Since it was introduced in Sept. 1998, Audi’s TT model has been one of my favourite cars.
The snub-nosed, short wheelbase, two-door coupe has always interested me, especially of late with its 394-horsepower, turbocharged, five-cylinder TTRS model that rockets the refined sports car from 0-100 km/h in under four seconds.
Last week, I learned Audi’s TT model will be discontinued after the 2019 model year. The pain of not being able to look forward to an upcoming generation of the smallest Audi model launched me into a state of car fever to own one of the last ones, but a rumour the TT may return in the future brought my temperature down.
A lot of successful nameplates have been discontinued over the generations. Cars like the Hudson Hornet, Henry J, and Pontiac Bonneville have gone to the scrapyard of car names, probably forever.
So have dozens of other makes and models. Some that may bite, like a Plymouth Barracuda or Mercury Cougar, are long gone. The days of seeing new Firebirds, Skylarks, Hawks, Eagles and Falcons sharing the road with Gremlins, Sunbeam Tigers and Buick Wildcats have vanished as well.
What about out-of-this-world car names? You could explore the cosmos in an Oldsmobile Rocket 88, or get a little further in a Rocket 98?
Car handles like Mercury, Comet, Galaxy, Meteor and Strato-Chief were sure to please customers in the 1960s when getting to the moon was on the to-do list of all the world’s super powers and the focus of B-grade movies and childhood dreams.
But perhaps being grounded behind the wheel of Plymouth Roadrunner, Buick Roadmaster and Rambler American might be enough to satisfy anyone’s wanderlust.
After all, you could go far in a Dodge Fargo or dream of exotic places right in the driveway while cleaning up your Mercury Monterey, Pontiac Parisienne or Chrysler New Yorker.
A few car names really do come back beyond reminiscing about them or spotting the 40-year-old hulk of one in a farmer’s field or a restored beauty at a weekend show and shine.
Chevy’s Mustang fighter, the Camaro, was cancelled in 2002 capping a 35-year run after it launched in 1966 as a 1967 model to go head to head in the pony car showdown of a booming muscle car era.
All pony cars but the Mustang were eventually sidelined as motoring and consumer trends changed, but in 2010 the Camaro resurfaced and has been back fighting Mustang sales ever since.
It takes years for a brand to solidify its public reputation and manufacturers know the names with strength. The distinctive shapes and public love of the Mini and the VW Beetle are good examples and have been back on the road for years decked out with the latest technologies of powertrain and convenience features.
Recently, the Chevy Blazer resurfaced as an upscale cross-over whose road manners seem more Camaro than traditional family hauler.
Honda’s Passport is back and so is the Toyota Supra, powered by a BMW engine. Ford Ranger resurfaced this year and the Bronco is on the way. What SUV enthusiast hasn’t dreamed of owning a 289 V8 1966 Bronco? I sure have.
Sometimes, reintroducing a nameplate works to build excitement for a manufacturer. In 2001, after being cancelled in 1997 crowning a 42-year run, the legendary Thunderbird name was reintroduced as an all-new, 250-horsepower, V-8 two-seater. The run was short-lived, only lasting three years, but it was a beneficial image booster for Ford.
There is talk of more resurrections, like the Jeep Wagoneer and even the Buick Riviera. Rumour or not, nameplates like those create a buzz for manufacturers and are nostalgic to older customers. To younger buyers, they may offer a level of authenticity and cool.
Of course, Audi’s TT may not be as well known as some of the giants of the past that have been cancelled, but to those who know about its pending demise, I’m sure there is sadness.
Only time will tell if the TT had the right stuff for a reappearance down the road, but as usual, I’m optimistic about the future and will hang onto the rumour that the TT will resurface sooner than later.
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