The VW Beetle is dead. Again. Here are 5 other once-resurrected cars that suffered the same fate

Key Points
  • Volkswagen revived, and then retired once more, its iconic Beetle.
  • The road is littered with brands that major car companies tried, and failed, to resurrect.
Vintage Volkswagen Beetle cars
Manjunath Kiran | AFP | Getty Images

Occasionally, car companies bring back old nameplates in the hope of stoking nostalgia and giving an old name a fresh new look. But it doesn't always work out.

The revived and redesigned Volkswagen Beetle was apparently one such case. Originally developed at the behest of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s, the car later achieved astronomical sales figures in the 1960s, and became an icon of the era.

Volkswagen stopped selling the original version in the United States in the late 1970s, but continued to produce Beetles in other countries, then introduced a revived version in the 1990s. The car was a hit with many car buyers: Notably, Hillary and then-President Bill Clinton bought a redesigned Beetle for their daughter Chelsea.

But as sales slowed, Volkswagen decided to pull the plug. On Thursday, the automaker said the production of the car will end next year.

Volkswagen is not alone. Here are some other attempts by car companies to recall the past that did not last.


Beetles during the 12th Beetle Sunshine Tour To Travemuende the 12th Beetle Sunshine Tour on August 20, 2016 in Luebeck, Germany. 
Franziska Krug | German Select | Getty Images

Volkswagen stuck with the new Beetle for roughly two decades, decades but in the end decided it was not worth keeping, as consumers continue to shift into SUVs and crossovers.

Ford Thunderbird

In this handout image provided by Red Bull, event winner Blake Aldridge of the UK rides on the back of a Ford Thunderbird during a parade of athletes prior to the Red Bull Cliff Diving competition at the El Morro lighthouse during the first stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series on May 10, 2014 at Havana, Cuba. 
Dean Treml | Getty Images

The Ford Thunderbird was a coveted car in the 1950s and 60s. The Beach Boys even referred to the "T-Bird" in one of their hit songs "Fun, Fun, Fun"...

The 2000s version

2003 Ford Thunderbird convertible, 2000. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Heritage Images | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

...But Ford's attempt to release an updated version in 2002 with retro styling fell flat, and the car was eventually discontinued.

Dodge Dart

9/16/1966-Detroit, MI: Publicity photo of the 1966 Dodge Dart GT Convertible.
Bettmann | Getty Images

Dodge has resurrected a few of its most famous nameplates, such as the Charger, the Challenger, and had tried the same approach with the Dart. The first Dart was an affordable and wildly popular car in the 1960s and 1970s, even into the 1980's...

Flash forward to 2013

The Chrysler Dodge Dart vehicle is unveiled during the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012. The Detroit auto show runs through Jan. 22 and will display over 500 vehicles. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

...Fiat-Chrysler brought back the nameplate in 2013 to attract customers looking for small cars. The new Dart probably could not have been much more different from its ancestor, and the car was only in production for a few years. It ended with the 2016 model year. It was actually an underrate car that could have been successful, but the timing

Mercury Cougar

Winn and Judi Rittall of Woolwich say goodbye to their 1968 Mercury Cougar CR-7 GT-E at the Owls Head Transportation Museum Tuesday, August 25, 2015 after it sold at auction. The car is one of only two like it in the country and came equipped from the factory with a 428 Cobra Jet Engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. It sold for the final price of $228,800. 
Gabe Souza | Portland Press Herald | Getty Images

The Mercury Cougar began life in 1967 as a slightly upscale stablemate to Ford's Mustang pony car. It went through several different designs over the years, and slowly morphed into more of a sedate sedan by the time it was discontinued in 1997...

Back with a sportier design

Harlan Curtis examines a Mercury Cougar at the Los Angeles Auto Show January 11, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA. 
Scott Olson | Getty Images

...Two years later, though, Mercury brought the Cougar back with a leaner, sportier design with quirky touches, such as bulbous headlights and taillights. It was only in production for a few years before Ford discontinued it.

Pontiac GTO

Vintage 1966 Pontiac GTO
Getty Images

One of the original true muscle cars, the GTO was big, loud and fast when it was first released in the mid-1960s. It remained in production for about a decade.

From a land Down Under

An employee places a pending sale sticker on a used Pontiac GTO vehicle outside of a CarMax Inc. dealership in Burbank, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. 
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Pontiac resurrected the name and slapped it on a modified version of a Monaro, a car made by General Motors' Australian Holden brand. While the redesigned GTO earned praise for its performance, the model was killed after just two years. Soon after that, GM completely ended production of all Pontiac models during its bailout by the U.S. government.

Ford Taurus

When the Taurus was first released in 1985 it was a revelation: A sedan with European styling that could be had at the price of a Ford. It was later replaced with the Ford 500.

That was a mistake, said independent auto analyst and industry veteran John Wolkonowicz. Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally pushed Ford to resurrect the Taurus nameplate.

But the revived Taurus never quite attained the cachet with consumers the original had. Ford has recently said it will discontinue the model in North America, along with nearly all of its other sedans.

Correction: An earlier version gave the wrong year for the re-release of the Thunderbird. It was in 2002.

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