This year, the very last examples of Audi’s iconic R8 and TT will leave the production line, so we wanted to take a deep dive into discontinued cars and find out which brands in particular drivers want to see return. One example of this is coming true.
Last year, it was announced that the DeLorean, famed for featuring in the Back to the Future film franchise, would be making a return in 2024. So, if it was up to drivers, what else would make a return?
- Saab is the world’s most missed car manufacturer of yesteryear according to search volume, with 107,200 searches per month.
- Surveyed drivers argue that Pontiac is the most missed car, with 25% of the vote.
- UK drivers miss Pontiac, Saab and Holden cars more than Rover and Triumph, which are British-made.
- Hippo Leasing finds the best alternatives to beloved defunct cars.
To find out which discontinued car manufacturers are still popular with drivers around the world, we analysed search volumes. The total monthly search volume was calculated by combining the search volumes from the 10 countries with the largest economies in the world.
*Brands with the addition of “cars” to their name were applied to avoid search volumes being skewed by another meaning (for example, Saturn – the planet).
Most Searched-for Discontinued Car Brands
As you can see from the table, Saab is the most searched-for discontinued car brand, with a total of 107,200 monthly searches.
The popularity of Saab varied by region and over time. In certain markets, such as Scandinavia, Saab had a strong presence and a loyal customer base. In the United States, Saab gained a following among drivers who appreciated the brand’s quirky and unconventional approach to car design.
Like many discontinued car brands, Saab faced financial difficulties, ownership changes and competitive pressures, eventually leading to its discontinuation in 2012.
“We’re not surprised to see Saab top the leaderboard”, said Tom Preston, CEO and Founder of Hippo Leasing. “They had a real unique and quirky personality that appealed to car enthusiasts thanks to their distinctive and aerodynamic design and were often seen as great alternatives to more mainstream offerings.”
Produced by the American automaker General Motors (GM), Pontiac was a brand known for its emphasis on performance, innovative styling, and affordable yet sporty vehicles, the most well-known being the Pontiac GTO, Firebird and Trans Am models.
Pontiac released their final cars in 2010 but are still searched for 98,900 times per month on average, which shows how important their cars were to the American muscle-car movement in particular.
The sub-brand was discontinued due to GM’s restructuring efforts after facing challenges and declining sales in the years leading up to the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.
The second American brand on the list, Oldsmobile had a long and storied history in the American automotive industry. It was one of the oldest car brands in the United States and created the Curved Dash Oldsmobile, credited as the first mass-produced automobile, in 1901.
Over the years, they offered a diverse range of vehicles, including compact cars, midsize sedans, full-size sedans, and even SUVs, meaning no matter your needs and preferences, there was an Oldsmobile model perfect for you.
The Oldsmobile brand was discontinued in the early 2000s by General Motors, after internal restructuring efforts similar to what happened with Pontiac later down the line.
Below is a breakdown of the top three discontinued car brands searched for by people in the 10 countries with the largest economies.
Most Searched For Discontinued Car Brands
As you can see from the table above, Saab is the most searched-for discontinued brand for the majority of the top 10 countries. However, it’s interesting to see how close Pontiac is behind, just one country less than Saab, earning the number one spot in four of the 10 countries compared to Saab’s five.
It’s also interesting to see that in all countries when either Pontiac or Saab are the most searched for, the other is next in second, except for Italy, where Pontiac is the most searched for followed by the Italian brand De Tomaso, then British-French brand Talbot.
Either Saab or Pontiac were also the top searched-for defunct car brand in all the countries except for Germany. In Germany, Trabant, which was a series of small compact cars produced in East Germany, is currently the most searched-for discontinued car brand with 16,000 average monthly searches.
We didn’t want to focus entirely on search volume when it came to which car brand was missed the most. So, in order to get a different perspective, we reached out to the Reddit community to see which brands they wanted to see return the most.
We asked Reddit’s r/classiccars community: “Which discontinued car manufacturer would you like to see make a return?” The post gained quite a lot of traction, amassing 41,600 views with 205 upvotes and a whopping 582 comments (to date). We’ve analysed the comments and here are our findings.
Top 10 Missed Brands According To Reddit
According to the data we collected through the comments, it turns out that Reddit classic car enthusiasts want Pontiac to make a return more than any other car brand. From the 310 car mentions within the thread, 24.8% mentioned Pontiac – despite it only coming second to Saab in the total monthly search volume.
As we mentioned earlier, Pontiac was a division of General Motors (GM). It gained significant popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s, producing a range of stylish and performance-oriented vehicles, such as the Pontiac GTO. The GTO is often considered one of the first muscle cars and it played a significant role in establishing Pontiac’s reputation for performance and excitement. Pontiac had continuing success through the ‘70s and ‘80s due to their Firebird and Trans Am models, which are still sought after by enthusiasts today.
Pontiac faced challenges starting in the ‘80s and with the economic downturns and changing consumer preferences, some of their models during this period were less successful, which led to a decline in the brand’s popularity. GM discontinued the brand in 2010, the same year as Saturn.
“Pontiac’s GTO and Firebird models became icons of the muscle car era of the 60s and early 70s and played an important role in shaping American car culture. They also offered a diverse lineup of vehicles, including sedans, coupes and convertibles, which allowed the brand to appeal to a wide range of customers with different preferences.” – Tom Preston, Hippo Leasing CEO and Founder.
Unfortunately, none of the cars available under the brands covered in this article are available to lease, but, here at Hippo Leasing, there are some great new car alternatives that you can opt for instead, if you’re looking for something along the lines of one of your missed motors of the past.
Saturn cars came in all shapes and sizes, but when you look closely, you will notice that some of the range looks very similar to that of Vauxhall. For example, Saturn’s Sky was actually based on the Vauxhall VX Lightning Concept’s design and the Aura could easily be mistaken for the Vauxhall Vectra.
Today’s range of Vauxhall’s is known for its reliability so you can’t go wrong opting for any car in their range. The Vauxhall Insignia is another car that has been discontinued. However, thanks to Hippo Leasing’s new used car offering, you can still get behind the wheel. In 2008, Vauxhall actually replaced the Vectra with the Insignia, giving Vauxhall’s saloon motor a more sophisticated look and feel. Not only that but it gets great reviews across the board.
The Saab 93 was arguably the Swedish manufacturer’s most beloved car, and you still see a few roaming the roads today. When looking for an alternative to the 93, the logical place to start is Volvo. Also Swedish-built, Volvo has come on leaps and bounds over the last decade and is widely recognised for its safety features and has built up a reputation for being among the safest vehicles on the road. Not only that, but they are making some of the most beautifully designed cars on the market.
The S60 is practical, comfortable behind the wheel and there’s more than enough boot space to handle everyday luggage or groceries. It’s also available in both petrol and hybrid versions.
Like Vauxhall’s Insignia, Volvo has recently discontinued the S60, but again, you can still drive one through Hippo’s used car leasing hub.
Mercury was a division of the automotive giant Ford until the American-based manufacturer completely phased out the brand in 2011. One of its most well-known models was the Mercury Cougar, which on British shores went under the Ford badge. The Cougar was retired from the European market in August 2002 but today, you could argue that Ford has a much-improved range, and if you’re looking for something similar to the Cougar, you can’t go wrong with the latest Mustang.
The Mustang has been in continuous production since 1964 and is Ford’s longest-produced model, so without knowing anything else about it, you can understand why it’s one of the most beloved cars of all time. While the modern-day Mustang at first glance may have separated itself from its muscle roots ever so slightly, underneath it’s still a powerhouse of a motor. You can also opt for the new electric version too, the Mach-E.
If you were a fan of Scion, then we have good news for you. Despite the brand being phased out by owner Toyota in 2016, you can actually still get behind the wheel of two of its models.
Under the Scion badge, Toyota offered two cars called the FR-S and the iM. Today, those two vehicles have been transferred across to the main Toyota brand and renamed. The FR-S became the GT86, which has recently been updated to become the GR86, and the iM became the Auris, which now dons the Corolla name as of late. So if you want to get behind the wheel and feel the heritage of the Scion brand name, these two are the perfect options.
At Hippo Leasing we have a huge range of new and used cars that you can lease today. Whether you want to make the move to electric leasing or require a business lease, we’ve got the perfect car leasing deal for you.
We gathered Google search data for 30 discontinued car manufacturers from around the world to discover the search volume of each of the brands in the top 10 economic countries.
We also posted a message on Reddit’s r/classiccars to gather car enthusiasts’ favourite discontinued car brands and why. We gathered the data by reviewing the responses, which allowed us to filter the data to find the most and least missed car brands.
*China was removed from the study due to unattainable search data. Russia was removed from the study due to current events.