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These Discontinued Cars Will Stun True Auto Fans If They See Them

Vukasin HerbezAugust 9, 2022

Many older drivers remember it fondly. American roads were simply much more interesting back in the day than they are today. Many different brands, models, nameplates, and shapes roamed the streets and interstates. Unfortunately, remarkably few major companies survived because of several reasons. This left true car connoisseurs to miss the old times and discontinued names as a result.

So we compiled a list of the most remembered car models and brands that once were common in the USA. These cars are now discontinued. But at the end of the day, people miss these cars due to the sheer nostalgia and good times they had. From economy cars to high-performance exotics, some are from way back and some are from the recent past. Take a ride down memory lane right here.

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DeLorean DMC12

For a short time, it looked that America got a sports car brand that could rival Europe’s finest companies. DeLorean presented an exciting concept of a sports car with those famous Gullwing doors, modern design, and a stainless steel body but a slow V6 engine (via Autozine).

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The importance of the DeLorean brand was that this was the first global sports car company. The design came from Italy. But the engines were from France and Sweden and the cars were assembled in the UK. The owner was American. The DMC-12 had a lot of potential despite its problems with power and reliability. It’s a shame the lifespan of this sports car was cut short.

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Stutz Blackhawk

The early ’70s saw the return of one of the most famous classic American brands – Stutz. A New York banker resurrected the company and invested heavily in marketing, design, and bespoke production. Stutz commissioned various Italian companies to produce retro-inspired bodies. They were designed on Pontiac Grand Prix chassis and using its drivetrain and 455 V8 (via Auto Evolution).

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The first car was the Blackhawk, which entered production in late 1970. Due to its unique style and strong marketing, Stutz soon became one of the most in-demand American cars. Although costing over $20,000 in 1971, close to the price of a new Rolls Royce, Stutz found many celebrity customers due to its many attractive qualities.

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Kaiser Jeep M715

This exciting vehicle is primarily a military truck, but a few were sold to civilian customers. Based on the Jeep Gladiator pickup, the Jeep M715 was introduced in the late ’60s.

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The engine was a dependable and robust six-cylinder with just 130 HP. But it had a lot of torque, which was needed to move this three-ton truck due to its weight. The M715 was easy to service and highly durable. This was proven as a result of its performance in the Vietnam War. Kaiser Jeep produced over 30,000 of them until 1969 (via Silodrome).

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1991 Mercury Capri

Over the years, Mercury sold numerous models under the Capri name. First, it was just a trim level on the regular Mercury sedan. It was then a re-badged Ford Capri from Europe. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, it was the Mercury version of the Fox-body Mustang. Finally, in 1991 it was a new model (via KBB).

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The 1991-94 Mercury Capri was assembled in Australia and sold in the USA. The cool-looking two-seater roadster had a 1.6-liter engine and front-wheel drive. Despite being a decent car in all aspects, it failed to gain significant popularity and was withdrawn in 1994 due to the poor sales.

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Mercury Bobcat

Since downsizing was the name of the game in the mid-1970s, Mercury decided to go a step further and introduce its own model based on the ill-fated Ford Pinto. Called the Bobcat, it was released in 1974 and sold until 1980. The idea was to offer economy buyers more upscale features in this cost-oriented segment.

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The car was practically the same as the Pinto, but nevertheless, there was one exciting version called the Bobcat Wagon. It was a compact three-door station wagon with upscale features and a woodgrain panel option. The Bobcat Wagon was a perfect little urban runabout due to its compact dimensions (via Hemmings).

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1981 Imperial

In one of the final attempts to resurrect Chrysler’s luxury division Imperial, the company presented an exciting luxury coupe in 1981. They wanted to do the same thing to Chrysler as they had with Lincoln with the successful Mark coupe series (via Motor Trend).

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So in 1981, the Imperial was presented as a stylish two-door coupe built on the Chrysler Cordoba or Dodge Mirada chassis. The design was contemporary with several classic cues but it was still an aesthetically pleasing luxury car as a result. Chrysler invested a lot in marketing and even used Frank Sinatra as the spokesperson. But sales were slim and it was discontinued because of this.

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Mercury Cougar

The third-generation Cougar was introduced in 1974 and marked a departure from previous models. The car wasn’t based on the Mustang, instead moving to a heavier chassis. This meant Cougars were more personal luxury cruisers than muscle cars even though Mercury tried to present them as such. Even with the optional 460 V8 with 220 HP, acceleration times were disappointing as a result (via Hemmings).

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Mercury moved the Cougar to the personal luxury segment and away from its muscle car roots. Cougars were cars for middle-aged Mercury buyers who wanted something more sporty than a Thunderbird but with the same level of comfort.

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65. AMC Pacer

The Pacer is a car that is equally loved and hated but is legendary due to its track record. It was AMC’s effort to produce a compact car, but it turned out to have numerous flaws. Let’s discuss the design aspect of this infamous model (via Axleaddict).

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After the success of Gremlin, the Pacer was conceived to be more extensive and advanced. But its design was repelling as a result of the company’s focus. The large glass areas were practical but also looked like a bubble. The front end was far from beautiful and the silhouette was egg-shaped. Therefore, it was discontinued. But the car will turn the heads of many drivers of yesteryear.

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Pontiac 6000

During the ’80s, General Motors invested heavily in mid-size models with modern engines and aerodynamic bodies. One of the first such cars was Pontiac 6000. Pontiac fans were used to model names that meant something, but 6000 was a number that didn’t mean anything.

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The 6000 was available as a two or four-door sedan and wagon with new four and six-cylinder engines. Interestingly, Pontiac even offered a diesel unit in the 6000. Introduced in 1981 as a 1982 model, the 6000 received a warm welcome from the motoring press as well as the market as a result (via Motor Trend).

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Mercury M-Series

Mercury made trucks from 1946 to 1968. Designed and built primarily for the Canadian market, Mercury M-Series trucks were also sold in the USA. While just slightly different visually from its Ford counterparts, the Mercury M-Series trucks were mechanically identical to Ford pickups (via Motorbiscuit).

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Even though Mercury was Ford’s upscale brand, M-Series trucks sold across the border had fewer options since the Canadian market was smaller. The production lasted until 1968.

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Vector W8

The legendary Vector W8 is a wedge-shaped, V8-powered monster presented in 1990. It was an ambitious project by the Vector Aeromotive Corporation. Under the engine cover was a typical American powerhouse in the form of a Chevrolet small block V8 (via Car and Driver).

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They paired it up with twin turbochargers to produce 625 HP, which was impressive due to its sheer power. The production figure is only around 20 cars so therefore if you own one, you have one of the most obscure American cars ever made.

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Excalibur SS

The Excalibur Company is the brainchild of famous car designer Brooks Stevens. After Studebaker stopped producing cars, Stevens formed the Excalibur company dedicated to creating custom, retro-inspired vehicles. First, they were based on a standard chassis. Further, they had commonly found drivetrains with unique styling inspired by the Mercedes SSK from the late 1920s (via Hagerty).

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The production of the Excalibur SS was around 3500 cars, therefore making them relatively rare today and a good proposition if you’re in the market for cars from the ’70s.

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59. Merkur XR4Ti

During the ’80s, Ford attempted to revive its performance image. For this reason, they introduced the Merkur XR4Ti model. It was basically a British Ford Sierra but packed with the special aero package and a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-banger (via Motor Trend).

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Moreover, Ford envisioned it as a hot hatch with rear-wheel drive, racing credentials, and better driving dynamics. Unfortunately, the Merkur XR4Ti proved unsuccessful since it was expensive and the American market didn’t understand Ford’s attempt due to several reasons.

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Callaway Super Speedster LM

The Callaway Company had much success in the ’80s thanks to its high-performing versions of the Corvette C4. However, Reeves Callaway wanted to go racing and introduced Super Speedster LM in the early ’90s (via Supercars).

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As a result, this was the ultimate version of the race-prepared Corvette C4 with a turbocharged LT5 V8 engine and 766 HP. However, this was much more than just a tuned Corvette in general. Markedly, the Super Speedster LM had numerous body modifications, a totally revised suspension, and race brakes.

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Saturn Sky Red Line

First, American manufacturers typically don’t do roadsters. As a result, GM’s decision to introduce a turbocharged roadster to American buyers in 2005 with the Saturn Sky was strange. Moreover, those cars were basically US versions of Opel GT from Europe (via GM Authority).

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Unfortunately, even though the Solstice or Sky was an exciting car to drive, it was a sales flop overall. Compared to the BMW Z4 or Mercedes SLK, GM’s roadster had a much lower price in general. Conversely, it also had up to 290 HP in the Pontiac Solstice GXP version and excellent handling overall. On the other hand, after a few years on the market, GM killed it.

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Pontiac Fiero

The story of the Fiero is one of the greatest “what if” tales of the American car industry. First, this compact sports car caused a big sensation when it was introduced in the early ’80s. In general, everybody expected another GTO from Pontiac but got a small sports car that Italians might build (via Car and Driver).

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Above all, it was a bold move for Pontiac to introduce a compact rear-wheel drive car. In general, having the engine positioned in the center of the vehicle was a bold move. Pairing it with a five-speed manual transaxle gearbox was another somewhat odd choice overall. But for the standards of the day, this was the most advanced American production model.

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Meyers Manx

First, the original Meyers Manx is a kit car based on the VW Beetle. Yet this car has so much importance because of the American off-road scene that it has to be a part of this list. Introduced in 1964, the Meyers Manx was the brainchild of Bruce F. Meyers, an American boat builder and surfer who wanted a dependable beach car (via Bloomberg).

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Therefore, its construction was simple as it used a fiberglass tub mounted on VW Beetle mechanics. The rear-wheel drive car was very light and could tackle almost any terrain. Some owners even installed more powerful boxer engines from Corvair or Porsche to make it more powerful as a result. Due to its distinctive design and excellent driving capabilities, the Meyers Manx became one of the symbols of surf culture.

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Eagle Premier

Chrysler first presented the Eagle in 1989. It was supposed to be a fresh start for Chrysler as they produced new, affordable cars with an import flavor. Renault and Mitsubishi provided the technology and Chrysler invested their money and effort. The first model was the Eagle Premier, a big four-door sedan with front-wheel drive and luxurious features (via Hemmings).

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However, despite the qualities and comfort, the market didn’t respond well to the new brand and model. Chrysler discontinued the Eagle Premier in 1992 and the Eagle brand itself in 1999 as a result.

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Pontiac Bonneville Tri-Power

New styling for the Pontiac brand meant a new approach to the performance market as a result. Conversely, it also meant the birth of one of the most powerful American muscle car brands. Despite a few powerful models, Pontiac’s muscle quest started in 1958 with the introduction of the Bonneville with the Tri-Power option (via Auto Evolution).

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Moreover, this top-of-the-line model featured a 370 V8 engine with three two-barrel Rochester carburetors and up to 310 HP. Consequently, in late 1958, Pontiac introduced an even hotter setup with up to 330 HP designed for racers and NASCAR.

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De Soto Adventurer

First, most people don’t know about the De Soto brand. But this is understandable since they discontinued this make in 1961. However, it was an exciting brand with different trims, powerful engines, and affordable prices. Conversely, however, this wasn’t enough. Every model year was worse than the one before it as a result. One of the better models from the period was the Adventurer. It was a cool-looking mid-size model with V8 power and an attractive design (via Auto Evolution).

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Unfortunately, the good looks and strong engines just weren’t enough. Chrysler lost their patience and shut down the production of the De Soto in 1961 because of its poor sales. Today; De Soto models are collector items due to their rarity and history.

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Plymouth Trailduster

In the late 1970s, Plymouth decided to try its luck in the off-road SUV market with the Trailduster. It was a two-door, four-passenger, all-wheel drive vehicle identical to the Dodge Ramcharger (via Drivingline). Plymouth offered an all-wheel drive at an affordable price to promote the product in that market and more equipment than Dodge.

1976 Plymouth Trailduster | American Muscle CarZ
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But they still had no luck. Therefore, after a couple of years, they discontinued the Trailduster. Today, some Mopar fans claim the Trailduster was more dependable than other Dodge products from the same period.

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Plymouth Prowler

The Hot Rod culture is one of the critical ingredients of the American automotive landscape. However, no company ever dared to present a factory-built Hot Rod until 1997 when Plymouth offered the Prowler. It was a retro-futuristic roadster with a V6 engine (via Car Throttle).

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Plymouth imagined it as a follow-up to the Viper. Meanwhile, the Prowler was a hit on the show circuit and Chrysler wanted to capitalize on that. Despite its initial success, the car was a failure due to its low power. Its demise was mainly because of the fact that customers expected V8 power, not V6 power.

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Mercury Marauder X-100

Imagined as a luxury coupe, the Marauder had a fresh design with some exciting features. These especially included concealed headlights, a massive front end, and a sloping rear end with curved rear glass. It was a big, heavy car for cruising rather than street racing (via Motor Trend).

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It was equipped with a 429 V8 engine with 360 HP, bucket seats, heavy-duty suspension, and blackout rear trim. The Marauder line was relatively famous, but the X100 didn’t become a best-seller and in two years of production, Mercury made just over 8000 as a result.

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Rambler Rebel V8

The Rambler Rebel is an attractive early muscle car that was born by chance. Squeezing a 327 V8 engine from the Nash Ambassador into a compact, light Rambler body created one seriously fast yet unassuming muscle machine. The 327 V8 delivered 255 HP, which wasn’t that much (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Hemmings

However, in the compact Rambler body, it produced 0 to 60 mph times in just seven seconds. But this powerful engine option raised the price of an affordable Rambler. There were few buyers ready to pay extra for the privilege of outrunning anything else on the road. Rambler made only 1,500 of them as a result.

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Studebaker Avanti R2

In the early ’60s, Studebaker management decided to invest in a luxury coupe to fight their poor sales. In 1962, they presented the sleek, modern-looking Avanti. The innovative design, construction, and technology were impressive and the car received praise from the motoring press as a result (via Classic Motorsport).

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The base version wasn’t powerful so Studebaker introduced its supercharged R2 option delivering 289 HP. But they included some performance upgrades, turning the Avanti into a fast machine. During its short production run, Studebaker produced just over 4,600 Avantis. Only a handful of those were the incredible R2.

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Pontiac Can Am

Back in the late ’70s, the American performance car segment was a pale shadow of its former glory due to restricting emissions standards. Although there were a few surviving models, performance was just a word used in magazine ads. But in 1977, Pontiac introduced the Can-Am (via Auto Evolution).

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The Can Am was a one-year-only model that was the last real muscle car. It had big block power they packed in a unique body style and white color. Under the hood scoop from the Firebird Trans Am, there was a big 455 engine with 200 HP. That was more than any other muscle car on the market at the moment.

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Mercury Cougar Boss 302

Ford conceived the Mercury Cougar as a luxury pony car and built it on a stretched Mustang platform. This meant all the engines they installed in the Mustang could easily fit into the Cougar (via Carscoops).

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In 1969, Ford introduced the Boss 302 and Mercury got its version too. They called it the Cougar Boss 302. However, they didn’t advertise this competent pony car widely enough so it remained obscure and rare. Mercury produced just 169 of them. It remains a mystery as to how many survived.

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Studebaker Golden Hawk

Studebaker, as a brand, disappeared in 1966 after years of trying to stay relevant to the American market. However, in the mid-’50s, it was still one of the best names in the business. One of the best Studebakers ever built was the elegant ’56 Golden Hawk (via Studebaker Museum).

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Conceived as a cool-looking personal luxury coupe, Golden Hawk had Packard-derived 352 V8 engine with 275 HP, which was pretty impressive for the day. The performance was also significant with a 0 to 60 mph time of fewer than nine seconds.

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Plymouth Fury

Before the Fury was a separate model, it was an option on Belvedere. For 1958, this model benefited from Chrysler’s new Golden Commando engine. The mighty Hemi was gone, but Chrysler didn’t abandon the performance market. The Golden Commando had 350 CID displacement, hotter equipment, and 305 HP (via Old Cars Weekly).

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Plymouth even experimented with a fuel injection setup. But the system proved very problematic, which caused the factory to compensate owners with a conventional four-barrel format. If the fuel injection worked as it should, it could produce up to 315 HP.

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Oldsmobile Rocket 88

For the 1949 model year, Oldsmobile presented two important things – the 88 model series and a new 303 CID V8 engine called the Rocket V8. Both proved very influential in Oldsmobile’s history. The 88 model was relatively light and compact. And the Rocket V8 was considered a hot engine with a two-barrel carburetor and 135 HP on tap (via Top Speed).

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The combination of light body and powerful engine in the form of the 1949 Oldsmobile 88 was arguably the first muscle car from Detroit. The new model was available as a two and four-door model and the four-door was more popular with the buyers.

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Hudson Hornet

In 1951, Hudson introduced the Hornet, a full-size sedan with an affordable price and a few exciting features. Its sleek design with a sloping roofline made it longer, wider, and sportier. The second was an all-new “Step down” construction that merged chassis and body in one structure, which helped Hornets achieve a lower center of gravity and better handling. The third important feature was an improved straight eight-cylinder engine with 308 CID and up to 170 HP (via Hemmings).

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This gave the Hornet a significant advantage on the race tracks. Hudson dominated NASCAR races from 1951 to 1954, becoming one of the sport’s biggest legends.

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Mercury Marauder

In the ’60s, Mercury produced the Marauder, a high-performance version of regular Mercury performance sedans. Decades later in 2003, Mercury decided to introduce the final Marauder model based on Ford’s Panther vehicles (via Edmunds).

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Despite the fact the Grand Marquis was never intended to be a performance car, Mercury decided to turn it into one by installing a highly tuned 4.6-liter V8 with 302 hp, revised suspension, gearbox, and brakes. All those changes turned this comfy sedan into a sharp muscle car.

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Packard Caribbean

Packard was always a luxury brand known for heavy limousines and comfortable sedans. In 1956 it tried to enter the performance market with the Caribbean model. Packard was facing bankruptcy and loss of sales, so the company was eager to find new customers in any way it could (via How Stuff Works).

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So in 1956, Packard introduced the biggest V8 engine available in America in the form of the 374 V8 with 310 HP produced with the help of high compression heads and dual quad carburetors. However, despite the immense power, the Caribbean wasn’t fast since the car was heavy and comfort-oriented.

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Pontiac Tempest

In the early ’60s, all major US car makers introduced compact models. Chevrolet had the Corvair, Ford had the Falcon, and Pontiac presented the Tempest. In most cases, those compact models were only more miniature versions of bigger cars sharing design cues and mechanicals. Still, Pontiac went a different route and presented one of the era’s most advanced American cars (via Hemmings).

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The new Tempest had independent suspension all around, in a time when all cars used live rear axle. Then, it featured an economical four-cylinder engine which was a cut-down V8 when all competitors had six cylinders. The third thing may be the most interesting as the Tempest also used a rear-mounted gearbox.

Old Cars Reader Wheels: 1963 Mercury Monterey Breezeway - Old Cars Weekly
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Mercury Monterey Breezeway

Even though Mercury is now discontinued and gone, it was Ford’s affordable luxury division for decades. It was placed between inexpensive Ford products and high-class Lincolns. Learning from Continental, Mercury decided to offer something new to the customers in the hopes of raising sales numbers. In 1963, it introduced an innovative and exciting Breezeway option on its top model (via Motor City Garage).

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This was a reverse C pillar design with a concave profile of the car and tilted rear glass, which was retractable. It was an innovative solution that resulted in more space in the interior and an excellent design. However, it proved somewhat impractical since the passengers could smell the exhaust fumes at low speeds.

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1968 Imperial

Chrysler’s luxury division Imperial always offered a quality alternative to Cadillac or Lincoln models. With powerful engines, plush interiors, and upscale styling, Imperials were always a good choice if you were looking for an exclusive sedan or a two-door coupe. However, by the late ’60s, it looked like Imperial was losing the race against competitors (via Hemmings).

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1968 was the last year this brand featured a significantly different design than the rest of Chrysler’s lineup. In 1967 Imperial switched to unibody construction as a cost-cutting measure from Chrysler. This didn’t affect the comfort; it just saved some money during production. The 440 V8 was standard and delivered 350 HP.

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AMC Ambassador

AMC was always an economy car manufacturer which produced inexpensive but dull models and constantly flirted with bankruptcy. However, they also entered a full-size sedan market with the new 1969 Ambassador (via Automotive Timelines).

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The new Ambassador was one of the better attempts to attract the customers’ attention in 1969. New and improved styling, good comfort and space, and a standard air condition system were unique and pretty impressive features for the day’s standards. The engine lineup started with a modest 283 straight-six unit and went all the way up to a powerful 401 V8.

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Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

Produced from 1964-1977, Vista Cruiser was Oldsmobile’s best-selling and most popular station wagon. It is also one of the models which perfectly describes suburban America in the ’60s and ’70s. In the ’70s, they were equipped with a long list of optional extras, wood grain trim, and the Clamshell tailgate (via Wikipedia).

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The Clamshell tailgate was GM’s patent which was used on all big station wagons of the early ’70s, including Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, and of course, Oldsmobile. This power-operated system could slide the tailgate into the trunk floor, giving unrestricted access to the luggage compartment.

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AMC Eagle Wagon

Conceived in the late ’70s, the Eagle was AMC’s answer to the rising popularity of AWD vehicles and SUVs. AMC decided to combine their compact sedan and wagon lineup with the rugged and proven Jeep AWD system. The result was a surprisingly excellent and capable vehicle with the comfort and luxury of a sedan. It also featured compact dimensions, relatively low weight, and outstanding off-road characteristics (via Motor Trend).

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The Eagle was one of the first if not the first crossover/all-wheel drive station wagon model in the world. Now only today we can see how important and influential this car was. As expected, the Eagle was a relatively popular car, especially in areas with harsh climates and long winters.

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Checker Marathon

One of the most characteristic American sedans of the ’60s is the legendary Checker Marathon, better known as New York Taxi. The Marathon was introduced in 1960 and was sold through 1982 (via Hemmings).

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Available with a straight six or V8 engine from Chevrolet, Marathon was designed and built as a dependable and rugged machine. That is why it was used and abused as the ideal taxi vehicle for decades. Not only in New York but in other cities as well. The Marathon was available as a sedan, wagon, and even the exciting and rare 12-seat Aerowagon.

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Oldsmobile Toronado

Oldsmobile represented the cutting-edge division of GM at one point in time. They presented models that were far ahead of their time and displayed power and style on the global market. One such car is the Oldsmobile Toronado from 1966 (via Drivingline).

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This was a big and powerful personal luxury coupe with a twist since it was front-wheel driven. Designers drew a fantastic-looking shape with a low roof and hidden headlights, while power came from a big block 455 V8 with 385 hp. The Toronado was a success and introduced superb driving characteristics that left competitors in the dust.

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Auburn 851 Speedster

Auburn Automobile was a company that started in Auburn, Indiana, in 1900 and soon grew up as one of the largest local manufacturers. It began as a mid-class offering, but in the mid-1920s, under the supervision of Errett Lobban Cord, it became a premium manufacturer offering elegant and fast cars (via JBS Collection).

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Its finest model and kind of company’s swan song was the Auburn 851 Speedster introduced in 1935. The car had 4.5-liter straight eight engines with an optional supercharger and fantastic performance for the standards of the time. Unfortunately, the market wasn’t impressed and Auburn production ceased in 1937.

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29. Kaiser-Frazer Darrin

The Kaiser Car Company was an economy manufacturer based in Toledo, Ohio. This manufacturer was on the market for a relatively short period, between 1947 and 1955. In the early ’50s, they decided to produce a performance roadster. They contacted the designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin, who produced a stylish roadster body made of fiberglass with one unusual feature – doors which slid to fenders to open (via Apex Auto Mag).

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The car debuted in 1954, but its high price tag and modest 90 HP engine turned some customers away. Just 435 cars were made, all of which are sought-after classics today.

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Dual Ghia

Not many people know about Dual Ghia, an exclusive American car company founded in 1956 and defunct two years later in 1958. Started by businessman Eugene Casaroll, Dual Ghia was a producer of high-powered, custom-built convertibles that used the Chrysler platform and 315 V8 engines (via Supercars).

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The selling point was the body and luxury appointments, and Casaroll sent the chassis to Italy to be re-bodied by the famous Italian design house Ghia, hence the name. The Dual Ghia appeared in 1956, and it was the most expensive American car at the moment. Only 117 were made, and A-list celebrities bought most.

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26. Continental MkII

If you think that Edsel is the only Ford’s failed luxury attempt, you are mistaken. In the mid-’50s, Ford established a separate brand, Continental Division, to produce new luxury cars positioned above the Lincoln brand. The first and only car was the famed Continental Mark II, introduced in 1955 (via Motorcities).

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Ford’s idea was to present a superb luxury coupe with the finest technology and comfort and market it as a separate brand. The idea sounded well, but the market repose wasn’t so great. Continental Division was shut down in five years, following the disappointing sales of the Mark II coupe, despite it being one of the finest American cars ever made.

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25. La Salle

Introduced in 1927, La Salle was a luxury brand established by General Motors. Its goal was to fill the market gap between Cadillac as the top name and more familiar brands like Buick or Oldsmobile. La Salle was under the control of Cadillac (via Augusta Chronicle).

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The concept was successful and the La Salle was a relatively popular model. A significant part of its appeal was the design and technology. Buyers got a baseline Cadillac for less money, which appealed to a broader audience. However, by the end of the ’40s, General Motors realized that having several brands covering the same market segment was not practical and decided to kill the brand.

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Cord 812

Despite being involved with Duesenberg and Auburn, Errett Lobban Cord was a successful car salesman and businessman who had a dream of building cars under his name. So, in 1929, he established a company called Cord and introduced it.

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The philosophy behind Cord cars was simple: offer advanced technology, powerful engines, and gorgeous design, which is precisely what he did. The most famous Cord was the fantastic 812, featuring Art Deco styling, front-wheel drive, and a powerful V8 engine. Unfortunately, despite being a favorite ride of the Hollywood elite, Cord was forced to close its doors in 1937 (via Hemmings).

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Ford Edsel

The Edsel story is one of the biggest commercial failures in the car business, even by today’s standards. In the late ’50s, Ford launched the Edsel, an upscale brand based on Ford and Mercury’s models, which they planned to compete with Oldsmobile and Buick (via Time).

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When the car was officially presented in 1959, people were puzzled. After good sales in the first few months, buyers’ interest oddly disappeared. The Edsel was killed in 1960 after just two years on the market. Ford invested so much money to present the image of the Edsel as a fantastic new car with unrivaled features and power, and people were expecting something exceptional. Instead, they got an upscale Ford with a strange and funny design.

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Studebaker Lark

Today, the Studebaker Lark is forgotten as a model. Not only was it one of the first compact cars from a domestic car company, but it was one of the most successful cars for a little while. The Lark was built from 1959 to 1966 in three generations (via Bring A Trailer).

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Most of the cars featured straight six engines but V8 power was also available. Today, you can pick up a nice Studebaker Lark Convertible for under $15,000, which is a steal. And if you’re looking to differ from everybody else at the car meets, you should do just that.

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20. AMC Gremlin

Introduced in 1970 on the 1st of April, the AMC Gremlin looked like April’s fool joke. The competitors laughed at its compact dimensions, funny rear end, and small engines but very soon, AMC was the one smiling all the way to the bank. The Gremlin proved to be a sales success and the first American subcompact car.

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When the car was introduced, it was received with mixed reviews, but it soon became quite popular, especially with a younger audience. In fact, in the decade of platform shoes, The Eagles, and shag carpets, the Gremlin became one of the symbols of the generation and a very influential model (via Motor Trend).

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Plymouth Valiant

One of the best and most interesting classic American compact cars was definitely the legendary Plymouth Valiant. With striking styling, smaller dimensions, and engines, the car had a unibody construction and standard suspension, which included front A-arms and leaf springs set up in the back (via AC).

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Under the hood was the Slant Six engine, which was new for 1960 and later became one of the most durable engines Chrysler has ever built. In the Valiant, it was available in two forms – 170 and 225 cubic inches. The Slant Six characteristic became one of the Valiant’s most significant selling points, and the car had decent performance and good fuel economy, even by today’s standards.

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Nash Healey

The project started when the head of Nash Car Company met with Donald Healey, a British engineer and constructor on a cruise ship, and they decided to make a sports car that America didn’t have at the moment (via Supercars).

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The idea was to take the Nash Ambassador platform and six-cylinder engine and cover it with an elegant roadster or coupe body made out of aluminum. The first cars were introduced in 1951, and despite 125 to 140 HP from a 3.2-liter straight six engine, Nash Healey had a respectable performance. However, the high price killed the project in 1954 after only 506 were made.

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Muntz Jet

Earl “Madman” Muntz built the Muntz Jet, a well-known Californian used car dealer and electronics retailer. With the help of famous Frank Curtis, he produced 400 Muntz Jets, one of the first American sports cars.

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All cars were convertibles and featured numerous unique features along with the choice of Cadillac or Lincoln V8 engines. Unfortunately, the market just wasn’t ready for an expensive and limited production American sports car, so the Muntz Jet was discontinued in a couple of years. Out of around 400 cars built, there are only about 45 left today (via Silodrome).

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Cunningham C-3 Vignale

Briggs Cunningham was a world-known entrepreneur, racer, and constructor who introduced American cars to Europe’s sports car scene in the 1950s. His dream was to make his own sports car. The C-3 was a two-door coupe or convertible produced in his West Palm Beach facility. It used the Cunningham C-2 R racing chassis but converted for street use, and the bodies came from Italy, designed and produced by Vignale (via Topspeed).

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Under the hood was Chrysler’s 331 Hemi engine tuned to produce 300 HP. The C-3 was a luxury sports car that could easily rival any Ferrari or Maserati. It was also costly, with prices close to the Rolls-Royces of the day.

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Gaylord Gladiator

Established by Gaylord Brothers of Chicago in the early ’50s, Gaylord was set to be the producer of luxurious sports cars for the world’s wealthiest clientele. The brothers inherited a fortune and wanted to invest a big part of it into a car company under their name (via Hagerty).

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Their first and only project was called Gladiator, and it debuted at the 1955 Paris Motor Show, causing quite a stir among the world’s car enthusiasts. The Gaylord Gladiator featured a 300 HP V8 (Chrysler Hemi or Cadillac), top speed of 120 mph, and 0 to 60 mph time of 8 seconds which was pretty spectacular for the standards of the day. Gaylord brothers made only two cars. There is a legend of the third car made in Germany, but nothing was ever confirmed.

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Hudson Italia

Today, just a small percentage of car enthusiasts know about the Hudson car company which was one of the dominant forces in the economy car class during the ’50s. Hudson was one of the companies which formed AMC in the late ’50s. Still, before the merger, Hudson tried to offer a particular luxury car to American buyers – the Italia (via Autoweek).

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Designed and manufactured in Milan, Italy, by the famous Carrozzeria Touring, Hudson Italia was a luxury coupe built on a standard Hudson Hornet platform and featured the same suspension and drivetrain. The company only made 26 and production lasted from 1953 to 1954.

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Kellison J6

Established in the early ’50s, Kellison produced several successful kits for installation on popular models. However, in the early ’60s, the company introduced the J6. The J6 could be bought as a kit or a fully-built car, making Kellison a boutique car manufacturer. The J6 was based on a Corvette frame but Kellison didn’t just re-body the ‘Vette (via Topspeed).

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They moved the engine further back in the chassis, changed the suspension, and installed larger brakes and a different interior making the J6 better handling and even faster since the J6 body was somewhat lighter than the stock Corvette. This conversion was pretty popular.

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Apollo 3500 GT

This car is known under several names, including Vetta Ventura and Griffith GT. However, the project started as Apollo 3500, and it was the brainchild of Californian engineer Milt Brown who wanted to build a proper sports car to rival the European exotics. With the help of Intermeccanica founder Frank Reisner, the Apollo project started to take shape in the form of a handsome coupe powered by a 3.5-liter Buick V8 (via Silodrome).

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The production was later moved to Texas and renamed Vetta Ventura, but the car stayed the same. However, it got an upgraded engine in the form of a 4.9-liter Buick V8. Production started in 1962 and lasted until 1965.

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Bradley GT

The Bradley GT was a typical ’70s kit car company that produced cars built on VW Beetle floor pans with flat-four air-cooled engines and suspension. Despite the fact it doesn’t count as a sports car configuration, the Bradley GT was fast since the bodies were light and owners often decided to tune the engines (via Makes That Didnt Make It).

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The Bradley GT was an interesting-looking sports coupe that sold as a kit or as a fully built car, customized to customers’ specifications. It was one of the typical ’70s DIY models with metallic paint, chrome wheels, and gullwing doors, all of which added to the appeal.

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10. Bricklin SV-1

The SV-1 was the brainchild of automotive entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin. It was made in Canada from 1974 to 1975 and less than 3000 examples were produced. For a short while, the SV-1 was marketed as the best and most advanced American sports car. However, as soon as the first cars started rolling from the assembly line, it was clear that the SV-1 was not as good as people expected it to be (via Silodrome).

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The idea was to produce a safe and fast sports car as the name SV-1 (Safety Vehicle One) suggested. Bricklin designed the car with big bumpers, numerous additional features, warring sensors, power Gullwing doors, no cigarette lighters, an integrated roll cage, and other aspects making it heavy and not very agile.

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Cheetah

The global success of Shelby Cobra inspired many American race car builders to build a similar car that could compete on an international level. From this perspective, nobody came close to beating the Cobra, but Bill Thomas, a famous Chevrolet tuner and race car builder, was a serious candidate (via Car and Driver).

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A unique lightweight chassis was featured along with a small block V8 moved as far back as possible. A light fiberglass body covered all of this. Despite some overheating problems, the Cheetah was a remarkable performer and won some lower-rank races and even the 1968 SCCA championship.

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Bosley Mk1 GT

Like many car enthusiasts before or after him, Richard Bosley had a dream of building his own sports car. As a very talented person but with no engineering or design education, Bosley started the construction of the Mk1 GT in his garage. In 1953, he managed to complete the car. The result was an amazingly modern sports coupe that featured tube chassis and tuned Chrysler’s Hemi engine with around 300 HP (via Concept Carz).

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The Bosley Mk1 GT was a surprisingly capable coupe with fantastic performance compared to the cars of the period. For some reason, Bosley never intended to start regular production of the Mk1 GT.

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7. Oldsmobile Achieva SCX W41

Despite the very limited sales of the original W41 Cutlass in 1991, Oldsmobile knew that the 2.3-liter four-cylinder had the potential to be more than just a footnote in Oldsmobile’s history. So, for the 1992 and 1993 model years, Oldsmobile offered the SCX W41 model, the last W-named performance version ever built by Oldsmobile (via AC).

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The SCX W41 was heavily based on the previous model and featured the same 190 HP 2.3-liter engine, which revved to 7,200 rpm. The design and interior equipment got better, and there were some changes to suspension and brakes. The five-speed manual gearbox developed especially for this model was the most significant improvement.

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Panoz Roadster

Successful in racing, Panoz was one of those brands which offered a lot of racing technologies in street-legal vehicles. That made them favorites with fans of performance driving (via Motor Biscuit).

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The Roadster model debuted in the early ’90s and as the modern-day version of the legendary Shelby Cobra. Panoz used a lot of Ford Mustang components including the engine, drivetrain, and suspension, which meant that the Roadster had 300 HP and brutal performance.

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Guldstrand Corvette C4

Dick Guldstrand was a household name to all Corvette fans as one of the best-known Corvette racers and tuners. In the early ’90s, Chevrolet introduced the mighty ZR1 Vette but Guldstrand felt it wasn’t enough (via LSX Mag).

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So his shop presented the Guldstrand GS 90 with 475 HP and a host of other upgrades. The GS 90 production was minimal, with some sources stating that only about 25 cars. However, they are easily recognizable due to custom bodywork and paint jobs.

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International Harvester Scout

International Harvester is a well-known American company that makes trucks and agricultural machinery. However, from the ’50s to the early ’80s, International was producing two SUV models. The Scout was a small and very usable off-road SUV with choices of engines ranging from 2.5-liter straight four to 4.4-liter V8 (via Maxim).

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Also, it came with a removable hard top, which meant that every Scout was also a convertible, and it also had a fold-down windshield. The first models were pretty basic and used by nature lovers, hunters, and forest patrols. Still, the second generation introduced a more luxurious Scout with more options, better engines, and exterior trim.

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Jeepster Commando

The Jeepster Commando is a Jeep sub-brand that was in production between 1966 and 1973. It was an upscale version of those pure off-road models that featured removable hardtops and a small truck bed behind the front seats. It was a practical model that drivers could use for cruising, as well as carrying smaller items and going off-road (via Motor Trend).

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Buyers had a wide selection of engines, from small inline four and six cylinders to V6 and V8 engines. AMC produced most of the engines because they owned the Jeep brand at the time. Also, Buick produced a 225 V6 known as the Dauntless V6.

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Pierce Arrow

One of the most famous forgotten American luxury brands is Pierce-Arrow. The company started as a truck and engine manufacturer in Buffalo, New York, in 1901. Pierce-Arrow soon moved to luxury models with great success. Right from the start, the company developed a specific style of its cars with flowing lines, headlights incorporated into front fenders, and wild color choices (via Motor-Car).

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But the Great Depression of the late ’20s and early ’30s killed the brand, and this legendary company ceased to exist in 1938. Simply, a small independent company like this couldn’t survive the big recession.

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American Mercedes

No, we are not talking about Mercedes products currently made in the Mercedes Alabama factory; we are talking about a separate brand made in 1904 in Long Island, New York.

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As you can guess, American Mercedes started producing cars under license from Mercedes-Benz Germany. Soon it started developing its versions of vehicles. However, the venture wasn’t successful, and in 1907, American Mercedes closed (via Supercars).

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