The turn of this century has been rather challenging for many automakers, sparing neither the iconic nor the newbie. Creating and maintaining brands requires a continuous flow of investment, further aggravated by cut-throat competition and accelerated technology upgrades.


It takes exhaustive effort, frequently forcing auto-brands to undergo cut-backs. Sadly, more often than not, this has caused doom for many familiar car makers. Here are five such brands that no longer exist.


Hindustan Motors


Much before the advent of international brands in India, our roads were ruled by the stately Ambassador and India’s muscle car— the Contessa. Both these cars shared the same 49 bhp engine and commanded amazing road presence. Unfortunately, there came a day when the thirsty Contessa could not keep up with modern fuel-efficient alternatives like Maruti Suzuki and so was phased out in 2002. Much more recently in 2014, Hindustan Motor’s last manufacturing unit at Uttarapara, from where the Ambassador rolled out, also ceased operations, taking the ‘Relic of the Raj’ with it.

Pic: Andrew Bone, Weymouth, England


Saab Automobile


This was once a very popular Swedish brand with the Saab-900 as its most popular model. Started in 1945, Saab was wholly bought over by GM in 2000. However, GM did nothing to rejuvenate this brand and later sold it to a small automaker in 2010, which too was unsuccessful due to insufficient funds. This lead to the Saab reporting bankrupt in 2011, with its assets sold to a Swedish electric car maker.




A hot favorite in its time, the Pontiac was made and produced by General Motors. Known for building performance cars at reasonable prices, the Pontiac was America’s third—most loved domestic brand in the late 1980s, producing cars such as the Silver Streak, Firebird, and GTO. However, in the 1990s, the brand started losing popularity with younger buyers, thanks to the attraction of imported models. Finally, 2010 saw the demise of this high horse power car.



This brand birthed by Chrysler in 1928 was conceived as a budget buy to compete in the low-price segment against giants like Ford and Chevrolet. Being low-priced, it gained great market share through volume sales of models like Plymouth Voyager — an extremely popular minivan of the 1990’s. But again, with plummeting sales, Plymouth shut shop in 2001, after a glorious run of 75 years.




A relative newcomer in the autospace, it was first marketed as a civilian version of the military Humvee by AM General in 1992. Six years later, GM bought over the brand hoping to position it in the truck and SUV segment. Unfortunately, certain factors went against this brand including economic downturn, impractical design, mishandling of brand (to a certain extent), prodding GM to question its viability. Further, with rising fuel prices, the fate of this gas-guzzler was sealed in 2010.


So, as is often said: change is the only constant and thanks to the fast-paced evolution of the automotive industry, many of yesterday’s favorites have become today’s rust in peace.


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