3 December 2009

Hagerty Lists Top 'Threatened, Endangered and Extinct' Cars

The passenger pigeon was once the most common bird in North America. Flocks were said to have blackened the skies. Yet history records that the last passenger pigeon—a bird named “Martha”— died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

Scant attention, however, was paid to the last chirp of the Plymouth Cricket. Thousands of these British-made captive imports were sold by Chrysler-Plymouth dealers in the early 1970s, yet evidence of it in the automotive fossil record is nearly non-existent. The Chevrolet Monza did an even bigger disappearing act. More than 300,000 Monzas were produced between 1975 and 1980, yet recent sightings have been so infrequent that the Chevy Monza must surely be considered “threatened.”

Other once popular cars have likely disappeared to the extent that they’re “endangered” or even “extinct.” Honestly, when’s the last time anyone saw a Chrysler Cordoba (with or without the “rich Corinthian leather?”)

If someone turns up a running and driving example of a car on the Hagerty “Extinct” list, we’ll happily remove it – when presented with the proper evidence, of course, such as a photo of the car with the owner standing in front of it holding the day’s newspaper. Send your tips to mediaservices@hagerty.com. And, for obvious reasons, we prefer breeding pairs to single cars.

The Hagerty “Threatened” List
Cars originally built in numbers greater than 10,000 of which Hagerty insures fewer than 25

1. 1975-80 Chevrolet Monza: The Monza, based on the infamous Chevy Vega, might well have been the most attractive GM car of the mid-1970s. It was also available with a small V-8 and a manual transmission. Monzas raced successfully, and although the styling was a quality job, build quality wasn’t better than anything else of the era, which may explain the scarcity of survivors.

2. 1963-66 Studebaker Wagonaire: Old station wagons are hot, but few Studebaker Wagonaires ever seem to surface. A pity, as they could be ordered with column shift manual transmissions and V-8s with four barrel carburetors. A unique sliding roof over the cargo area also meant that everything from surfboards to refrigerators could be carried inside.

3. 1971-74 BMW Bavaria: The Bavaria, a precursor to the modern 5-series BMW, followed the successful formula of the 2002 in putting the largest possible engine in the lightest platform – in this case, the 2.8 liter six in the basic 2500 body. Mercedes sedans of the era are still quite common but their competitors from Munich seem to have all but disappeared.

4. 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT: Pitched as an economic commuter car, the four-cylinder mid-engine two-seater was initially no sports car. But by 1988, it had a potent V-6 and a re-worked suspension tuned by Lotus engineers. Alas, it was all for naught. GM killed the car after finally getting it right.

5. 1971-77 Toyota Celica: In 1971 – a little late to the pony car craze – Toyota fielded this Shetland that resembled a miniature Mustang. While it lacked the V-8 engine of a real Detroit pony car, or for that matter the more potent twin-cam home market motors, the first-generation Celica handled pleasantly and was an attractive, well-built car. And as we mentioned, the Liftback was a dead-ringer for a 3/4 scale 1967 Mustang.

The Hagerty “Endangered” List
Cars originally built in numbers greater than 10,000 of which Hagerty insures fewer than 15

1. 1971-76 Mercury Capri: The Capri was Ford of Europe’s answer to the Mustang. Like the Mustang, it was built on rather ordinary sedan underpinnings but the result was handsome, well made and, in the case of the V-6 powered cars, fast. It was quite popular in the early 1970s, selling more than 100,000 units in its first two years. Where they all went is anyone’s guess.

2. 1971-74 Mazda RX-2: The RX-2 was the first rotary-powered car to make an impact in the U.S. market. The engine, built under license from NSU Wankel in Germany, was compact, had few moving parts and ran very smoothly. It also offered V-8 performance in a small car. Unfortunately, it also offered V-8 thirst and when the fuel crisis hit, most early rotary cars disappeared.

3. 1975-81 Volkswagen Scirocco: The first-generation VW Scirocco was positioned as a replacement for the popular Karmann-Ghia. It was a thoroughly modern, VW Rabbit-based, front-wheel drive, water-cooled car with angular styling courtesy of Ital Design and Giorgetto Giugiaro. As rust-prone as anything of the era, the ranks of first-generation Sciroccos have thinned to the point that extinction may loom, particularly for first-year cars with pretty chrome bumpers and funky plaid seats.

4. 1979-81 Toyota Supra: If anyone ever decides to chronicle the history of Toyota’s luxury division, this car has to go down as the proto-Lexus. By adding a few inches of wheelbase, a fancier grille, leather seats and a big, smooth straight six, Toyota discovered that there was a market in the U.S. for Japanese quality and execution in a bigger, cushier and pricier package.

5. 1971 Plymouth Cricket: Produced in the U.K. by Chrysler’s subsidiary, The Rootes Group, it was known there as the Hillman Avenger. Like most captive imports, Chrysler’s heart was never into selling the car in the U.S. and its dealers were perplexed. Chrysler squashed it just before the energy crisis, selling the entire design to Iran’s state car company where it was produced under license. Add that to the Shah’s litany of crimes. As a genuine car guy himself, he should have known better.

Update: The 1971 Cricket was originally listed as "extinct," but a reader – and '71 Cricket owner – has pointed out that his car has been insured by Hagerty since September. We've confirmed his claim and we stand corrected. We're happy to upgrade the car to "endangered" status!

6. 1981-85 Chevrolet Citation X-11: The Citation was one of GM’s X-cars, its first high-volume front-drivers. Any of its stablemates, such as the Oldsmobile Omega, Buick Skyhawk and Pontiac Phoenix, could have made this list, but the X-11 – the performance version of the Citation – was the most interesting and clearly the best candidate for species preservation via a captive breeding program.



The Hagerty “Extinct” List
Cars originally built in numbers greater than 10,000 that Hagerty insures no examples of

1. 1980 Dodge St. Regis: One of the “lost” cars built during Chrysler’s first flirtation with bankruptcy, the St. Regis was a full-sized, four-door sedan with little to distinguish it other than its occasional service with police departments, which were evidently disappointed with the lack of continued availability of the AMC Matador.

2. 1985-86 Chrysler Laser XE: The Chrysler twin to the Dodge Daytona Turbo Z emphasized luxury, but the 2.2 liter turbo engine produced a bit of performance which was unusual for the era. Chrysler’s mediocre build quality at the time and years of deferred maintenance by owners no doubt accounts for the fact that the car has gone the way of leg warmers, really big hair and Men at Work albums as an ‘80s artifact.

3. 1987 Renault/AMC Alliance Convertible: Truth really was stranger than fiction with the Alliance—a French Renault built in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Consumer magazines of the day were dismayed to find out that the Wisconsinites assembled the cars as indifferently as the French. Still, the convertible was interesting as AMC’s fist drop-top since the 1968. We’re hoping that when somebody cuts their grass for the first time since 1992, one of these will turn up.

4. 1983-86 Isuzu Impulse: The Impulse’s Giugiaro styling caused a sensation when it was introduced at the 1979 Geneva Auto Show as the Isuzu Ace of Clubs concept car. Surprisingly, it went into production almost unaltered. Unfortunately, the best Isuzu could do for underpinnings was an uninspired Chevette-derived chassis. The clay mockup may have handled better. Later versions had chassis tuning by Lotus and more competent handling.

17 Reader Comments

  • 1
    DeserTBoB CA June 9, 2013 at 16:05
    The early Celicas were garbage...pure and simple. Bad engine (18 R-C with frying exhaust valves and other problems), sloppy, overrubberized driveline, chintzy interior. I know all too well...my dad had two of them, the '73 of which was passed down to my sister. Working on them was NEVER fun, as Toy-OEM parts are notoriously overpriced. Toy even today is gussied-up junk, but people fall for it every time. "Unintended accelleration", anyone? Worst car Toy ever made? Try the 1971 CROWN! 101 were built with left-hand drive to be sold in the US as part of a "collusion" deal with Nissan, and my family had one! WORST car EVER.
  • 2
    SteveW Florida June 12, 2013 at 15:18
    Some of the cars you mention may not be as rare as you think. Why would you insure a rusty '70's or '80's heap with Hagarty. Most are likely covered by Bob's Insurance World type agencies. For instance, there are probably more Citation X11's out there, I know of one here in the small town I live in. Don't think anyone mentioned the Renault Fuego either. Probably rarer and more collectable than the Mazda RX-2 was the RX-3SP with factory stripe kit. There are many more cars eligible for the endangered and threatened list.
  • 3
    Rochelle San Francisco June 12, 2013 at 16:04
    My first car was a 1974 Dodge Colt 4dr that I could get out of and run faster than it drove. Sold it for $500 one Saturday after about 6 months. Then I had a 1977 Toyota Celica I adored, except when the neutral switch for the tranny went out & my Dad had to install a bypass switch so I could start it. It later got totalled by a drunk driver while parked infront of my parent's house. I then bought a 1983 Supra in 1992 from the original owner who had lowered it by 3" and installed an aluminum exhaust, Tokiko shocks and Eibach springs - that thing was like velcro on the road! Great 6 speed manual transmission. Had to sell THAT when I was pregnant with my twins 12 years ago - you could not get 1, much less 2 carseats into the backseat. :o( Wish daily I still had that little road rocket! My Mom also had 2 different Fiat 124 convertibles (a '74 & a '78) when I was in high school - our Great Dane used to love riding around with her and would sit in the passenger seat and look over the windshield when the top was down. My Dad had both those Fiats running absolutely perfectly!
  • 4
    Patrick Lynch Paris, Kentucky June 12, 2013 at 20:46
    Hagerty insures my 1968 Plymouth Fury VIP fast top, but doesn't currently insure my 1979 Dodge St. Regis which should be every bit as 'endangered" as the 1980 model on the list. The remarks about it in the article I thought were a bit uncalled for as my St. Regis has been one of the most reliable cars I've ever owned in spite of the era it was built in. Granted the styling is not particularly glamourous compared to my Fury VIP but this car has always gotten the job done and outlasted the cars that were meant to relieve it from daily driver status. It currently has 246,000 miles on it. I'm hoping to get the body work done and repaint it soon.
  • 5
    Matt cali July 30, 2013 at 23:02
    Quite a fee years ago my cousin and I stumbled upon an early 80s toyota station wagon with a straight axle under the front and since then have not seen or heard of another. I'm curios if anyone might know something about it
  • 6
    joe w pa. September 24, 2013 at 19:36
    why is the 85 riveria convertible,of which only 400 were made not included as being rare?
  • 7
    Marty Moorhead,MN November 8, 2013 at 22:58
    I have an 89 NISSAN SENTRA WAGON XE AWD. And can't find anything about it or no picturs other than mine. They came standard with five speed and the option of the 3spd auto. And I have the 3spd which makes it more rare. Can any tell me something other than its rare. Or very super rare. Nissan of North America quote " it's obsolete "
  • 8
    CJ central indiana November 9, 2013 at 09:31
    1975 Chevy Cosworth Vega here...for sale too.
  • 9
    jaybird usa December 2, 2013 at 19:48
    all are piles except the Impulse .
  • 10
    Pete Montreal,,, Canada,, January 4, 2014 at 17:37
    I've seen the renault alliance convertible and the Daytona-Z. Here in Quebec Canada,,, so they are not extinct yet! I also own an citation XS wich is in the Endangered list.
  • 11
    JB Idahoastan January 14, 2014 at 13:16
    I'd be curious to know how many '74 Mustangs you insure. I saw an abandoned one 10 years ago and had to think how long it'd been since I had seen one. Another oddball car from the era was the Renault "Le Car". They used to have these stupid commercials showing some guy who had one in Alaska and felt the car was the best one you could possibly have in Alaska. Sounded staged to me. Re: Mazda, I remember someone with a new Mazda pickup about 1975. They had a huge "Rotary Power" emblem stamped on the tailgate in 6-inch-high letters of their rig. Haven't seen one of those lately....the recent Mazda pickups don't seem to have that at all on their tailgates.
  • 12
    Mike California January 15, 2014 at 18:26
    Not as extinct as you might think...1980 Dodge St. Regis Just found one for sale right on ebay in pretty good shape!
  • 13
    Glen Charlottesville April 9, 2014 at 13:34
    The reason almost all the these cars were crushed is that almost no-one cares about them. They are girly cars and not worth saving!!! Rarity does NOT equal value. Show me a barn find Torino, Mustang fastback, GTO, Chevelle....etc then you'll get my heart beating. If you want to talk about something different and rare... a little different and maybe worth going after...try why not talk about a olds toronado front wheel drive with super rocket engine...425 ci and first front wheel drive in 68' or maybe a 63 riviera...stylish, powerful ..etc
  • 14
    Dana Parkhurst United States April 9, 2014 at 09:42
    i saw a cricket in new condition at a junk yard, The owner had acquired it from an uncle that passed away. it wouldn't start and it was difficult to sell so he junked it. The interior was already gone but the milage was close to none and still included the safety glass sticker and emissions sticker on the drivers side window. I attempted to purchase the thing but was informed the only way would be to parts it out there and remove it per piece as per NY state. they eventually crushed it. The bumpers were still new.
  • 15
    Bill K Long Island NY April 9, 2014 at 12:26
    My first car was a 1982 Dodge Challenger. I have searched high and low on the internet and still cannot find one... Mine was like new at 12 years old and over 200,000 miles....
  • 16
    Julian Heersche Wichita, Kansas July 21, 2014 at 21:56
    I have a 1975 Chevy Monza coupe that I have restored. I drive it to car shows. I am considering selling it. What would be a reasonable price to ask for it?
  • 17
    Eric Wilkins Alpharetta, Georgia July 31, 2014 at 10:30
    I have found a few cars, that are in the field covered with small trees and brush, I dug threw and found a few cars I've never seen, been in the automotive business for 25 years, I need help in identification on what this could be, can you help. Thanks Eric Wilkins

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