There was a period from the mid-1950s through the late 1960s when, it could be argued, General Motors was almost certainly building the best cars in the American market. Not only was the company the largest automaker in the world, it was also the biggest and one of the most influential corporations of any kind. GM had a swagger about it, a swagger that was backed up by an ambitious and comprehensive product line that offered something for every member of the car-buying public.
With a market share that annually approached 50 percent (and at least once crested that mark in the Sixties), GM easily bested second-place Ford and pretty much dwarfed everybody else. To achieve that sort of dominance, GM had to produce something that suited and appealed to virtually every conceivable kind of buyer, from the compact Chevrolet Corvair for budget-minded shoppers, to premium automobiles for those of serious means.
GM’s status and immense revenues at the top of the heap allowed it to invest heavily in product, at a time before badge engineering took over from actual engineering. While the man on the street often thought of Chevy competing with Ford, the folks inside Chevy were often looking to Oldsmobile or Pontiac, possibly even Buick, as competitors, each division with its own powerplants, some with their own transmissions, as well. The quality and ingenuity showed through, too, as an Oldsmobile 98 and Buick Electra might have been built on the same C-body platform, but each model felt and looked different, and had entirely different running gear.