These Are The Best Performance Cars You Can Buy From GM's Dead Brands


These cars aren't all that old and still put up great numbers.

In 2010, General Motors was in a bad way financially. Thanks to a $53 billion bailout that was pushed through by president Obama the company was able to survive. Part of the government's deal with GM stipulated that the automaker keep only two of its many brands, Chevrolet and Cadillac. GM was able to convince the administration to keep Buick and GMC because the former was important to China and the latter had a different customer base than Chevy. Unfortunately, other brands such as Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab were all ditched.

The death of the Pontiac brand in 2010 angered many GM enthusiasts. This was mostly because in 2009, Pontiac finally released the car that GM fanboys had been dreaming about, the G8 GXP. The G8 was built on the Zeta platform which also underpins many Holden models in Australia. The G8 wasn't a big success, and many people felt that it was because GM didn't offer a big enough V8 or a manual transmission. In 2009, GM finally gave into both of these demands with the G8 GXP. The GXP came with a 415-hp 6.2-liter V8 and the option of a six-speed manual transmission. This is the same as you'll find in the new Chevy SS, but that car costs $46,000. You can have one of the best used sleepers around for less than $30,000.

The loss of the Saturn brand was an easy pill to swallow for most people. It was basically a budget version of Chevrolet that built cars that were easy to finance. Most Saturns were pretty dismal, but the brand did build a pretty good sports car. The Saturn Sky rode on the Kappa platform which it shared with the Pontiac Solstice. Like the Solstice, which had a turbocharged GXP version, the Sky also had the option of a turbo called the Red Line. We picked the Redline for this list instead of the GXP because we could not believe how affordable they were. We found a 2008 model with a manual transmission for just $12,500. What is even more impressive is that the car only has 18,900 miles on it.

The Sky Red Line is a pretty quick car with its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. There was even a turbo upgrade kit from GM that upped the power to 290 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque.

Saab was known for spending way too much money on ensuring that its cars were safe. When GM took over in 2000, it attempted to bring the Swedish automaker's costs down by building cars that were simply rebadged versions of other its other products. Some of the results were pretty bad, but we think that one in particular may be worth looking into. The Saab 9-7x was basically a rebadged Trailblazer. This may not sound like anything exciting, but the top trim Aero model came with the 6.0-liter LS2 from the Trailblazer SS. This meant that this subtle Swedish SUV could spit out 390 horsepower. We found a 9-7 Aero for just $13,990. Not bad for a nearly 400-horsepower SUV, right?

The Hummer H3 was not a very good idea from the start. The H3 was based on the Chevy Colorado, which came with a painfully slow five-cylinder engine. This engine was fine in the lighter pickup, but the heavier Hummer needed more power. Luckily, GM did offer the H3 in an Alpha trim which came with a 300-hp 5.3-liter V8. With the V8 powertrain, the H3 was a very capable off-roader and had rugged good looks to match. There was even a pickup truck version called the H3T which offered even more practicality. Less than 7,000 H3s were sold with the V8 engine, so they are a bit harder to find. The H3T is even rarer and prices haven't really come down that much.

The H3T Alpha is a bit of a unicorn, and the least expensive example that we could find was $26,719. If you don't need a pickup truck and would be willing to settle for a normal H3 Alpha, you can find a nice one in the low-$20,000 range.

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