The Edsel story is one of the biggest commercial failures in the car business, even by today’s industry standards. In the late ’50s, Ford launched the Edsel, an upscale brand they based on Ford and Mercury models they planned to compete with Oldsmobile and Buick.
But when they officially presented the car in 1959, people were puzzled. After promising sales in the first few months, the interest of buyers simply disappeared, so Ford struggled to sell the Edsel cars. In 1960, after just two years on the market, Ford killed Edsel. So, what was the problem with the Edsel?
Quite simply, it was the hype that was the problem. Ford invested so much money to present the Edsel as a fantastic new car with unrivaled features and power, that people were expecting something special. Instead, they got an upscale Ford with a funny design. So, when the market realized that, the demand disappeared.
They founded Pontiac in 1926 as a part of GM’s Oakland Division. Pontiac was just the economy version of Chevrolet. For decades, Pontiac served as a boring part of the GM lineup. But, then in the late â50s, Pontiac started exploring the performance market with a series of powerful cars, bold designs and performance versions.
Suddenly, Pontiac was the hottest brand in GM’s portfolio and hit among car fans. And that is how the legendary GTO was born as the first proper muscle car. Best of all, it was Pontiac’s biggest hit by far.
Pontiac presented the GTO in 1964 and discontinued it in 1974. The GTO was a car that created the muscle car market and culture. But even though Pontiac is gone, the magic of the GTO and other Pontiac muscle car models will live on forever.
Established as Ford’s answer to Buick and Chrysler in 1938, Mercury was always about producing an upscale version of Ford products. Concentrating on the luxury market, Mercury was the link between economy Ford and upscale Lincoln products for decades. However, with the changing car market, Mercury was not profitable anymore. So, Ford made the decision to kill the brand in 2011.
Even though they always based those Mercury models on similar Fords, the company had the freedom to create its own cars with distinct flavors, much different than comparable Fords. Most people knew the Cougar or Cyclone models, but the Marauder was one of the last great Mercury models. In fact, it was a true four-door muscle car. Based on the boring Grand Marquis, which they never intended to be a performance car, Mercury turned it into one by installing a highly-tuned 4.6-liter V8 with 302 HP.
And then they added a revised suspension, gearbox and brakes. All those changes turned this sleepy and comfy sedan into a sharp muscle car. The black paint, one of three colors available, gave the Marauder its menacing looks and aggressive stance. And all that clearly differentiated it from its more sedate cousins.
These are the 20 defunct American car companies and their greatest hits. Do you remember any of these? Although some were failures, while others soared yet faded fast, they most certainly left their mark on the American automobile history books.