Top 10 Recently Extinct Car Brands Millennials Probably Won’t Remember

Dude, what's an Oldsmobile?

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Top 10 Recently Extinct Car Brands Millennials Probably Won’t Remember

Everybody loves talking about millennials but nobody does anything about them. Roughly speaking, this demographic encompasses young – and not-so-young – folks born in the early 1980s to about 2000. With birth years spanning two decades, this is a huge group of very diverse people.

As an increasingly popular storyline goes, we love our smartphones and Twitter accounts more than cars and the physical world around us (yes, I’m part of this maligned group, as are many of my illustrious AutoGuide.com colleagues). Supposedly, millennials would rather text message and Facebook chat with their friends than jump in a vehicle and drive somewhere to actually meet up.

SEE ALSO: High Unemployment to Blame for Drop in Teen Driving

Of course, this opinion is open to debate, but one thing is not: a whole lot of automotive makes have vanished during our lifetimes. Naturally, some deserved to die, but others were the victim of financial distress, or worse, disastrous management. As such, here’s a list of the Top 10 Recently Extinct Car Brands That Millennials Probably Won’t Remember.

Hummer

Hummer

Few car companies were devoted to environmental destruction quite like Hummer. Sure, practically all automakers build one or two vehicles that are unnecessarily thirsty, but every single product foisted on unsuspecting customers by GM’s SUV brand was practically guaranteed to return single-digit fuel economy (maybe gallons per mile was a more appropriate measure). They may as well have burned tires instead of gasoline.

The brand’s product portfolio consisted of brick-like utility vehicles including the ginormous H2 and the slightly smaller though no less awful H3, each of which had the aerodynamics of a city-sized meteorite screeching toward earth. Hummer was the automotive equivalent of a codpiece, it made you look big even if you weren’t

In the end, a Chinese firm attempted to purchase this doomed brand from GM as it went through bankruptcy but that deal was nixed by the government … the Chinese government. As a result, Hummer got tossed in the trash like an apple core, but unfortunately, this piece of garbage wouldn’t even make good compost.


Pontiac

Pontiac

Pontiac is yet another victim of GM’s 2009 collapse. Unfortunately, near the end of the line, this division started to build some pretty interesting vehicles. The Solstice roadster was at least cool to look at and quite a bit of fun to drive, especially in turbo form. And then there was the G8 large sedan, an Australian-built, rear-wheel-drive exclamation point for the brand.

Many enthusiasts cried foul when it was announced Pontiac was getting Oldsmobiled and ailing Buick would survive the bankruptcy filing. And why shouldn’t they have screamed? Buick made cars that appealed directly to drivers that were born before the Civil War while Pontiac was sporty and fun. Too bad for them, this famous Indian chieftain was sent to the automotive wigwam in the sky.


Saturn

Saturn

Three strikes and you’re out… of business. Not quite, but GM’s Saturn division was yet another victim of the Detroit automaker’s financial revolution, sent to the vehicular guillotine after Wall Street stormed the Bastille… or whatever.

Saturn was “a different kind of car company,” or so they said, but apparently they weren’t unique enough to build decent vehicles. In the early days they were famous for their dent-resistant plastic body panels, no-haggle pricing and crudity.

But by the time Saturn was discontinued in 2010 they were selling mostly rebadged versions of other GM vehicles, often with significantly worse styling. Remember the Outlook crossover, Astra compact car or Vue SUV? All of these were other vehicles masquerading as Saturns.


Saab

Saab

GM is kind of like the kiss of death. If you’re an independent automaker, avoid shacking up with this smooth-talking Yankee at all cost because you WILL regret it.

Saab was known for innovative turbocharged engines and other features that can only be described as quirky. At its peak, this was a premium, aspirational brand that was clearly differentiated from German or American offerings. But then GM got involved and everything went to hell. After about two decades of ownership the General largely drove this respected company into the ground. Products like the 9-2X, a rebadged Subaru and the 9-7X, a gussied up Chevy Trailblazer did Saab no favors.

Adding insult to injury was their ludicrous “Born from Jets” slogan. Yeah, your 9-3 is related to an airplane… and Pam Anderson is the same thing as Louis Anderson.

Just like Hummer, the Chinese wanted to get their hands on this Swedish brand, but GM opposed that move because they were reluctant to transfer technology (their technology) to the Chinese. And let’s be honest, the Chinese generally aren’t the most respectful of intellectual property rights, so this was probably a wise move.

Today the automotive part of Saab is dead but not quite deceased. They’re dabbling in electric vehicles, if only barely.


Mercury

Mercury

Don’t think GM is the only automaker that knows how to eliminate unnecessary or otherwise redundant brands, oh no, dear reader, they’re not. Ford has dumped a few unwanted divisions over the decades, most recently Mercury.

Originally, this brand was conceived of as a step to bridge the cavern between lowly Fords and the up level Lincoln Zephyr. The first Mercury cars featured wider bodies, unique styling and more powerful engines than their blue-collar, Blue Oval counterparts.

Unfortunately, Mercury’s identity was never really pinned down. Is it a near-luxury brand? Is it a performance division? Should it target women? Who knows? The executives at the company certainly didn’t. Eventually, Mercury became little more than a purveyor of Ford vehicles with waterfall grilles, and that’s a worse business model than trying to sell chili-cheese fries at a cardiology convention.

Mercury was discontinued in 2011, probably to eliminate unnecessary cost and to help the company focus more attention on its other ailing faux-luxury brand, Lincoln.


Maybach

Maybach

Mercedes-Benz builds luxury automobiles; their E-Class sedan, S-Class flagship and GL large SUV are favorites of well-heeled customers around the world. But what happens when even the best isn’t good enough? Well, if you’re the suits in Stuttgart you launch a SUPER luxury division and name it after a famous engineer.

Maybach models were designed to slot above even the most opulent Mercedes-Benz, the Sprinter… I mean S-Class. These cars are absurdly long, luxurious and expensive. If you don’t own a diamond mine in South Africa, you’re ineligible to acquire one. You also need to possess a personal continent and have at least 14 vacation homes, either that or own the Principality of Monaco. Anything less and you’ll be forced to buy something plebian like a Maserati or *shudder* a Bentley.

SEE ALSO: Maybach Name May Return on New S-Class

Maybach was discontinued this year, yet another victim of the Great Recession, to say nothing of their questionable driving dynamics and astronomical price tags. But all hope is not lost. The marque was revived as a special trim level on the new S-Class.


Suzuki

Suzuki

Suzuki is one of those brands that never really figured out the North American market. Sure, their power products are extremely popular, things like motorcycles, ATVs and marine engines, but when it comes to cars, they kind of wilted away like the garnish at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Heat lamps will do that to even the sturdiest greens.

SEE ALSO: Suzuki Bankrupt, Files Chapter 11 in America

Unlike, say, Hummer, many of Suzuki’s products were clever and pretty appealing. The Kizashi midsize sedan was a nice piece of work and the SX4 small car was spacious and functional. It’s curious why Americans never really bought them. This is one brand that probably didn’t deserve to die in the U.S.


Daewoo

Daewoo

Dae-who? Daewoo! In the U.S. this South Korean automotive brand went the way of the lobotomy around 2002 because of money problems. Isn’t that always the issue? Now, if you can believe it, GM owns the leftover scraps of Daewoo and uses it to develop many of their small cars. Smartly they renamed it GM Korea.

Why did this company bow out from America? Well, with vehicle names like Nubira and Leganza can you blame them for going under? These products sound like alien planets from the nerdiest science-fiction movie ever. That might not have been a problem had Daewoo’s vehicles been any good, but they weren’t. This is definitely a brand worth forgetting.


Oldsmobile

Oldsmobile

Contrary to its old-timey name, Oldsmobile was a driving force in the automotive industry right from the get-go. If you can believe it, Ransom Eli Olds was the first to mass-produce cars with his curved-dash model back in the early 1900s. His company was also the first brand to introduce a fully automatic transmission, the four-speed Hydramatic. After that, Oldsmobile helped popularize powerful, overhead valve engines after the Second World War. This is heady stuff, so why did the brand get canned?

It’s likely a number of things are to blame opposed to one murderous silver bullet. Chalk it up to unending management blunders and redundant, rebadged products. After all, who needs Oldsmobile when you’ve got Buick?


Pymouth

Plymouth

Chrysler’s Plymouth division launched in the late 1920s, giving Walter P. (Chrysler) and company a low-cost brand for the first time ever. In the early days it competed directly with Ford and Chevrolet stealing sales from its cross-town rivals. Despite being the new kid on the block Plymouth found much success during the Great Depression.

But as time went on the brand became something of a dumping ground for rebadged Chrysler models. It overlapped with other divisions in the Pentastar Empire especially Dodge and Eagle (another brand millennials won’t remember). Plymouth set sail for the final time in 2001.

  • Ryan McDowell

    I’m confused by the insinuation that an individual won’t remember brands that died while they were alive. Isn’t it more likely that this is a list of brands that “post-millenials might never hear about?”

  • Alfie

    Good point, but who hasn’t already forgotten about Daewoo. (did I even remember how to spell it?).

  • LUIS MARTINEZ

    Check again,Daewoo is making money and alive under Chevrolet brand,read carefull were is build and you will be surprise,thanks to China S.A.I.K. And not Opel

  • Rick W.

    I’ve got 246K on my Lanos and it just won’t die. Not bad cars at all.
    I object to calling the Pontiacs of late sporty. People that owned them called them that but that didn’t make it true. Truthfully, they started making better cars at the end, but they kept styling them to look exactly like the cars that nobody was buying. Getting rid of the Pontiac grille and drastically altering the look might have saved the, kind of like Cadillac did with their styling. By all accounts the G8 was a great car, but when it looked like a bulked up Pontiac Wave, who wanted it?

  • Honest Abe

    I think Hummer won’t be forgotten any time soon.

  • LUIS MARTINEZ

    I won’t and got a dashboard coming on Monday,useless article,where are the DKW,Trabant,NSU,Watburg,Hino (the cars not the trucks),wanderer,Sterling,Inocentti,Moretti (small wonderfull design italian mini Maserati at least the 750),Horch (expensive like Maibach and the father of Audi),Alvis,Talbot,Invicta,Bucciali (majestic and big front drive,like Bugatti),Minerva,Adler (like the original Bettle),Tatra (cars not truck),Sumbeam and the list goes on……at least if they are gong to write something good,search a little more or I can send you some of my old car magazines one of them ah ave a British 4 door sport sedan build from the creator of the Aston Martin V8,the name was Monica and the magazine is like brand new and is free if you like and some Road and Track making fun of Japanese cars,calling them garbage and now?

  • Honest Abe

    Thanks for letting everyone know how much you know about cars. We’re all a lot better off for your insightful post.

  • Russ

    actually it is a very interesting post for people who are interested in cars and not stand-up comedy

  • LUIS MARTINEZ

    Thanks and here been looking,working and reading about cars all my life,even scale models at 6

  • LUIS MARTINEZ

    We? You mean only you?,sorry if I hurt you wasn’t my idea just a point,a lot of real cars are missing here

  • LUIS MARTINEZ

    Not a good one at all,Hummer,Saturn? Really,they just kill them in 2009

  • Transpower

    Actually, Saturn and Mercury had nicer styling than their counterparts….

  • AlexPDL

    Whoops… you have SAAB on there. They restarted production a few weeks ago and will be building in Sweden again. They have re-hired staff and will be making the re-freshed 9-3 shortly.

  • doug900

    I’m lovin that!! My 1999 Saab 9-3 has 267,000 on it and you wouldn’t know it when you pull the cylinder head off. The factory cross-hatch is still very visible! Granted, there’s a bit of antifreeze residue on the piston, thanks to the head gasket, but I was amazed at the lack of wear! This picture is at about 264,000mi.

  • LUIS MARTINEZ

    One of my favorite brands ruin by GM,they stole the technology and dump them and old chasis from the European Cavalier to do magic,and the new 900 was born already dated,14 years and the larger 9-5 wasn’t good idea either,but they got the turbo and ecotec and used in all Opels,here in USA we got the Beretta GTz,Oldsmobile Quad 4 and nothing for Saab?

  • Honest Abe

    LOL. sure they will….

  • Somnambulator

    Pontiac and Olds have some of the most storied history in the world history of automobiles. Ending Pontiac was a mistake. There are, and were, a lot of people that didn’t so much care for GM in general but loved the red-headed step-child. Pontiac made some odd cars over the last 10 years, but the Grand Am and Grand Prix were solid staples for almost 20 years. Also, the GTO, while considered a sales/market flop, gave way to the awesome V8-powered G8 GT and GXP.

    The Solstice GXP was (and still is) a phenomenal car. Debuting in 2007, the engine, even completely stock, had the highest HP per liter GM had ever created, at 260hp/tq requiring just 2.0L and a nice turbo. It was one of the first production engines with VVT and direct injection and with the choice of a twin-scroll turbo produced barely-noticable boost lag. THe engine was a marvel for its day. Hell, you could even purchase a GM-supplied tune from the dealer to boost specs to 290hp/340tq while maintaining factory warranty. Just some minor mods boosts performance to mid-300s bhp. And this on a car that weighed a rated 2850lbs and rides a few inches off the ground.

    The G6 GT/GTP/GXP were also pretty cool and sold pretty well. Ending Pontiac was a MISTAKE!

  • LUIS MARTINEZ

    Wasn’t a mistake,was a plan a good plan from china S.A.I.C. Which just in 2008 sign a deal with GM and thanks to them too for build Opel cars with Buick grill,make more sense to build cars in the just re-build Daewoo factory with the partner in crime S.A.I.C.

  • RG

    How about a little research before you write… “Born from jets” is Saab’s slogan because the company builds jets — specifically very high tech air force fighters such as the Viggen 47 classice plus current models: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKlQyPOiRuE&feature=share&list=TLoVw0B5muksdNXMESgqs9S_Z48WBFkM8L

  • Russ

    speaking of redundant, it was said “play Jesus” and be resurrected again? back to journalism school.

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