Home » What Formerly Common Cars Have Completely Vanished?

What Formerly Common Cars Have Completely Vanished?

Aa Dodge Intrepid
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It’s been quite an experience watching my daughter grapple with the impermanence of life. When a store closes it’s possibly a minor disappointment to me, but to her it’s almost cataclysmic. She’s only been fully conscious of the world around her for a few years and so, generally speaking, all that was there is still there, and when it isn’t it’s a big deal.

She just feels so much and, you know, maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m too inured to the fluctuations of life. Perhaps I’d be better off also feeling that much.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

One area where I probably feel the shifting of time most is in the slow disappearance of cars that were once ubiquitous. Where have all the Cavalier Z24s gone? Or, for that matter, where the hell are all the old Dodge Intrepids?

While Chrysler’s attempt at making a front-wheel drive competitor to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord never quite had the same draw, falling short even of the Ford Taurus, the almost-a-Lamborghini 1st generation was fairly common when I was a youth. But now? It’s an occasion when you see one at a stoplight, on par with spying a falling star.

2g Dodge Interipd

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Even the 2nd generation car, which was on sale until 2005, is a rare spot.

So, in that vein, SWG has suggested you all help us come up with more examples of once-common cars that have given way to a rusty grave or to being recycled into something more desirable.

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Dashiell Allen-Smith
Dashiell Allen-Smith
8 days ago

Remember how it seemed that PT Cruisers littered the streets with their filth? Now when was the last you actually saw one? They are finally kicking the dust to be put into junkyards, where they belong.

Mike B
Mike B
20 days ago

Recently it occurred to me that I rarely see pre-97 Ford pickups. They’ve been the #1 selling vehicle in the US for decades, yet I rarely see any 9th gens around anymore. I know Northeast corrosion is a big contributor to that, but I see the same era GMT400 trucks on a daily basis, and I also see many more of them in running condition for sale, despite the fact that Ford had better sales numbers.

Space
Space
10 days ago
Reply to  Mike B

I can’t say why you see more GMT 400’s but I think you are spot on with the rust idea. Here in the desert it’s common to see 9th gen Ford’s still doing work duty. I even saw a really clean 8th gen with ladders and gear strapped to the top last Thursday.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
22 days ago

Well in the Toronto area when I was young in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Chevettes, VW Beetles and VW Microbuses were everywhere.

By the 2000s they were a rare site. Same deal with the Hyundai Pony that was a top seller in 1984 and 1985… but sales dropped off fast and was discontinued after 1987 as it was CRAP. And by the mid 1990s, those Hyundai Ponys became a rare sight as they didn’t hold up well at all in the Canadian climate.

Also over the past 10 years, Fox-body Mustangs are becoming an increasingly rare sight. In the early 1990s, you’d see them everywhere.

Also the Suzuki Swift/Geo Metro/Pontiac Firefly used to be a common sight… but not anymore… sadly.

But that’s the reality of living in the rust belt. Take any common car from 20+ years ago and it will become a rare sight around here today… unless it’s a more expensive weekend/fun car/exotic like a Corvette or Ferrari that is often only driven in the summer.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
22 days ago

I am amused by realizing that a sighting of cars I used to be dismissive of—or actively disliked—can now prompt an ‘Awe, look at that!’ from me now that they have virtually disappeared.

—sometimes followed by a call to my bil involving the phrase, ‘…a good-looking XXX’. Most recently a Chevette (!) and then a first-gen Escort.

Myk El
Myk El
22 days ago

For some reason the Suzuki SX4 was really popular where I was in Denver. I think the inexpensive route to AWD was the selling point. But they vanished fairly quick after the brand itself left these shores.

Mike B
Mike B
22 days ago
Reply to  Myk El

I see them here and there in southern New England. My old neighbor had one, her husband who drove an F150 told me the Zuk was a beast in the snow. A lifted one occasionally showed up at Cars and Coffee, it had AT tires, a safari rack, etc and looked like a lot of fun.

StillPlayswithCars
StillPlayswithCars
21 days ago
Reply to  Mike B

I owned one for a few years. They had a lock mode that would lock AWD in place at speeds below 25mph. That made them decently capable off road and I’d argue more so than a Subaru since it was a true 50/50 lock. However, gas mileage was only good up to 65 mph and fell off a cliff at anything above that. Seriously, we’re talking 20-25 mpg at 70. At that time serious advancements in engine tech meant that a full sized SUV could reasonably match the economy without the small size penalty.

Mike B
Mike B
20 days ago

Yeah, I saw one on marketplace a few months back and got a little excited, then I looked up the mileage and saw that it was barely better than my 4Runner. Crazy anything this small is under 30mpg.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
18 days ago
Reply to  Myk El

Saabs were really popular in parts of Colorado, too. Maybe second only to Subarus. Now they’re nonexistent.

Xpumpx
Xpumpx
22 days ago

Cash for Clunkers, they robbed a whole generation or 2 of beater cars

Grand Moff Tarkin
Grand Moff Tarkin
22 days ago
Reply to  Xpumpx

Seriously. I used to watch YouTube videos in high school (circa 2009) of mechanics red lining Grand Wagoneers, Roadmasters, Custom Cruisers, early Crown Vics, non Northstar Cadillacs, and other large vehicles that had been traded in. It breaks my heart thinking about all those solid and durable cars being revved until the engine blew.

JDS
JDS
22 days ago

Seconded and thirded for the Dodge Neon. They used to be all over the place, now they’re not. Ditto for any Geo of any flavor.

There are also surprisingly few early bugeye-era WRX’es still on the streets in Denver given how they were everywhere (including my garage) in the early to mid ’00s. Same for the once-ubiquitous beater Subaru GL. they’re not as common as they once were.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
22 days ago

I used to see cars like the Intrepid and Cavalier all the time, but I also moved out of that area.

Hometown: Rust belt, formerly had 2 UAW plants, lots of people with GM/Chrysler discounts.

Current town: High cost of living suburbs of a major metro area. More likely to see a Ferrari than a Dodge Intrepid.

I don’t get back home a lot, so I wonder if the Intrepids and Cavs (and Grand Am/Grand Prix) are still there. Good chance rust got them though I guess, even if the owner wanted to keep them going.

Last edited 22 days ago by Vic Vinegar
TriangleRAD
TriangleRAD
22 days ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

As a dedicated spotter of mundane survivors of the ’80s & ’90s, I’m often surprised by how much more common it is to spot such cars when you get a few dozen miles outside a major metro area.

Jeff Hudepohl
Jeff Hudepohl
22 days ago

Cash for clunkers eliminated most of these types of cars. The 80’s and 90’s Taurus comes to mind.

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
22 days ago

This one is personal to me, fox body Thunderbirds/Cougars. I have an ’83 (which has been in the barn for 20 years, so no one has seen mine either!). I can’t remember the last time I saw one on the road. I see them occasionally on marketplace, but never with the parts I’m looking for! On that note, if anyone knows where to score a set of Fox body T-Bird vent window doors, let me know!

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
22 days ago
Reply to  Fordlover1983

Agreed on these, but on my old block (a few blocks from my current block) there was a rather clean-looking 83-84 Bird, metallic red with whitewalls and wire covers. Still there – owners have handicapped parking directly in front of their home. Only one I ever see.

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
21 days ago

Yep, but I need the whole door and glass. Mine has the plain large window. I want old-school wings!

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
21 days ago
Reply to  Fordlover1983

I was browsing and they seem to be a somewhat uncommon option. I actually didn’t realize that Ford offered this as an option on the Fox T-Bird/Cougar/MK VII

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
21 days ago

I’ve been looking, off and on, for about 20 years! There probably aren’t any good ones left.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
22 days ago

Ah man, you stole my answer. The Intrepid was the first car I remember noticing just doesn’t exist anymore, this was sometime in the early 2010s. Then I went to a local junkyard and found where all of the Intrepids went.

The 6th gen 04-07 Chevy Malibus are just completely gone around me. The gen after that is still super common but I feel like I still see more of the 97-03 Malibus than I do of the 04-07 ones.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
22 days ago
Reply to  S13 Sedan

I was thinking about those Malibus too and then I saw one right after I posted my comment yesterday. But related to that, Pontiac G6s do seem to have disappeared – everyone is mentioning Grand Ams, but I think I’m more likely to see a 99-05 Grand Am than a G6.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
22 days ago

Yeah, I still see enough Grand Ams around to notice them even here in Detroit, the land of rust. I feel like I still see G6es but now that you mention it, they aren’t nearly as common as they used to be

Erik McCullough
Erik McCullough
22 days ago

It’s easy to say just a list of old cars. But what cars disappear before they should? What are the junkyards filled of? Certainly, I think I see more Toyota Camry’s of the era than I do Dodge Intrepids, regardless of the year. It would make sense as conventional wisdom. But it also could be I can’t tell the styling/year of the Camrys as well as a well-designed car like the Intrepid was.

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
22 days ago

VW Bugs and buses. You used to see a ton of them everywhere, now just once in a while.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
22 days ago
Reply to  BentleyBoy

Very true. Here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, air-cooled VWs have (mostly) become collector cars: I officially consider spring to have arrived when I see a local Thing again each year. I continued to drive mine year-round into the 2000s, but, even then, it had become increasingly rare to see another in January

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
22 days ago

Chrysler Voyager (AS and NS), Ford Probe (second generation), and Ford Explorer (UN105/150) were everywhere in Germany in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Today? I haven’t seen any of them in years.

That’s why David Tracy went ecstatic to the supernova level about the rare find (Voyager with turbodiesel engine and 5-speed manual gearbox).

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
22 days ago

The first car I ever noticed that disappeared from our roads, growing up in New Hampshire in the ’90s and ’00s, was the pre-1991 Escort. They were everywhere, in various states of repair… and then, one day in the early 2000s, they evaporated.

Others have mentioned most of what I’ve observed more recently, so I’ll add Saabs, the entire brand, especially ‘classic’ 9-5s. I saw an OG 9-3 the other day, though!

Mike B
Mike B
22 days ago
Reply to  FuzzyPlushroom

I think those Escorts LITERALLY evaporated. Those things rusted so bad, I’m sure most have them have long since returned to the earth.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
23 days ago

Mazda Millenia and 626 seem to have vanished.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
23 days ago

It feels like the Matrix/Vibe has essentially vanished. The Matrix was everywhere.

Chrysler Magnums were very popular here, and now they’re pretty uncommon.

Chevy Luminas, sedans or vans, and their badge engineered siblings are gone too.

Last edited 23 days ago by Harvey Park
FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
23 days ago

Any ’80s Audi. Any ’90s Audi for that matter.
VW Scirocco
VW Dasher
VW Fox
VW Rabbit
Dodge Omni / Plymouth Horizon
Ford Granada / Mercury Monarch
Chevy Citation
Chevy Celebrity
3rd Gen Chevy Camaro ’82-92

Where are the Audis? There were 4000s all over the place and now they’re just gone!

Last edited 23 days ago by FleetwoodBro
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

I just tonight saw a 1970s era 1st gen Honda Cvcc out and about. Looked to be in good shape too.

YALE70
YALE70
23 days ago

The Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevy HHR. Two flavors of god-awful retro inspired penalty boxes from the 2000s. The PT Cruiser in particular used to be absolutely everywhere when I was a kid, and now they all just kinda vanished.

Honorable mention: the Hummer H2. Good riddance.

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
23 days ago
Reply to  YALE70

as soon as these hit the 10 year mark and owners got a $1,000 repair estimate they traded them in to be the dealerships problem and they got shipped to mexico.

Red865
Red865
22 days ago
Reply to  YALE70

I believe all the Chevy HHRs are all here in TN…I see many of them all over town here. My Mom had one. It was a giant rolling blind spot.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
22 days ago
Reply to  YALE70

My next door neighbor has both a PT Cruiser and an HHR. The HHR has been sitting behind her house and hasn’t moved in years but the PT Cruiser gets driven daily.

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