5 Older Cars That Are Almost Extinct

Saturn logo on the front bumper of a car.
SOUTHFIELD, MI – JUNE 5: Saturn vehicles at a Saturn dealership are shown June 5, 2009 in Southfield, Michigan. General Motors announced today that they have reached a tentative agreement to sell its Saturn brand to Detroit businessman Roger Penske. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Everything has a life span, and that includes our favorite cars. Although many models have been effectively buried and then resurrected again — like the Acura NSX or the Dodge Dart — there are many models that simply become lost in the sands of time. What happens to them? Perhaps they get a planned redesign and then the market shifts. Or maybe they had a fatal design flaw that consumers simply couldn’t get over? There are a multitude of reasons why cars become discontinued, and as time marches on, the ones that are forgotten eventually end up in accidents or are left to rust in a driveway somewhere.

While some models are making a return and many automakers are finding it fashionable to bring back older additions to their catalogs for a new generation of drivers to enjoy, most cars don’t enjoy that fate. Their life cycle runs out, as did their usefulness, and it’s only a matter of time before they become fully extinct. What are some of those models? Well, you can even think of some of the world’s car brands that are no longer around: Pontiac, Saturn, Eagle, DeLorean, Tucker, Studebaker, Mercury, Packard… the list goes on.

Despite the fact that these cars have been left to fend for themselves — and in dwindling numbers — that doesn’t mean they never had their time in the sun. In fact, many enthusiasts have formed groups and clubs around these cars, dedicated to keeping their memories alive. Though they’re not quite “classics,” they are timeless, in a sense. To help bring awareness to these vehicles’ limited time remaining with us, we’ve dug up five golden oldies that are becoming less and less frequently seen, with some inspiration from Hagerty.

Read on to see five cars from yesteryear that are disappearing from the streets, and fast.

1. Chrysler Laser

One watch of the commercial above and you’ll agree that they just don’t make them like they used to. One model that was pretty damn cool in its heyday but has seemingly been forgotten by all but a few is the Chrysler Laser, which also saw life under a different name as the Plymouth Laser and Dodge Daytona. These cars were the quintessential 1980s models, equipped with an option of a 2.2 or 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Billed as Chrysler’s first sports car, the Laser was reborn as the Plymouth Laser at one point, and then the Dodge Daytona. The Laser was in production from 1984-1986, and the Daytona from 1984 until 1993.

2. Mercury Capri

Again, take a look at the commercial the Mercury marketing team put together for the Capri and just marvel at the differences and how far things have come in a few decades. The Capri itself is still a fairly popular model and is likely to be seen more frequently than probably any of the other vehicles on this list. In fact, the Capri was actually a Ford Mustang in disguise. They were built in Australia and Germany, and then brought to the United States and fitted with the Capri moniker. The Capri was in production throughout the 1970s and some of the 1980s.

3. Datsun 240Z

Many people, especially from the younger demographics, only know Datsun from the small, typically beat-up pickup trucks seen cruising around cities these days. But Datsun’s history goes way back and includes some near-classic models, one of which was the 240Z. It also shares a lot of its family lineage with the Fairlady Z and is actually the forerunner to some of the Nissan sports cars we have today. The 240Z was in in production from the late 1960s until the late 1970s, and had some bigger brothers in the 260Z and 280Z. It also contained some of the first racing DNA in the Nissan/Datsun company lineage, and Nissan fans today have to thank the 240Z for blazing a path in the early days.

Source: Ford

4. Ford EXP

Ford sure does love the prefix “EXP.” We have the Ford Explorer and Expedition, but it all starts with the original sporty little coupe that was simply dubbed EXP. Never heard of the EXP? Well, it was a return to two-seater cars for Ford in the 1980s after a 25-year-long hiatus from the segment. The cars were built between 1982 and 1988, and the unit was also sold as the Mercury LN7. Though the EXP had its fans, its sales were never really strong enough to keep the Ford brass interested in letting it stick around. The EXP did lead to another popular model that is still around in greater numbers: the Ford Probe.

Source: Audi

5. Audi Fox

You may remember the Volkswagen Fox, but it also had a sibling in the Audi Fox, and they are both pretty hard to find these days. The Fox actually had a fairly long lifespan, seeing production from 1966 until 1996, but the sands of time are catching up with it. The car has a rather interesting history behind it, too, being sold as the Fox during the ’70s, as the Audi 80 for several other years, and then even as the Audi 4000. The Audi 90 and Cabriolet were also very close to the Fox but were sold under different names, as well. The Fox still lives on in some markets as a hatchback and mini-SUV by Volkswagen. That’s as close as you can get anymore, as the true Audi Fox is quickly and quietly bowing out from the market.