The 3 Best Discontinued Car Brands
Great cars seem to come and go each year, but these days there are so few automakers that to see an entire brand shut down is usually a bit of a shocker – although not entirely uncommon, even nowadays.
As you look out among the used cars in Lexington, KY, you might notice a few of these brands still poking out among the more recently built models – many of which owe their own design cues to these discontinued lines. Here are a few of the best auto brands that have folded over the past decade – the ones we miss the most, although that’s not to say we’d be rushing out to buy any of them anytime soon.
If you were a cognizant, conscious human being at any point in the early years of the 21st century, then you probably remember – and have an opinion on – the Hummer. This civilian-modified military vehicle line was notorious for only one thing more so than its enormous size: it’s appetite for fuel.
Owing a good part of its existence to actor and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who saw the vehicles on a movie set and pushed for the development of a civilian model, the Hummer was always built to be big, roomy, and luxurious – from the massive H1 first edition to the more reasonable, smaller H3 model – at the cost of a pretty sore fuel economy. Boasting just 12 miles per gallon highway and nine miles per gallon city, this monster vehicle simply couldn’t overcome the rising price of gas and, in the face of the Great Recession of 2008, the Hummer brand was forced to bow out by 2009, and the last model rolled off of GM’s line in early 2010.
Originally marketed as a “different kind of car company,” the Saturn brand represented GM’s desire to experiment with new kinds of vehicles and new concepts in vehicle design through the late 1980s and early ’90s. Featuring smaller models focused on affordability and durability, the Saturn brand was GM’s attempt to reach out to young consumers looking for a break from the usual auto market at this time.
Boasting features like dent-resistant, easy-to-change side panels and a sturdy architecture, Saturn vehicles actually did make quite a splash on their original release. With the hit of the Recession of 2008, however, combined with a failed effort to consolidate and rebrand the Saturn line in 2010, GM decided to simply shutter the line by 2011. While Saturn remains an active part of GM’s auto catalogue, no new Saturns have been produced for nearly five years.
If there’s a brand that everybody expected to last the test of time, it was Pontiac. With its first car off the line in 1926, Pontiac would continue to produce powerful, stylish, and popular vehicles for the better part of the next eighty years. Boasting now-iconic models like the Firebird and the modern G6, Pontiac once dominated the luxury model market with a wide variety of excellent pony cars and luxury sedans.
However, like many of its contemporaries, Pontiac was forced to shutter its doors under the weight of the 2008 Recession, and production ended in early 2010. To the delight of Pontiac lovers, however, several of the brands essential underpinnings and elements have appeared on other GM vehicles, like the Chevy Caprice.
These are the three best, if now defunct, automakers that we remember from the last decade. With the big hit the auto industry took in 2008, it’s sad to see so many great brands go south – but it’s always fun to look back and remember them.