GMC and Chevrolet - any difference?

When my dad got his GMC Safari van, we noticed that it looks almost like the Chevrolet Astro van. Then it hit me, all of the GMC vehicles looks like their Chevy counterpart. Why is that? Is there really a difference between GMC and Chevy vehicles, except for name?

Essentially, they are the same vehicles. The differences sometimes are in the “standard” features. Generally, Chevrolet products are considered to be less upscale than Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick and GMC. Each name has a different target market, but there’s no difference in the vehicles themselves.

Even though they used to market (and still do) the Cavalier Z24 as the way to go, the Sunfire/Sunbird GT has always had more power, and better quality parts. Straight from the mouth of a plant worker.


We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak.

Chevrolet introduced its counterparts when they decided that variety was the way to beat the Ford Motor Company. They expanded to GMC, Chevrlet, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac, each a step higher in luxury. This is evident because the Chevy Cavillier looks just like the Pontiac Sunfire. Ford now does the same: Ford, Mercury, Lincoln?

The difference is mainly in trim levels and ‘standard option’ packages. The standard Pontiac is slightly upscale from the Chevy version, having slightly different taillight assemblies, perhaps two-tone paint, etc. Sometimes the engines are completely different. Pontiac, as I recall, had a 400 ci engine for the Firebird that never made it into the Camaro, for instance.

But the chassis and basic body panels are the same, and I’m guessing that 90% of the parts would be interchangable.

“Body by Fisher”

All the basic GM vehicles have had interchangeable bodies for years and years, built by their Fisher division. In the olden days (I don’t follow this stuff any more), Cadillac would have one or two bodies that no other division had and Chevrolet would have some bodies that no one else had (Corvette, Corvair, Greenbriar, . . .).

This allowed GM to put a lot more apparent cars on the road with an economy of cost. As noted above, Ford and Mercury generally have several overlapping models (Taurus/Sable) and Chrysler has always done the same thing with different models (Dart/Valiant, Aries/Reliant, Omni/Horizon, Caravan/Voyager, etc.). Chrysler often carries it up to their Chrysler brand, as well: The Town and Country is simply a Grand Caravan/Voyager.

GM got caught carrying the principle a bit too far in the 80’s by putting Chevy engines into Oldsmobiles (the attachments are all specified to the same design) and “forgetting” to notify the customers or lowering the prices.


This isn’t really on-topic, but I don’t want to start a new thread for this: Has anyone else heard the rumor that Diamler-Chrysler will be discontinuing the original Jeep? Not the SUV’s, but the famous Jeep. Is this true?

Now, to get back on-topic: Why is the Corvette a Chevy car? As has been noted, Chevrolet is GM’s economy line. It seems to me that a true sports car would be more at home as a Pontiac, which typically has the sportiest-looking line.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

The Pontiac is not really the sportier line. It’s more ‘upscale’. It was thought that young people would buy Chevys, and businessmen and upper-class families would buy Pontiacs.

This was more pronounced back in the 50’s when the Corvette was introduced. The marketing for Chevy vs Pontiac was very different.

I don’t know anything about Daimler-Chrysler’s plans for the Jeep (now known as wrangler), but the same rumors circulated as the Jeep CJ series was nearing it’s end. From coast to coast, Jeep afficiandos went ballistic as they thought their obsession was about to be terminated… shortly afterward, the Wrangler appeared.

Chrysler has proven that it known better than to discontinue something as wildly popular as the jeep. If anything, they may try to bring the technology used within the vehicle closer to contemporary standards, much as they did with the Cherokee. However, even the Cherokee has changed little in the past 16 years… the 1997 redesign was barely noticable to the untrained eye. The old Wagoneer was only discontinued when it’s popularity hit rock-bottom.

I heard a knock at the door of my heart, but it was a vacuum cleaner salesman!

Chevy’s evolution from the econo-GM line to the hot rod line was due in part to the influence of Zora Arkus-Duntov. Known as the Grandaddy of the ‘vette, he was influential in pushing the development of high performance at Chevrolet. And Louis Chevrolet, for whom the line was named, had a name in motor sports already when Durant, founder of GM, approached him to design a line competitive with Ford. It seems natural to me that Chevy developed both as the econo line and the performance line. Pontiac eventually produced GTO’s and Firebirds, but they were one of GM’s tonier lines and sought appeal with the likes of the Bonneville (fat, not phat, w/plenty of power; but they all had some honkin’ motors back in the 50’s and 60’s). It was the heathens out there tinkerin’ with their Fords and Chevys that they could pick up used and running who wanted “fire in the hole,” as opposed to high speed cruise and a/c and autotrannies.

My 95 Chevy 4x4 long bed had a price difference of only $50.00 less than it’s GMC counterpart…My 96 Chevy Ext Cab Long bed, 4x4 with a 454 engine, manual transmission was about the same…

The only difference is in the marketing of the products.

GMC is a true truck line while Chevy appeals to all parts of society. Look at the varying product line of Chevys…Corvettes, Suburban, Like A Rock Trucks to it’s economy Cavalier etc…

It’s smart for a car company to have a wide range of products. You can suck them in with the economy (if the car runs well) vehicle and keep them loyal through the stages of life and economic status.

Me, I drive a Honda Accord now, but would love to have my “Beast the Sequel” back (the ext long bed)it was a true truck…none of that wimpy SUV crap…<giggle>

Its all the same car man. Honda, Ford, Chevy WTF.

The original Corvette (1954) was just a '54 Chevy with a fiberglass body. (It was fiberglass because they rushed it into production and didn’t have time to build metal bodies so they used the pre-production 'glass bodies that they already had dies for.) Same box frame, same crummy kingpin front steering and rear leaf springs, same 6 cylinder engine (I think there was a model with 3 one barrel carbs) and driveline etc. It was a quicky way into the postwar sports car market to appeal to all those ex-GIs who were buying MGs and Triumphs.

It wouldn’t have gone very far but for Chevy coming put with the Small Block 265 c.i.d V-8 in '55. Not a big deal in a full size 1ron Chevy but a screamer in a little fiberglass roadster.

Up to '62 (the last of the real Corvettes, he said smugly, having had a '61), they upped the c.i.d. to 283 and then 327. Added the choice of 2 four barrel carbs or fuel injection, four speed tranny etc. (Still had the same crummy suspension and steering through.)

Ford tried to compete with the 2 seat T-Bird ('55 to '57) and failed miserably. (Nice, cars until they died of body rot, but no competition to the 'Vette.) They went to a 4 seater in '58 and left the Amurrican sporty car business to Chevy.

In '63 Chevy did the first Stingray, losing the trunk but adding better suspension and steering, and the Big Block V-8, to make it a more competitive race car. In the 60’s Corvettes were competing against European sporty cars in much higher price ranges (Old Gear Head Joke: The only substitute for cubic inches is cubic money.)

Back in the Good Old days (late 50’s early 60’s) there was nothing to touch a Corvette for street racing and sheer go-like-a-bastarditiveness. They could only race each other (and the European imports) 'cause there were no other production cars in the same league.

Ain’t no feelin’ in the world like gettin’ an old 'Vette airborne on a back road. For us survivors, there still ain’t no substitute. :slight_smile:

Lex Non Favet Delicatorum Votis

Well, I have to say I’m shocked you’re just now noticing this.

The American Car makers have had this strategy for a very long time, and many of the product crossovers happen for different reasons.

GM is the original, and most notorious, bu tIMHO they mask the similarities the most effectively.

Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln use predominantly the same parts, but this trend is beginning to diversify. There were rumbling that the Mercury line would be discontinued, but it is maintained less to have a middle genre of car that appeals to the middle class, but more to keep the loyal Mercury buyers of a generation ago in the Ford family. If the mercury line is dissolved these buyers will likely choose from the entire selection, and not just Ford or Lincoln. The manufactures believe that the dedicated Mercury fan is loyal to the name, not the manufacturer. This is true in Chrystler as well.

You may recall that the Dodge Stealth and the Mitsubishi 3000GT are the same car, but Mitsubishi isn’t a subsidiary of Chrystler. The companies agreed to exchange products to cut production costs and times.

The motivations for carring similar lines are various, and basically all are there to cut costs while maintaining market share. The companies walk a fine line between saturating the market and making a style seem pedestrain, and making the stlyes different enough to be cost effective.

Chances are the car companies don’t even have a clear understanding of the motives for maintaining certain lines, but once the bottom line starts showing it they’ll change just enough to keep profits up.

First off, I don’t remember who quoted it, but the quality/upscale-ness goes Mercury/Ford/Lincoln. It is quite obvious that the Ford offerings are higher scale than the Mercuries.

Second, bring back the God’s Head. Lose the stupid hockey pucks.

Third, Omniscient, I must disagree about the 3000GT/Stealth idea.

Very similar car, yes. The same, no.

Different interior trims, for starters. Moving on, different spoilers. Now we get really divergent. The 3000GT included many things the Stealth never did. The Mitsu offering had adjustable wind dams, adjustable spoiler, adjustable ground effects, adjustable intake, computer controlled suspension, shall I go on?

The VR-4 was a huge leap from the Stealth R/T.


We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak.

Homer, your as dense as your namesake.

First, the “quality” lineup goes Ford-Mercury-Lincoln, no doubt about it. Shop for a car sometime and compare prices and base options packages or read a Motor Trend and you’ll find the answer.

Also, no one every said that any of these model are the “same” car, just that they basically use the same parts with minor changes in facia and lamp fixtures, minor mouldings, powerplants, and options packages. For the purpose of this thread a 3000G/T and a Stealth are as similar as a GMC Safari and Chevy Astrovan

i have a jeep, obviously, haven’t heard anything about them discontinuing the wrangler. but in this day and age, it would not surprise me if they did away with such a cool vehicle, there is nothing else out there that looks anything like it. There is so many options to do to a jeep it’s unreal but the coolest thing i noticed about my wrangler and any other vehicle is that there is no paint pin stripe down the body or any trim. Guess it’s a Jeep thing.

Burrito: In general you’re in the ballpark. But GM’s long list of nameplates is mainly the result of ACQUISITION, not expansion. With the exception of Pontiac – I think – every other nameplate in the classic GM lineup came from another independent company.

JBENZ: Nice, concise history of the 'Vette! One correction, though. The ‘big block’ V-8 we all know and love was introduced in 1965, not '63. I refer to the ‘rat’ motor, the 396/427/454 series, not the ‘other,’ largely-forgotten big-block. Chevy introduced the ‘W-block’ engine with the 348 in the 1958 full-size line (Belair/Impala) and added the 409 --the one the Beach Boys sang about – in '61. To my knowledge, neither found its way into production Corvettes. Both died in '65 or thereabouts, with the introduction of the modern ‘rat.’

I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free…


According to something my Grandpa once told us, there was once a company that was bought out by GM, which wanted some of its facilities. One of the provisions of the buyout agreement concerned a line of truck produced by the other company; not wanting to see folks put out of their jobs, they included a provision that even after the merger “there would always be a _______ [name of truck]”. GM gave this plant’s trucks the monicker GMC and did indeed continue to produce them, although they gradually were absorbed into the rest of product planning, and converged with Chevy trucks.

PS – I don’t know about ChryslerDaimler dropping any flavor of Jeep, but they are killing off the Plymouth.

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“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island