When classic car names make a comeback, you’d hope they’d return as champions, carrying the same spirit and excitement as before. But sometimes, reality doesn’t quite meet expectations. We’re taking a closer look at 11 cars that, despite their legendary pasts, might have been better off left in the golden days.

If you’re a fan of the classics and love nothing more than the roar of an engine from yesteryear, we imagine you’ll hate these comebacks just as much as we do.

Pontiac GTO (Before)

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Back in ’66, the Pontiac GTO lit the fuse on the muscle car craze—total icon status. But by the time it bowed out, it was clear it had run its race.

Pontiac GTO (After)

Image Credit: MercurySable99, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fast forward to 2004, Pontiac tries to reignite the flame by bringing the GTO name back. This time, though, they pin it on the Holden Monaro from Australia. Solid car? Sure. But it didn’t look the part or have the edge you’d expect from a comeback. It had some muscle but lacked the swagger and the sticker price didn’t help.

Ford Thunderbird (Before)

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The Ford Thunderbird hit the scene in 1955. It leaned more towards luxury than outright sportiness, making a mark as the go-to personal luxury ride. Adding a back seat cranked up its appeal, making the Thunderbird a hit.

Ford Thunderbird (After)

Image Credit: Calreyn88, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Roll around to 2002, and Ford decides to bring the Thunderbird back. Initially, it caught eyes and turned heads, tapping into nostalgia. But the buzz didn’t last. Despite being comfy and decent to drive, its looks didn’t charm enough buyers to stick around. Sales took a nosedive, and by 2005, Ford had to pull the plug.

Chevrolet Blazer (Before)

Image Credit: ©Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Blazer was once the go-to rugged two-door SUV, a real competitor to the likes of the Bronco since its debut in 1969. It was the kind of vehicle that could take a beating off-road and come back for more. If only it could have stayed that way.

Chevrolet Blazer (After)

Image Credit: ©Chevrolet

Fast forward to 2019, and Chevrolet decides to resurrect the Blazer name. This time, though, it’s slapped onto a sleek, Camaro-faced crossover.

Sure, from a marketing standpoint, leveraging the Blazer’s legacy was a clever play. It catches the eye and draws on the nostalgia factor. But for those who remember the Blazer as a tough, no-nonsense SUV, this new crossover version feels like a bit of a letdown.

BMW 6-Series (Before)

Image Credit: I, Galant, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

BMW had a good thing going with the 6-Series, first introduced in 1976. It was a sleek, big coupe that turned heads and made statements.

BMW 6-Series (After)

Image Credit: ©BMW

Then, in 2017, they decided to take the 5-Series GT, a car as weird-looking as they come, and call it the 6-Series GT.

Why mess with a good thing and replace it with something that makes you ask, “But why?” every time you see it? Unsurprisingly, the new 6-series GT was discontinued in 2023 due to low demand.

Mitsubishi Eclipse (Before)

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The Mitsubishi Eclipse was a hit in the ’90s—a lightweight, fun coupe that tuners couldn’t get enough of. Come 2017, Mitsubishi revives the Eclipse name but slaps it on the Eclipse Cross, a small SUV.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (After)

Image Credit: ©Mitsubishi

While it’s an okay SUV, it’s nothing like its namesake. The original Eclipse was all about driving joy and customization. The Eclipse Cross? It just blends into the sea of small SUVs without capturing any of the original’s spirit

Chevrolet Nova (Before)

Image Credit: ©Chevrolet

The Chevy Nova was a classic— reliable and with a bit of a punch. It was American motoring at its ’60s and ’70s best. Then in ’85, Chevy brought back the Nova name but plastered it on a rebadged Toyota hatch.

Chevrolet Nova (After)

Image Credit: MercurySable99, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ’85 was smaller, had a front-wheel drive, and was all about economy. While there’s nothing wrong with saving on gas, this wasn’t the Nova fans remembered or deserved.

Chevrolet Malibu (Before)

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The Malibu’s comeback as a forgettable front-wheel sedan was one thing, but when Chevy tried to spice things up with the Malibu SS in 2006, it didn’t exactly set hearts racing.

Chevrolet Malibu SS (After)

Image Credit: IFCAR, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

With only 240 horsepower, the SS badge felt more like a marketing afterthought than a true performance indicator.

Mercury Cougar (Before)

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The 1967 Cougar was Mercury’s answer to the Mustang, a symbol of performance and style. But as time went on, it lost its edge and eventually, its life.

Mercury Cougar (After)

Image Credit: IFCAR, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In ’98, Mercury tried to revive the Cougar, aiming for a modern twist with front-wheel drive and a design that was supposed to be cutting-edge. Instead, it ended up being a disappointment for anyone hoping for a return to its glory days. It was more of a tame housecat than a wild cougar.

Chevrolet Impala (Before)

Image Credit: Bene Riobó, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 1958 Impala was a rear-wheel-drive powerhouse, a symbol of freedom and coolness. But when it came back in 2000, it what we can only call “anticlimactic”.

Chevrolet Impala (After)

Image Credit: order_242 from Chile, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 2000, they brought back the Impala as a front-wheel-drive sedan that just couldn’t capture the magic of its predecessors. The name might have been the same, but the spirit was gone, leaving fans of the original wondering where the love had gone.

Dodge Dart (Before)

Image Credit: FaceMePLS from The Hague, The Netherlands, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Dart was a household name back in the ’60s and ’70s—reliable, with a bit of muscle if you wanted it. So why did they have to go and mess it up in 2013?

Dodge Dart (After)

Image Credit: ©Stellantis Media

In 2013, Dodge decided to resurrect the Dart, but instead of a nod to its muscular past, they turned it into a compact car based on a Fiat. It was a far cry from its namesake, and was continued in 2016.

Ford Taurus (Before)

Image Credit: ©Ford

In 1986, the original Taurus was a game-changer for Ford, stylish and efficient, a true competitor. But as the years passed, it lost its luster, and when Ford decided to bring back the Taurus name, it just wasn’t the same.

Ford Taurus (After)

Image Credit: MercurySable99, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jumping up a class didn’t help its cause, and despite a redesign, it couldn’t recapture the success of its early days. In a market moving away from sedans, the Taurus has become another relic of the past.

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Author: Abbie Clark

Title: Co-Founder

Expertise: Automotive Industry, Electric Vehicles, DIY Car Repairs

Bio:

Abbie Clark is a writer, blog, and founder of RideRambler, Hey She Thrives, and The Bearded Bunch.

From clever car cleaning tricks to the freshest car features and reviews, Abbie loves sharing her knowledge on everything automotive. Outside of her time writing for her websites, you’ll find her fishing with her husband, deciphering her toddler’s babbling, or baking up something sweet.

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