The Scion xB, and 9 Other Great Cars From Dead Brands
Think of them as just another version of an American obsession: sexy zombies.
This week, Toyota announced that its youth-oriented Scion brand would cease to exist, with remaining models to consolidate under the Toyota name. Soon, every fanboy with a Scion logo tattoo will have to explain what, exactly, it is. It’s a sad day, but we’ll always have the memories and, because Scions were just rebadged Toyotas with the reliability of the tides, likely the cars.
In low-degree mourning, we salute Scion, its whacky interior light schemes and dedication to lower prices and lower age demographics. In celebration, we’ve compiled the best models from some of the other brands we’ve lost over the years. Let’s remember these cars as they’d like to be remembered: at all.
Yes, the Scion shares its profile with box of baking soda. And, yes, 103 horsepower is lawnmower grunt. But Scion’s first foray into the American market was ridiculously cheap and unbelievably capacious, like a studio apartment in Cleveland on wheels except without the smell.
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
It’s 1966 and you’re a bachelor: All this car is for you! Every swoop. Thick and sensual: a horny, overweight housecat. Seven liters of Rocket V8 in a front-wheel drive personal luxury coupe. From Oldsmobile.
There is no glamour to be had beyond the Voyager’s vinyl skin. My neighbor drove one, and I can report that Plymouth upholstered the interior with used pantyhose, vinyl siding pried off a double-wide and melted down checkers pieces. But what an innovation: The first recognized American minivan. Young children’s hands would forever be changed, because not every family can afford microsurgery after the inevitable Sliding Door Incident.
What’s in a name? Take “Wagonair.” A play on “debonair”? Of course—look at the lines on this family hauler. Alluding to its shape? Sure thing. Alluding to it’s revolutionary sliding roof that allowed huge cargo capacity and fresh “air” to pervade the cabin? Yes. Don’t ask about “Studebaker.”
1949 Packard Super Deluxe 8
Every person who saw Carol, a star-vehicle for Cate Blanchett’s cheekbones, likely fell in love with the protagonist’s car, a ‘49 Packard in oyster grey. If you’re going to flee westward to pursue an illicit love affair with a demure shopgirl, do so in a car the color of an aphrodisiac.
Thanks to its Jeep underpinnings, the butch AMC Eagles boasted the capability of the truck with the looks of a wagon. In that way, this swaggering American beat Volvo’s Cross-Country and Audi’s Allroad to the punch by two decades.
Saab 900 Turbo
You’re late to pick up the Golden at the groomers. J. Crew just called—your chinos are in. The Dartmouth ‘79 alumni group keeps hectoring you about that snippet about your design firm: Damn it, Amelia ‘79 there’s no time! Good thing you have a Saab 900 Turbo: the quick, understated coupe for all your New England errands.
Pontiac G8 GXP
The Pontiac G8 GXP, with its 415-horsepower Corvette V8, is in short, the reason Pontiac should have lived on.
Sure, it looks like your typical British roadster, but behind the wheel, the TR6 was a bruiser. The 2.5-liter inline six was almost fast enough to outrun the car’s myriad mechanical weaknesses. Almost.
Graham Brothers Truck
Before Dodge subsumed the brand in 1929, the Graham Brothers made one of the world’s first pickup trucks, the Graham Brothers one-and-a-half ton. Features like four-wheel brakes, a six-cylinder engine and room for “six-footers” made it a winning workhorse of the early twentieth century.