The automotive threatened, endangered and extinct list
Published December 15, 2012
Since the last installment of this story in May, nobody has collected the outstanding reward of $50,000 for conclusive proof of the continued existence of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, nor has anyone insured a Plymouth Champ with classic car insurer Hagerty Insurance. Sadly, both may be extinct. To qualify for the Automotive Threatened, Endangered and Extinct List, a car must have been produced in large numbers (10,000-plus) within the last 40 years with few (if any) roadworthy survivors. Here are some more of our favorite threatened, endangered and extinct cars:
- 1980-85 Chevrolet Citation X-11: The Chevy Citation was a car with a checkered past. One of the GM X-cars (“X” now shorthand for “X-tinct”), the first American front-drivers since the Olds Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado of the mid-’60s, it blazed a recall trail that was nothing short of shameful. Any Citation would surely make the Threatened list. Although 1.6 million were built, few are left on the road. The X-11 was the performance version and while more than 25,000 were built, a miniscule number remain. It’s clearly “endangered.”
- 1982-88 Oldsmobile Firenza: Based on the same J-body platform as the far more common Chevy Cavalier, the Firenza was positioned as Oldsmobile’s premium compact car. Available with more luxury features than a Cavalier, Olds buyers still preferred their big 88s and 98s. Still, enough of these were sold that one should pop up on the street every now and then. We wait in vain. The Firenza is possibly “extinct.”
- 1982-88 Cadillac Cimarron: Perhaps the one car on this list that will generate a hearty “good riddance” the Cimarron was a rather cynical attempt to create a smaller Cadillac. Unlike the new ATS, which really is worthy of the brand, the Cimarron was a thinly disguised Cavalier that wasn’t exactly a cutting-edge compact car. In fact, the Cimarron nearly killed the brand. Happily, most have been laughed off the road at this point; certainly the Cimarron is “endangered.”
- 1978-2000 Toyota Tercel: The Tercel was Toyota’s entry-level car, and of all the cars on this list, it’s the one that likely won’t slip quietly into the automotive fossil record. Tercels are as rust-prone as anything Japanese of the era, but they were nearly unkillable mechanically — nearly being the operative word. In the animal kingdom, it often seems like the transformation of habitat into a big-box retail store or a gated community is the thing that pushes a species over the edge. In the automotive world, it’s popularity as a pizza delivery conveyance. When the last Tercel dies, it will likely be with a Dominos sign on the roof. The Tercel is likely “threatened.”
- 1987-91 Volkswagen Fox: The Fox was VW’s last attempt at a truly entry-level sub-compact car. The idea was to rekindle the spirit of the Bug with modern water-cooled front-wheel-drive technology. Unfortunately, whereas the German-built Beetle was inexpensive but never cheap, the Brazilian-built Fox screamed “cheap” louder than a cage full of finches. The two-door wagon seems to have the only thing approaching a survival rate, and only because with the rear seats folded down, one can sleep in it. Like the African Bat-Eared Fox, the Brazilian Fox is “endangered.”
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