- Hero Image from: The Detroit Public Library. All other photos as credited, text and errors by: Chris Breeden


Orphaned! A sad top 5

Orphaned! A sad top 5

What is it about a defunct car manufacture that holds so much intrigue for the average gearhead? Is it dreaming about what might have been had they made it, or is it just reminiscing about what was? Whatever the reason might actually be, there is no denying that gearheads love talking about failed automakers! Lets take a quick look at some of the longest lived, but now gone, automakers in the U.S. These manufactures stuck it out for decades, (over a century in one case), but couldn't avoid the end of the road!


1939-2010 (71 YEARS)

Saying the word "Merc" to an American will conjure up visions of a car line named after a Roman God, not any German auto maker. Introduced as a bridge between the Ford and Lincoln brands, Mercury is the first of three "invented" brands on this list. For much of its existence Mercury had designs independent of Ford, Lincoln and the short lived and ill conceived Edsel. In its early years those designs were more appealing than Lincoln. This would change by the 1960s when Lincoln design would surpass Mercury. By the 1970s Mercury's were nothing more than Fords with fake plastic wood paneling. The Great Recession would be the end for this Merc. A single bright spot remains in the fact that Mercury is still a name that Ford has trademarked until 2025.


1928-2001 (73 YEARS)

In '28 Chrysler conjured up the Plymouth brand in an effort to compete with Chevrolet in the low priced segment. This makes Plymouth our second "invented" brand on this list. Plymouth did well for the majority of its seven decades of production. In the 1980s Plymouth was able to produce a version of the Dodge minivan called the Voyager. The last gasp came with the development of the much maligned PT Cruiser in the late 1990s. PT's would be introduced wearing the Chrysler name in 2001. The Plymouth brand was phased out by then.


1907-1980 (73 YEARS)

Beginning in 1907 IH focused their automobile production on farm and heavy use vehicles. Known for their dependability and reliability they enjoyed a successful production run. The problems with IH began in the late 1970s, revolving around labor problems. A new CEO was hired in 1979 and he took a knife to the budget. When it was learned that the CEO had taken a million dollar bonus, a strike took place the next day. The vehicle production arm of IH never recovered from the turmoil and the last production year was in 1980.


1926-2010 (84 YEARS)

Pontiac was created by GM in 1926 to be a less expensive offering than the Oakland brand. Sales of the Pontiac would soon eclipse the more expensive brand. For over eight decades Pontiac was the loose cannon of the GM motor division. In 1964 Pontiac would offer the Grand Tempest Option (GTO) for their mid sized two door car. This would be widely regarded as the first shot in the muscle car wars of the late 1960s. This move angered GM until the sales figures started to come in and all was forgiven. By the early 2000's Pontiac had suffered the indignity of becoming another "other" car in the US automotive scene. Their last ditch efforts to increase sales were all long shots, but Pontiac had battled back before to come out on top. That wouldn't be the case by 2010. GM's bailout meant they would have to trim off the excess. In 2010, the last Pontiac, a fleet model G6 sedan, unceremoniously rolled off of the assembly line and Pontiac Motor Division became a legend.


1897-2004 (107 YEARS)

For 107 years the lonely Oldsmobile cruised the streets of America. Never over the top in its styling, but always a little bit nicer than Chevrolets. During its time, Olds produced a little over 35 million vehicles, of which, 14 million were produced in the same Lansing, MI factory. Unlike Pontiac, Oldsmobile went out in style. The final 500 cars that rolled off of the assembly line were all painted a Dark Cherry Metallic color and received special "Final 500" emblems. The final car, a Alero GLS four-door sedan, was signed by all of the Olds production workers. Thus ends the story of the 4th longest running automaker in the world.




About the Author:

"Chris Breeden is a Social Media content creator for Custom & Hot Rod Life on DRIVETRIBE, YouTube and Facebook. After spending 5 years in Southern California, a.k.a. Hot Rod Heaven, while serving as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Marine Corps, he moved back home to Tennessee with an even greater love for Hot Rodded Vintage Tin. Since then he has worked in retail sales and the transportation and logistics industry. In 2018, seeing a gap in Hot Rod and Custom Car coverage on DRIVETRIBE, Chris began advocating for their inclusion on the platform. During the summer months, he can be found all over the Tennessee region covering car shows, meets, and cruise-ins. During the winter months, he can be found in the garage working on his custom 1949 Ford two-door sedan and 1954 F100 truck."


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Comments (38)

  • There are really only 2 companies that I wished would come back to fruition. Plymouth and Pontiac as performance brands for GM and Chrysler only making cars that really made them stand out for all the right reasons in the 60s and early 70s. Pontiac should come back with their first 2 models being the Firebird and GTO. Plymouth should come back with the Barracuda, Roadrunner, and GTX.

      1 year ago
  • The only thing I’ll say about this is, except for International Harvester, all of these brands were little more than badges for the last couple of decades. It was inevitable, I think, that they would be phased out sooner or later.

      1 year ago
  • I think IH could be fairly successful nowadays with SUVs and Crossovers being the latest fashion. Kind of like an American version of Land Rover

      1 year ago
  • Packard

      1 year ago
  • Although it isn't technically extinct yet, but I wish FIAT started funding Lancia back into the modern production world. With all of the twin-turbocharged V6 motors pumping out major power in quite a few Maserati and Alfa Romeo vehicles, they can be applied to redesigned 037s, and the base turbocharged engine in the Gulia combined with Chrysler's experience in rear-based four wheel drive, another Delta could be resurrected. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see

      1 year ago