The saying “Nothing lasts forever” also applies to car brands just as it does apply to other areas of our lives. We have had several car brands that came on the scene in the past and it looked like they are the next big thing with the acceptability they enjoyed as a result of their design and appearance.
But before you know it, a year later, these car brands are no longer the talk of the town; this may be due to several reasons that may be down to fuel consumption, engine design, and cost of maintenance among others and before you know it the car that used to be a cynosure totally turns out to be a monumental failure. These cars fade out as soon as they get on the scene and they experience a downward spiral in terms of acceptability.
We will be highlighting 14 different car brands that are defunct and no longer in reckoning, we will also have a look at the reason why they fizzled out and failed.
Oldsmobile was initially independent, and it was later bought over by GM in 1908. It came in a “Rocket V8” engine which made the car gained so much reputation for its speed. Oldsmobile became apopular, powerful and adventurous brand in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. By the 1990s, Oldsmobile had run out of steam as it no longer enjoyed the acceptability and popularity it had when it first burst onto the scene, its performance image faded faster than it could be imagined and it was slowly toppled by rebadging.
The Studebakers are a family of German descent, they were originally blacksmiths who were initially into a wagon and carriage business. They designed their version of car and marketed their first automobile in 1912, they were able to build a reputation for providing a reliable, and quality product. They were also able to carve a niche for themselves which gave them some form of advantage. T
heir business was not without several troubles and hiccups but they were able to survive the Great Depression and were able to produce innovative car designs throughout the 1940s that influenced other car producers for several decades. Studebaker was nearly destroyed as a result of price wars between GM and Ford that ensued in 1953. They managed to stay afloat for 13 years more, thanks to their merger with Packard’s.
Packard was designed and meant to be a luxury model; it was expensive as it cost over 4 times as much as a comparative Oldsmobile. This luxury image that it carries was important in sustaining the brand, even through the Great Depression.
However, they soon ran into problem as soon as mid-priced vehicles was introduced to the market, they were also unable to compete favorably with the “Big Three” in a mid-priced market. Competitive price wars among the big auto corporations and their merger with Studebaker drove the independent manufacturer down under and that was how Packard lost its relevance.
DeSoto was designed and manufactured by Chrysler as a mid-priced model, but was doomed to failure almost immediately. Chrysler’s purchase of Dodge happened shortly after DeSoto’s was founded, and DeSoto was competing with its own sister in the mid-priced market, this was the greatest undoing of the manufacturers as they easily set the pace for DeSoto to go into extinction.
They later tried to make amends realizing their undoing, so they decided to remake DeSoto as an upper-mid-priced car in 1933 but it was a little too late. Consistent mismanagement by Chrysler, coupled with the 1958 recession eventually sent DeSoto to its early grave and it became history.
Pontiac was introduced into the market as a cheaper alternative to the expensive luxury cars. The exemplary leadership of John DeLorean made Pontiac became a dominant force in the 1950s.
This is because they were able to design Pontiac as an exciting, fast-racing, muscle, and road car that is also affordable. However, in the 1970s, and 1980s, safety concerns and fuel shortages cut short the fast-growing recognition the car enjoyed. This resulted in a steady decline until GM’s 2008 Chapter 11 reorganization.
Chrysler purposely introduced Plymouth as a low-cost alternative to its other models it has in its arsenal. Its futuristic and high-flying design was able to sustain this brand in the 1950s and 60s, but slapping or “badge-engineering,” the Plymouth label on other Chrysler products soon destroyed the identity this car was meant to portray in the 1990s. The Chrysler PT Cruiser and Prowler were planned as Plymouths in order to recapture an old, original spirit but this did not work as Plymouth was shuttered before their release.
After World War II, American consumers were yearning for new car designs that can serve their mobility needs, but the Big Three at this time was yet to introduce any. Preston Tucker introduced the Tucker 48 Sedan with the aim of filling the void, the Tucker 48 Sedan came as a new car packed full of futuristic and safety innovations that offer comfort and convenience to its users.
A prototype that was first made in 1947 made a disastrous premier due to the many shortcomings that came with it; it was loud, boiled coolant, couldn’t back up and required external power to start. However, more successful debuts were made with the later prototypes. In order to fund the car, Tucker sold spots and accessories on a waiting list to eager consumers.
This step later resulted in a SEC trial and investigation. Tucker was later found innocent and all charges dropped, but the damage as the scars lingered and as a result of heavy burden of debt incurred, the Tucker Corporation eventually folded.
When Mercury was introduced to the market, it came as a mid-priced car, it was designed to be an affordable medium between the luxury Lincoln line and the cheaper Ford models. As they recorded a downward turn in sales in the mid-1940s, Lincoln and Mercury merged to see how well they can turn things around.
The Grand Marquis and faithful Marquis models were exceptionally popular from the 1960s to the 2000s, but Mercury’s narrowing demographic and aging eventually lead to the car going out of fashion.
Kaiser-Fraizer is a product of the partnership of two individuals; industrialist Henry Kaiser and automotive executive Joseph Frazer. Although this partnership was for a short period of time, it was an influential one as they were able to make appreciable impact in the automobile world.
After WWII, Kaiser-Fraizer were the first to introduce aa totally different design of new cars while the Big Three were still selling pre-war models. They were able to hold their own until and did well until 1951, when Kaiser and Frazer had to go their separate ways over disagreements on how to sell their cars. Kaiser moved on to set up Kaiser Motors and took it a step further to buy over Willys-Overland, who are the creators of the Jeep. Jeep was introduced to a new audience in a different manner after it was bought by the American Motors Corporation.
AMC was resulted from the merger between Hudson Motor Company and Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. At the time, this corporate merger was the largest inthe United States. In the late 1950s, they placed special focus on designing compact, fuel-efficient cars; this idea was a bold and unique one that later paid dividends in the 1960s.
Jeeps manufactured by AMC at the time was what kept the company afloat through the 1970s, as the rest of its brand aged and went out of fashion. Chrysler eventually picked up the pieces in the 1980s as a way to grab the profitable Jeep line.
John DeLorean is popularly known for designing the striking GTO, among other cars, and also for being the youngest GM executive in history. Using seed capital from the British government and Hollywood stars, DeLorean built a manufacturing plant in Northern Ireland to produce the DMC-12.
The first set of vehicles manufactured suffered from poor quality control and testing, and the features, design, and cost of the car was not well-accepted by consumers in the States. While he was still struggling to break even, DeLorean was caught in an FBI sting and was accused of being a drug trafficker in 1982.
He was later found to be innocent and was acquitted of all charges, but the trial caused great damage to his reputation. A new DeLorean Motor Company was later opened in 2016, with the promise of building new DMC-12 models in the future.
Ford came up with Edsel after series of market research and they promoted Edsel as the perfect car referring to it as the “YOU car,”. Most Americans loved and wanted the car but unfortunately, when the car was unveiled on “E Day,” on September 4, 1957, it did not get the envisaged acceptability.
Everything from its design to its name and performance were found to be unattractive and tacky. To make matter worse; it was being priced as a luxury car despite attempts to compete in the mid-priced market. Ford lost $2.9 billion as a result of the defunct Edsel adventure.
Saturn was referred to as “a new kind of car company” when it was founded in Spring Hill, Tennessee. It was a private, employee-owned company that operated separately with more freedom than GM’s other divisions. Its cars sold well, but not as much as was expected.
Other divisions were resentful of the freedom and unique status that Saturn enjoyed. In 2004, the unique arrangement that has seen Saturn blossom was dissolved. This meant beginning of the end for Saturn as it was affected when GM began to close divisions left, right center in 2010. This made Saturn fizzle out.
The first prototypes of the military Humvee were delivered to the U.S. military by AM General in 1982. The contract for their production was worth $1.2 billion. AM General had it in their plans to develop a civilian version of the vehicle, it was rumored that Arnold Schwarzenegger came up with this idea. GM purchased the line from AM General in 1999 and began building and distributing the car worldwide. However, as a result of issues such as fuel economy and safety, and as a result of several failed sale deals, the manufacture of Hummer had to stop.
For a car to really stand the test of time, aside its flashy design, it must be easy to maintain, fuel consumption should be good, it must offer comfort, and it should be affordable. It these features are in place, then such a car will enjoy great acceptability and will be able to compete favorably in the market.
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