There are some cars that no one will mourn for in 2012 (there are plenty of people who didn’t even know the Chevy Aveo lasted this long.) But there are a select few vehicles whose time on this earth (or at least new car dealer lots) needs to be remembered.
Some of these cars were replaced with something better, and some passed because you were not wiling to put down your cash on exotic greatness. There is even one on here that was great simply because it helped instantly identify idiots.
The top ten cars we will miss in 2012: (in alphabetical order)
This 335 hp coupe is everything a BMW is supposed to be. Quick, nimble, and slightly sedate looking is how the company built its reputation. It is a shame this limited edition car was just the cherry on top of the 1-Series, but there is always the next generation.
Ferrari 599 GTO
This is what happens when a hardcore sports car company makes a hardcore road racer. The Ferrari 599 GTO is the track-only 599XX adapted for road use. Less than a decade after the wickedly crazy Enzo hit the streets, this stole the title of Ferrari’s quickest road car ever.
Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
On the opposite side of the Ferrari scale is the 612 Scaglietti. This car was never accused of being the wild child of the Ferrari bunch, but that has never been the place for its grand touring cars. Instead, the 612 Scaglietti is the only car in the lineup that could carry four people in relative comfort. Of course the 5.2-liter 532 hp V12 engine made sure that this still earned its prancing horse on the hood.
The 612 also is not the most exotic looking of the bunch (its replacement, the Ferrari FF currently is.) This grand tourer was styled to downplay its pedigree. It is sort of like having a former NFL quarterback for a next-door neighbor. The Ferrari 612 is a superstar that was trying to blend in a little more with the everyday Joes, and there is something very cool about that.
This seems to be the year of the dying exotics. The Lamborghini Murcielago is one bull that will fight no more. But it is not time to shed a tear for this Italian. In the ten years the Murcielago was on the market, it proved that Lamborghini could still be outrageous even under the ownership of the somewhat staid Volkswagen Group. Plus its Reventon-styled replacement, the Aventador, seems to have all the right moves to carry the bull’s flagship torch.
The Lotus Elise had served its purpose well. Lotus cars had been selling Esprits in North America purely on the image of James Bond for over a decade. By the time it died its slow death in the early 2000s, there were few people over here that cared about the cars from Lotus.
The Elise changed all that by denying the United States the first generation of the car (and the best way to get a child interested is telling them him he can’t have the shiny new toy.) Then, the second generation made the car strikingly attractive. Finally, Louts made the car emission legal in the U.S. by replacing the Rover engine with a dead-on reliable unit out of a Toyota Corolla. These small but inadvertently brilliant steps made Lotus relevant again in the U.S.
Not everyone can appreciate paying $50k+ on a sports car that does not even include carpeting. The Elise is built on solid principals of not adding extra weight that is not necessary. That kind of thinking is going by the wayside at Lotus, which means the Elise will be an enduring classic.
The Mazda RX-8 was like the smart kid in school who loved to be different just for the sake of it. Rotary engine, rear access doors, and a sensible price made it an attractive rebel sports car. Unfortunately it wasn’t attractive enough to pull in enough customers to stay alive.
Mercedes G55 AMG
There used to be an easy way to identify people with more money than brains. Just look for the 500 hp/5700 lbs/12 mpg/$125k SUV known as the Mercedes G55 AMG. Now that this one is gone, whom can we blame for all the world’s problems?
The Dodge (Ram) Dakota gave America the term midsize truck. It was distinguished not only for being the big boy in the group, but it was also the first truck below the full-size range to offer a V8 and there was even a convertible version available from 1989 to 1991.
Now the rest of the market has caught up. The Toyota Tacoma offers version that is larger than the Dakota, and the soon-to-be-gone Chevy Colorado offers V8 power. The name Dakota will return in the near future on a “lifestyle” vehicle. Truck fans turn your heads in shame.
Saab (all of them)
Ok, so Saab is not completely dead (yet), but after more than a year of financial turmoil, the spirit of Saab has long passed away. There is a difference in being a survivor and a perpetual victim, and Saab may have jumped the shark. We hope we are wrong but that hasn’t stopped the office from creating a deathwatch pool.
Before the Tesla Roadster, the image of the electric car was just a toy for environmentalists to show how much better they were than the rest of us. The only comfort was that the range was so poor that they could only flaunt their self-righteous smugness within a few block radius.
The Tesla Roadster changed all that by packing smart technology into the lightweight Lotus Elise chassis. It lent practicality to the electric car, and the roadster proved that battery-powered cars can be fun, too. But those who read through this list know that the Elise is gone, and so must its electric cousin. Tesla has big shoes to fill with the expected replacement.