Now and then, a car brand can fail for one reason or another. They could be at the peak of production and demand one year and in a downward spiral the following.
This article will look at 20 Defunct American Car Brands that have since gone out of business and why they did so.
Some brands may appear to be doing well, but keep reading to find out what happened to them.
1. Mercury (1938-2011)
At the time of its release, the Mercury was one of the mid-priced Defunct American Car Brands. Mercury was a defunct division of Ford Motor Company.
It was a cost-effective middle ground between the less expensive Ford vehicles and the more expensive Lincoln versions.
Lincoln and Mercury amalgamated in the mid-1940s as sales declined. From the 1960s until the 2000s, the faithful Marquis and Grand Marquis models were extremely popular. However, Mercury’s aging population and narrowing demographic led to its death.
2. Pontiac (1926-2010)
General Motors owned, manufactured, and sold Pontiac automobiles in the United States. Pontiac, like many of the other Defunct American Car Brands on this list, was introduced as a less-priced alternative to a more costly luxury car.
The Pontiac was transformed into a fast-racing, dynamic muscle and road car. All thanks to pioneering leadership in the late 1950s. In the 1970s and 1980s, fuel shortages and safety concerns harmed this image. This led to a gradual slide until GM’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008.
3. Saturn (1985-2010)
Saturn was termed “a different kind of Car Company” after its creation. It was a distinct, employee-owned firm. They worked independently of the GM.
It had far greater independence than the rest of the company. The Defunct American Car Brands were well-received, but not very well enough.
Saturn’s special status was also resented by other divisions. Saturn’s one-of-a-kind arrangement was dissolved in 2004. Saturn was doomed – in 2010. It was when General Motors slashed divisions left and right.
4. Hummer (1992-2010)
Early prototypes of the military Humvee were delivered to the U.S. military by AM General in 1982. The first agreement for their production was worth $1.2 billion.
AM General was working on a civilian version of the automobile. Arnold Schwarzenegger encouraged them to do so.
After that, GM bought the line from AM General in 1999. They began producing and marketing them all over the world. However, Hummer was shut down because of concerns about fuel economy and safety. Also because of multiple unsuccessful selling transactions.
5. Oldsmobile (1897-2004)
Oldsmobile was one of the stand-alone Defunct American Car Brands. In 1908, General Motors bought it. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, it was known for its strong “Rocket V8” engine and propensity for speed.
Oldsmobile had fallen behind by the 1990s. The giant’s performance picture was fading, and re-branding was progressively bringing it down.
6. Plymouth (1928-2001)
Plymouth was introduced as a low-cost alternative to Chrysler’s other vehicles. In the 1950s and 1960s, the brand’s high-flying and futuristic style kept it alive.
In the 1990s, “badge-engineering,” or slapping the Plymouth logo on other Chrysler models, obliterated this identity.
Plymouths were intended for the Chrysler Prowler and PT Cruiser. This was a method of resurrecting an ancient, original spirit. However, Plymouth was shut down before its release.
7. American Motors (1954-1988)
The merging of Hudson Motor Company and Nash-Kelvinator Corporation resulted in the formation of AMC. At the time, it was the largest Defunct American Car Brands merger in US history. They began focusing on tiny, fuel-efficient cars in the late 1950s.
It was a risky and innovative move that would pay off in the 1960s. Throughout the 1970s, AMC’s Jeeps kept the firm afloat as the rest of its line deteriorated. In the 1980s, Chrysler would pick up the pieces to gain control of the lucrative Jeep brand.
8. Rambler (1900-1983)
Rambler is one of the Defunct American Car Brands owned by Thomas B. Jeffery Company from 1900 to 1914. Later by its successor, Nash Motors, from 1950 to 1954, and finally by Nash’s successor, American Motors Corporation, from 1954 to 1969 in the United States. And 1983 in overseas markets.
9. DeLorean (1975-1982)
John DeLorean is best renowned for developing the iconic GTO. He is also the youngest General Motors CEO in history. DeLorean developed a manufacturing unit in Northern Ireland to create the DMC-12. This happened with the help of Hollywood personalities and the British government.
The features, cost, and design of the car got mixed enthusiasm in the United States. This was due to inadequate quality control and testing. In 1982, DeLorean was struggling to make ends meet.
10. Studebaker (1852-1967)
Studebaker was a South Bend, Indiana-based wagon and vehicle manufacturer. The Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company was started in 1852 and incorporated in 1868. Originally, the company was a coachbuilder. It produced wagons, buggies, carriages, and harnesses.
Studebaker closed the South Bend plant in December 1963. This put an end to the company’s car and truck production in the United States.
Studebaker’s Hamilton, Ontario, operations remained open until March 1966. Later, the firm officially closed its doors for the last time after 114 years in business.
11. Willys-Overland (1908-1963)
Willys–Overland Motors used the Willys brand name. They were a Defunct American Car Brands manufacturer formed by ambassador John North Willys in the United States.
During the twentieth century, he was most known for designing and manufacturing military jeeps. Also, civilian variants.
Willys renamed the business Willys-Overland Motor Company in 1912. During its first two decades in existence, the company struggled.
They even got bankrupt during the Great Depression. The refusal of management to offer a safe working environment was one of the main causes of the company’s financial woes.
12. DeSoto (1928-1961)
Chrysler designed the DeSoto as a mid-priced vehicle. It was almost immediately doomed to fail. Dodge was purchased by Chrysler not long after DeSoto was founded. In the mid-priced sector, DeSoto also found itself fighting with its sister.
Chrysler sought to reinvent DeSoto as an upper-mid-priced automobile in 1933. This was done to promote Dodge sales. DeSoto was finally driven out of business due to Chrysler’s repeated incompetence and the 1958 recession.
13. Edsel (1957-1960)
The Edsel was marketed by Ford as the ideal car. It was conceived after several hours of market research that a “YOU car” would appeal to all Americans.
Unfortunately, the automobile received a lackluster reception when it was shown on “E Day,” September 4, 1957.
Everything about it was garish and unpleasant according to consumers. Starting from its name to its design and functionality.
The worse thing is, despite efforts to compete in the mid-cost market, it ended up being priced as a premium car. Ford lost $2.9 billion on the Edsel venture in 2017 dollars.
14. Packard (1899-1958)
Packard was designed as a high-end model. It cost more than four times as much as a comparable Oldsmobile.
Even during the Great Depression, the brand’s luxury image would be crucial to its survival. They only ran into trouble when they started introducing mid-priced automobiles.
In a mid-priced market, they were simply reluctant to compete with the “Big Three.” Price disputes among the big automakers, as well as a risky merger with Studebaker, brought the independent manufacturer to its knees.
15. Hudson (1909-1954)
From 1909 to 1954, the Hudson Motor Car Company in Detroit, Michigan, produced Hudson automobiles.
Hudson and Nash-Kelvinator joined in 1954 to establish American Motors Corporation (AMC). The Hudson name was kept until the 1957 model year. Later, it was phased out.
In a down market, the inline eight failed to help Hudson automobiles sell. Hudson’s unwillingness to offer a V8 engine, according to auto historians, damaged the company and led to its final demise.
16. Kaiser (1945-1953)
For this company, automotive executive Joseph Frazer and industrialist Henry Kaiser teamed up as partners. It was a short-lived but influential automobile firm. Kaiser-Frazer was the first Defunct American Car brand to introduce a completely new car following WWII.
They did successfully until 1951 when Kaiser and Frazer parted ways over divergent views on how to sell their automobiles.
Kaiser Motors, on the other hand, would go on to buy Willys-Overland, the Jeep’s makers. Also, bring the Jeep to a new audience after being purchased by the American Motors Corporation.
17. Tucker (1947-1951)
The Tucker 48 was sometimes known as the Tucker Torpedo. It was a car designed by Preston Tucker in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It was constructed briefly in Chicago, Illinois in 1948. Only 51 automobiles, including the prototype, were manufactured.
The company was forced to declare bankruptcy and discontinue all operations on March 3, 1949. This was due to poor publicity generated by the news media.
18. Stutz (1911-1939)
The Stutz Motor Car Company’s headquarters was in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was an American manufacturer of high-end sports cars.
Also, luxury cars. In 1911, production began and terminated in 1935. Stutz made quick cars, including America’s first sports car.
It started in 1924 to make luxury cars for the famous and wealthy. In 1968, the Stutz Motor Car of America resurrected the brand and debuted a line of new retro-style automobiles.
19. Pierce-Arrow (1901-1938)
The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, established in Buffalo, New York, was an American automobile manufacturer. From 1901 to 1938, it was in operation.
Pierce-Arrow produced commercial trucks, fire trucks, boats, camp trailers, motorbikes, and bicycles in addition to its high-end luxury cars.
Pierce Motor Company was renamed Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company in 1908. This was after Pierce sold all of his rights to the company in 1907. Since joining Pierce-Arrow in 1912, Herbert Dawley has created the majority of the company’s new models until its demise in 1938.
20. Duesenberg (1913-1937)
Duesenberg Motors Company was an American racing car and high-end luxury car maker. Some would refer to it as “Duesy” at times. August and Frederick Duesenberg formed the company in 1913 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They developed engines and race cars.
After Cord’s financial empire failed in 1937, Duesenberg discontinued production. However, between 1937 and 1940, two vehicles gave this renowned marque its perfect finish.
The significant increase in the price of car fuels was one of the reasons behind the automotive industry’s downfall. This has a link with the energy crisis, which resulted in Defunct American Car Brands. Sales began to decline as there were fewer fuel-efficient models to offer to customers.