9 Auto Brands That Used To Be Big

Feb 14, 2015 10:00 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Auto brand history is littered with casualties, once-popular nameplates that are no longer being manufactured. Here are nine brands that used to rule the road.

1. Studebaker

Founded: 1852

Closed: 1966

Most Notable Model: Studebaker-Garford 

Studebaker first made horse-drawn wagons and then switched to electric and gas cars in 1902, according to Popular Mechanics. The company grew to build large six-cylinder models before going bankrupt in 1933. While Studebaker recovered from its financial issues, the automaker eventually closed for the last time in 1966 after 114 years in business.

2. Pontiac

Founded: 1926

Closed: 2010

Most Notable Model: GTO

Even with a history going back to 1926, Pontiac didn't survive when younger consumers began opting for foreign nameplates. The Pontiac brand dwindled after production of the Fiero closed in the early 1990s, and General Motors made its last Pontiac G6 in 2010.

3. Oldsmobile

Founded: 1897

Closed: 2004

Most Notable Model: Cutlass Supreme

Oldsmobile used to sit between Pontiac and Buick in the GM lineup before it closed in 2004. A diminished market share and increased global competition influenced GM to shutter Olds, although doing so ended up being extremely expensive, according to Fortune.

4. Pierce-Arrow

Founded: 1901

Closed: 1938

Most Notable Model: Pierce-Arrow

Founded in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1901, Pierce-Arrow was known for its large but quiet six-cylinder engines, Popular Mechanics reported. Merging with Studebaker in 1928 didn't boost sales, and Pierce-Arrow built its last model a decade later.

5. Saab

Founded: 1945

Closed: 2011

Most Notable Model: 900 Turbo

The Swedish automaker filed for bankruptcy in December 2011 after a prestigious history of building stylish, sporty cars, the Telegraph reported. GM bought the company in 1990, which unfortunately for Saab meant a slow death by a warmed-over lineup that lacked the brand's signature magic.

6. Saturn

Founded: 1982

Closed: 2009

Most Notable Model: Saturn Aura

GM again proved to be unlucky with its Saturn brand, which stopped production in October 2009, according to Forbes. Saturn in its heyday had the No. 3 car model in the U.S. in 1994, and it consistently earned high marks for owner and customer satisfaction in J.D. Powers rankings.

7. Plymouth

Founded: 1928

Closed: 2001

Most Notable Model: Plymouth Superbird

Plymouth saw success in the 1940s and 1950s as an affordable rival for brands like Chevrolet and Ford. But as parent company Chrysler put more resources into its namesake brand and Dodge lineups, Plymouth diminished to just a few models before closing production for good.

8. Hudson

Founded: 1909

Closed: 1954

Most Notable Model: Hudson Hornet

Making its mark with a 102-mph roadster in 1916, Hudson increased its sales with each new racing record and had a NASCAR champion, the Hudson Hornet, in the early 1950s. The Hudson brand name fell away after the company merged with Nash in 1954.

9. Packard

Founded: 1899

Closed: 1958

Most Notable Model: Twin Six

Packard made a grave error when it diminished its standing as a luxury nameplate by attempting to sell lower-priced models. Known for its powerful engines, Packard enjoyed its best years in the 1930s. Buying fellow failed automaker Studebaker in 1954 didn't help matters, and Packard closed down in 1958, according to Bloomberg Business

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