What is your favorite orphan car brand?


Just like that cheerful redhead singing about the hope that tomorrow brings, there are orphan cars cruising the streets that have lost their parents (their companies, anyway). Through corporate merger or sour financial decisions, the doors have closed on more than a few car companies over the years.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/06/11/what-is-your-favorite-orphan-car-brand


Saab. Was apprehensive at best about a 800S 5 spd my wife brought into our marriage. I fell in love with that damn quirky car.


@Jim-R - Occasionally I forget Saab owners are on thier own now. They had a handful of good late model cars, but many seemed to be platform sharing.


This one was a 1980. Put nearly 160k miles on it and it still ran like a sewing machine. Doors were like closing a safe. You could play rugby on the upholstery and not wear it out. Acceleration was nothing to brag about but it handled surprisingly well and with good all-seasons, it would go anywhere.


It’s truly a tough question, as I’m torn between my two favorite orphans.

On the one hand, we have the incredibly under-appreciated Mercury. With fantastically capable and affordably upmarket offerings such as the Grand Marquis and Cougar, it’s an absolute shame to see some of Ford’s finest creations seemingly relegated to a footnote in history. One could even say that the early '90s Cougars paved the way for the revamped 2015 Mustang. With a powerful 5.0 L V-8 engine (complete with the correct number of 16 valves and one camshaft) and a fully independent rear suspension, it was nearly 25 years ahead of the curve.

Similarly, we have AMC. These guys really pushed the small-car envelope with not only the AMX, but the Gremlin and Pacer as well. Plus, they happened to have some of the coolest color names outside of Chrysler at the time - hard to argue against labels such as Baja Bronze and Alamosa Aqua.


I’ve had Pontiacs, Plymouths, a couple of Oldsmobiles, a Mercury, a few Ramblers and a Studebaker, but the orphan car we have now is a Saturn Aura. When my wife was talking about getting a new Saturn to replace her 2001, I explained to her that they don’t make them any more. This was 2014, so it had been a while. I found a 2008 Aura with 15K on it. I told her that if it’s gotta be a Saturn, this is the one! She’s happy, and that’s what counts.


Pontiac. I have plenty of room in my garage for a 1964 Pontiac GTO!


One of my favorites that I’ve had a few of have been Studebaker. I had a 63 Hawk that had a 4 speed and besides all the Borg Warner gauges it came with, one other little feature was called a Hill Holder. If you were on a incline and had the brakes and clutch pushed in at the same time, once your were stopped completely the brakes would stay engaged until the clutch was let out part way. You wouldn’t have to worry about stalling on a hill. I surprised nobody else in the automotive industry didn’t pick this up after Studebaker-Packard went out of business in 1966.


I drive a 1963 Trabant from East Germany. Getting parts is still doable via German Ebay. They have not been made since 1981 (?) It draws attention when I fill up with my 2-stroke mix! Always runs good, eager to get out after a long winter in Michigan.


AMC for sure. AMC may have survived for several years if not for the hostile take-over by Chrysler who only wanted Jeep. It is hard not to blame them though as Jeep continues to grow and prosper. If the deal AMC had with collaborating with Toyota instead of Renault as originally planned had happened, the future for AMC may have been very different. Studebaker for sure also because of some of the most beautiful designed cars ever on the planet.


Avanti Motors without a doubt. Raymond Loewy’s design was ahead of its time in 1962 and classic today. Nate Altman who, along with his brother Arnold Altman and Leo Newman bought the rights to the Avanti from Studebaker, and used to hold the Board of Directors meetings at the Wooden Keg restaurant in South Bend where I worked as the valet parking attendant. Of course I parked the Avantis so they were prominently lined up near the front door. Mr. Altman was a nice guy who appreciated our efforts at the “Keg” and I remember one Saturday night after work seeing him and another person, (45 years ago so don’t remember who) at the Toddle House Restaurant on N. Michigan Ave. where we normally went for breakfast. Recognizing us he had us sit with them so we would not have to wait.


MG. Although the name lived on.


We have a 1973 AMC Javelin that my mother ordered the way she wanted it when my father was an AMC dealer. She drove it for three years, Dad sold it and that buyer kept it til he died, we then bought it in '07 (I think). LOVE the car!!! Love that Mama had a/c on it which was a little unusual in those days. We haven’t had it out yet - LOTS of road construction close to our house that we can’t avoid so we are debating whether we will even have it out this summer.


That is a tough one, but either a 63 Triumph TR 3 or the 53 Willys Aero Lark. You do not see many of them anymore. Why I got rid of either I’ll never know


Studebaker would have to be my pick. I’ve had a few over the years and their innovations, in spite of financial constraints, were amazing. And I’ve always considered them the last brand to truly die on its own. AMC, the only other independent to outlive Studebaker, was simply bought up, stripped of Jeep, and phased out by Chrysler.
By the way, Michael, the hill-holder lives on in my ‘15 Forester. Subaru has had it for decades and uses it even with automatics!


Hudson. 1951-1954 Hornet coupe with the 7X dual carb engine and a 4 speed Hydramatic. The scourge of early Nascar. Also a 1954 Hudson Jet with the same drivetrain that they snuck past the NHRA as a “stock” car. Ike Smith was a wizard and a legend.


My favorite orphan car brand is Mercury.

Local Studebaker club hosts an annual Orphan Car Show 'n Shine. Always some great old iron there!


Oldsmobile & Pontiac


I own 3 Pontiacs and 2 AMC’s… Consider that my vote.


Studebaker and Avanti for me. Grew up in Pittsburgh and walked to school past Chas C Becker Studebaker twice a day (1953-1962). Drove a Lark wagon for butcher shop deliveries while in high school. Joined the SDC in 1988 and bought a ‘62 GT Hawk. Restored my ‘50 Champion Starlight Coupe in ‘94. Got a ‘64 GT “Super Hawk” (Avanti R1 powered) in ‘05. Sold it to get my ‘71 Avant II in ‘12. If not Stude & Avanti then Nash / Rambler / AMC would be by next choice.