What car is the ultimate dead-ender?

Illustration for article titled What car is the ultimate dead-ender?

Some cars spark brand associations that last for decades: Corvette. Mustang. BMW 3-Series. Toyota Corolla. Others arrive and hang around for a while, but never make it to that crucial generational update, or six. What car is the ultimate dead-ender?


For us, it was a tossup between two VW models, one fairly obvious if you know your recent VW history, and this one. The VW 412. The Type 4 seemed like a good idea at the time: a larger, more luxurious four-door of the people to compliment the company's ragingly successful small platform. The shape was by Pininfarina, the structure was a unibody, the engine a more powerful air-cooled boxer (shared with the Porsche 914), the suspension was gifted from McPherson, et voila! A good car that did reasonably well, especially among patch-elbowed academic types and hippies-with-children aging out of their Beetles, that would pave the way for VWs to come. Ultimately, though, it was a dead-ender, having sold in the US for only two years. (We didn't get the earlier 411 or the VW Brasilia.) Any others?

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I say 928. I really like them. But they never turned into the 911 replacement they were supposed to be. There are rumors Porsche is preparing a remake, but I'll believe they're building a cheap, two cylinder micro car before I believe they'll ever make another 928.