Hooniverse Asks: What’s your favorite defunct brand?

Pontiac had a good run. The automaker was founded way back in 1926. It survived all the way to 2010. The heydays for the brand were most certainly when John DeLorean decided to go against the law of the GM land and offer a large engine for a smaller class of car. Muscle cars were born on that day as the Pontiac Tempest became the GTO.

Thanks to its part in the muscle car revolution, Pontiac remains one of my favorite defunct automotive brands. It’s not necessarily my favorite, but it’s on a top ten list.

I’m curious as to what brands you remember fondly. Do you pine for a Plymouth? Were you sorry to see Saturn sail away? Perhaps you’re eccentric enough to want Ware Steam Wagon to make a comeback?

Either way, you have to have love for one of those automakers that didn’t quite make it to this day. What is your favorite defunct automaker?

59 Comments

  1. Well, I have a Plymouth and we used to have a Saab and an Oldsmobile so I’m no stranger defunct bands. My favorite – REO Speedwagon
    https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0001/332/MI0001332463.jpg?partner=allrovi.com
    Although I don’t think they’re defunct, looks like the boys are still on tour
    Oh wait, not that REO Speedwagon, I meant this one
    https://cdn1.mecum.com/auctions/da0914/da0914-193839/images/da0914-193839_1@2x.jpg?1406845838000

      1. What do you have? Not that I’ll be buying, my not having one is more of not being in the market right now instead of not being able to find one.

        1. I have an ’84 RGA1000 Jota. Not a highly sought after model, but way more reliable and livable than the early brutes.

    1. I vote for AMC as well, since I’ve owned seven (nine if you include Rambler, thirteen if you also include Jeep, as all of mine were built under AMC ownership).

  2. Gevalt. So many! Is tomorrow’s question , “Which defunct brand deserved to die”? Even that will be hard to suss out. How ’bout, “Which revived marque is or is not living up to the name”? (Alpine? Borgward?)

    I miss the IH Light Line, but it’s encased in amber now, and never gave in to malaise era drek, or model bloat, or too many doors, or fuel injection, or digital clocks, or cup holders. And so on.

    Checker Cab. Diamond T. Crosley. Willys. Austin-Healey. Triumph. Jowett. Hispano-Suiza. Deusenberg. Lagonda. And so on.

        1. Ha! That phrase brings great memories. My grandfather would often say that when driving his pickup, me on the bench between him and my grandmother. Reaching for the stick shift for reverse, he would jokingly grab my knee instead and whirl it around as if in attempt to find the gear. I miss that man dearly.

  3. I agree with you about Pontiac, a brand that was left to rot by GM. Not only for the iconic GTO but also the Bonneville, the first gen Grand Prix and America’s first production mid-engine sports ca r, the Fiero. Rumor has it that the Corvette division nixed the Fiero after the latest updates made it perform better that the Vette at a much lower cost.

    1. Maybe tomorrow’s question can be “What’s your favorite brand that was left to rot by GM?”

      So many possibilities, but I’m thinking McLaughlin.

      1. GM gave us many examples of how to screw up a brand, but I wouldn’t say there are many that are worthy of “favorite” status. Pontiac and Olds pretty much suck after the early 70s, and by the 80s, none of the Big 3’s sub-divisions (outside of Cadillac, maybe) marketed anything that wasn’t just a badge-engineered clone of something else. Of all the ruinations in GM’s wake, I’d say Saab was the most significant.

    2. I’ve never owned a Pontiac, but still very much want one in particular: a ’51 Streamliner. I love the styling of the GM cars of that era, a perspective ingrained in me as my father and I spent many months restoring his ’50 Chevy Sport Coupe. His coupe is a beaut’, but I always liked the fastbacks, and I love the Pontiac’s silver streak trim that runs down the center of the hood and trunk.
      https://i3.wp.com/momentcar.com/images/pontiac-streamliner-1951-12.jpg

      I’m also a fan of the ’62 Catalina Safari wagon, and it marks the last year in which Pontiacs really interest me (at least until the G8 came along in 2008– but it’s really a Holden).

      https://barnfinds.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/1962-Pontiac-Bonneville-Safari.jpg

    3. I’ve never owned a Pontiac, but still very much want one in particular: a ’51 Streamliner. I love the styling of the GM cars of that era, a perspective ingrained in me as my father and I spent many months restoring his ’50 Chevy Sport Coupe. His coupe is a beaut’, but I always liked the fastbacks, and I love the Pontiac’s silver streak trim that runs down the center of the hood and trunk.
      https://i3.wp.com/momentcar.com/images/pontiac-streamliner-1951-12.jpg

      I’m also a fan of the ’62 Catalina Safari wagon, and it marks the last year in which Pontiacs really interest me (at least until the G8 came along in 2008– but it’s really a Holden).

      https://barnfinds.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/1962-Pontiac-Bonneville-Safari.jpg

      1. I was wondering why Pontiac and not a Chevy/Olds/Cad fastback – the streak would do it. I saw a wagon of that era the owner had a Frigidaire badge on the back because the streak plus big chrome handle on the side made it look like a fridge door.

        I’d find a spot in a hypothetical 500-car garage for a 1960 Pontiac.

  4. Oldsmobile, hands down. They built so much cool and innovative stuff (admittedly a lot less of it near the end) that it’s hard for me to pick a favorite.

  5. Thinking back to cars I grew up with…
    Mercury is up there for me. My grandmother’s 2nd-to-last car was the ’73 Cougar she drove from new to about 1990, which became my parents’ backup car for a few years, and then was my wheels soon after I turned 14 (as one simply does in a state half the land area of Germany but averaging out to 10 persons per square mile.)

    A fair part of my childhood was spent in Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles too. The ‘not your father’s Olds’ ads annoyed me because my dad’s Olds that he misses to this very day was a ’68 4-4-2 Sport Coupe (B-post body) and it was patently obvious that a Quad4-motivated wrong-wheel-drive GM10 wasn’t comparable… but my grandfathers both had brown traditional Oldses (a G-body Cutlass coupe for my mom’s dad, a ’72 Ninety-Eight sedan for my dad’s dad) in that era representing more what the ads were getting at. My mom’s sister who lives closest to my parents had a 6000STE (very much like the Century T-type we had) that was followed up by a dustbuster Silhouette. My dad let go of the ’57 Pontiac Star Chief convertible he had for maybe a year or two in the late 80’s, but he’s kept the ’70 GTO convertible he bought after that.

  6. I’m really having a tough time choosing. I’m either between Pontiac, Mercury, or Buell.

    Honestly, They were great bikes and Harley screwed them over hard.So yeah, Buell .

  7. My great uncle restored a ’54 coupe a few years before he passed, and my father and I enjoyed frequently dropping in on his workshop during the process. I never had a particular fondness for the marque, but my love of my uncle endeared me to that car. He finished it in black/white, and like the car in the photo above, it looked smartly regal sitting on whitewall tires.

  8. What Pontiac had become deserved to die, but it was a parts bin Chevrolet/Oldsmobile puppet after ~1980.

        1. The mid-50s Chryslers, Imperials, Dodges, and DeSotos are gorgeous. The Plymouth was comparatively frumpy, but still nice.

  9. I miss Olds and Pontiac, but I always had a soft spot for Saturn. GMs long standing tradition was to conceive a great idea, release a budget restrained mediocre version of it and then get it right after everyone had moved on and then kill it. See Fiero, Alante etc.

    With Saturn, they got it right out of the gate. A solid product with clever marketing and stellar customer service. They then beat the excellence out of it for the next 15 years or so until it was nothing more than another GM division.

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