Disappearing Auto Divisions – Contractions and Recessions

Automobiles are a necessity to modern living. As the auto industry contracts due to the recession and financial circumstances of the last decade it is interesting to recount the makes and manufacturers that have disappeared from the American landscape. Every major auto manufacturer still in business in the U.S.A. has shuttered some classic makes in the recent past and many others over the years.

General Motors

After a period of slow growth and retrenching in the late 1970s and early 1980s General Motors grew again before the recession of 2008. The introduction of a totally new brand in 1990 opened the expansion doors for General Motors. Saturn was a victim of the 2009 bankruptcy and is now closed. American General, a builder of military vehicles, was bought by G.M. in 1992 and the lineup was expanded to include the H2 and H3 versions before it was shuttered in 2009. Pontiac was one of General Motors longest standing companies and the performance division until a determination to close it was made in 2009. Pontiac’s sister division, Oakland was one of General Motors early models. Pontiac was added to the family in 1926 and Oakland ceased production in 1931. General Motors also introduced companions to Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac in the early 20 and 30s. The Viking, Marquette and LaSalle brands were all phased out by 1941.


Over the years Ford has been a stable manufacturing company. Ford is known as the inventor of the assembly line for cars and the first company to produce a true car for the masses. Many car companies attempted to fill in price gaps between models by introducing new divisions. Mercury was introduced to fill the gap between Lincoln and Ford. Mercury has ceased production as of 2010. Continental, a luxury car division that was established by Ford produced very high end hand built luxury cars in the European design for several years. Although the original Continentals were built before the war a separate division of Ford was established in 1956 for one year. In the 1940s production ended with World War 2 and the name was resurrected in the fifties. The model designation was recycled and lived on for many years as a Lincoln.

The Edsel was also a division of Ford that had a short life in the late 1950s. The Edsel was a forward looking car of the future that was designed as a modern vehicle. The division produced cars between 1958 and 1960. Although it was a modern looking car with many innovative features it never sold well and was discontinued in 1960.

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