For decades the Big Three, General Motors, the Ford Motor Company, and the Fiat-Chrysler Corporation have dominated the American automobile industry. But ever since AMC closed its doors in 1987, no independent car makers have emerged. In the last couple of decades, the Big Three have battled recessions, new regulations, foreign competitors and painful recalls. But somehow, they managed to survive.
However, all three industry giants needed to kill some of their brands to survive. GM killed Hummer, Saturn, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac. Ford shut down Mercury, and Chrysler discontinued Eagle and Plymouth in the early 2000s. But all those companies are not the only American legendary brands to close their doors for good. In the last century or so of car manufacturing in the country, they have lost thousands of small and big car companies alike.
Most were victims of changing economic climates, market tastes or circumstances beyond their control. However, some were too good for the times or just too strange to succeed. Whatever the case, the American automotive landscape will miss those brands and their memorable cars. So, read on to learn all about 20 legendary car brands that are gone and their best models and legendary cars.
People often make a mistake when they call Imperials Chryslers because it was a separate brand in the Chrysler family. Imperial produced luxury cars from 1955 to 1975, and then briefly from 1981 to 1983. Despite not being as successful as Cadillac or Lincoln in terms of sales numbers, Imperial had an army of faithful buyers and decent sales results.
They based Imperial products on Chrysler products, using some of their components. But often the design was special, the interiors were luxurious and the trim levels were second to none. The best example of this is their model from 1968. This was the last year this brand featured a significantly different design than the rest of Chrysler`s lineup with unique interior styling and appointments.
In 1967, Imperial switched to unibody construction in a cost-cutting measure from Chrysler. This didn’t affect the comfort and it saved some money during production. But for 1968, Imperial was just slightly different with no major changes to its mechanics. Also, the 440 V8 engine came as standard and delivered 350 HP.