Detroit dinosaurs: 6 autos headed for extinction

Some perennial favorites from the Big Three are decidedly out of place in a global economy. It's time for them to evolve.

Survival of the fittest
Survival of the fittest
For a century, the North American auto market was an island of dinosaurs surrounded by an ocean of pygmies. Open roads, cheap gasoline, and an affluent population led to the rise of automotive species seen nowhere else in the world.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the combination of special circumstances and geographical isolation produced chrome-bedecked, V-8 powered, behemoth passenger cars. In the 1980s and 1990s, they gave birth to pickup trucks and their offspring, body-on-frame sport utility vehicles. Detroit lost its engineering edge as manufacturers on other continents pioneered front-wheel-drive, multi-valve engines, and hybrid gas-electric powertrains.

In the future, the larger, faster-growing market of China, will drive design preferences, while stricter fuel-economy standards will dictate size, weight, and engine size. That could mean extinction for some models that are beloved by American car buyers but aren't adaptable to the new world order. Herewith, some candidates for the scrap heap.

By Alex Taylor III, senior-editor-at-large - Last updated August 26 2011: 9:52 AM ET
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