15 Dead Car Brands That American Drivers Miss (and 5 They Don’t)

Ephraim Obare
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Buckle up, folks, and let’s hit the highway of nostalgia. We’re about to detour down memory lane with some notably absent companions from our motoring past. Not all car brands lived to see the LED-lit, touch screen-infused dashboard of the modern automotive age. Some sputtered out, went to the big parking lot in the sky, and left tire tracks in our hearts.

We’re talking about those dearly departed car brands, the ones we miss…and a few we’re not precisely crying over. So, rev your engines, adjust your rear-view mirrors, and let’s embark on this road trip through automotive history. Oh, the sweet purr of a Pontiac engine, the unmistakable silhouette of a Saab–how we miss them in our driveways! Let’s take a nostalgia-filled cruise down memory lane, shall we?

Pontiac

Pontiac
1968 Pontiac Firebird Sport C. via Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1926 and laid to rest in 2010, Pontiac gave us the classic Firebird and the GTO. American drivers still miss the thrill of these adrenaline-pumping performance cars.

Saab

Saab
Saab 99 GL via Wikimedia Commons

The quirky Swedish brand, known for its unconventional design and turbocharged engines, left a void when it folded in 2011.

Oldsmobile

Oldsmobile
1965 Oldsmobile Jetstar I in Saffron Yellow (High Res). Photo taken by J Kraus with a Canon FX in Northern Illinois, April 1965 via Wikimedia Commons

The creator of the first fully automatic transmission, Oldsmobile, was retired by GM in 2004. Its legacy of innovation is still cherished.

The General Motors engineer Earl Thompson developed and advertised the Hyrda-Matic as, The most significant advance since the self-starter.”

Plymouth

Plymouth
Plymouth Road Runner 1969 at the Oldtimer Meeting Ebern via Wikimedia Commons

Famous for the ‘Plymouth Road Runner,’ this brand has been out of production since 2001, but it still holds a special place in the hearts of muscle car enthusiasts.

Mercury

Mercury
Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II prototype, originally intended as a homologation special for the 1970 NASCAR season via Wikimedia Commons

Ford’s mid-level luxury brand existed from 1938 to 2011 and is missed for its unique take on style and comfort.

AMC

AMC
1971 AMC Javelin photographed in Laval, Quebec, Canada at Auto Classique Showtime Muscle Cars via Wikimedia Commons

American Motors Corporation, or AMC, gave us the iconic Gremlin and Pacer. It’s a brand that many nostalgic gearheads wish could make a comeback.

Hummer

Hummer
2007 Hummer H3 photographed in the USA via Wikimedia Commons

Known for its monstrous off-roading capabilities, Hummer was a victim of the 2008 recession and increasing emission standards.

Saturn

Saturn
A 1997 Saturn SL1 photographed in Dormont, Pennsylvania. This Saturn SL1 was in good condition, with all hubcaps still on the car via Wikimedia Commons.

Created by GM to compete with Japanese brands, Saturn brought some exciting vehicles like the SKY roadster, which many missed.

Eagle

Eagle
Alvis Crested Eagle Paramount-bodied Coupe via Wikimedia Commons

This offshoot of Chrysler folded in 1998, but fans still remember its unique all-wheel-drive wagons.

Scion

Scion
2016 Scion iM photographed in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Finished in Blizzard Pearl via Wikimedia Commons

Toyota’s attempt at attracting younger customers with Scion ended in 2016. Many drivers still miss their fun-to-drive, affordable vehicles.

Suzuki

Suzuki
Own work via Wikimedia Commons

Although Suzuki still thrives in other markets, its departure from the US in 2012 left fans of its small, efficient cars feeling a void.

Daewoo

Daewoo
Daewoo Matiz (M100) via Wikimedia Commons

Known for their budget cars, Daewoo left the American market in 2002 but is missed by those who appreciated their value for money.

Isuzu

Isuzu
1991 Isuzu Impulse XS captured in British Columbia, Canada, via Wikimedia Commons

Once a purveyor of rugged vehicles, Isuzu withdrew from the US passenger vehicle market in 2009, leaving off-road enthusiasts in mourning.

Geo

Geo
1989 Geo/Chevrolet Spectrum photographed in CA, United States via Wikimedia Commons

Geo, a budget brand under GM, was known for its small, efficient cars like the Metro and Prism.

DeSoto

DeSoto
1960 DeSoto Fireflite 4-door sedan; engine: 361 ci hemi. Taken in Guelph, Ontario, Canada via Wikimedia Commons

A Chrysler brand from 1928 to 1961, DeSoto gave us the Fireflite and Adventure and is still missed by classic car connoisseurs.

However, every rose has its thorns, and not all defunct brands are missed. Here are five that drivers said “good riddance” to:

Edsel

Edsel
Wikimedia Commons

Ford’s ill-fated Edsel brand is often cited as a textbook example of how not to launch a car brand.

Yugo

Yugo
Wikimedia Commons

Once heralded as the cheapest car in America, the Yugo is remembered more for its dismal reliability than its cost-saving appeal.

Daewoo

Daewoo
Daewoo Arcadia with GM Daewoo Wheels

Yes, we’ve mentioned Daewoo already, but let’s face it: their cars were infamous for their poor build quality, and many drivers don’t miss them.

Daihatsu

Daihatsu
1981 Daihatsu Max Cuore 550 in Chile via Wikimedia Commons

Daihatsu withdrew from the US market in 1992, and it’s safe to say that few drivers pine for their comeback.

Sterling

Sterling
1991 Sterling 827 SL at Radwood Austin via Wikimedia Commons

A joint venture between Rover and Honda, Sterling was plagued by poor build quality and reliability issues, leading to its demise. Thankfully, few drivers rue its disappearance.

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Author

  • Ephraim Obare

    Ephraim Obare is a versatile member of the Frenz Hub writing team, bringing a rich background in economics to his work. An avid swimmer, reader, and cyclist, Ephraim blends analytical insights with his diverse interests.

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