Like most things in life, car manufacturers come and go. Some are fondly missed, while others are not. We take a look at some of the most notable motor brands to have disappeared from the roads over the years.
In 1973, John DeLorean, who had made a name for himself with General Motors’ Pontiac muscle car, decided to found the DeLorean Motor Co. With financial backing from the British government and Renault, he developed a futuristic sports car with gullwing doors and a polished stainless-steel exterior, which became iconic thanks to its role in Back to the Future.
DeLorean built a factory in Northern Ireland, but construction delays and quality-control issues delayed the debut of the DeLorean DMC-12 until 1981. Just two years later, DMC was bankrupt and DeLorean found himself facing federal drug charges after an FBI sting operation. Although he was acquitted of all charges in 1984, the short-lived DeLorean brand was well and truly defunct.
Founded in 1945 by the renowned Saab aviation company of Sweden, the Saab is perhaps best remembered for its unusually shaped 1978 900 model hatchback sports coupe, which left motorists divided but quickly developed a cultlike following for its sporty handling, unique styling, and quirky mechanical features, which included an ignition mounted next to the parking brake and gearshift.
Saab was acquired by General Motors in 2000, but unfortunately, this takeover was the beginning of the end, with the Saab brand soon being applied to much more generic GM car models that just didn’t have the same allure. By 2021, the brand had all but ceased to exist.
Rover was, at one point was one of the largest British car manufacturers and during the 1970s and 1980s enjoyed fame as the flagship British motoring brand. Although the only memorable classic that Rover ever produced was probably the SD1 Vitesse, the name remained popular on the British roads, managing to appeal to the British sense of identity.
By 2000, however, the British car industry was in ruins and the MG Rover group stood as the last true British built cars, despite being owned in part by BMW. A string of uninspired and unsuccessful cars in the 2000s led to the company eventually becoming insolvent, with its assets eventually bought out by Chinese manufacturers.
A lesser-known brand that is worthy of mention is Bristol Cars. The luxury, hand-built car brand was founded following the Second World War in Bristol by Bristol Aeroplanes, producers of iconic British aircraft such as the Bulldog and the Blenheim bomber.
A low volume company, they sold cars exclusively from their only showroom in Kensington, London. The company ceased production in 2011 due to low interest in the brand.
Once South Korea’s second-largest automotive brand, the Daewoo brand has fallen into obscurity since its dissolution in 2011. Daewoo produced economy cars and licensed models all the way from its foundation under Japanese rule in 1937, and held stakes in car manufacturers all over the world, including Ukraine, Romania, Czech Republic and India.
Although Daewoo never really produced any cars that stand out to the car enthusiast, it would be unfair not to recognise the impact and contribution that Daewoo made on the automotive world. Following poor sales and the financial crisis in Korea, Daewoo was bought out by General Motors in 2001, who continued to produce models under license until 2011, when the brand was officially replaced by GM Korea.
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