Sometimes a successful car gets canceled or discontinued only to be brought back by automakers. The Chevrolet Camaro, for example, was killed off in 2002, but after an eight year break, Chevrolet brought it back. Likewise, Dodge brought back both the Challenger and the Charger after their hiatuses.
However, it is worth noting that not every attempt to bring a car back from the cancelation graveyard is a roaring success like the Camaro and the Challenger, though. Some cars just shouldn’t have been brought back at all. Here are the cars that should have been left to memory of them that should never have made a comeback.
Chevrolet Malibu SS
It’s one of the most common cars you see on the highway, but when the Chevrolet Malibu made its return for 1997, it had turned into a fairly generic, forgettable, front-wheel drive sedan. It was disappointing for people with fond memories of earlier streamlined, almost Muscle Car vibes from the original Malibu vehicles, but the car has stayed in production since then and has sold fairly well, so you can’t necessarily call reviving the name a mistake. What was a mistake, though, was Chevrolet’s brief attempt at bringing back the Malibu SS in 2006. It wasn’t the worst car ever made, but the 240 horsepower Malibu SS and Malibu Maxx SS were far from inspiring (it was a mid-powered car even for it’ time) and weren’t worthy of the SS badge.
When the first generation Ford Taurus debuted, it was undoubtedly a major step forward for the brand. Enthusiasts might not have been happy about the switch to a front-wheel drive, but the styling was a significant improvement over the car it replaced –?the LTD. Compared to the Ford LTD, the Taurus was slightly more attractive, but it was also fairly efficient and surprisingly competitive. Unsurprisingly, it was also a huge success. Sadly, by the end of the Taurus’ run, years of neglect meant it was no longer the stylish, well-built sedan that initially impressed buyers. The car the Taurus name made its return on, though, was a disappointment. The Taurus also jumped up a class since the Fusion has taken over already doing well in the mid-size segment. Ford improved the Taurus with a redesign, but it never managed to reclaim the sales success that Ford saw with the first three generations.
Following the initial success of the Mustang, Ford created a Mercury version called the Cougar. It became the performance face of Mercury. Over the years, Mercury moved the Cougar away from its pony car roots and made it more of a luxury car. By the time it was cancelled, it was a shadow of its former self and needed to be put out of its misery. For 1998, though, Mercury took another shot at the Cougar and brought it back as a successor to the Ford Probe. Unfortunately, it was front-wheel drive and didn’t deliver the level of performance that you would expect from the Mercury Cougar. Ford’s new design language didn’t exactly do the Cougar any favors either.
Originally an options package for the Pontiac Tempest, the GTO proved popular enough to earn its own model designation in 1966. It also ignited the muscle car wars between the other American automakers. Today, it’s still remembered as perhaps the greatest muscle car ever made. Look for it co-starring Vin Diesel in the 2002 action blockbuster XXX. Sadly, like many of the cars on this list, by the end of its original run, its development had been neglected to the point that it wasn’t worth keeping around any longer. For 2004, though, Pontiac decided it was time to bring back the GTO name. Instead of being used on a distinct model worthy of such a name, it was revived to give a name to the imported Holden Monaro. The car itself was solid, but it was expensive, and the styling was too conservative and dull for the revival of a legendary muscle car name like “GTO.”
As a brand, Maybach has a long history of building large, luxurious cars for the wealthy. Before World War II, its cars were well regarded and desirable. In 1960, the brand was purchased by Daimler-Benz and mostly sat dormant. When BMW bought Rolls-Royce, though, Daimler decided to bring back the Maybach brand. The result was the Maybach 57 and the long wheelbase version, the Maybach 62. Despite having a long options list and features that should have made it competitive with Rolls-Royce and Bentley, the new Maybach was still too closely related to the Mercedes S-Class. Sales were slow, even by ultra-luxury sedan standards, and in 2013, Daimler gave up on keeping Maybach as a separate brand.
In response to the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford introduced the Thunderbird in 1955. It wasn’t intended as a direct competitor, though, and was less sporty and more luxurious. It’s also credited as the first personal luxury car. A back seat was later added to increase its appeal, but overall, the Thunderbird was a success. Instead of letting it go after 1997, Ford decided to bring back the Thunderbird as a 2002 model with retro styling and to coincide with the upcoming 007 James Bond film Die Another Day. It was interesting for the first year or so and got a lot of attention, but after that, sales dropped off drastically. Even though it was a fairly comfortable and competent cruiser, the retro styling of the Thunderbird left it with limited appeal, and it was finally cancelled in 2005.
A long time ago, back when Lincoln was actually a competitive, respected luxury car manufacturer, it introduced a sub-brand called Lincoln-Zephyr that offered smaller, less expensive vehicles. For Lincoln, it was a huge success, but the sub-brand was merged into Lincoln after a few years. For 2006, Ford decided that instead of continuing to develop the LS, it would re-logo a Fusion and call it a day. The resulting vehicle was called the Lincoln Zephyr. Unlike the LS, there was never much to differentiate the Zephyr from the Fusion or make it competitive in the near-luxury segment. The car still lives on as the MKZ and is much improved, but for such a half-hearted attempt at a car, there wasn’t much reason to revive the Zephyr name.
These cars may have been great at one point in the pantheon of great automobiles but their time is passed. No amount of nostalgia can take away from the fact that bringing some of these cars back, didn’t work out for drivers not the cars themselves.
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