The automotive Goliath known as General Motors has been around for more than 110 years, in one form or another. For much of that time, it has been the world’s largest automaker (or damn close to it), with a host of different brands under its corporate umbrella.
The company has whipped up more than its fair share of landmark automotive achievements over the decades…but it’s also safe to say not every vehicle the American conglomerate has produced has been a hit. There have been quite a few sales stinkers over the years, with many failing to take hold for a variety of reasons. Some of those cars, though, have been downright weird, from their conception through their execution.
Below, we list six of the weirdest.
Chevrolet SSR (2004-06)
It was also crazy expensive, with a starting MSRP above $55,000 in 2020 dollars. At the end of its run, GM gave it a C6-gen Corvette engine and a six-speed manual, because…well, why the hell not?
Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier Rampside (1961-64)
The Corvair was Chevy’s infamous, exceedingly dangerous rear-engined 1960s car that inspired Ralph Nader’s classic “Unsafe at Any Speed.” There was also a van/truck version called the Greenbrier, and one of the pickup truck variants was the “rampside.”
Now, rear-engined trucks are inconvenient for doing, y’know, truck things, as the engine sits where the cargo bed needs to be. Chevy worked around this with a side ramp to load cargo into the deeper front part of the bed. Other manufacturers noticed this…and kept on not making rear-engined trucks.
General Motors EV1 (1996-99)
GM produced the first mass-produced EV in 1996: the EV1. Its styling was a fusion between the car from The Jetsons and a 1990s Chevy Cavalier. (At least it had enclosed rear wheels, as all cool, futuristic vehicles do.)
Initial lead-acid battery versions had an estimated range of between 70 and 100 miles. GM leased a little more than a thousand of them in select locations. Eventually, they killed the program, collected all the cars, and crushed them — against the will of dozens of owners.
GMC Envoy XUV (2004-05)
GM created a variant of the Envoy SUV, the Envoy XUV, in 2004. Essentially, it was a GMC Envoy with a retractable roof over the cargo area to permit it to function as a sort-of truck and carry tall items you couldn’t fit in a standard Envoy.
You’re probably asking, who would want that — besides maybe a GM product-planning exec who had to move a grandfather clock? The answer turned out to be, not many people. GM dumped it after 2005.
Saab 9-7X (2004-08)
Saab’s trademark was delightful, quirky cars. General Motors, after buying Saab outright, could not quite capture the brand’s ethos, so innovation over Saab’s final decade basically meant rebadging other vehicles as Saabs then charging a premium for them.
There was the 9-2X, which was a rebadged Subaru Impreza — but even weirder was the 9-7X, which was a Saabified, body-on-frame Chevy Trailblazer with a starting price north of $50,000 in today’s dollars.
Pontiac Aztek (2001-05)
Yes, the Aztek is an obvious choice, but it’s hard to leave off this list. The Aztek is one of the ugliest SUVs ever made.
To their credit, GM execs foresaw pretty much every trend that would be forthcoming with adventure vehicles over the next couple of decades. They just combined them into an unsightly, off-putting car that somehow manages to be both wantonly aggressive and boring.