Wayback Machine Allows a Peek into Defunct Detroit Automaker Websites

The WayBack Machine is an archive of the internet. Not everything is available, but many websites from even the nineties can still be accessed. That got me thinking; what were the websites of defunct Detroit automakers like Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Mercury, and others like right before they went out of business?

I have some answers.

Pontiac

Pontiac was probably the most depressing, but also easiest site to extract information from. Many of GM’s other brands had websites that were almost entirely flash-based, meaning that a lot of the information on them is completely lost.

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This snapshot was taken in December of 2008. For some context on the, “TELL CONGRESS THE U.S. AUTO INDUSTRY MATTERS” button, the big 3 Detroit automakers were all in congressional hearings at this time–summoned to explain why they were all bankrupt. I’m not sure what was meant by “PONTIAC IS CAR“.

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This one is from July 2008. I guess they were just making sure everybody knew that they were still selling cars? Kind of cool seeing all of this original Pontiac stuff. There isn’t going to be any more of it!

You may want to turn on some sad music for the following image.

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This one is from November 2010. This is the way it stayed for a while until the Pontiac.com just became a redirect. Maybe they’ll come back some day.

Oldsmobile

Oldsmobile went out of business in 2004, so you may think there isn’t a ton of content around. It’s around, but not as nice and high-res as the newer stuff. There are some GIFs.

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The Olds’ Aurora got its own website in 2001. Very dark, very moody. Lots of nice big words like “unparalleled”. I like it. There’s a lot of really cool, kind of late 90’s shots of the Aurora on it’s website. I’ve curated the best of them here:

AuroraAurora

AuroraAurora

Here’s the Oldsmobile website from June 2004:

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Lots of nice colors. They went out of business in late April of 2004, so at this point I guess they hadn’t updated the website yet. Maybe the “Have you considered other GM brands?” was a sort of stop-gap solution.

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Late November 2005 was the first time I could find the webpage referencing the brand’s end. More than a whole year after they actually were out of business. That’s a little… Careless? One day a GM executive woke up, “Oh shit–right! Oldsmobile went out of business! Change the website!”

Mercury

The strangest thing about Mercury’s website was “Milan World”

Apparently it was some sort of flash game you could play in a Mercury Milan-centric universe? The flash wouldn’t load so I couldn’t play it. Unfortunately, Milan World has been lost to time.

I was also able to find two original (albeit small) pictures of the Mercury Marauder:

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Here’s what they posted when Ford closed their doors. Pretty unceremonious, to be honest:

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Hummer

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Hummer went out of business in late May 2010, but their website was not updated until November 2011. The truck brand was the youngest of any of the automakers who were closed, and the Hummer name is apparently coming back as an electric SUV. There wasn’t really anything cool on their website, Hummer wasn’t around for that long. I did find this one picture of an H3 with a sort of “cybertrucky” bed cover, though:

The All-New 2007 H3X

Saturn

Saturn’s website was completely flash-based most of the time. The only times it was not was in the very early 2000s, and right before they got closed down. Here’s a few highlights:

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Just absolutely great stuff. Looks like some kind of cult. They’re all wearing black with the same shoes. Wasn’t there a suicide cult like that?

This page is called “The research center”:

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This is the employment inquiry page:

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This seems a lot like a cult. In his book (Car guys vs. Bean Counters) Bob Lutz said that Saturn was really weird, but I never really got that vibe. Now I am getting that vibe. This whole website is really worth just browsing around. It’s a very unusual time and place. I only have vague memories of when the internet was like this. I’ll give you a direct link to it here.

Saturn’s brand closure page was not nearly as quirky as it’s circa 2000 website. Seems like they got a copy-pasted version of Hummer’s. Yeesh, that’s just classic GM.

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Plymouth

I’ll end with Plymouth. Frankly, I very nearly forgot about them.

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Intriguingly, the Plymouth website had a function that automatically told you today’s date. It still works–meaning technically I have created a universe where Plymouth still exists in 2020. I feel strange.

Plymouth didn’t officially go out of business until late June 2001, however their website just redirected to the Chrysler website as early as October 2000. Not even a “Cya, losers!” page or anything.

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You can see the Plymouth models were just added to Chrysler’s website. Also, look at that; the PT Cruiser. Motortrend’s 2001 car of the year–that hasn’t aged well.

The Chrysler website from this time is probably the best preserved and most navigable of any of these archived webpages. There’s a lot of great pictures. I’ll leave a link here so you can explore it.

What did I forget?

If anybody would like to share any other interesting automobilia you found using the Wayback Machine, please share. I’m sure there’s a lot out there I’ve just forgotten about.

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53 responses to “Wayback Machine Allows a Peek into Defunct Detroit Automaker Websites”

  1. 0A5599 Avatar
    0A5599

    How about Fisker? The one from a decade ago, not the current one.

    Fun fact: the Wayback Machine can occasionally be used to retrieve old Hooniverse posts, including Intense Debate comments.

    https://hooniverse.com/2013/09/19/not-truck-thursday-a-1972-plymouth-valiant-scamp-that-is-one-bad-mother-trucker/ (lost to Hoonibbles version)

    https://web.archive.org/web/20140917021435/https://hooniverse.com/2013/09/19/not-truck-thursday-a-1972-plymouth-valiant-scamp-that-is-one-bad-mother-trucker/ (Wayback version)

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      I actually have a full download of the old site crawled from the Wayback archives. I’m trying to figure out how to use it to restore old photos, posts, and comments.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar
        0A5599

        I think Wayback has some gaps in its Hooniverse collection, but that’s better than nothing.

      2. Sjalabais Avatar
        Sjalabais

        I used to show this one to people, but all the show is gone.

    2. jack MILLER Avatar
      jack MILLER

      UK News

  2. Sjalabais Avatar
    Sjalabais

    I always liked the Aurora and I think it looks good to this day. More so than its website.

  3. Wayne Moyer Avatar
    Wayne Moyer

    Pontiac is Car? No I think they have this a bit confused. Although it does give them a built in spokesperson for that 2008 issue.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c53181c60204cb7c83d0d86451f42a2a6cc7e7083027ee95bd3e9736bec53b29.jpg

  4. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    I can find no record of Rover, other than the excellent AROnline website.
    Obviously these are worthless now.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1c/Rover_Company_Ltd_1964.jpg/1280px-Rover_Company_Ltd_1964.jpg

    1. outback_ute Avatar
      outback_ute

      Now? Surely for 50+ years?

      Congrats on having the image to hand; I’m betting it’s not the first time you’ve used it?

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        It is. Part of the reason my parents moved to NZ was the way the reef fish of the sharemarket work.

  5. Maymar Avatar
    Maymar

    https://web.archive.org/web/19990429053447/http://www.gmev.com/

    It’s a sort of defunct brand? I just remember the EV1’s website as one of the first sites I visited ever. As a pre-teen, I was more impressed by the video of one drag racing a Miata than I should have been.

    1. Peter H Avatar
      Peter H

      that ev1 website is bangin

  6. Classic Bob Avatar
    Classic Bob

    What about Saab? Technically not American, but was owned by GM until sold and lived longer than Pontiac, Saturn, or Hummer. It actually shared more than one Detroit platform SUV. Defunct in 2012.

    Not sure if this qualifies as defunct, but SRT was its own automobile brand in 2013-2014 (when the Viper was not sold as a Dodge), until was folded back into Dodge as its performance sub-brand.

  7. Classic Bob Avatar
    Classic Bob

    What about Saab? Technically not American, but was owned by GM until sold and lived longer than Pontiac, Saturn, or Hummer. It actually shared more than one Detroit platform SUV. Defunct in 2012.

    Not sure if this qualifies as defunct, but SRT was its own automobile brand in 2013-2014 (when the Viper was not sold as a Dodge), until was folded back into Dodge as its performance sub-brand.

  8. Classic Bob Avatar
    Classic Bob

    What about Saab? Technically not American, but was owned by GM until sold and lived longer than Pontiac, Saturn, or Hummer. It actually shared more than one Detroit platform SUV. Defunct in 2012.

    Not sure if this qualifies as defunct, but SRT was its own automobile brand in 2013-2014 (when the Viper was not sold as a Dodge), until was folded back into Dodge as its performance sub-brand.

  9. Smaglik Avatar
    Smaglik

    Gee, I wonder why Mercury wasn’t a success at this point in time…I look at their final line up and I see fusion, crown vic, escape, explorer….they didn’t even try to differentiate, other than being more expensive…those high-brow grills are not cheap, apparently.

    1. DS Avatar
      DS

      I drive a 15 yr. old Mercury Milan V-6, bought used in 2006. Have maintained it according to its maintenance schedule. At the time it was rated the most reliable sedan of all and it sure has been. I was sadly surprised when Ford folded up Mercury. All of the fantastic
      American auto engineers and designers; pushing the envelope, GONE. Sedans, disappearing. Do it yourself mechnics, vaporized.
      Eaten up by next gen corps. and spit out.

  10. Smaglik Avatar
    Smaglik

    Gee, I wonder why Mercury wasn’t a success at this point in time…I look at their final line up and I see fusion, crown vic, escape, explorer….they didn’t even try to differentiate, other than being more expensive…those high-brow grills are not cheap, apparently.

  11. Tiller188 Avatar
    Tiller188

    I’m not the only one who mentally read that Pontiac tagline in a thick Slavic-ish accent, am I?

  12. Smaglik Avatar
    Smaglik

    Does Milan World look like a scene from Leisure Suit Larry to anyone else?

  13. outback_ute Avatar
    outback_ute

    Opel Australia only existed for 11 months 2011-2012 but hasn’t disappeared completely from the ‘live’ web.

    First result when searching was… “Opel has ceased operations in Australia. Support for Opel products will now be provided by GM Holden.”
    https://www.holden.com.au/opel/servicing

    There is still a website of sorts, dating from 2014, no product information though! I think there were still dealerships under construction when the plug was pulled.
    https://www.holden.com.au/opel

    I’ll have to have another go to get a decent link on the wayback though. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/efefe4020a3e639a92e7d8fb52540c90f5c446d938bac5597f0c056d84e72d43.jpg

  14. ptschett Avatar
    ptschett

    Also, look at that; the PT Cruiser. Motortrend’s 2001 car of the year–that hasn’t aged well.

    It was possibly Chrysler’s most profitable small car in history up to its era. Its chief designer went on to GM and reportedly had a hand in creating a direct competitor, the HHR, from the basis of the Cobalt. Now, we have manufacturers declaring that they’re not even going to bother selling the low-small car that shares its platform with their tall-small car, and throwing resources at the tall-small cars to keep them feature-rich and stylistically interesting, as opposed to the simple/plain appliances that some of the original CUVs were.

    Yes, the PT was hard to work on, due to the compromises needed to pack an existing powertrain in its engine bay; it suffered from Daimler-induced program delays and cost-cutting; it lingered too long without substantive changes; the 2006 refresh was… not great. But getting Americans to want to own “an efficient, subcompact-length tall hatchback/wagon in a country whose consumers normally shun such transportation” was novel yet in 2001.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/69/2007ChevroletHHR-001.jpg/1920px-2007ChevroletHHR-001.jpg
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a0/2020_Ford_Escape_SEL_EcoBoost_AWD%2C_front_11.22.19.jpg/1920px-2020_Ford_Escape_SEL_EcoBoost_AWD%2C_front_11.22.19.jpg

    1. Vairship Avatar
      Vairship

      I always like thinking back to when Fiat were supposed to show Chrysler how to build small cars profitably. Then I see a Fiat 500L and go: huh, similar shape as a PT Cruiser but less successful…

      1. ds Avatar
        ds

        Righto….. the big FIAT/CHRYSLER collaboration… a complete FAILURE.

  15. salguod Avatar

    Early Saturn was a fantastic company. They managed to build an amazing following in a very short time. Within a couple of years they were having Saturn homecoming gatherings at the Spring Hill plant that attracted hundreds, if not thousands, of owners. This is from a slightly above average economy car. Imagine Toyota holding a Corolla homecoming.

    I think it was mostly because they decided to treat people differently. They had to recall the first batch of cars made due to the wrong antifreeze being used. They could have flushed the system and added to the warranty, but instead they replaced every car. They had other recalls and would throw recall parties with free food to get people to come in and get their cars fixed.

    Late Saturn was just another GM brand with nothing distinctive about it, sadly.

    I had a year two 1992 SL2 which was a decent and somewhat unique car and a final year 2010 Outlook which was a slightly better looking Acadia.

  16. pj134 Avatar
    pj134

    Saturn was about as close to a cult as can be. They literally had festivals at the factory where 30-40k owners showed up.

    http://www.saturnfans.com/Company/2004/nohomecoming2004.shtml

    I worked at a dealership during the end of times for Saturn. It was one of the weirdest brands you could imagine even after it became american Opel. Can’t say I don’t love it when I see any of the SL/SC/SWs rolling around. As long as you kept replacing all the oil it was burning those things ran forever.

  17. Peter Crisitello Avatar
    Peter Crisitello

    How about the Tropica EV from the 1990’s? While some of the links are no longer active, you can find their home page here https://www.nogas.org/ev/ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/583773f6adb99161017a6236c212645ae39b3c4a36c2470850b9eb04bacb1a90.jpg

    1.  Avatar
      Anonymous

      xxxx

  18. Ssadique Avatar
    Ssadique

    I think Wayback has some gaps in its Hooniverse collection, but that’s better than nothing.
    http://www.myinfo.pk

  19. Sadique Avatar
    Sadique

    What about Saab? Technically not American, but was owned by GM until sold and lived longer than Pontiac, Saturn, or Hummer. It actually shared more than one Detroit platform SUV. Defunct in 2012.https://bestmotorcyclehelmets.net/best-dual-sport-motorcycle-helmets/

  20. Thirtyonejumps Avatar
    Thirtyonejumps

    The comment at the beginning that “This snapshot was taken in December of 2008 . . . the big 3 Detroit automakers were all in congressional hearings at this time–summoned to explain why they were all bankrupt” is wrong. Ford, unlike GM and Chrysler, did not file for bankruptcy relief.

  21. Villeguy Avatar
    Villeguy

    I know it’s a little late to the party, but Buick was a brand that could have been included in your list. They shut their plant in 2010. The century was still being marketed as a Buick until 2019, but it was nothing more than the old nameplate.
    Friends of ours owned the Cadillac, Pontiac, Buick & Oldsmobile dealership in this area of NJ. Only Cadillac survives!
    “New Oldsmobiles are out early this year!” – Jake Blues

  22. Theresa Little Avatar
    Theresa Little

    Hey there, I just wanted to tell y’all that I’ve been making such a stable income from this crazy money making system and the best part of it was I really didn’t have to invest anything. I’m making about $6000-$8000 per month and you can too, download this awesome system here… www.WorksSilver.com

    1. Ben Cos Avatar
      Ben Cos

      pretty sure thats a scam……

  23. Bernhard Avatar
    Bernhard

    i Use The Internet Archive to find old car Brochures etc like https://archive.org/details/2010-Land-Rover-Range-Rover-brochure/page/n11/mode/2up

  24. olivia bolton Avatar
    olivia bolton

    ddd

  25. Tom Cotter Avatar
    Tom Cotter

    I really, really need to read about the 2010 LeMans race as it related to the 1960 Briggs Cunningham three-car Corvette effort on the GM website

  26. jhm,hbnb Avatar

    http://www.futbol.sk no.1

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    eastgermany-berlin.de

    pearl-haber no.11111111111111111111111

    and area 51 nevada usa

  27. Marksilk Avatar

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  28. Darrell200 Avatar

    It is. Part of the reason my parents moved to London was the way the reef coin of the sharemarket work.

  29. Delbert500 Avatar

    I actually have a full download of the old site crawled from the Wayback archives. I’m trying to figure out how to use it to restore old photos, posts, and comments.

  30. Wood112 Avatar

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  33. Jeremy Avatar
    Jeremy

    You forgot Chrysler’s other worthless brand, Eagle:

    http://web.archive.org/web/19961103124601/http://www.eaglecars.com/

  34. hitamqq Avatar

    nice, i not want forget you say in this artikel , i very very like

  35. sim thành đạt Avatar

    Apparently it was some sort of flash game you could play in a Mercury Milan-centric universe? The flash wouldn’t load so I couldn’t play it. Unfortunately, Milan World has been lost to time.

  36. Robert_Thom Avatar
    Robert_Thom

    The black and red of the Saturn team could have been a nod on two other Detroit icons that were tops in the early 2000s – The White Stripes or possibly the Red Wings. In any case, thanks for the post.

  37. Izreal Avatar

    For roblox

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