Hooniverse Asks: What Failed Car Brand Put Up The Best Fight?

If you’re anything like me then you likely imagine that when GM told the Oldsmobile management team that their brand was scheduled for the axe, the response was something along the lines of “what kind of severance will you be offering?”
The inner workings of an automotive brand’s departure from the market is not typically something that’s undertaken as public spectacle, but you can bet that some marques didn’t go quietly into that dark night. What we’re interested in today is your opinion on which brands seemed to go out swinging. What do you think were the failed brands that, before their demise, put up a noble fight?
Image: Curbside Classic

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40 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What Failed Car Brand Put Up The Best Fight?”

    1. Kiefmo Avatar


    2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

      Their last 9-5 looked phenomenal.

  1. 0A5599 Avatar

    Hummer. The brand’s $150 million potential buyer fell through during the bottom of the SUV market, and I bet if another buyer could have seized the opportunity back then, they would be rolling in money today.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      And AM General can trace their roots back through American Motors, Kaiser-Jeep, Studebaker, Kaiser-Willys, Willys-Overland, and Overland.

  2. P161911 Avatar

    Studebaker, the Avanti in particular put up the longest fight. The last attempt to sell something called an Avanti happened just a little over 10 years ago.

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      The Avanti was a perfect last hurrah. I don’t care for the continuation cars, but putting that car together in the face of dissolution was a chin flick to the industry.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        The continuation cars up to 1989,( Avanti II, with the biggest difference being a Chevy V-8) the ones using the original design and chassis are OK. They went downhill quickly after that.

  3. Alff Avatar


      1. Alff Avatar

      2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

        I’m Peter Tanshanomi, and I approve this message.

        1. 0A5599 Avatar

          Perhaps you didn’t notice this was a response to a nomination of Mitsubishi.

          1. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            Mea Culpa.
            Still it seems to have been Mitsubishi’s choice/ineptitude/carelessness/stupidity to go down the route they are on.Eg dumping Evo, not following up the Diamante/Magna properly, etc.

  4. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    AMC. They never had a chance but made it longer than anyone would have expected due to sheer willpower, luck, and deals with the devil.

    1. Victor Avatar

      Dedication and perserverance .

    2. Sean McMillan Avatar
      Sean McMillan

      Amc at it’s outset was a last ditch effort by 3 failing marques (all of which produced some very unique cars in their own times) to stay competitive. They were fighting a losing battle from the very start but they still managed to hang in there for 30 odd years and made some interesting cars in the process.

    3. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Jeep + some car brands – see also FCA/FJA

  5. P161911 Avatar


    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      If it weren’t for the valuable Jeep brand, I think Chrysler would be fully dead by now.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        They’re pretty strong with minivans and pickups too.

        1. P161911 Avatar

          I think the separate RAM branding is FCA getting ready to “part out” Chrysler.

          1. JayP Avatar

            The idea of RAM was brought up back when Nissan was looking to buy into the full size truck market even before DC.

      2. JayP Avatar

        Chrysler has a knack to find that one car to keep it going.
        K Car, LH, Neon, minivan, LX…

      3. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        I already think of it as FJA.

  6. mdharrell Avatar

    Pierce-Arrow survived the Depression, followed by an awkward merger and bankruptcy/breakup with Studebaker, yet continued for several more years as an independent before closing shop. Throughout all this they developed magnificent new eight- and twelve-cylinder engines, sponsored a record-setting endurance run on the Bonneville Salt Flats, released the Silver Arrow, and never once succumbed to the otherwise nearly universal temptation of diluting the marque’s reputation with a “cheap” car to attract volume sales. If that’s not a noble fight, I don’t know what is.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Wasn’t it Packard that merged with Studebaker?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Packard merged with Studebaker in 1954 but Studebaker had previously joined with Pierce-Arrow in 1928, only to become separate again as part of the 1933 bankruptcy.
        Had Studebaker managed to own Peerless at some point, they would have collected the complete set of Three Ps.

  7. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

    TVR. They were rolling out a 200mph halo car with a sequential gearbox, supercharger, and (gasp) non-batch injection even as the company was collapsing.

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      Alternate Tuesday answer: Victory.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

        I wouldn’t consider that a good fight, more like sucker punch knockout.

  8. nanoop Avatar

    BMW. They have “Gran Tourers” and “Active Tourers” now, and lots of cars close to 2t, which all sell well but keep eating into their cred, but they’re fighting their “GM or VW, in any case everything for everybody” by serving us things like the i3 (daring technology and a good design, albeit I’m talking about the interior here) and the M2.

  9. Vairship Avatar

    Checker Motors Corporation (1922-2010). Yes that’s right, they stopped making their own cars in 1982 but managed to hang on in the automobile business until early 2010. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checker_Motors_Corporation

  10. Sean McMillan Avatar
    Sean McMillan

    Huppmobile and Graham went out swinging by repurposing one of the best bodies of the 1930’s

    1. Sean McMillan Avatar
      Sean McMillan

      It still looks better on a Cord though

  11. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Rover, before being dragged down by being lumped in with BMC in the Leyland debacle. With the huge profits from Landrover and the Rover cars being bled off to support the money-losing Austin Morris cars group.
    The nadir was this car, the Rover P8, being cancelled at the last minute, after production tooling had started, after pressure from Lyons at Jaguar after the BMH/BMC merger; afraid of competition for his new XJ6. After this, Rover engineering was never mentioned again as the equal of Mercedes Benz.
    Still the company soldiered on into the new millennium, and one of the companion designs of the P8 ended up founding an entire new brand, Range Rover, (ironically now paired with Jaguar).The SD1 that followed the cancelled P8 was deliberately cheapened with a live rear axle and drum brakes and Rover was never top echelon again.

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