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13 most desired extinct classic cars

Gone but not forgotten: The discontinued classic cars with the most Google searches

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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:

Pontiac Firebird

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1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am | Photo from Classic Auto Mall

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.

Pontiac GTO

Classic Cars, 13 most desired extinct classic cars, ClassicCars.com Journal
1968 Pontiac GTO | Photos by William Walker

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

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1991 Hummer H1 | Photo from TopGear

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 Barracuda

Classic Cars, 13 most desired extinct classic cars, ClassicCars.com Journal
1970 Plymouth Barracuda | Photo from Speedkore

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.

Pontiac Aztek

Classic Cars, 13 most desired extinct classic cars, ClassicCars.com Journal
Pontiac Aztek | Photo from GM

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.

Saab 9-3

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2013 Saab 9-3 | Photo from Road and Track

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.

AC Cobra

Classic Cars, 13 most desired extinct classic cars, ClassicCars.com Journal
1966 Shelby Cobra | Photo from Mecum Auctions

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.

Hudson Hornet

Classic Cars, 13 most desired extinct classic cars, ClassicCars.com Journal
1953 Hornet | Photo from RM Sotheby’s

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.

Reliant Robin

Classic Cars, 13 most desired extinct classic cars, ClassicCars.com Journal
1974 Reliant Robin

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.

Pontiac Fiero

Classic Cars, 13 most desired extinct classic cars, ClassicCars.com Journal

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.

Daewoo Matiz

Classic Cars, 13 most desired extinct classic cars, ClassicCars.com Journal
1998 Matiz | Photo from AutoEvolution

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.

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Racheal Colbert
An experienced writer and editor, Racheal brings her enthusiasm for collector cars to her role as the Content Manager of the Collector Car Network. Former Content Writer and Marketing Manager in the tech and publishing industry, Racheal brings a fresh perspective to the Journal and the automotive world.

43 COMMENTS

  1. I can believe and “trust” this list thru and including #7….but, of ALL those glorious cars left off this list, I JUST CAN’T BUT #8-9-10!!! I mean..UGH! Really! People SEARCH THESE?? I’d rather be running FROM these, with a will to forget they ever existed!! L😂L! I LOVE CARS..❤️🚘and, as ALWAYS..TO EACH THEIR OWN😬🚘I guess!

  2. And the Fiero and the “Iron Duke” motor?? Did we NOT LEARN FROM THE VEGA?? Y i k e s !
    The last 3 are just 🤢🤮🚘 and THERE IS A REASON THEY ARE EXTINCT!! (Aztec as well!)

  3. The much maligned Aztek was ugly for it’s day, but compared to all the Asian hatchbacks (aka SUV’s and CUV’s) populating the roads today it’s got lots of company in the ugh department.

  4. Unreal. The bottom feeding craptastic Fiero and Aztec get all those Google searches. I guess if you search garbage, or raw sewage, or, photo’s of Fiero’s and Aztek’s pop up.

  5. What about Packard and Cord and the almighty Dusenburg, and REO, and Federal and Diamond T? those were what I was expecting on this list!

  6. That might be the most confusing list of automobiles I’ve ever seen. Several seem on target, several questionable, and several make no sense. I’m a Firebird guy, so I’ll just confirm that one is my favorite.

  7. There’s no way these cars are the most desired just because folks are searching for them in large numbers- most searched maybe, but a meaningful list of most desired would have to include the 1913 Mercer Raceabout, Mercedes SSK, Duesenberg Supercharged Model J – 90 mph in second gear for 1930s pretty decent; 1932 Cadillac V12; Stutz Bearcat; Any big Bentley from the late 20s and early 30s; 1930s Sunbeam 1000hp; late 20s Rolls Royce especially the 2 seater with rumble seat; 1920s Pope Hartford for obscure but gorgeous; 30s Bugattis, not only the racecar but the enormous 2 seater convertible Ettore was photographed with (not the Lagrande); 550, RSK, RS61, 906, 908, 953, 956, 959, 965, GT3 RS etc by you-know-who; 350/400GT V12, Miura (!), Countach, etc. Lamborghinis, just about every Ferrari race car, I mean compared to Hudson Hornet (!) Or the Aztec (!) Or the Reliant goobermobile (!) the list of desired works of automotive art kind of goes the other direction. Could be folks are watching Breaking Bad or reading about Smokey Yunick and those amazing Hornets but my incomplete list would have most car folks drooling. Not to mention Jaguar C Type, D Type, E Type, Aston Martin Vantage, Olds W30, 442, Plymouth Sport Fury with the fabulous Commando 8, if memory serves…

  8. GM owned Saab in 1998 and the 9-3 was based on a GM platform. The Saab car company was gone at that point. NEVS came in after GM jettisoned the brand, in the hope of building on the name. Quirky, but solid, the Saab was always progressive in its design and product offerings.

  9. Several years ago we were traveling about 80 MPH on an “A” road in England. To my surprised I was being passed by by a blue Reliant Robin. I was even more surprised to see the driver. A rather portly man with a harmonic strapped around his head and having a great time playing it, and holding and blowing a horn. I wrote a letter about it to one of the car magazines and the editor wanted to know what kind of drugs i was on.

  10. I used to think the Pontiac Aztek was quite ugly, but it is eclipsed by the NISSAN JUKE, which is truly offensive to the eye.

  11. For context to my comment above, I have owned a 1968 GTO, a 1967 Riviera, a 97 Pontiac Formula and Transam…2007 Corvette, 1990 Mitsu Eclipse and others, which I believe are classics in Automotive Art and Design. Pontiac is truly missed, and I hope it is brought back.

  12. Why are the commenters saying this list is wrong. The writer didn’t say these cars are most sought after just most google searched. Just because some one searched it doesn’t mean they desire it.

  13. This article is about as accurate and useful as when working on a car that won’t start someone says to you, “maybe it’s a bad spark plug!”…

  14. On the Saab, I believe you are showing a 9-5, not a 9-3, both ending when Saab declared bankruptcy in 2011. NEVS bought the tooling for Chinese production, and if they were manufactured in 2014, none were shipped to the USA.

  15. The Vega engine had nothing to do with the Iron Duke, completely different engine. The Vega engine was complete garbage. Based on this list, for the most part there’s no accounting for taste. To each their own.

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