Many of motoring’s most fantastic brands have passed into obscurity because the real world is unkind to dreamers,” says Budget Direct, Australian-based insurance company, in its recent article discussing popular cars no longer in production.
“Incredible makes and models were discontinued because the marketing wasn’t right, the numbers didn’t add up, or the car-buying public chose to play it safe.”
Budget Direct put together a list of the top 50 extinct cars with the most Google searches to see which discontinued brands are gone but not forgotten. Find the top 13 below:
Coming in at number one with about 111,000 searches a month is the Pontiac Firebird. Rolled out in 1967, this pony car was designed to compete with the Ford Mustang. Arguably the most popular Firebird was the Trans Am, a package available on generations produced between 1969 and 2002. Pontiac halted production on all Firebirds in 2002.
The Pontiac GTO, America’s first muscle car, was in production from 1964 to 1974. It seems like the GTO’s popularity hasn’t died down since it was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 1968 as it gets around 82,000 Google searches a month.
GTO’s popularity dwindled in 1973 due to the Trans Am’s success, and in 1974, Pontiac offered the GTO package on their Ventura, rather than the LeMans, as a last-ditch effort. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to save the GTO and Pontiac shut down production.
Hummer H1, Hummer H3, Hummer H2
This trio of Hummers is next on the list with between 81,000 and 79,000 Google searches a month. These military-inspired trucks got a lot of attention in 1998 when GM purchased AM Generals, a car manufacturer selling a civilian version of the M998 Humvee and renamed it the Hummer H1. GM also created the H2 SUV and sport utility truck and the smallest of the Hummers, the H3.
GM stopped production on the Hummer in 2010 after it declared bankruptcy in 2009 and a few failed attempts of selling the Hummer brand. Now, however, the Hummer is coming back as an electric-powered pickup truck.
Plymouth released the Barracuda, its 2-door pony car, in 1964. Unfortunately, the Barracuda was yet another victim of the 1973 energy crisis and was discontinued in 1974.
Although it only lasted a decade on the assembly line, the Barracuda is searched on Google about 75,000 times a month by collector car enthusiasts.
Oh, the dreaded Pontiac Aztek. What’s probably the ugliest car ever made, this mid-sized crossover debuted in 2001 and met its tragic end shortly after in 2005.
Dan Neil, Pulitzer Prize-winning automotive critic, named the Aztek one of the 50 worst cars of all time saying, “The Aztek looks deformed and scary, something that dogs bark at and cathedrals employ to ring bells. The shame is, under all the ugliness, there was a useful, competent crossover.”
The Aztek pulls in about 72,000 Google searches a month despite its ugliness.
This compact sedan was manufactured between 1998 and 2014 by the Swedish automaker Saab. The 9-3 was a widely popular car but in the mix of Saab declaring bankruptcy and being bought out by Nevs, the 9-3 was discontinued in 2014.
The Saab 9-3 gets about 66,000 searches on Google per month.
The Shelby AC Cobra was an American-British sports car equipped with a Ford V8 engine in production from 1965 to 1967. Shelby produced only 348 Cobras, making them highly sought after and very expensive collector cars.
The AC Cobra is searched on Google about 56,000 times a month.
This short-lived sedan was manufactured by Hudson Motor Car Company from 1951 to 1957. The first generations featured Hudson’s famous “step-down” design until 1954 with American Motors Corporation purchased Hudson Motors and based the Hornets on the senior Nash models.
Hornets dominated the stock car racing scene in the early ‘50s, but when the Automobile Manufacturer Association put a ban on factory-supported racing in 1957, the Hornets glory days were over, and production ended.
Today, the Hornet gets around 54,000 Google searches a month.
British manufacturer released this three-wheeled — yes, three-wheeled — car in 1973 to replace the Reliant Regal. Since they resembled and even ran like a motorcycle, the Robin could be driven without a conventional driver’s license.
Reliant continued to improve the Robin throughout its Mk. 2 and 3 models, but eventually stopped production in 2002. The final generation, the Mk. 3 was as close to a full-functioning car as this three-wheeler could get.
It’s no surprise that these funky “cars” have a pretty big cult following, pulling in 49,000 Google searches a month.
The Fiero was a mid-engine sports car built by GM from 1983 to 1988. Unfortunately, due to a lack of budget, the car was lacking in production quality. It featured a front suspension taken from the Chevy Chevette, power steering wasn’t available, and the car was equipped with the trash heap of an engine, the Iron Duke, which liked to catch on fire from time to time.
Pontiac tried to fix the car’s reputation with upgrades, but the damage was done and the Fiero was pulled from production in 1988.
Today, Fieros are searched about 48,000 times per month on Google.
This tiny car was launched in 1998 by Korean-based manufacturer Daewoo Matiz. The first generation was equipped with a small 0.8-liter engine that put out only 51 horsepower.
GM took over Daewoo Motors in 2002 and the Matiz was remarketed under the Chevy name and is what we know today as the Chevy Spark.
To find out what other discontinued cars made Budget Direct’s list, visit their website.