Pour some out for these 3 classic cars that are threatened, endangered, or extinct
When’s the last time you saw and Edsel? How about a Jensen or a Merkur? Some vehicles, once a common sight on roadways, have been ravaged by time and deferred maintenance, which have thinned the herd to a tiny group or, worse, extinction. There are cars out there that you never see because they are just plain rare, and then there are cars you never see because they’ve flat-out disappeared.
Looking at Hagerty’s insured data, as well as buyer interest measured by quote activity, we’ve been able to identify vehicles that can be deemed threatened, endangered, or extinct. Cars with fewer than 50 examples insured with Hagerty qualify as threatened. Cars with less than 20 examples insured qualify as endangered. Cars with zero or only one insured qualify as extinct, meaning it’s time to pay our respects—unless more come out of hiding. All the cars under consideration also numbered 10,000 or more out of the factory.
1958 Edsel Corsair — THREATENED
Average condition #2 (Excellent) value: $13,200
The Edsel Corsair was introduced in 1958 on the 124-inch Mercury frame, then it moved to Ford underpinnings in 1959. In that first year, nearly 10,000 were built. Edsels still have a small but dedicated following, but they’re still unloved for the most part and are more famous for their spectacular failure in the showroom than anything else, becoming something of a rolling punchline, like a Pinto or Pacer. Few people wanted one when they were new, and even fewer have wanted one in the 60 years since. A precious few remain on the road today, and less than three dozen are insured with Hagerty currently.
1988–89 Merkur Scorpio — ENDANGERED
Average condition #2 (excellent) value: $2,500
As 1980s American buyers were shifting their attention and extra cash to European luxury cars, Ford attempted to bring its own brand of European chic to the U.S. by rebadging some of its German-built products. The new marque was called Merkur, and apparently more than 800 Lincoln-Mercury dealerships signed up for a franchise. First came the sporty three-door hatchback XR4Ti, based on a Ford Sierra, and next came the five-door Scorpio, based on a Ford of the same name.
Although praised in their day by the press, Merkurs sold poorly. They don’t have much more than a cult following today, and those who do pay attention to these cars mainly focus on the much more exciting XR4Ti, with its 175-hp 2.3-liter turbo-four and neat biplane rear wing. The Scorpio, by contrast, looks like a fancier Ford Taurus or Mercury Sable, and although it has a V-6, it makes just 144 hp. Most Scorpios were used up and discarded unceremoniously, and the automatic transmissions fitted to many cars were also problematic, which hasn’t helped survival rates. The species is clinging to life, but just barely. Hagerty currently insures less than a dozen Scorpios.
1977–80 Volvo 265 — EXTINCT
Average condition #2 (excellent) value: $4,600
The 200 series Volvo is an absolute legend when it comes to longevity. Built like a tank and powered by the B-series four-cylinder, a 240 is barely broken in when it ticks over 100k on the odometer, and lots of them are still out there despite having led less-than-pampered lives. Most of these, though, are later 240s from the 1980s and early ’90s. The earlier cars, particularly the six-cylinder versions (known as the 260 series), haven’t fared as well.
In contrast to the workhorse B-series four, the 2664-cc V-6 in the 260 series was more problematic and difficult to work on. We can blame the French for that, since the engine was developed jointly by Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo, which is a trifecta of quirky that unsurprisingly made for complications. The PRV V-6 engine did survive in DeLoreans and some later Volvos, but in terms of the original 1977–80 model 265 (“6” for six cylinders, “5” for five-door wagon), it looks like it’s time to read its last rites and send it off on a burning canoe for a Viking funeral. Despite the significance of being the first Volvo wagon with a six-cylinder engine, the 265 appears to have totally vanished from our roads. Hagerty does not currently insure any, and there have only been two insurance quotes in the past decade.