Here are 10 of our favorite short-lived, obsolete but trendy cars. They were attractive and stylish, yet others were quirky and ugly, but they were fun and we loved them. Many people still have nostalgic memories of these cars from the 1970s and ’80s.
The Ford Pinto, with more than three million produced over a 10-year model run, was a subcompact that was manufactured and marketed by Ford from 1971–1980. The 1971 two-door sedan was followed by hatchback and wagon models in 1972. Its predecessor was the Ford Cortina. The Ford Escort replaced the Pinto in the 1980s.
The Rambler Marlin (later AMC Marlin) was a two-door fastback automobile, marketed as a luxury car and produced by American Motors Corporation from 1965 to 1967. In 1965, the car was marketed as “Rambler Marlin”. For 1966, the car featured “Marlin” identification only, named “AMC Marlin”, as was the 1967 model. The Marlin was succeeded by the Rebel/Matador, the Ambassador and the Javelin models.
The American Motors Corporation (AMC) Pacer, produced from 1975 to 1980, was a two-door compact car, shaped like a jelly bean. It was assembled in Kenosha, WI, before its assembly was moved to Mexico City, then called a VAM Pacer. Its successors were the Concord and the Spirit.
The Yugo, also called the Innocenti Koral, was manufactured by Zastava and assembled in Serbia from 1978 to 2008. The Yugo was a supermini, designed in Italy under the name Fiat 144 as a variant of the Fiat 127. The first Yugo 45 was handmade in 1978 as a Fiat 127, under license from Fiat, with a modified body style. The Zastava Koral was sold with an updated design, until 2008. In total, 141,651 cars were sold in the United States from 1985 to 1992, with the most American units sold in a year peaking at 48,812 in 1987.
The Chevrolet Chevette was a subcompact manufactured and marketed by Chevrolet from 1976 to 1987 in three-door and five-door hatchback body styles. Introduced in September 1975, the Chevette superseded the Vega as Chevrolet’s entry-level subcompact and sold 2.8 million units over 12 years. The Chevette was the best-selling small car in the U.S. for model years 1979 and 1980. The Geo Metro and the Pontiac LeMans succeeded the Chevette.
The Tucker 48 (named after its model year), also commonly called the Tucker Torpedo, was an automobile conceived by Preston Tucker and manufacturer by the Tucker Car Corporation in Chicago. Briefly produced in 1948, only 51 cars were made before the company folded in 1949, due to negative publicity.
The AMC Javelin was a front-engine, rear wheel drive, two-door hardtop manufactured and marketed in two generations, 1968-1970 and 1971-1974. The Javelin was available in a range of trim and engine levels, from economical pony car to muscle car variants.
The Rambler American was manufactured between 1958 and 1969. The American was the second incarnation of AMC’s forerunner Nash Motors second-generation Rambler compact that was sold under the Nash and Hudson Motors marques from 1954 and 1955. The American can be classified in three distinct model year generations: 1958 to 1960, 1961 to 1963, and 1964 to 1969. During the entire length of its production, the car was sold under the Rambler brand and was the last Rambler-named automobile marketed in Canada and the United States. It preceded the Nash Rambler.
The Studebaker Avanti was a luxury coupe, built by the Studebaker Corporation in South Bend, IN, between 1962 and 1963. Less than 6,000 were made, but the automaker referred to it as “America’s Only 4 Passenger High-Performance Personal Car” in its sales literature.