29 Defunct Car Brands That Time Forgot

Defunct Car Brands
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Thousands of car brands have come and gone over the years. So it can be hard to track them all (or remember which ones are still around).

Also, there are probably a few defunct car brands you haven’t thought about in years (or ever).

But here’s a list of some of the more popular ones you might want to check out if you add to your automotive knowledge or complete your collection of vintage cars.

Table of Contents

  1. Borgward 
  2. Packard
  3. Oldsmobile
  4. Studebaker
  5. DeSoto
  6. Plymouth
  7. Mercury
  8. Tucker
  9. Kaiser-Frazer
  10. Edsel
  11. Hummer
  12. DeLorean
  13. Saturn
  14. Pontiac
  15. Jensen Motors Limited
  16. Trabant
  17. Aerocar
  18. Acme
  19. Aptera
  20. Austin
  21. Chalmers
  22. Checker
  23. Cleveland 
  24. Cole
  25. Columbia
  26. Crawford
  27. Cisitalia
  28. Glas 
  29. Ardsley

Borgward

This is also one of the defunct car brands Borgward was a German automaker headquartered in Bremen. The company was founded by Carl F. W. Borgward (1894–1968) in 1919; its logo was a croquet mallet, and a putter crossed as an X. Production started in 1923 with water-cooled two-cylinder cars of a very advanced design. 

Also, in 1928, Borgward produced one of its first six-cylinder defunct car brands. From 1934, all models were named Blitz.

From 1936 to 1940, Borgward produced many models with 4-, 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-cylinder engines. All these models were noted for their high performance and luxury equipment. 

However, after World War II, only four-cylinder models were offered until 1957, when production ceased because of financial problems.

The plant was sold to Mercedes Benz, which used it as an assembly plant for trucks from 1959 to 1968 before abandoning it altogether.

Packard

Packard was among the defunct car brands with luxury automobile marque built by several U.S.-based manufacturing companies. For over an eighty-four-year period from 1899 to 1992. 

Packard was founded by James Ward Packard, his brother William Doud Packard and their partner George Lewis Weiss.

He established a bicycle manufacturer in Rochester, New York, in August 1899. The partners spent a year looking for financial backing before being able to assemble $70,000 ().

However, in September 1900, they had their new factory building under construction at 382 Adams Street in Detroit and were ready to begin producing its first car model, which was built under Weiss’s supervision with engines made by White and Gaeth by March 1901, five cars had been built.

Oldsmobile

Oldsmobile is part of the defunct car brands of automobiles produced for most of its existence by General Motors. Olds Motor Vehicle Co. was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. 

Also, the following year, it produced 425 cars, making it the first mass-production car company in history, with unit production approaching 1,000 vehicles per year shortly after 1900, and producing slightly more than 65,000 units in 1901. In 1902 it was renamed Olds Motor Works (OMW), and then again to Olds Motor Company (OMC) in 1903.

Studebaker

These are defunct car brands. Studebaker was an American vehicle manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1852 as a wagon-making company and incorporated in 1902.

Also, it ceased manufacturing defunct car brands in 1966 and filed for bankruptcy in a scheme to protect itself from creditors, who were eventually paid off with stock. Despite its origins as a wagon-maker, Studebaker entered into automotive production in 1902. 

However, when it acquired patents and designs belonging to Ransom E. Olds. It is best known for making passenger cars (1902–67) but also produced trucks (1903–73) and some military vehicles during World War II. Also created motorcycles (1913–18) but tended to focus on car production

DeSoto

DeSoto was among American automobile-defunct car brands manufactured and sold by the Chrysler Corporation.

The DeSoto was sold between 1928 and 1961; its successor, marketed under a separate marque, is today’s Dodge marque (known as Dodges at first). 

However, in 1929, before merging with Chrysler Corporation to form Chrysler Corporation in 1933. Maxwell Motors Company created a new company called DeSoto Motor Company to handle the production of DeSotos and continue sales of its now depreciated Maxwell automobiles.

The original pre-merger DeSoto automobile was continued until 1937 when it was finally discontinued.

Plymouth

Once upon a time, it was a big deal for Plymouth. Today, not so much. The brand had existed since 1928 when Chrysler acquired it and introduced its first model in 1929. After World War II, however, 

However, Plymouth’s defunct car brands began to fall behind its Big Three competitors. By 2001 Chrysler had spun off Plymouth as a different brand (Dodge would follow suit). 

Also, following another bankruptcy in 2009, Chrysler’s then-owner Cerberus Capital Management decided to end production of all vehicles under both brands in 2010.

Mercury

Mercury brands are defunct car brands once owned by Ford Motor Company. In 1945, Edsel Ford convinced his father to buy an existing automotive manufacturer for about $25 million (roughly $270 million).

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The company was named after Mercury, a Roman god. After World War II ended in 1945, more and more Americans could afford new cars.

As a result, Mercury’s sales peaked in 1950 at around 1 million vehicles sold yearly. At its peak, Mercury employed 75,000 people and produced 12 models of the car; at one point, they accounted for over 30% of all Fords built.

Tucker

The Tucker 48 was among defunct car brands conceived and promoted by Preston Tucker, a serial car designer.

The 1948 Tucker Torpedo sedan was to be built in a factory in a Chicago suburb by Preston Tucker’s company, called Tucker Corporation of America. 

Also, the Tucker Torpedo design featured innovations such as disc brakes, seat belts, and roll-up windows. It was advertised as costing $1,000.

However, only 51 cars were produced before production ended in 1949. A handful of original cars are accounted for today, with possibly nine still existing.

Kaiser-Frazer

The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation was a defunct car brand founded in 1945. It is noted for producing various high-quality cars and later jeeps for the United States military forces. After World War II, Kaiser and Frazer began developing and manufacturing civilian vehicles.

Also, it was first branded as a Kaiser, then renamed as a Frazer after less than a year of production. The automobile division of Kaiser-Frazer was sold to Henry J. Kaiser in 1952. After several significant corporate acquisitions, it became American Motors Corporation (AMC). 

However, two years later, AMC introduced their new compact cars based on their tight body design, exclusive to Nash Motors since 1937 when Nash bought out Paxton Products and all its related designs.

Edsel

The Edge brands are defunct car brands launched in 1958 by Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford. The company was formed with Ford’s $250 million investment and produced three cars.

The Edsel Corsair, The Edsel Ranger, and The Edsel Pacer. However, Problems with engine fires caused production to cease after only two years.

A total of 27,858 vehicles were sold during its two-year run. This makes it one of the biggest flops in automotive history. 

Also, It’s hard to believe now, but when it was released, it was considered one of America’s most exciting new car brands.

The car’s futuristic styling seemed like a perfect fit for American families at that time, who were looking for an upgrade from their aging Fords and Chevys. 

In addition, this car also featured some pretty high-tech features for its time, including push-button ignition and power steering as standard equipment on all models.

Despite its modern styling, poor quality control led to mechanical issues such as leaky fuel tanks, faulty brakes, failing engines, and broken transmissions, ultimately leading to its demise.

Hummer

List of defunct car brands#Hummer Hummer}} H3, H3T are now discontinued by GM and will go off sale by 2011. Now you have to enjoy it! Just wait for a year or 2, and you will be able to find one at some low price.

As we all know, Hummer is an American brand of off-road vehicles and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) owned by General Motors (GM). 

Also, Founded in 1992, it was taken over and subsequently dissolved in 2009. The brand was created around 1984 as a military vehicle producer named The Hummer Company before becoming a separate business venture within GM based in South Bend, Indiana, in 1999.

DeLorean

The DeLorean Motor Company was a short-lived American car manufacturer, more commonly known simply as DeLorean or DeLorean Motor Company (DMC).

It was founded by automobile industry executive John Zachary DeLorean and employed several Lotus engineers responsible for developing many famous sports cars. 

Also, The DMC 12 model is most famous for its appearance in Back to the Future in 1985. Due to many factors, including an infamous drug trafficking scandal involving then-president Jack Tucker, problems delivering parts from suppliers, and conflict with automotive labor unions. 

However, only 9,000 DMC-12 vehicles were produced before the company folded in early 1982. Today it remains an iconic symbol of 1980s America, but it is one of the defunct car brands and is remembered as one of history’s biggest flops.

Saturn

As a whole, GM’s auto sales have plummeted in recent years. It was America’s best-selling automaker for 77 consecutive years before being dethroned by Toyota in 2008.

After filing for bankruptcy in 2009 and selling off several of its brands, General Motors has had difficulty returning to its glory days. Today, Ford is America’s number-one car company.

Pontiac

Pontiac brands are defunct car brands of General Motors (GM). This Motor Division began in 1926 as an American automobile brand, named after a character from Native American legend. It was well known for its performance vehicles, including its Firebird line. 

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Although the last vehicle to bear the Pontiac nameplate was introduced in 2010, it was a badge-engineered version of GM’s Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan.

On April 20, 2009, General Motors announced its intention to discontinue its production and marketing by 2011. 

Also, 83 million cars have been sold under the Pontiac name since 1926. It was originally part of General Motors. One of several brands acquired by GM in 1909 as Buick, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac also were accepted that year.

Jensen Motors Limited

Jensen Motors Limited is a British motor vehicle manufacturer based in West Bromwich, England. The company was founded by William Jensen in 1934 and moved to West Bromwich three years later.

Although better known for their car exports, Jensen Motors built a small number of automobiles exclusively for sale in Britain. All cars were hand-built and finished to order from 1935 until 1976 when production ceased, and all tooling was sold off or scrapped.

After its numerous defunct car brands, it restarted production under new ownership in 2008, but none of the old models are being produced or sold.

Trabant

Have you ever heard of a car called a Trabant? Most people haven’t because it was never sold in North America.

The Trabant was produced in former East Germany and built for civilians from 1957 to 1990. Unlike other cars of its time, it wasn’t made for luxury or style; instead, it was meant to help families get around and transport goods. 

In addition to being deficient in maintenance and inexpensive, there were also significant economic advantages.

The vehicle could be sold to consumers at a low price while still earning money through exports and supplying hard currency to East Germany’s government.

Aerocar

The Aerocar, one of the defunct car brands that American inventor Moulton Molt Taylor produced, was an unusual concept in several ways. After building his prototype, Taylor approached Ford to mass-produce his design.

They declined; he came to Studebaker, who fell as well. Undeterred by their rejection, he struck out on his own to establish Aerocar Corporation. 

Although initially envisioned as a way for air travelers to save time on long journeys and get where they were going sooner

 It was primarily intended for city car use by those with long commutes or who traveled great distances from home to work daily.

Acme

Founded in Chicago in 1906, Acme began as a manufacturer of gasoline-powered vehicles. In 1910, it became a division of another company, Duryea Motor Wagon Company. 

Also, the division was renamed Acme and released its first model (the Acme Buggy) in 1911. Three years later, it ended production and went out of business.

Most major auto manufacturers have gone out of business or been merged into other companies at some point, but few were short-lived and little-known.

Aptera

Aptera is an American automotive startup company based in San Diego, California. Founded in 2007 by former PayPal executive Steve Fambro and entrepreneur Dale Hill, Aptera originally produced a two-seat all-electric sports car intended for use as a low-speed neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV).

Production of Aptera cars began in February 2008 with three prototypes. Sales were suspended later that year after one prototype crashed during testing at General Motors Proving Grounds.

On December 31, 2009, it was announced that production of Aptera cars had ceased indefinitely due to a lack of funding from investors. The company filed for bankruptcy on March 27, 2011.

Austin

The Austin Motor Company Ltd was a UK-based car manufacturer founded in 1905 by Herbert Austin. The company produced a wide range of cars, with more than 20 million made.

In 1952, Austin merged with Morris Motors Limited and created British Motor Corporation (BMC), which later became British Leyland in 1968. 

However, This company no longer exists as a separate entity, and three different companies have since privatized it. Currently, three independent companies are using Austin or BMC names, but none hold any relation to its original owners or intellectual property rights.

Chalmers

A Chalmers car is a type of automobile created by various unrelated companies over several decades, none of which survived past World War II.

It was named after David Chalmers, who founded a carriage-building company in Greenock, Scotland. However, the name was used for vehicles made by an American arms manufacturer, Aldus Davis, and his son-in-law.

William Baker from 1896 to 1899; in 1900, it was taken up by London’s Darracq Motor Engineering Company for their De Dion-engined light cars, which continued under Darracq ownership through 1910.

Checker

Checker Motors Corporation was an American automobile manufacturer based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They built small cars exclusively and were an independent company between 1952 and 1982. 

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However, the company was purchased by Volkswagen of America in 1979 but retained its brand identity until production ceased in December 1982.

Checker made a wide variety of cars, including three other flagships during its existence: The Marathon (1958–68), Superba (1972–82), and Marathon (1982).

Cleveland

The Cleveland was a defunct car brand founded in 1906 by Francis Richard Frank Berkshire, a former executive at Electric Vehicle Company. He started Cleveland with $25,000 of financing from his brother and investor. 

Also, at first, he had no employees or equipment; all he had was an idea to build a car with a four-cylinder engine. The first cars were built in an old shed that Berkshire owned—without any help from engineers or other automotive experts.

After several years, Berkshire made a competitive car (the Model K), which sold for about $1,800—less than half as much as cars from its rivals.

Cole

Perhaps you’ve never heard of defunct car brands Cole. And by now, you probably never will again. Based in Rochester, New York, and founded in 1926, Cole’s goal was to create a small car for sale to farmers and other customers who couldn’t afford more expensive vehicles. 

Also, it first produced one gas-powered model based on an engine found in motorcycles made by Indians. After three years of production, though, Cole shut down and went out of business in 1929 amid a downturn following America’s entry into World War I. What happened?

Columbia

While it isn’t technically among the defunct car brands, Columbia faded into automotive history. Based in Germany and founded in 1895 by Karl Benz, its story is of industrial might and political intrigue.

Also, as successful as it was, it ultimately became a victim of WWI. Learn more about how Columbia came to be and where you can find some vintage models today before Mercedes-Benz (or even Daimler), a little-known automobile company called Benz & Cie., established in 1871.

Crawford

Crawfords are defunct car brands in American automobiles built in Cleveland, Ohio, by Wheelock in 1914. Little is known about its history except that it was to have used a 4-cylinder Continental engine. 

In addition, it was reported to have been exhibited at New York’s Automobile Show of 1914 and announced as available for sale in 1915. Production appears to have been delayed until 1916 and limited to only five cars. 

Also, it would appear from incomplete sources that its price was nearly $1,000 lower than a comparable Ford or Overland model, but sales never materialized.

Crawford’s fate seems to have been sealed when Wheelock entered into a business venture with Hurst Motor Works of Toledo, and construction of all automobiles stopped.

Cisitalia

They were founded in Turin, Italy, in 1946 by Piero Dusio. The name stands for Citta’ de Italia, which is Italy’s city. 

However, The defunct car brands quickly became famous due to a strong association with motor racing victories. Best known for Cisitalia 202 and Cisitalia 360 . Production ceased in 1964 when FIAT took over. The cars were produced at the Iso factory in Milan.

Glas

The Glas company was an automobile manufacturer founded in 1903 by Menno van Delft and Gerard Van Gemert in Heemstede, Netherlands. Its first vehicle was a five-horsepower single-cylinder voiturette named Beha I.

Also, this defunct car brands company’s name was derived from its founders’ last names. Van Gemert left later, leaving van Delft as sole director. 

However, the logo of a flying man with glasses (similar to an early version of Superman) is derived from van Delft’s nickname Glas. A second model followed in 1905 called Voiturette II; it could be started without a crank handle.

Ardsley

Ardsleys are automobile-defunct car brands produced by a company of that name in Ardsley, New York, from 1904 to 1908.

They offered a six-cylinder model with electric lights for $5,000 and advertised in 1906 that their cars could be ordered with either Rutenber or Stoddard-Dayton bodies. It is unknown whether any of these options were ever built; the brand disappeared after 1908. 

However, Some say Ardsley stopped producing cars then, while others claim they were taken over by Ainsworth Motors Co., which existed until 1915. Either way, there is no evidence of any more car production in Ardsley following 1908.

Conclusion

It’s worth doing a little homework before you pull out your wallet and hit your nearest dealership. After all, some defunct car brands are dead for a reason: poor business decisions, horrible products, or other unpleasantries. 

Also, here are 29 surprisingly calm defunct car brands that every gearhead should know about (including what happened to them).

Trust us—this list will help clear you of trouble finding a dependable used car. Besides, it’s not as if these defunct car brands are going anywhere soon.

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