What's the coolest dead car brand?

Illustration for article titled Whats the coolest dead car brand?

In the history of the automobile, promising car brands have come and gone — some yielding to industry shifts, others to bad management and still others to the dominance of the big three. What's the coolest dead car brand?


Plymouth was Chrysler's first lower-priced brand; a brand whose link to New England pilgrims signified values of frugality and practicality. During the 1950s, Plymouth sat among the top-selling brands — the "low-priced three" — along with Chevrolet and Ford. And then, Virgil Exner's forward-looking 1960s designs propelled it to record sales, though poor build quality continued to haunt Plymouth buyers.

But by the late 1960s, Plymouth had found a new audience — muscle-car kids. With low-priced V8 monsters — and a beneficial licensing deal with Warner Brothers — Plymouth turned out flashy tire shredders like the Road Runner, which despite its origins as a mid-pack economy coupe, nailed the youth market dead on. In its later years, Chrysler's attempt to revive Plymouth's youthful mojo with the sprightly Neon and (for nostalgia's sake) a postmodern hot rod, the Prowler, landed with mixed results. A lame V6 and automatic transmission only served to make the Prowler, as Dan Neil once wrote, a "flaccid little jerk of a car." By then, Plymouth's best days were far behind it.


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I can't believe that I'm the first to post it, but I'll say Checker. Because Marathon. There used to be a time when a taxi was almost always a Checker. They were built like tanks and ran forever. The style is iconic, and the interior is roomy for even tall people with long legs. The big bench seats could sit three abreast without feeling cramped. The trunk was huge. These days, if you want a big cab, you're lucky to get a caprice or a crown vic, and they feel downright tiny by comparison.