Memorial Day is one of America’s greatest holidays and I can’t think of a better way to kick-off the summer than by honoring all those who have served our nation. Usually, we do so by engorging ourselves with hot dogs, cheap beer, and a myriad of bad decisions — hallmarks of any true American holiday. But as the days pass and the long-lost brands of Detroit slip further away from our memories, let’s reflect on the unsung heroes of automotive culture that no longer grace our country’s production lines.
The Police Interceptor Dressed for Bingo
Jalops and car enthusiasts alike understand why the Ford Crown Vic/Mercury Grand Marquis/Lincoln Town Car is such an awesome rig: it’s an indestructible rear-drive American V8 — what’s not to understand? Jalopnik’s own Patrick George has tagged it as a future classic and it’s fair to say the Marauder was Ford’s effort to give Mercury a proper send off.
America’s Answer to the Sports Sedan
It may not make sense now, but when it was introduced the Oldsmobile Aurora was an American luxury sedan with a sporty twist. General Motors’ efforts to liven the Oldsmobile brand peaked in the first generation Aurora with a transversely mounted Northstar V8 borrowed from Cadillac. That means this Oldie was good for 250hp and 260 lb.-ft of torque. Second generation Auroras were a bit watered down, offering base models with a 3.6 liter V6 unit which resulted in significantly less V8s roaming our streets.
God Bless Australia
Fast forward a decade and we finally figured out how to make a sports sedan thanks to GM Australia. The G8 was by far the most impressive vehicle to bear the arrowhead emblem this side of the original GTO. Luckily, Chevy reincarnated the G8 (and made it even better) with the Chevy SS. Unfortunately, nobody knows this because GM has only sold two and they were both purchase by the same guys who bought C4 ZR-1s as “investments.”
A Pontiac Solstice Dressed in Drag
Oh Saturn, why did you exist? We’re not sure either. But the manufacturer that brought you plastic body panels that ended up looking like faded refrigerators got something right with the Sky roadster. Funny enough, my mother actually owned two: one non-turbo and one Redline — both the exact same color and specification (silver with black and red interior). Throughout high school I drove both cars recreationally and I can attest to the Redline’s power — it shared the same turbocharged ecotec that spun the front wheels of the Cobalt SS for some time.
I’m Turning Japanese, I Really Think So
The birth of the Diamond-Star alliance between Chrysler and Mitsubishi in the late 80’ s resulted in at least one positive thing: the Eagle Talon/Mitsubishi Eclipse. Unfortunately, nearly every example left has worn some semblance of barbed-wire graphics or had a tin can welded onto the exhaust system thanks to the first Fast and Furious film series. But if you can find an unmolested Talon TSI AWD, the Garrett turbocharged 2 liters are good for 210 hp and are highly receptive to tuning.
No, It Isn’t As Fast As It Looks
The Plymouth Prowler was a design exercise that resulted in one of the most interesting production cars of the 1990’s. The retro-’90s style hasn’t aged well, but the Prowler certainly was interesting. Unfortunately, the hot rod styling was all for naught when Plymouth only offered the 3.5 liter V6 shared with cars such as the lowly Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler 300M, and Eagle Vision. Matters got even worse when a 4 speed automatic transmission was the only transmission option.