Chances are their brands built cars that were cheaply made, had a limited market or they were ugly.
Of course, just because the cars are gone does not mean the brands are forgotten. We take a look at the meaning of seven car logos for brands that no longer exist.
Founded in 1938, Mercury was an entry-level luxury brand designed to compete with Buick and Oldsmobile. The original Mercury logo depicted the head of Mercury, the Roman god of commerce, before the company switched to a stylized “Big M” in the 1950s.
On the 1984 Mercury Topaz, the automaker introduced the logo above, which can still be seen on the remaining Mercurys that are on the road (and just won’t die). The badge is said to depict motion, and silver is the color of the element mercury. The shape inside the logo earned it the nicknames “waterfall” and “hockey stick” among circles of fans and haters. The Mercury brand was discontinued in 2010.
While still technically a company, Saab has not built a car since 2014. Once known for producing unique and popular automobiles like the classic 900, Saab become a subsidiary of General Motors in 1989 and then a couple of decades later went bankrupt in 2011.
Old Saabs featured car logos with the brand name in capital letters with an airplane underneath (the company made planes dating back to the 1930s). In the 1980s, Saab introduced its most well-known logo, with the brand name and the head of a griffin, the mythical creature with the head of a bird and the body of a lion. The reason? The beast was found on the Coat of Arms of the Swedish province Skane, where Saab was founded.
Discontinued in 2001, Plymouth had some popular offerings like the Breeze and the Voyager, and perhaps its biggest feat was helping its parent company, Chrysler, survive the Great Depression. Despite its name, the company was founded in Michigan, and despite the fact that its logo featured the Mayflower that landed at Plymouth Rock, the company name was actually inspired by a brand of twine that was popular with farmers.
Another defunct subsidiary of General Motors that went kaput in the aftermath of the Big Three auto bailout, Saturn ceased its brief 30-year auto-building ventures in 2010 as well. Marketed as a “different kind of car company,” Saturn was known for its S-Series sedans and later the Ion and the compact crossover SUV Vue. Its car logos features its marquee with a box on top. Inside the box, two silver rings formed the outline of Saturn and its famous halos.
Chalk this one up to the bailout too. Founded in 1893, Pontiac was named after the town of Pontiac, Michigan, and the Grand Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa Native Americans. Early versions of its car logos used Native American imagery and while not as obvious, the upside-down triangle logo on the grilles of its newer cars was actually a downward facing arrow known as the “dart.”
It was recently announced that the DeLorean DMC-12 is coming back, but i’ll believe it when one rolls off the assembly line. Made popular by the movie “Back to the Future,” the DMC-12 was the only vehicle ever made by the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC). Like its iconic gull-wing doors, DeLorean’s logo has a futuristic feel, with mirrored letters on the ends and rounded edges that make the letters look like magnets.
Founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897, Oldsmobile built the first mass-produced car and introduced the first “Automatic Safety Transmission.” With innovations like these, it’s no wonder the company later used a rocket motif on its logos (that and, by that time, the company was well known for its “Rocket” V-8 engines that were first introduced in 1949). In spite of some successful products in the mid-1990s, General Motors shutdown Oldsmobile in 2004 after a historic 107-year endeavor in the auto industry.
Want to learn about other extinct car logos? Let us know in the comments section.
To learn about more car logos, visit AAA.com/LogoLegends.