By Jason Siu
Some cars have disappeared completely from the collective consciousness because they didn’t last long enough to make an impression.
There have been dozens of duds in the automotive world. Sometimes the cars sound good in theory but they just don’t sell, while we can’t even figure out why other cars exist in the first place. Here’s a look at some short-lived cars from the past few decades, many of which were only sold for a single model year in the U.S.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Cars You Forgot Existed
While there may be some cars that have had shorter lives than the ones on the list, these are the ones we found the most interesting.
Before Acura had its popular MDX and RDX crossover lineup, there was the Acura SLX, but it’s completely acceptable if you didn’t even know this SUV existed. Back in the mid-1990s, Acura was mostly known for its sedans, but the SUV market was slowly gaining ground. So what did the Japanese automaker do? It rebadged the Isuzu Trooper as its own, selling it under the SLX nameplate.
According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the SLX was first introduced in 1996 and was taken off the market after the 1999 model year. It was hardly a sales success, but it did pave the way for Acura’s lineup of crossovers and SUVs.
Chrysler Aspen Hybrid
The Chrysler Aspen Hybrid was introduced the same time as the Dodge Durango Hybrid and both models stumbled into obscurity. The idea behind the Chrysler Aspen was confusing on its own, but the added premium of a hybrid variant on a 2009 model all but secured its fate as a one-and-done model. In fact, both the Durango Hybrid and the Aspen Hybrid were discontinued just two months after the American automaker started full-scale production when it shut down its Newark, Delaware, Assembly Plant.
Not every electric automaker has found the same success as Tesla. One perfect example is Coda, which produced its electric vehicle from 2012 to 2013. This short-lived EV was only sold in the state of California and the company didn’t even manage to sell 120 units before it shut down. It probably didn’t help that the car itself was the Hafei Saibao, a model that first made its debut at the 2004 Beijing Motor Show. Although it was penned by Pininfarina, its outdated styling just didn’t fit in nearly a decade later.
We all know what happened with the Hummer brand, but did you know before it disappeared, the automaker introduced a truck model? The Hummer H3T was only produced from 2009 to 2010 before General Motors decided to kill off the brand. The model ultimately saw less than 1,300 units produced, which ironically makes it quite the collectible these days.
Another one-and-done model, the Kia Borrego SUV was introduced in 2008 before it was quietly discontinued in 2009. Some say the timing for the Borrego’s introduction couldn’t have been worse, considering car shoppers were flocking to fuel-efficient hybrids as gas prices soared around the U.S. It did get a second model year in 2009, but barely any units were produced and sold.
The Blackwood pickup truck was only offered in the U.S. for the 2002 model year, so it might be the shortest-lived vehicle in Lincoln‘s history. On paper, the idea behind the Blackwood made sense for the brand. The Lincoln Navigator was essentially a rebadged, more luxurious version of the Ford Expedition, so why couldn’t Lincoln do the same with the Ford F-150 pickup? Unfortunately, the idea behind a luxury pickup didn’t make much sense in the U.S. back then, and one could argue it still doesn’t make sense today. After all, there’s a reason the Mercedes-Benz pickup isn’t heading to the U.S.
Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG
Minivans might not be cool, but Mercedes-Benz‘s AMG arm tried really hard to make the R-Class cool with a hot R63 AMG model. The one-and-done R63 wasn’t even marketed in the U.S. when it was introduced as a 2007 model, and if someone wanted to buy one, they had to special order it from the dealership. Sporting a 6.2-liter V8 under the hood with 507 horsepower, the R63 AMG clearly appealed to very few consumers.
This might be one of the strangest cars to have ever been sold in the U.S. The second-generation Nissan Prairie was rebadged as the Axxess in North America and was only sold for the 1990 model year. The model served as a replacement and successor to the Nissan Stanza wagon, which was the first-generation Prairie in other markets. But the Axxess never caught on in the U.S. and the Japanese automaker likely pulled the plug quickly so it could focus on developing the Nissan Quest, which still lives on today.
Sadly, the Pontiac brand has a few models that belong on this list. The Pontiac Solstice Coupe and G8 were both short-lived vehicles, but the Pontiac G3 was one-and-done as a 2009 model. Although the brand is long gone, the G3 will forever live on as the shortest-lived model to sport the Pontiac badge. More than 6,000 units were sold in the U.S., so it wasn’t as bad of a disaster as other short-lived vehicles. But unlike Pontiac, many of those automakers are still around.
We now know the Saturn brand is history, but when the Astra was first introduced, the automaker was doing its best to stay afloat. Bringing over some European styling, the Astra saw a single year of production in 2008 before Saturn shut its doors permanently in 2010. It’s sad when you consider the Opel Astra has lived on to this day and is considered quite the hot hatch in Europe.