The appearance of the cars we have driven has changed dramatically throughout the decades of the 20th century and into the 21st. While some have fallen completely out of fashion and disappeared almost altogether from our roads, other popular names have remained – even if the cars themselves look almost unrecognizable.
The Toyota Corolla is one of the biggest selling cars of all time, but the first model that rolled off the production line in 1966 looked very different from the most recent Corolla to come out of Japan. Not every car manufacturer likes to reinvent cars in their current stable, however, preferring to scrap vehicles which have fallen out of popularity, and launch new cars onto the market.
The following vehicles have all been canceled and forgotten over the years, no matter how popular they may have been in their heyday.
20 Bricklin SV-1
The Bricklin SV-1 was a curious sports car which was built in the mid-1970s. At first glance, it looked like any sports car of that era, with its gull-wing doors and aggressive bodywork, but this particular supercar focused on safety above all else. In fact, its peculiar name even stood for “Safety Vehicle One”.
19 Buick Reatta
One of the most established names in American motoring, Buick was established in 1899 – four years before Henry Ford started making his cars. The Buick Reatta was a typical late-80s Grand Tourer and one which fell well out of fashion when the rounder style of bodywork became all the rage in the 1990s.
18 Isuzu Impulse
Marketed as the Isuzu Piazza in its native Japan, the Impulse was another boxy 1980s sports car which the manufacturer decided to cancel rather than redesign when tastes changed. Only 13,000 Isuzu Impulse cars were ever made, and as of 2010, there were only a couple of thousand models still in circulation.
17 Suzuki X-90
Today we are used to our SUVs being rough and ready, but in the 1990s Suzuki produced a very different kind of vehicle; the two-door, two-seater X-90. This midget SUV was only in production for a couple of years, and the intriguing creation was voted one of the worst cars of the last 20 years by Top Gear Magazine in 2013.
16 Oldsmobile Toronado
Oldsmobile is another classic name in American motoring, and part of General Motors like Buick. In 2004, General Motors shut down its Oldsmobile division amid financial problems, cars like the Oldsmobile Toronado, a luxury car made for thirty years between the 1960s and the 1990s, disappeared from our roads for good.
15 Chrysler TC
One of General Motors’ main US rivals was Chrysler, now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the automotive giant created an unusual grand tourer sports car in the late 1980s called the Chrysler TC. The American company turned to Italian supercar manufacturer Maserati to help them design the TC, but even their expertise couldn’t save this model.
14 Dodge Omni
Dodge is one of the many car brands made by Chrysler, and today they are known for their rough and ready pickups and super-fast muscle cars. The Dodge Omni, however, definitely did not fit into either of those categories. This clunky compact car was canceled in 1990, after being in production for 12 years.
13 Cadillac Allante
There are dozens of great American cars which have been canceled despite their popularity, The Cadillac Allante, a two-seater luxury roadster which was in production between 1987 and 1993. The Allante has divided car lovers ever since, with aficionados of the boxy vehicle even setting up fan clubs for their beloved automobile.
12 Nissan Axxess
The first generation of the Nissan Axxess MPV was only sold in Japan and Europe, under the name Nissan Prairie, but it soon made its way across the Pacific. MPVs or minivans as they were more commonly known were a 90s phenomenon, and it is hardly surprising that Nissan saw fit to cancel the Axxess once the 21st century rolled around.
11 Chevy Cobalt
Chevrolet is another big name that is part of the General Motors conglomerate, but one that still has managed to retain its own individual style. The Chevy Cobalt compact car was launched in 2005 but only survived on the market for a few years before Chevy decided to kill off the Cobalt after a series of serious faults.
10 Mercury Marauder
Although the Mercury name is no longer with us, for years it was an integral part of Ford’s stable, creating cars which were pitched between cheap and cheerful Ford and the more luxurious Lincolns. First built in the 60s, the Mercury Marauder made a return in the 2000s, but was canceled a few years before Mercury itself became defunct.
9 Studebaker Lark
Studebaker was founded back in the 1850s, as a manufacturer of buggies and wagons, moving into the automotive industry in 1902 before making their final car in the 1960s. The company was famous for its large saloon cars, but the Studebaker Lark was a compact car, produce for just a few years in the early 1960s.
8 Volkswagen Corrado
German car manufacturer Volkswagen is famous for its iconic Beetle, but there are some great cars which have been forgotten through the mists of time. Almost 100,000 Volkswagen Corrado models were made between 1988 and 1995, and is remembered fondly for its powerful engine, impressive handling, and forward-thinking design.
7 Subaru SVX
If the Volkswagen Corrado represented the best of 1990s automotive design, then it could be said that the Subaru SVX coupe represented some of the worst. Although the car may have stood out from the crowd – and not in a good way – it at least offered the reliability that Japanese cars were famous for in the 90s.
6 AMC Pacer
The American Motors Corporation was formed in the 1950s by the merger of two smaller companies and went on to create dozens of their own vehicles until the name was swallowed up by Chrysler in 1988. The AMC Pacer was an unusual compact car made in the 1970s, with a strange rounded roof, complete with panoramic rear windscreen.
5 Ford Probe
The Ford Probe is probably one of the best-remembered cars in this list, though many people who owned the car would probably rather forget that it had ever sat in their driveway. The rather dull coupe was built with the assistance of Mazda, but there is little sign of the Japanese company’s famous sense of style.
4 Mitsubishi Starion
The aggressive-looking Mitsubishi Starion was an almost stereotypical sports car of the 1980s, with its boxy front end and flip-up headlights. The Japanese car manufacturer was sold in the US as the Conquest under the Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge names, and enjoyed some motorsports success before disappearing for good in 1989.
3 Isuzu Vehicross
The Isuzu Vehicross was an early, and rather unsuccessful attempt, to create a compact SUV – although it looked more like an off-road jeep than drivers of current SUVs might have come to expect! The Vehicross was eventually canceled in 2001 after sales failed to take off as the company had hoped.
2 Pontiac GTO
Pontiac is another famous American automotive name which was ditched by General Motors when the company was going through a financial crisis. The Pontiac GTO which most people know was a muscle car built between 1964 and 1974, but few know that the company tried, unsuccessfully, to relaunch the iconic vehicle as a compact car in 2004.
1 Cadillac Catera
The Cadillac Catera executive car was a rebadged version of the German Opel Omega B which was built in Germany and sold almost 100,000 models before it was eventually canceled in 2001 when demand for executive cars of this style began to decline. Despite a high-profile marketing campaign featuring supermodel Cindy Crawford, the Catera soon disappeared from motorists’ memories.
Sources: Motor1, Auto Trader