The W-platform (also known as the W-body) was a General Motors automobile platform which underpinned both mid size and full-size front-wheel drive cars. Originally code named GM10, it began development in 1982 under Chairman Roger B. Smith and debuted in 1988 with the Pontiac Grand Prix, Buick Regal, and Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupés. Sedans followed for 1990.
Starting with the 2nd Gen 110.5 in wheelbase in 1997 it became a full-size platform as well as a 109 in wheelbase mid-size; from 2005 on the 3rd gen 110.5 in wheelbase full-size was the only version through its discontinuation in 2007.
The platform cost $7 billion to develop and was to replace all midsize cars produced by Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick. The plan was huge in scope, calling for seven plants that would each assemble 250,000 of the cars, or 21% of the total U.S. car market. It was badly executed from the start, but GM’s 1984 reorganization, combined with changing market dynamics wrought havoc with the program and it never recovered. By 1989, the year before the last of the original GM10’s were launched, GM was losing $2000 on every car it produced. The engineering work was done by Chevrolet-Pontiac-Canada (CPC) group; also known as the small car division.
The later revision of this platform was known as the MS2000 or simply the W2-Car. Early versions used a transversely installed, fiberglass mono-leaf spring combined with struts in the rear. The “generation 1.5” W-body models had updated rear suspensions that used coil springs instead of the transverse leaf spring design inspired by the Chevrolet Corvette. For the 1997 model year the second generation W-body was released with a MacPherson strut coil spring design.
The W platform was updated in 2004 rather than being replaced by a stretched Epsilon platform, as had been planned. Metal fabrication of the floor pan for W-body cars was performed at the Parma Metal Center in Parma, Ohio. The cars were built at GM’s Oshawa Car Assembly. The transverse use of GM’s LS small-block engine in the W-bodies was a major addition for 2005.
The GM W Platform was phased out with the production of the new long-wheelbase Epsilon II platform. The last car produced on the W platform was the ninth generation of the Chevrolet Impala, which was replaced by the Epsilon-based tenth-generation Impala, beginning in model year 2014. GM continued to produce the W-body Impala to fleet customers only under the name Impala Limited until production ended in May 2016.
Vehicles using the W-body include:
- 1st Gen 107.5 in wheelbase (mid-size)
- 1.5 Gen 107.5 in wheelbase (mid-size)
- 2nd Gen 109 in wheelbase (mid-size)
- 2nd Gen 110.5 in wheelbase (full-size)
- 3rd gen 110.5 in wheelbase (full-size)
- Alex Taylor III, Andrew Erdman, Justin Martin, and Tricia Welsh, “U.S. Cars Come Back”, Fortune, November 16, 1992
- Robert A.G. Monks, “GM Corporate Governance Case Study”
- “Impala Limited Fleet Special Lives On To At Least 2016, Keeps Oshawa Open”.
- “Outgoing Chevy Impala lives another year, as fleet-only model”. autonews.com. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
“Outgoing Impala to Continue as 2014 Chevrolet Impala Limited for Fleets”. Motor Trend. Retrieved March 13, 2013.