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Discontinued Cars That Could Make Massive Comebacks

Cameron EittreimNovember 23, 2022

The automotive industry goes in waves, and there are always hot products that go in and out of favor. Like the station wagon, for instance. It was once a dominant form of family transportation that was replaced by the minivan. Nowadays, crossovers and SUVs are all the rage and pickup trucks have become luxury items. With the industry changing so often, vehicle nameplates get discontinued. Many of these nameplates are never seen again, and others come back after decades of memory, such as the Toyota Supra and the Chevy Camaro.

There are many great cars and trucks that have come and gone over the past couple of decades. Some of these revered discontinued vehicles are ripe for a major comeback. We looked at vehicles that were discontinued but could make a strong comeback in the coming years. The automotive industry is changing in ways it never did before, and these cars deserve to make another appearance. Check them out right here.

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

Toyota FJ Cruiser

The FJ Cruiser was released to much fanfare in 2007, and a lot of that excitement was because of its retro styling. The initial sales for the FJ Cruiser were strong, but they took a nosedive within three years. The FJ Cruiser failed because of the 2008 recession and the high cost of fuel at the time, but nowadays everyone wants an SUV. There’s huge potential for the FJ Cruiser to come back as an EV model or even a diesel-powered model. The classic styling of the truck made it a notable competitor for the Jeep Wrangler (via FOX News).

FJ Cruiser Via Motor Trend
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The FJ Cruiser has been on the market in the rest of the world since 2007 and will cease production this year. The FJ EV concept, which debuted a few years ago, showed massive potential for what could come from the brand. With the Hummer EV and the Rivian RT, consumers are looking for fun off-roading that won’t hurt the environment. A new FJ Cruiser has the potential to be a lot more popular than the outgoing model ever was.

Photo Credits: GM

Pontiac GTO

People want Pontiac back and that’s no secret. But what the brand became a mere shadow of what it once was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The last incarnation of the GTO drivers got was a paltry example of what the car once was. The Pontiac GTO that hit the market in 2004 was simply a rebadged Holden model. There wasn’t much to like about it but consumers wanted the GTO back again. Now that Pontiac has been discontinued, enthusiasts miss the old version of the brand and there is a lot of potential for another GTO (via Inside Hook).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The GTO was the most influential muscle car of all time and it left an indelible mark on the industry. An EV GTO would be the perfect competition for the Mustang EV and the Challenger EV, which will both eventually hit the market. The Pontiac brand can focus on one or two models, like the relaunched Hummer brand. With the future of electric vehicles getting brighter and brighter, the GTO has the potential to make a big comeback.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Jaguar XJ220

The XJ220 was one of the most influential exotic sports cars of the 1990s. The car was owned by the likes of Elton John and many other well-known celebrities. When was the last time you heard the Jaguar brand associated with a supercar? It was most likely in the 1990s. The XJ220 was a hand-built car that was crafted to be one of the most beautiful Jaguars of all time. On top of that, the XJ220 also broke a lot of land speed records (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Because Jaguar is moving into the EV realm, the XJ220 has the potential to make a comeback. The car could be similar to the BMW I8 and popular. The beautiful exterior design of the XJ220 was designed in the 1990s. The future cars are even more beautiful and the XJ220 stands out from the crowd. With Jaguar working on reviving the brand, there is a lot of potential for this beautiful car to make a comeback.

Photo Credit: Mopar

Dodge Viper

The Viper was one of the most influential sports cars Chrysler ever built. It was initially a halo car designed to give Dodge some more brand recognition. But the car gained a larger following than Chrysler expected. The Viper was improved year after year with new features and a beautiful exterior design. The car competed with the Chevrolet Corvette although it was a much more expensive vehicle. With the current popularity of the Corvette model, there has never been a better time for the Viper to return (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Viper was a sports car discontinued far too soon, and there is still a lot of potential. The market for EVs gets larger every day and eventually, all mainstream automakers will be selling EV vehicles. The future for high-horsepower gasoline sports cars is on the verge of going extinct and EVs will be the only option. Given the right design and price tag, the Viper could be an appealing option for consumers of the future who grew up with the gasoline-powered version.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Subaru Brat

The Brat was one of the first Subaru models sold in the USA. The compact little truck was sort of a lesser-powered Chevrolet El Camino, and there was a lot to like about it. The all-wheel-drive design gave the car capabilities that usually cars in this segment didn’t have. The truck bed, albeit a small one, was more than adequate for the consumer who took a few trips to the hardware store every month (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Barrett Jackson

The Brat was a car that was underestimated for decades and left to rust away. But nowadays these cars have fallen into favor, and the value of a used Brat has skyrocketed. With its compact design and reasonable reliability, an EV Brat would be a great little pickup truck. These cars were excellent for things like hunting and daily activities, and with modern technology, the design will be even better.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Buick Grand National GNX

The Grand National GNX was one of the most iconic Buicks ever hit the market. The car was based on the GM G-Body and it was a turbo-powered coupe instead of the traditional V8 models. The sheer look and feeling of the GNX were unlike any other Buick that came before it. For a short period, the GNX was the fastest production car on the market, and it’s one of the most popular classic cars from the 1980s (via American Car Museum).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The GNX was the stuff of legends, and the engineering that went into it was phenomenal. GM recycled the same turbocharged technology and used it on the GMC Typhoon and the Syclone. Performance cars have always been a special segment of the automotive industry, and the GNX was as special as they came. A modern GNX close to the original one in design would be a welcome addition to anyone’s garage.

Photo Credit: Mecum

GMC Typhoon

When was the last time you got excited about a GMC? Probably not in decades, as the brand has been primarily focused on luxury pickup trucks and SUVs. But in the 1990s, there were a pair of turbocharged vehicles from GMC, the Syclone and the Typhoon. Both of these trucks were brutally fast and unlike anything else with a GMC badge on it before. The Typhoon was based on the Chevy Blazer and incorporated a turbocharged engine (via Car & Driver).

Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

The Typhoon was unlike anything else on the market at the time. This was way before performance SUVs were a thing. The smooth design of the exterior was a massive improvement over the stock two-door Jimmy model. The incredible performance of the Typhoon made it stand out from almost every other expensive sports car on the market. The Typhoon was an excellent SUV that broke all kinds of records and could do it again.

Photo Credit: GM

GMC Syclone

Released alongside the Typhoon was a two-door pickup truck called the Syclone. The Syclone utilized the same turbocharged engine under the hood of the Typhoon. The incredible design of the truck was unlike anything else available. The Syclone was a modest success for GM at a time when the company needed it the most. The Syclone wasn’t the first performance truck, but it was the first one that utilized a turbocharged V6 (via Top Speed).

Photo Credit: Hemmings

At the time of its release, the Syclone was quicker than a Porsche 911 and a Corvette ZR-1, which is jaw-dropping for a pickup truck. The design of the truck was so barebones that you knew exactly what this thing was about. There are also a few famous owners of the Syclone as well including Jay Leno. There was just something that people loved about the truck, and it paved the way for fast trucks like the Lightning and the Raptor.

Photo Credit: Namaste Car

Mazda RX-7

People have been clamoring for a next-gen RX-7 for decades since the car was discontinued. The RX-7 was the first production sports car that utilized a rotary engine, and it paved the way for how a performance car should drive. The RX-7 competed with cars like the Toyota Supra and the 3000GT, but there was something different about it. Mazda enthusiasts are quick to tell you there’s nothing else like it on the road (via CarFax).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The RX-7 was everything that most enthusiasts wanted in a fun-to-drive car. The next generation RX-7 will probably be an EV as most automakers are moving in that direction. Mazda hasn’t announced if the RX-7 is coming back but there is a massive demand for it. Even though consumer preference is for the crossover segment, sports cars are slowly making a comeback as well and that leaves a ripe opportunity for the RX-7.

Photo Credit Car Domain

Chevrolet El Camino

The El Camino was a car that was unlike anything else on the road when it was released. It was a car and a truck combined into one package, creating an entirely new segment. There were benefits to having a car with a truck bed, and that was the main selling point. The El Camino was also a long-running nameplate that was on the market well into the 1980s. The El Camino is probably one of the most requested cars for GM to put back into production (via Classic Auto Mall).

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

The automotive industry has changed dramatically since El Camino was last on the market. But consumers are hungrier for nostalgia more than ever before, and the El Camino was one of the most popular and iconic cars of its time. With the Challenger EV concept on the way, there’s more room for nostalgia than ever before, and the El Camino was a great car that deserves another shot at the spotlight.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

International Harvester Scout

Most Gen Z drivers look at the International brand name and equate it with farm tractors and semi-trucks. But there was also a time when internationally built passenger vehicles. And in the off-road community, there was no more widely recognized vehicle than the Scout. The Scout had all the same characteristics as the K5 Blazer and the Ford Bronco, which made it a stellar offering (via Hi Consumption).

Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

The Harvester Scout had the same look as the Chevrolet Blazer and the Ford Bronco. The Scout was not as popular as the Bronco and the Blazer, and it was discontinued. The Scout was the last consumer passenger vehicle International sold before exiting the consumer automotive market.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Volkswagen Scirocco

If there’s one thing Volkswagen did right, it was building a great hatchback. The Scirocco was built for two generations in America, and the car built up quite a following. The Scirocco was not the fastest hatchback on the market, but it was versatile. Consumers enjoyed the seemingly endless cargo space that the Scirocco offered (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The 1.8 GT version of the Scirocco was one of the most underrated sports compacts of its time. The performance of the Scirocco was on-par with what the Golf GTI offered at the time. The styling of the Scirocco was stylish, and the car had reasonable refinement thanks to its German engineering.

Photo Credit: Ford Trucks

Ford F-150 SVT Lightning

Ford revived the Lightning nameplate, but now it’s an EV, yet there is still consumer interest in a revived version of the SVT Lightning. The Lightning was one of the fastest performance trucks on the road. It was also value-priced compared to other vehicles with similar performance numbers (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: IMDB

The Lightning was one of the most iconic Ford trucks from its era and it’s still very popular. Ford hasn’t sold a two-door V8-powered performance truck since the Lightning was on the market. We all know that V8 engines will be a thing of the past soon but it’d be nice to see one last rendition of the Lightning.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Honda CRX

The Honda brand was once known for building sensible, economical, affordable cars. The CRX was the euphony of this philosophy, with a lightweight gas efficient design, which was fun to dive into. The hatchback was one of the first two-seater hatchbacks ever sold, but it was just as popular as the larger Civic (via Hot Cars).

Honda CRX Si
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The CRX has built up a reputation as an iconic hatchback that changed the game for Honda. But unfortunately, the automaker has moved away from building the simplistic cars that once built the company. It would be interesting to see how a modern CRX would fare on the market as a modern affordable vehicle.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Dodge Magnum

The Magnum was a stopgap by Dodge in between the Intrepid being discontinued and the new Charger sedan coming to market. It was the first V8-powered station wagon released in a decade. With the Hemi V8 engine packed into the SRT trim, the Magnum was an exciting car to drive that brought a bit of muscle into the family car segment (via Car & Driver).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Magnum was an unfortunate victim of the 2008 economic collapse. If the economy had stayed on par, the Magnum might have had a chance to stay on the market a bit longer. There was a lot to like about the Magnum thanks to the performance and the versatility of the wagon design.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Porsche 928

The 928 was one of the most iconic Porsche models of all time. There wasn’t another one that looked like it. The 928 was popular in movies and music videos for much of the decade. Its performance of it was much better than many other exotic sports cars from the same period, such as the Maserati Bi-Turbo (via Classic).

Photo Credit: Elfer Spot

Porsche has moved toward crossovers and vehicles like the Panamera, but there is still an appetite for the 928. The car offered honest performance and a different type of style for the price. There were few sports cars in the 1980s that made the impact of the 928 on the market.

Photo Credit: Super Street Online

Nissan 240SX

In the late 1980s and 1990s, the Nissan brand sold many different two-door sports cars. This was largely considered a transition period for Nissan and the 240SX was one of these fun-to-drive cars. It had the traditional styling of a two-door coupe and performance that was way above its cheap price point (via Classic).

Photo Credit: Super Street Online

The 240SX was known as the Sylvia in certain parts of the world, and the performance was top-notch. The interior was about as basic as a 1990s Nissan model, but it made up for that in fun driving characteristics. The 240SX was discontinued in the 1990s and is ripe for a comeback.

Photo Credit: Bring A Trailer

Pontiac Fiero

The Fiero was the right car released at the wrong time and there is much potential for it nowadays. Quality issues plagued the mid-engined sports car. But that didn’t stop a certain portion of consumers from being loyal to the car. The Fiero in an EV version would be a much better sports car (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Fiero was the type of car that did everything right except for the engineering of the engine. With an EV base, the car would offer the type of performance never dreamed of with the original car. Some consumers would certainly love to have a modern Fiero model with the type of technology we have nowadays.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Mitsubishi Eclipse

Mitsubishi was critically panned when the company released the Eclipse Cross. The original Eclipse was cheap and fun to drive as a sports car and consumers didn’t want a crossover version of the car. What made the original Eclipse special were things that a modern crossover will never replicate (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Eclipse was a car that offered an honest turbocharged engine and a cheap pricing tag making it extremely fun to drive. Mitsubishi has missed the mark with the current generation of cars being offered. Consumers definitely may want to experience the fun to drive Eclipse one more time.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Another nameplate Mitsubishi mismanaged was the Lancer Evolution, which had a solid following in America. The car competed directly with the Subaru STI. There weren’t many performance cars that had the same success in the rally racing circuit as the Lancer Evolution did in its prime (via Auto Evolution).

Mitsubishi Lancer EVO
Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Lancer Evolution was a car that cultivated a reputation for performance and quality. While the rest of the Mitsubishi lineup was forgettable, the EVO was the one car widely recognizable. Mitsubishi has moved away from performance cars but there is such a strong case for bringing the EVO back again.

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

Toyota MR2

The MR2 Spyder was a fun roadster worth making a comeback again. The car was extremely lightweight, which meant even with its underpowered engine, it was still fast (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Top Speed

The MR2 has the potential to be a great EV-powered roadster, especially with the success of the original Tesla. With Toyota’s engineering behind it, the MR2 would have brand recognition. The compact and fun-to-dive design made the MR2 a great car back then and that same formula would work nowadays.

Photo Credit: Wiki

Honda S2000

The Honda S2000 was a notable sports car Honda released during the height of its success in the early 2000s. The S2000 was not a heavily advertised sports car, and there was only one trim level offered. There was a hardcore enthusiast community developed around the S2000 and the car was successful in the racing world (via Motor Junkie).

Photo Credit: Wiki

The S2000 car enthusiasts want it back, and they want it back now. The precision Honda engineering coupled with the fun-to-drive barebones design of the car made it a hit. There weren’t many roadsters that captured the same magic as the S2000 did and it remains a fun-to-drive car today.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Dodge Dakota

The Dakota was the first mid-sized pickup truck sold on the market. With the release of the Ford Maverick, there has never been a better time for a company to jump back into the compact pickup truck market. The Dakota has huge potential to be a sales success, especially if Dodge positioned the truck to compete with the Ranger (via Cars).

Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible
Photo Credit: Hagerty

The original Dakota was the only truck in its class that offered a V8 engine. While the odds of a modern midsize truck with a V8 engine are slim, there are other great options that the Dakota could offer. Hyundai has just released the Santa Cruz truck and GM is also working on a compact pickup truck to complement the Colorado.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Lexus SC400

The SC400 was generally considered one of the best sports cars of all time. The V8-powered coupe still commands respect today and you still see many of them still on the road. Lexus has not offered a true sports car like the SC400 in a while, and there is plenty of potential for a great V8-powered sports car to make an impact (via Car & Driver).

Photo Credit: Hagerty

The SC400 was one of the best sports cars ever made. It had stellar off-the-line performance, bulletproof reliability, and a quiet interior with plenty of luxury. There weren’t many sports cars from that decade that could compete with the SC400. A new V8 version of the SC400 or even an EV version has the potential to be a popular sports car.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

When the Camaro returned in 2010, the Firebird was nowhere to be found because Pontiac was discontinued. But like how GM brought the Hummer brand back the Firebird has the potential to return as a one-off. The Firebird was such an iconic and popular car that there are companies who specialize in turning modern Camaros into Firebirds (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

The Firebird was one of the most iconic cars on the road when it was released. The car was nothing like the Camaro, and that helped it differentiate. There was always a different attitude toward the Firebird, and that helped make it popular. A one-time EV Firebird is a popular model for GM.

Cadillac Escalade EXT
Photo Credit: Cadillac

Cadillac Escalade EXT

The Escalade EXT was a car that never got its time to shine because the marketplace wasn’t ready. But a similarly designed Cadillac truck in today’s market would be a popular car. The Escalade V-Series has been stirring up all kinds of buzz in the automotive community, thanks to its almost unheard-of performance (via Car & Driver).

Escalade
Photo Credit: Cadillac

The Escalade EXT has the potential to be a major success for GM as crossover SUVs are all the rage. The EXT could be marketed toward outdoor enthusiasts, like the Jeep Gladiator. Cadillac has never sold a full pickup truck and that could be a worthwhile option for the company to invest in.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Chevrolet Avalanche

Another truck that deserves to make a comeback is the Avalanche. The Avalanche was another vehicle that was way ahead of its time and there is a market for it now. There wouldn’t have to be a truck-based platform this time around, as the Avalanche could be a crossover SUV instead. With a crossover design geared toward outdoor enthusiasts, the Avalanche could be popular (via Cars).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The original Avalanche was a groundbreaking attempt to fuse an SUV and a pickup truck design. Although the model was discontinued, there is more appeal for this type of vehicle than ever. In the GM portfolio of vehicles that could make a potential comeback, the Avalanche was one of the most notable.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

Pontiac Aztek

The Aztek was one of the most laughed at and critically panned SUVS ever designed. But who would have thought the thing would become a cultural phenomenon years later? The Aztek was a crossover SUV before they were even a concept and nowadays used Azteks have ballooned in value. Drivers still want one of these and now is the time to bring it back (via Auto Week).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Aztek was poised to become a massive success on the used car market after Breaking Bad. These crossover vehicles are all that we see on the road nowadays. The Aztek was ahead of its time, and it still offers many great features for the price. A next-generation Aztek EV could definitely be a success for GM.

Photo Credit: Dodge

Dodge Ram SRT-10

The Ram SRT-10 was unlike anything else ever released. It was a pickup truck with a Viper V-10 engine crammed under the hood. The horsepower and performance numbers for the truck were crazy, even by today’s standards. Although Dodge has released the TRX there hasn’t been a true performance truck since the SRT-10 (via True Car).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

Pickup trucks are more successful than ever nowadays, and the SRT-10 had the potential to dominate the market. With the advances Chrysler has made with performance and V8 engines, a modern SRT-10 would be faster than ever. Coupled with the popularity of the Dodge brand, the SRT-10 brand still has life left in it.

Photo Credit: Fast Lane Cars

Chevrolet 454 SS

The 454 SS was a truck that was bad to the bone was the song used in the advertising campaign. It was the first performance truck of its kind, and the formula was simple. Cram a massive 454 SS V8 engine into a single-car Chevy truck. The result was a truck that performed excellently on the track and was popular (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

There aren’t any fully-loaded single-cab trucks on the market anymore, and there is a lot of potential for a 454 SS return. The truck was fun to drive, and it still has a loyal following. With the new GM performance engines, the 454 SS would be a better truck than ever before. It’s time that GM returns to its performance roots.

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