28 September 2012

Forgotten Twins: These automotive icons had doppelgangers

Few people know that actors Scarlett Johansson, Kiefer Sutherland and Vin Diesel have twin siblings. Heck, Arnold Schwarzenegger had Danny DeVito (although that was the movie “Twins”). Some of the most famous nameplates in automobiledom also have less-well-known or utterly forgotten siblings. Here are a few of our favorites:

1967-2002 Chevy Camaro / Pontiac Firebird : While the Firebird may be the best remembered twin on the list, 10 years after its demise, it’s not exactly top-of-mind for non-car people anymore. First generation cars (1967-69) were nearly identical in profile to their Camaro twin brothers.

2007-09 Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky: The late and much-lamented Pontiac Solstice roadster had a twin that was sold through Saturn dealers as the Sky. The Sky was arguably more attractive, but the Solstice outsold the Sky by more than two-to-one. Both died in 2009 when GM shuttered the only plant that built them, and killed both the Saturn and Pontiac nameplates. The Sky, particularly the Redline performance edition, is likely destined for collectability.

1971-77 Chevrolet Vega /Pontiac Astre: The infamous Chevy Vega had an almost completely forgotten twin in the Pontiac Astre. Available with more luxury features and a slightly higher price tag than the Vega, it suffered from the same aluminum engine troubles and rampant rust. Very few remain.

1967-70 Ford Mustang / Mercury Cougar : The Cougar started out as a more expensive and more luxurious Mustang twin that turned out to be a very desirable car in its own right with sexy hidden headlights and an interior several steps nicer than the Mustang’s (especially with the XR-7 package). Cougars today ironically trade for far less money than the vintage Mustangs that they were originally a step up from.

1971-87 Chevy El Camino / GMC Sprint (Caballero) : The Chevy El Camino might have been the answer to a question that nobody recalls asking (half car, half pickup truck), but they sold very well from the late 1950s through the 1980s. So well, in fact, that GM’s truck division, GMC, added its own version from 1971-87. Known initially as the Sprint, GMC changed the name to Caballero from 1978-87.

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6 Reader Comments

  • 1
    karl charleston, sc January 16, 2014 at 07:54
    Any car guy knows these 'twins' . That was part of the downfall of the US auto industry. They tried to play the public
  • 2
    Matt Kempton PA May 31, 2014 at 18:18
    Karl, you'd be surprised to know how many people don't realize these twins. Speaking of shared platforms did you know the popular Mercury villager is a Nissan Quest? That the 2nd and 3rd generation ford Escorts were Mazda 3s and the Ford Ranger for a time was a Mazda B-series pickup? Shared platforms are nothing new. Chrysler used a whole slew of mitsubishi's and now Fiat's. And the downfall if there is one of the US auto industry is not because of platform sharing, It's much more complex then that. Possibly quality, reliability problems, market share, Over regulation, export of manufacturing, to name a few.
  • 3
    Steven Massachusetts October 23, 2014 at 01:11
    I own a 68 Cougar XR-7. It's a step up from the Mustang and has many features of the Thunderbird. I don't understand why they don't trade for more money than they do.
  • 4
    Mike Canada November 7, 2014 at 16:21
    The Solstice and Sky were actually quadruplets, with the Opel GT in Europe, and Daewoo G2X in South Korea.
  • 5
    Gary Sr SC June 30, 2015 at 20:12
    The question recalls asking? They were used to help harvest and maintain the family farm, the bed is at knee level to help in loading and unloading, and you could take the missus to church in it without her having to climb into a truck in heels. They are also a favorite hauling motorcycles, because of the low bed. Having a full frame, you could add horsepower without worrying about the power twisting the frame. There has always been a market for these, it's just that people think that it's safer to put their families up high in an SUV.
  • 6
    Joe Central VA July 29, 2015 at 19:50
    Had a 74 Buick Apollo and by the 80s got so sick of saying "it is NOT a Nova" that I nearly got a bumper sticker made, saying just that.

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