If there was ever a company that could completely tarnish a classic and well-known automotive nameplate, it’s GM. From 1988 to 1993 the company sold a rebadged Daewoo (via The Truth About Cars) as the LeMans and the car was downright horrible. Consumers noted a complete lack of power in the car as well as lacking most luxuries that were available on other cars from the period.
It didn’t help things out that the LeMans were downright minuscule on American roads. The 0-60 times were abysmally slow, and if you had to merge onto the freeway you’d be better off riding a bike. There are a few of these cars that have managed to survive although most car enthusiasts have forgotten them.
Another questionable car of the ’90s was the Malibu. The car has become synonymous with your local Enterprise car rental service and that was about it. The styling was about as bland as you could get, even when compared to a Camry. The interior was equally bland although some luxury features were available.
The V6 engine was notoriously difficult to repair. There was a DexCool Recall (via Repair Pal) that affected these cars as well. With a pretty much invisible resale value, you’ll seldom see one of these on the road as most of them have been junked.
As if the Malibu wasn’t bad enough, GM decided to temporarily offer the car like the Oldsmobile Cutlass as well. This isn’t the same Cutlass that you remember going to prom night in. Instead, it was a bland sedan. The only differences from the Malibu were the exterior colors and the front fascia of the vehicle.
Aside from that, the Cutlass from this period didn’t offer anything special (via Repair Pal) or anything that even remotely resembled the original car. The now-bland Cutlass was a sad example of how GM was putting passenger cars on the backburner during this period.
Talk about an awful experiment. As if Cadillac didn’t learn from the Cimmaron of the 1980s, they tried again with the Catera. The Catera was marketed toward young professionals who would be interested in a compact European car. Sadly, the Catera was a far cry from anything that you’d consider “European” or luxurious.
The styling was downright awful and the car performed about as well as you’d expect considering the looks. The Catera was also woefully unreliable (via Car and Driver) and coupled with the high cost of repairs it just didn’t fit the bill that many consumers were looking for.
The first-generation Escalade was about as bland of an attempt at a luxury SUV as you could get. GM took the run-of-the-mill Tahoe (via Kelly Blue Book) that we were all familiar with and slapped some different fenders on it. There was nothing remotely unique about the original Escalade but the price was a whole lot more expensive.
Nowadays there are quite a few issues that tend to plague these vehicles, and most consumers flock toward the second-generation models that debuted in 2002. Still, the Escalade was an eye-opening SUV that went on to influence pop culture in a major way.
GM just couldn’t seem to get the formula for a minivan just right. So the Astro was sold alongside the dustbuster vans as well as the Venture. The Astro wasn’t a bad van necessarily, but it also wasn’t something that you can see yourself driving for decades. Most consumers remember growing up with the Astro and experiencing the rough ride (via Nada Guides).
Talk about gas-guzzling. The Astro about the furthest thing that you could get from a gas-efficient minivan model. Later models had some unique features like AWD and a more luxurious interior but it just wasn’t enough to sell this big box on wheels.
The Roadmaster was sort of a confusing car by the ’90s because consumers had moved on from station wagons as family transportation. The styling was about as bland as you could get and the ride was well-cushioned. The unique thing about the Roadmaster was the powerful Corvette-based (via Bloomberg) engine that was under the hood.
But this station wagon was huge. You’d have to see one in person to appreciate just how big it is. The Roadmaster wagon was an influential car in a lot of ways at the time it was released. But nowadays no one except for enthusiasts remember this car.
GM continued to rebadge Isuzu cars well into the 1990s. In exchange for that, they offered the Japanese automaker an S10 to sell. The Hombre was about as barebones as you could get from the trim packages to its advertising. It did have a slightly more handsome face than the S10 but that wasn’t enough to justify the truck (via The Truth About Cars).
You’d have to be a very dedicated GM enthusiast to even remember this truck as there are very few of them that are still on the road today. Nevertheless, the Hombre was not the last pickup truck that was shared by GM and Isuzu as the Colorado/Canyon came a few years later.