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When the economy crashed around the globe in 2008, both Chrysler a GM faced bankruptcy. With financial markets in ruin, after taking office in 2009, the Obama administration came up with the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), better known as the Cash For Clunkers program. For turning in your older car, you received a $3,500 to $4,500 rebate to put towards a new car. In all, the public turned in almost 700,000 cars. But not all of them were pedestrian Chrysler K Car derivatives or Ford Explorers as one would expect. Unfortunately, among those crushed were some desirable vehicles.

We know this because the full list of 680,000 vehicles turned in just became available. The Drive got a full listing of what got crushed, and in hindsight, there were some cars that should have been saved. Or the owners should have known better. In either case, here are some we wish we could get back.

Can you believe these cars were turned into the Cash For Clunkers program?

Cash for Clunkers
Cash for Clunkers | Getty

Some are eye-popping, like the Aston Martin DB7 Volante and the BMW E30 M3. Granted, neither was super-collectible back then, but keep in mind that those cars turned in had to be running, driving vehicles. These weren’t totaled husks rusting away in someone’s back year. Even then, the Aston Martin owner must have known only 7,000 existed.

A couple of trucks that it hurts to see are the 1992 GMC Typhoon and F-150 Roush Stage 3. You know that the Typhoon was the SUV version of the Cyclone pickup. GM made less than 5,000.

And what about the 1987 Buick GNX and 1985 Maserati Quattroporte? When new, the boxy sedan sold for $80,000. Only 55 got shipped to the U.S. as these were built to order. As for the Buick GNX, one recently sold for more than $200,000.

Which vehicle got turned in the most?

Cash For Clunkers
Used cars in a dumpster to promote the “Cash For Clunkers” program | Getty

The Ford Explorer was the vehicle that was turned in the most. So if you ever wondered where all of the early Explorers went (though we doubt anyone is really asking that), now you know. But almost no marque was without at least one of its offerings making the list. Like a Mercedes 500E or Porsche. Yes, even Stuttgart’s best got crushed, with a few 944s and 928s on the list. Also on the list are a few Mazda RX7s and even a MkIV Supra.  

There were some cars that got held back, to be offered for sale for only a limited time. We know that Hot Rod magazine purchased a 1967 Camaro that way. It was a project car called the “Crusher Camaro.” So there were a few good cars that were saved in this way. 

But for whatever good the program did to get dirtier cars off of the road and help car companies sell some cars, you knew there were a few choice vehicles on the list. Now it has been confirmed.


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