Obituaries seem to be the latest fad in the auto industry. With the loss of Saturn and Hummer, the nation wept over the thought of never again buying a battle-ready SUV or being freaked out by a Stepford Wives car salesman with the free cookies.
Pontiac was a different story, since the car brand has been around since 1926 and was responsible for some of the most beautiful and memorable cars in America. Killing Pontiac would have been one thing, but let’s face it, GM abused the brand long before it died. There should be jail time for some of the cars that came out of Pontiac, and there should have been counseling offered to the American people once they were gone. Once upon a time, Pontiac was the “excitement” brand, turning out cars like the Firebird, Trans AM, Grand Prix and of course, the GTO. How this company became the same one that produced the Aztek, and the plastic nightmares of the 1990’s is something I think a grand jury should look into. Pontiac was a way of life for the people who were loyal, for those who built it, and for those that sold the cars. It was wrong to allow it to fail in the way it did. Saturn and Hummer are lightweights… Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Plymouth were icons.
They have all gone the way of Plymouth, up to auto heaven, and now all we have are the memories and rust stains on the driveway. But they won’t be up there alone for very long, because a lot more brands will soon need the services of a Jack Kevorkian.
First up will be Maybach, which probably won’t be missed by anyone but a few lame rappers. It was nice to see them rise again and shake off that whole Third Reich image, but let face it: here in the US we really don’t need a Landaulet State Limousine, because we have no Fuhrer (hear that Glenn Beck…no Fuhrer!)
Next may be Mitsubishi, but only because they have been in decline longer than Elizabeth Taylor and nothing they create is worthwhile except the EVO. Buyers of Mitsubishi still wear parachute pants and have padded shoulders, but are now too fat to fit in the cars anymore. Google “Mitsubishi Jokes” and you get a gallery of its cars. They are a huge company, but if they don’t start to sell something soon, I am pretty sure Japan will pull the plug.
Buick may be on the list, despite what GM says. Buick has declined more that 80% since 2003, and now that everyone hates Tiger Woods, no one will buy this lame excuse for a car. GM should have kept Pontiac or Oldsmobile, and dumped Buick. Olds was a poor person’s Cadillac, and Buick was a poor person’s Old. Buick has no personality, and the attempts at placing them against BMW and Audi are a complete joke. I know old people need transportation, but I thought that was why God made the Hoverround.
Finally, when I originally wrote this article in April for Car Design Review, I predicted that Ford would dump Mercury. I don’t want to pat myself on the back (that’s why Elsa is here), but I was right. Mercury is gone, and I could not be happier. Mercury was founded by Edsel Ford, which should have given the Board of Directors a hint of the future. They have been in decline since the 1970’s, have not made a decent car since the 1950’s, and are basically the automotive equivalent of Rosemary Kennedy…lobotomized. Mercury has been in a coma for so long, I think Ford forgot about them. They are memorable for just a small handful of cars, including the Mercury Monterey, Park Lane, and Turnpike Cruiser, the 1960’s Cougar, and the one time sale of the great de Thomaso Pantera. Everything else they did was offensive, like the Mercury Topaz, Sable, and every other version of the Cougar. Oh yeah, lets not forget that whole sitcom period, where they had the gay cousin (Merkur) come join the family. Mercury was Terri Schiavo, and it took too long to pull the plug.
If you are not bawling your eyes out yet, let’s continue…If you can’t kill the whole brand, try shooting up models (not the playboy type). Gone soon will be the Dodge Viper, a car that deserves to be continued at least in kit form, it was so good. Honda is dumping the SC2000, a roadster that was better than any BMW or Miata. Mazda is killing the RX8, with its rotary engine and those cool hideaway doors. Want more? Toyota claims it will keep its FJ Cruiser, but I think it will be gone soon enough. The Ford Explorer Sport Trac will be either gone, or rebadged into obscurity, and disappearing soon will be the Audi S8 and Dodge Caliber SRT/4.
The auto industry is performing more hits than a coke crazed mafia assassin, and it does not care about the people left behind. Detroit itself looks like Dresden after the war, and things are getting out of hand. So, stock up on Kleenex, because I am sure there will be a lot more death coming our way.
Article courtesy of cardesignreview.com and Chris Raymond
Photos courtesy of automotivetraveler.com, Google Images, Chrysler, and GM