The death of a car brand – 5 interesting car brand obituaries

Look online for dead car brands and you’ll see something remarkable; there’s hundreds of them. Hundreds of people throughout the years have built interesting but ultimately doomed car brands. Some have lasted more than a lifetime and some have barley even got their first car off the assembly line. After looking at the phenomenon we decided to make a list of the 5 most interesting car brand deaths. From the spectacular to the slow and painful we’ve covered a good number of topics despite only isolating 5 for deep inspection.

The 5

1. MG Rover (1904 – 2005) anyone familiar with Top Gears Jeremy Clarkson will now all about this story. In short the brand lost a massive amount of its credibility after years of poor build quality and ever poorer jokes. Their point blank refusal to allow one of their final concoctions – the “CityRover” – to be taken for a test drive by Top Gear (and the charade that followed) was basically the company’s death knell. 

2. DeLorean (1975 – 1982) this one really was spectacular. The car styling was unusual to say the least but sales disappointed from the outset. It featured on the massively popular “Back to the future” films and people expected great things. What happened however was nothing short of a soap opera style spiral into madness by everyone involved. John DeLorean, the owner of the company went down in a blaze of madness which involved the FBI, the IRA (Irish Republican Army), suitcases of cocaine and more allegations than you can shake a stick at.

3. Saab (1945 – 2012) while not as spectacular or as colourful as the DeLorean debacle this one certainly had its own oddities. In truth this was more tragic than any of the others because Saab was genuinely loved worldwide. What happened was really a cost problem where volumes were simply not large enough for Saab to reap the economies of scale. This coupled with their poor relationship and communications with their parent GM (General Motors) ended the show for them.

4. Hummer (1992 – 2010) this mammoth of the road got it shot at fame (it was based on the Humvee, a military only vehicle) after the involvement of Arnold Schwarzenegger of all people. Before long they were everywhere with even stretched versions being spotted here and there. The main cause of the shutdown seems to have been the auto crisis of the last few years and a botched sale. Considering the huge criticism surrounding the cars environmental credentials perhaps we won’t cry too much for this one.

5. Tatra (1897 – 1999) This Czech manufacturer made its last consumer vehicle in 1999 after a massive back catalogue which included one of the earliest V8 engines. Well known amongst car enthusiasts and with a reputation for inadvertently killing Nazi officers it’s surprising that they petered out in the late 90’s. Surprising or not Tatra did die and it was in part due to their inability to compete after the fall of communism.

Final thoughts

More often than not car brands do not die; they are bought or re-badged in a way that forgets the original brand. In that sense it’s interesting to find 5 truly dead but well-known brands.  The mega brand deaths of Mercury, Oldsmobile or Pontiac were interesting but not as interesting as the cocktail of stories from the cars above. In the end I think I’ll miss Saab the most, their designs were popular but unfortunately their showrooms sales couldn’t keep up with their accountants demands, oh well.

Will you miss any of the cars above?

Do you have an interesting story about any of the dead car brands?

Please comment below.

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