The car business is like the mafia, only slightly more cutthroat. Good brands sometimes get strangled by the competition, pushed out of the market, or taken over whole. Here are the ten brands Jalopnik readers wish didn't end up in the orphan car graveyard.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Photo Credit:Rex Gray
10.) American Motors Corporation
Why it's cool: AMC was always the underdog, fighting for a slice of the massive American domestic market, and still it managed to churn out brilliant, wonderful, awesome cars. Odds stacked against them, AMC held on until 1987, when Chrysler finished what Renault had started and bought the company. In death, their cars all shine out with that strange tinge of an off-key independent.
Suggested By: transanalog001
Why it's cool: Tatra, feeling like it wasn't awesome enough being a pioneer in mass-market aerodynamics and living on the cutting edge of automotive design, decided to take on the rest of Europe from its Czech homeland with a line of air-cooled, rear-engined V8 luxury cars. What ensued were decades of backroads Nazi manslaughter and Iron Curtain prestige. It's not altogether surprising that Tatra did not survive the 1990s. Tatra couldn't compete in the modern automotive marketplace, but that does nothing to tarnish its legacy of left-field brilliance. Also, they made the real best car ad ever.
Suggested By: BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ
Why it's cool: DAF, the Dutch former car company and current truck manufacturer, built its cars with an early version of a continuously-variable transmission that is commonly referred to as "rubber band drive." The cool part about this wonky little CVT in a dinky little car is that a DAF is geared to go as fast backwards as forwards. This gave birth to that famed and awe-inspiring act of Dutch lunacy, the very hoon-worthy achteruitrijden. It means taking gnarly old grocery getters to rainy, muddy, twisty race courses and bashing the living hell out of them, smashing your way into each other, around obstacles, and over jumps. And this all happens backwards. It's the Monty Python's Flying Circus of motorsport. Watch it all happen here.
Suggested By: Hart88
Why it's cool: There are a hundred and one nerdy reasons to love Studebaker, from Benz-rivaling longevity to 1960s factory superchargers. What makes Studebaker cool is something immaterial, something that makes even the most pucker faced Golden Hawk admirable. The company never could have survived in the ultra-competitive American market of the late 1950s and mid 1960s, but it went out in a blaze of glory and will always be remembered as something great, something different.
Suggested By: formuladave
Why it's cool: Hudson worked its way into the American car market in 1919 with the Essex, the first closed sedan with an affordable price. As for working its way into the shared consciousness of car nuts, Hudson really got started with its fabulous "step-down" Hudsons, with streamlined styling inspired by the Czech Tatra, a straight-six engine, and an overbuilt unitary (not unitized) body. The step-down Hudsons were the lowest cars in America, they hit the showrooms with straight-from-Kalifornia Kustom styling, and unparalleled ride and handling. Though the step-down cars didn't set any records in the sales department, independent stock car racing teams took on to the Hudsons, beating just about everything in sight. So Hudson ended up something of a dream, the memory of its domineering racing success casting a warm glow on all of its daring, underfunded cars. Hudsons have a kind of brilliance to them, from their lowliest budget Terraplane to their gorgeous Italia.
Suggested By: RickAKATed10
Why it's cool: Cool cars are not necessarily good cars. To be cool, a car does not have to be successful, or good looking, or practical, or competent in any way. It just has to have that certain something, which Edsels have in spades. Everyone knows that Edsels were the biggest mistake a car company could make, a cruel parable for the risks involved in big business. But remember when automakers took risks? Even if the "Edsel" name itself is doomed to represent failure, we wish automakers would flex their nuts a bit more and take risks.
Suggested By: Samzebian
Why it's cool: For the past few decades, used Pontiacs have been the go-to cars for the underpaid and the underemployed. For most of its history, Pontiac was just a bland, middle class car that had about two pieces of unique trim for every two hundred shared Chevrolet components. Every once in a while, though, Pontiac pulled itself up with a monomaniacal product manager and built something tire-shredding and amazing. You took our Pontiacs too soon, GM! Too soon!
Photo Credit:Rex Gray
3.) Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A.
Suggested By: I can be Stig?
Why it's cool: Renzo Rivolta (1908-1966), an enterprising Italian engineer, bought up a small refrigerator and heater company and reorganized it into a manufacturer of a microcar of his design, the Isetta. He sold the license off to carmakers across Europe and helped get Europeans back into manufacturing and motorization after World War II. Thanks, Renzo Rivolta! After Renzo's death, his son Piero re-envisioned Iso again, and the company began making fire-spitting, Corvette-powered Italian supercars. From bubble cars to top-flight grand tourers - Iso made what must be the most awesome reorganization in business history. For that, and for every last V8 sportster it built, Iso is cool.
Suggested By: LanciaZeroFTW
Why it's cool: If the quixotic story of one man standing off against the might of America's established carmakers doesn't make the Tucker cool to you, the rear-mounted helicopter engine will. And if that doesn't do it for you, well, we just can't help you. American companies do better with a little competition and we year for the days when the best competition was also American.
Suggested By: Snap_Understeer_FTW
Why it's cool: There is no time to list all of the technical achievements of the Duesenberg brothers, from their wins at Indianapolis and Le Mans to their awe-inspiring high-speed ultra-luxury road cars. To get deep into the majesty of America's grandest, greatest cars would be an exercise in hyperbole, so let me say merely that these cars were so good, so cool, that to this day you can still say when you see something truly extraordinary, "That's a duesey!" Duesenbergs are not dead; they live on in the lexicon and in the collective unconscious as a high water mark in American know-how, creativity, and manufacturing.
Photo Credit:Darin Schnabel and RM Auctions