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

Vukasin Herbez August 9, 2022

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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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