Sure there’s going to be risk involved with niche products like these, and no they might not print money. But again, this the company that’s currently working on a $340,000 hand-built electric Cadillac.

Right now things are bleak, but there’s still potential. Here’s hoping that exciting, attainable side of General Motors that’s won over generations of young and blue collar car enthusiasts is not gone for good.

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