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A green 1971 GMC Sprint is shown at a used GMC dealer.

A Drive Down Memory Lane: A Look at Famous GMC Icons

When it comes to automakers, GMC is as famous as it gets, with some of the most influential vehicles that have ever graced the roadways in its arsenal. Passing by your local used GMC dealer, it’s always fun to imagine what exactly is hidden on the lot for some classic car aficionado to discover. After all, the GMC name has been emblazoned on a number of models that have helped to shape the automotive industry as we know it. From spunky travelers to innovative pioneers, GMC vehicles are a step above the rest, and here are some of the most iconic GMC models ever built.

1935 GMC Suburban Carryall

It’s one of the longest-running nameplates in the industry, belonging to the GM-owned Chevrolet brand, but who knew that this interesting model would be such a trendsetter in the industry? It was the answer to the pleas of those who needed to haul more in their vehicles, and General Motors didn’t disappoint. You’ll find that the two brands are used interchangeably with this particular model, with some drivers referring to it as a GMC model while others call it a Chevy. Either way, the Suburban Carryall ushered in a new way to travel, especially for those who were handling more gear.

This two-door wagon featured removable seats, a strong engine, and ample space inside to haul more cargo. It was large, bold, and ready to tackle anything your ride required, much like the current Suburban is today. Perfect for families with an exceptionally roomy interior cabin and loads of cargo volume, the Suburban is one of the most famous GM models in existence.

1970 GMC Jimmy

You may have heard the rumors that the Jimmy nameplate is being resurrected as the brand seeks to design a nemesis for the Wrangler. It’s a good move for GMC, as the Jimmy was an icon in its day, sporting a durable build and features designed for adventure. Originally making its debut as a pickup truck during WWII, the Jimmy name re-entered the industry in 1970 as a full-size SUV. With a removable hardtop and plenty of strong features, the Jimmy was the ultimate companion for adventure-seekers near and far. It was discontinued in the early ’90s, replaced by the current Yukon model, but it seems as though we haven’t heard the last of this famous SUV.

1972 GMC Sprint

No trip down memory lane would be complete without the mention of the uniquely built GMC Sprint, sporting a design that combined a sedan body with a bed similar to a pickup truck. This type of body style was all the rage back in the ’70s, with many variations from different brands, including the famous Chevy El Camino. Its muscle car attributes were accentuated by the versatility of its truck bed, making it a popular choice for many drivers of the time. A choice of powertrains allowed for a maximum thrill on the road, with a big block V8 available to showcase outstanding horsepower. It’s certainly unlike anything you’ll find on the road today, making it a highly desirable addition to many classic car collections across the country.

1962 GMC Sierra (C/K)

Unlike the Sprint, it’s more common to come across a GMC Sierra on your way to work these days. After all, the Sierra isn’t just a dutiful workmate and power hauler; it’s an elegant traveler packed with some of the most sophisticated features on the market. It emerged onto the scene in 1962, known back then as a GMC C/K, with multiple trims to choose from and plenty of power, making it an instant success with hard workers everywhere. It re-emerged in the late ’90s as the Sierra and hasn’t stopped wowing crowds since, frequently seen on job sites, highways, and city streets across America. It’s another pioneer in the industry that brandishes the GMC emblem, and it just keeps getting better with age.

1964 GMC Handi Van

Vans are making a major comeback, especially with families who seek out more spacious travelers, as well as road-trippers who want to make the most of their time on the open highway. It should come as no surprise that GMC tried its hand in the van scene back in its heyday with the Handi Van. Available in a van configuration or a bus, the Handi Van/Bus provided the space needed to travel in comfort, whether you were rolling around town or embarking on a cross-country road trip. This legendary traveler showcased groovy vibes and unique styling, reminiscent of the famous VW Bus, and was heavily sought out by many travelers of the time.

1998 GMC Envoy

Replacing the beloved Jimmy, the Envoy was GMC’s addition to the SUV lineup as SUVs were quickly gaining in popularity with many drivers. It was more luxurious in nature than the more utilitarian Jimmy models, and it showcased ample power and plenty of space inside to handle more people and gear. On the same playing field as the Chevy Trailblazer, the Envoy was filled with all the latest features of the era, and it was extremely reliable, making it a tried-and-true favorite in the GMC arsenal. It was discontinued in the early 2000s, being replaced by more compact models, like the Terrain and Acadia, but its reputation still remains as a practical, spacious, and comfortable model that helped usher in the reign of the modern SUV.

1991 GMC Syclone

Finally, perhaps one of the most surprising models ever built by the brand is the GMC Syclone, and when it made its speedy debut onto the scene in the early ’90s, drivers were amazed by its performance. This pickup truck wasn’t like other trucks; it had a thirst for speed and frequently outperformed many sports cars of the time. From 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds, which was faster than the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Corvette ZR-1 at that point in time, the Syclone was one of the fastest accelerating vehicles on the market. Its turbocharged V6 engine provided this truck with all the power it needed to beat out ultra-fast rivals, and if you were a performance vehicle fanatic, this truck was a must-see. It re-emerged back onto the scene recently in the form of a modified Canyon, and if you’re wondering if it still showcases jaw-dropping acceleration, the answer is yes.

A Memorable Journey

Taking a ride in any of these icons would be a treat, especially some of the models that we haven’t been able to get our hands on in quite some time. It just goes to show how versatile the GMC brand has been all these years and just how popular these models were at their peak, so much so that many are making a comeback. From the speed racing Syclone to the interesting Sprint, far-out Handi Van to the classic Sierra, the inventory of GMC classics is unmatched. Perhaps that’s why the brand continues to be a force in the industry, recognized for building and designing vehicles that have stood the test of time.

The next time you’re passing by a used GMC dealer, just think…maybe one of these legends is sitting on the lot, just waiting for its time in the spotlight once again. As the years march on and GMC continues to be a trendsetter in the industry, it’ll be interesting to read about all of the historic icons that we once drove and even more interesting to see which models will experience their own resurrection. After all, it’s clear that GMC is one of the most influential brands on the road, and it’s also clear that they’re not done wowing us yet.

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