Some car companies start up with high hopes as independent automakers, only to die several years later when they can’t stay afloat in a highly competitive market. The cars these companies produce are the equivalent of musical “one hit wonders”—fantastic, original designs which usually make a big splash for a limited period of time.
The reasons for the downfall of these cars varies—sometimes the design becomes outdated, or sometimes people don’t realize how awesome these cars are until the company has gone bankrupt. Whatever the reason, these cars have been left to the graveyard of extinct vehicles, and we’re about to unearth (and pay tribute to) their greatness.
Whether you’re an auto career pro or simply a fan of iconic 80s movies, no doubt you’ll consider the DeLorean a classic “extinct” car. This sports car, notable for its silver colour and gull-wing doors, will immediately draw recognition from any kid of the 80s. A special edition version of the DeLorean DMC-12 stood in as a time machine in the film Back to the Future. Originally developed in Northern Ireland, the DeLorean Motor Company struggled within the poor economy of the country, until eventually it eventually went bankrupt in 1982.
Studebaker started out as a family-born wagon company, but unlike many cars on this list, was quickly able to adapt to a changing technological landscape by switching to automobile production in 1897. With the entire family pursuing auto careers, it’s easy to see how Studebaker stood so strong throughout the entire first half of the 20th century, thriving most particularly during times of war. By the 1960s, Ford and General Motors were creating a more diverse selection of cars, and the Studebaker fell out of popularity.
VW Type 1 Beetle
There is perhaps no other vehicle on this list which has enjoyed as much success as the VW Beetle. Although its roots were in WW2 Germany, the Beetle established production plants all over the world, specifically in Japan and Mexico. The automobile reached its peak popularity in the 1960s, but continued to sell until a decline in interest finally ended production in 2003—65 years after the first car was made. Beetle lovers shouldn’t worry though—Volkswagen released a new Beetle design in 2012, which though much more modern and sleek than the original Type 1, still holds much of the same original shape.
Mercury Cougar was not a singular model but rather a series of vehicles from Ford. Marketed as an affordable line of stylish cars with a sporty look, the Cougar was an icon of Mercury cars for several decades. Cougars are synonymous with the 1970s, and high-profile actors like Farrah Fawcett even appeared in commercials for the vehicle. However, due to restructuring at Ford, the Cougar was discontinued in 2002.
Many people may not know that the Hummer actually ceased production in 2010. Just looking at the Hummer, one can see its roots in the American army. Developing the vehicle for civilian use was largely due to the persistence of action star and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who actually owns a collection of Hummer vehicles. After a deal fell through with a Chinese company to save the dying model, GM ceased production of the Hummer, and an automobile staple of the 2000s saw its end. Anyone pursuing mechanic courses will remember the Hummer for its bold choice of colours such as electric yellow, hot pink and orange.
If you could bring any car out of retirement, which one would you choose?