Sunday, January 9, 2011

Autocide - The end of another brand

I was reading an article on Autoblog about the last Mercury to roll off the production line, and it made me think about the car makes I have seen come and go just during my lifetime, so this blog post is dedicated to those brands that started and/or ended since 1980.  I am going to do it in the reverse of the normal "out with the old in with the new" for reasons that will become obvious.

In with the new
There are a lot of brands that have started since 1980.  Some good, some bad, some just there.  I am only going to address the mass market manufactures, so don't ping me for leaving out Tesla and Fisker.

Eagle - Badge engineering at its finest.  Not one Eagle was actually just an Eagle, they were all Mitsubishi, Plymouth or Chrysler products re-badged.  This is a big reason it is also on the "Out with the Old" list.  The Eagle Talon was a nice looking car, but that is because it was really an Eclipse.

Geo - GM's answer to cheap, small imports.  The Geo Metro, Prism and Tracker were all over the place in when I was in high school.  The joke with the Metro was, I think I sold TVs larger than that at K-Mart when I was 16 (keep in mind, flat panels didn't exist back then).  As America's obsession with SUVs exploded, the brand was canned.  GM did keep the Prism as a chevrolet though as an entry level model for a few years.

Hummer - A way for GM AM General to try and earn more money off the vehicle built for the Military, and later bought out by GM.  First exclusive to the rich (such as the Govenator) GM eventually rolled out smaller models, the H2, H3 and H3 SUT.  Eventually, it fell pray to high fuel prices.

Saturn - GM tried to re-invent the car company.  No pressure sales and a "family" atmosphere.  They were plastic cars that were really hard to dent.  The brand started to fade away until it was reinvigorated with models such as the Ion, Astra, Aura and Sky.  The Astra was a re-badged Opel that brought some Euro-style to the brand while the Sky had such good styling, it made it overseas as the Opel GT.  GM had planned to close down Saturn in a few years anyway, but shuttered it early during the financial crisis. (more commentary to come on GMs choice of brands to shut down.)

Acura - Honda decided to make an up-end model for the US market and Acura was born.  Built largely on international Honda models (a trend that continues today) it has still been a successful brand.  The current Acura TSX is the same car that Europe sees as the Accord.  Unfortunately, that Accord doesn't meat the demographic (mostly size) needed for the US Accord, so we get over-charged for it since it has an Acura badge on it instead.

Infiniti - Nissan's Luxury brand with some nice models over the years.  Similar in concept to Acura though, the models we see over here (like the G35/G37) are Nissans over in Japan (Skyline).

Lexus - High-end Toyotas with euro stylings.  the IS300 is an amazing looking sedan.  While Lexus was originally just luxury, it has become more sporting in nature now.  Out of Acura, Infiniti and and Lexus, it is a toss up to me between the latter two with Acura in a distant third, and that is only due to Infiniti having the G37.

Scion - Toyota threw another brand under their corporate umbrella when the founded Scion.  Scion is the low-end/Gen-Yish auto manufacturer.  They make low-end models with lots of customization available.  The tC is the only one I have found at all appealing, but the xA, xB and xD have all sold well also.

The "Out with the Old" section will wait for my next post.

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