If DeLorean can come back, these 10 brands stand a chance

DeLorean, the one-time auto novice who had a brief flash in the ’70s and ’80s before going bankrupt, is coming back. It was one of the biggest surprises of this year’s Super Bowl ad series, a cluster of ads that featured almost exclusively electric vehicles.

Its flagship product, the DMC DeLorean, had a longer cultural life than the company that built it, as the car was the focus of the Back to the Future series, in which scientist Doc Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd) portrayed it as a time machine started .

In 1995, more than a decade after the company went bankrupt, British mechanic Stephen Wynne bought all the surplus parts and the branding and restarted DeLorean as the DeLorean Motor Company. Wynne offered to build cars for anyone who wanted them.

The Texas company is now planning to revive the car icon as an electric vehicle.

But dr John Heitmann, an automotive historian and professor emeritus at the University of Dayton, narrated news week that cultural capital cannot get you as far as actual capital.

“This is a short span of time for entrepreneurs and dreamers,” he said. “It’s hard to be successful unless you get capital and think big. Because if you don’t think about size, I think the chances of success are pretty slim.”

He added that if a brand comes back it makes sense that it would be with an all-electric lineup. Of these ten legendary automotive orphan brands, only DeLorean is about to return to the market.

DeLorean Motor Company

DMC Delorean
A new company is planning to bring the DeLorean back as an electric car.
Getty Images

Two years after leaving General Motors, automotive executive John DeLorean founded DMC on October 24, 1975.

In a 1977 interview, DeLorean told The New York Times that he wanted his cars to fit in the market between the Corvette and the Porsche 911.

“If we were very lucky and did everything right, we could be another BMW one day,” he said. “That would be my dream and our goal.”

The DMC DeLorean was initially well received by the public and automotive press, although its reputation slowly became unraveled as build quality became an issue. The company also built more than people bought.

John DeLorean was arrested and charged with cocaine trafficking in 1982 after he was filmed agreeing to fund cocaine smuggling. He was acquitted after his defense argued he was captured by the FBI.

After being tried and acquitted on investor fraud charges, DeLorean never worked in the automotive industry again. He died in 2005.

AMC

AMC Pacer
An AMC Pacer, one of AMC’s compact car offerings.
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American Motors Corporation, formed from a 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company, was smaller than the traditional Big 3 but regularly outperformed it by offering cars in segments that were underserved at the time .

In 1980, after running into credit and cash flow problems, the company struck a deal with French-owned Renault to give up a majority stake for a cash injection.

After a tumultuous seven-year partnership, Chrysler bought Renault’s stake in the company. At the time, the Jeep Eagle division was the most profitable, so it was the brand that was allowed to continue.

The company was known for breaking into the smaller side of the market, making rugged subcompacts and compacts like the AMC Eagle, Gremlin, and Pacer.

In 2001, a California attorney registered a trademark for the company’s name. This brand has been dead since 2010.

Saab automobile

Saab 900
Saab was partially owned by GM through the ’90s and fully owned by GM for most of its run in the 2000s.
General Motors

Founded in 1945 as a division of a Swedish aerospace company of the same name, Saab began selling cars in the American market in 1956.

For most of its existence, Saab was under some form of Swedish ownership until General Motors invested $600 million for a 50 percent stake and an option to buy out the remaining shares at any time.

The company was known for most of its sedan runs, including Saab 96, Saab 900 and Saab 9-3.

GM bought the remaining shares in 2000, becoming 100 percent owner. A combination of a sluggish economy and poor sales led the company to put Saab up for sale. Spyker, a sports car manufacturer in the Netherlands, bought the brand in 2010.

After a rocky year, Saab filed for bankruptcy.

Trademarks for the Saab name related to automobiles are still owned by Saab AB, the aerospace company.

Packard

Packard 200
Brothers James Ward and William Doud Packard began manufacturing Packards in 1899.
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Shortly before the turn of the 20th century, brothers James Ward and William Doud Packard started production in the luxury car segment in 1899.

Over time, the company gained notoriety for models such as the Packard Six, Packard Eight, and Packard Clipper.

In 1954, Packard bought the financially troubled Studebaker Corporation and became Studebaker-Packard.

Brand supporters were disappointed with the cars, which debuted with parts from both models, leading to them being labeled “Packardbakers”. The last Packard-badged cars were made in 1958

Two companies, Packard Holdings Inc. and Aerie Packard, are currently engaged in a legal battle over who owns the Packard trademark.

In 1999, Packard Holdings manufactured a Packard Twelve that sold at auction in 2014 for $143,000.

Studebaker

Studebaker champion
A Studebaker Champion sedan. The Studebaker brand dates back to the 1850s.
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The company began as a coachbuilder in 1852 with brothers Henry, Clement, Peter, John and Jacob Studebaker at the helm and officially entered the automotive world in 1902 with the Studebaker Electric Car.

The electric car was built for nine years and discontinued after the company realized that gas-powered cars were gaining traction. After that, they would build the Studebaker Special Six, the Studebaker Avanti, and the Studebaker President.

The merger with Packard halted its decline but could not stem it entirely, with the last Studebaker being produced in 1966. Although there have been several attempts at revivals of the Avanti, no one has owned the Packard brand since 2020

Plymouth

Plymouth duster
Plymouth was conceived in the 1920s as an entry-level brand in the Chrysler range.

Conceived by Walter Chrysler as an entry-level brand, Plymouth debuted as a Chrysler brand in 1928. The division developed during the Great Depression and sold some of the most popular cars at the time.

Top-selling models included the Plymouth Fury, Plymouth Barracuda and Plymouth Valiant.

The brand struggled through the ’90s as its cars overlapped with other brands at Chrysler; it was discontinued in 2001.

No one currently owns the Plymouth brand.

pontiac

Pontiac Trans Am
Pontiac made a name for itself with muscle cars.
General Motors

In the 1920s, GM began introducing “companion brands” or sub-brands for its brands. Pontiac was founded in 1925 as a companion to the mid-range Oakland line.

Six years later, Oakland was discontinued after Pontiac supplanted its popularity.

Well-known models were the Pontiac Trans Am, the Pontiac Grand Prix and the Pontiac Chieftain.

At the height of the 2008 financial crisis, GM said it was considering the possibility of winding up some of its brands to cut costs.

In 2009, the company decided to phase out Pontiac and production ended in 2010.

Heitman says Pontiac is a unique case as the brand still has a dedicated following and their cars are still a common sight on the road today. But it’s unlikely the company would bring it back given the increased competitiveness of the auto industry and the shift in focus away from sedans.

GM owns trademarks of the Pontiac name for making accessories, apparel, and other things, but not for making automobiles.

oldsmobile

Oldsmobile Cutlass
Oldsmobile spent the 20th century as a mid-priced option in the GM lineup.
General Motors

Ransom Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. in 1897. The Oldsmobile Model R is often credited as the first mass-produced automobile, being produced from 1902-1907.

GM bought the company in 1908, placing it midway between Pontiac and Buick on its price list.

Notable later models included the Oldsmobile Cutlass, Oldsmobile 88, and Oldsmobile Toronado.

In 2000, GM announced it would close Oldsmobile due to sales and profitability problems. The last cars were produced in 2004.

GM owns trademarks to sell a variety of items with the “Oldsmobile” name stamped on them, but the trademark to use the name on cars has been dead since 2018.

Saturn

Saturn Vue
Saturn started out as “a different kind of car company.”
General Motors

With the rising tide of foreign imports gaining a foothold in the US, GM created the Saturn brand in 1985 to compete in the compact car segment as “a different kind of car company.”

Popular models included the Saturn S Series, Saturn L Series, and Saturn Vue.

While initial public interest was high, sales never managed to match that interest. In the ’90s and 2000s, the company faced dwindling purchases and lost some financial support from GM as a result.

To consolidate its business, GM said it would attempt to sell the Saturn brand in 2008. Although an agreement was reached with Penske Automotive to acquire the brand, it fell through after Penske was unable to find a required manufacturing base. The last Saturn vehicles were made in 2009.

Since then, the branding for Saturn vehicles has been dead.

International Harvester

International Harvester Travelall
Originally starting out as a manufacturer of agricultural equipment, International Harvester tried its hand at the passenger car market.
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Founded in 1902 from a merger of two agricultural machinery manufacturers, IH decided to enter the light commercial vehicle market in 1907.

That started with the release of the Auto Wagon and the Auto Buggy. Later, in the 1970s, the International Scout and International Travelall appeared.

Financial troubles in the 70’s and 80’s caused the company to sell some of its businesses. The truck and engine divisions remained and the company changed its name to Navistar International in 1986

Today, as a commercial vehicle manufacturer, the company is owned by Traton, which is itself a commercial vehicle subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group.

https://www.newsweek.com/if-delorean-can-come-back-these-10-brands-have-chance-1686861 If DeLorean can come back, these 10 brands stand a chance

Rick Schindler

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