10 Cool Cars That Ended Up Bankrupting Their Manufacturers


Running a car company is not easy, as millions of dollars are sunk into production and development with the hope of recouping the investment and turning a profit. Survival in the automotive manufacturing industry is even more difficult for startups, as they not only have to struggle to grab the attention of the market, but also have to compete with legacy brands.



Therefore, it’s not surprising that many automakers have slipped into insolvency and eventually bankruptcy. To further understand the struggle for survival in the auto manufacturing industry, Elon Musk once shared a Tweet pointing out that Tesla and Ford are the only American automakers to have never gone bankrupt at any point.

Every automaker understands that having a positive cash flow doesn’t come easily, even if you produce insane head-turners. In light of this, here are 10 cool vehicles that couldn’t save their manufacturers from bankruptcy.

Related: 10 Sports Car Sales Flops That Bankrupted Their Manufacturers


10 Vector M12

The Vector M12 is essentially an American Lamborghini Diablo that was unveiled in 1996 at the Detroit Motor Show. After making the W8, which was the first American production supercar, Vector introduced the M12, a stunning high-performance machine that wasn’t well-received, thus exacerbating the financial storm facing the brand was facing at the time.

Even though the M12 was way cheaper than the Diablo, Vector managed to sell only 14 examples before stopping production in 1999. The company eventually declared bankruptcy.

9 DeLorean DMC-12

The DeLorean DMC-12 gained more popularity when it was featured in the 1985 American science fiction film Back to the Future. A former General Motors executive and engineer John DeLorean established the automobile company in 1975 with a staggering investment sum of over $200 million.

DeLorean built the forgotten niche sports car in Northern Ireland in a bid to save costs and enjoy manufacturing incentives from the government. However, the low demand for the 9,000 units built, and legal troubles forced the auto company to declare bankruptcy, and DeLorean was even arrested in 1982.

8 Plymouth Prowler

The Prowler concept was unveiled during the 1993 Detroit Auto Show and many saw the outlandish, retro-styled design as a PR stunt. The Prowler with its big wheels, ugly bumper, and missing front fenders entered into production and stood out from anything you have ever seen on the road.

The V6 was the major thing the Prowler had going for it and just about a hundred units were sold in the first year. But Plymouth eventually closed its doors for good in 2001 after the Prowler failed to impress critics and sales dwindled.

Related: 8 Things We Love About The Plymouth Prowler (2 Reasons Why It Flopped)

7 Hummer H2

Hummer gained more popularity in the 1990s, thanks to its in-your-face quality and military background. The Hummer H2 was slightly sleeker than the first model and was retailed at about $50,000. The H2 instantly became a bestseller, with Hummer selling over 70,000 units at its peak. Hummer became a Hollywood sensation, with celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Britney Spears, Eminem, LeBron James, and Dennis Rodman owning a model.

However, there were emissions concerns about Hummers, with critics calling them “pollution machines.” In fact, the protesters burned down several Hummers in Los Angeles in a bid to register their displeasure. The 2007 recession coupled with the emissions concerns and some bad financial decisions landed Hummer’s parent brand, General Motors in hot water. By 2009, General Motors had already gone bankrupt and had to shut down all production of all Hummers the following year.

6 Jensen SV-8

Jensen Motors became popular for the production of the Jensen Interceptor and the Healey, but its protracted financial crisis led to its closure in 1976. In the 1990s, attempts to resuscitate the British automaker led to the introduction of the Jensen SV-8.

Unveiled at the British International Motor Show in 1998, the SV-8 seemed to show some light at the end of the tunnel for Jensen Motors with 300 pre-orders. But enthusiasm for the SV-8 waned as more than half of the pre-orders were canceled, and the British manufacturer went bankrupt again in 2002.

5 Wiesmann MF5

The Wiesmann MF5 made heads turn when it was released in 2009 with a harmonious blend of old-school and new-school styling. In a surprising turn of events, the automaker, which had been in business since 1988, declared bankruptcy in 2013.

Although the bankruptcy filing didn’t specify the depth of the financial crisis that led to the German sports car manufacturer’s insolvency, we know that sales dropped drastically, as most Wiesmann cars shared striking similarities with the MF5, from their appearance down to their powertrain.

Related: 10 Things Everyone Forgot About The Wiesmann GT MF5

4 Pontiac G6

Pontiac launched the G6 with what is described as one of the biggest publicity stunts in TV history. Oprah Winfrey gave away 276 Pontiac G6s on her talk show in 2004, in a promotional campaign that reportedly cost over $100 million.

However, despite the national attention the G6 gathered, it couldn’t survive up to a decade, as General Motors had to pull the plug on three brands – Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer – in 2010 in a bid to stay afloat amidst the global recession and financial crisis it was facing at the time.


3 Spyker C8 Preliator

Spyker had managed to withstand over two decades of financial turbulence and even bounced back from bankruptcy, which was largely caused by its ill-fated decision to buy Saab from General Motors. Before eventually going bankrupt again, Spyker had unveiled the C8 Preliator Spyder prototype at the Geneva Motor Show in 2017 and revealed plans for the D8 Peking-to-Paris SUV and the B6 Venator.

However, with the news of its bankruptcy after promised investment from Russian investors failed to materialize, it’s very likely that the C8 Preliator Spyder isn’t coming to fruition.

Related: Crazy Dutch Engineering: 10 Things We Just Learned About Spyker And Its Cars

2 Fisker Karma

Fisker Automotive was born in 2007 by Bernhard Koehler and former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker. Its hybrid Karma sports car with a price tag of over $100,000 was described as a strong expression of “uncompromising responsible luxury” and it grabbed the attention of Hollywood stars like Ashton Kutcher and Leonardo DiCaprio.

However, Karma failed to bring the desired success, making Fisker slide into a deeper financial crisis and laying off 75% of its workforce. The California-based automaker filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013 with a debt of $192 million.


1 Apollo Gumpert

The Apollo Gumpert made its debut in 2005 and was notable for its performance and track readiness. The Apollo Gumpert could outrun the Pagani Zonda and the Bugatti Veyron, but the global recession struck the German manufacturer very hard, as the demand for the $600,000 supercar plummeted.

As the only model under production, Gumpert was banking on the success of the Apollo to stay afloat, but in August 2012, the German supercar maker began insolvency proceedings and eventually filed for bankruptcy a year later after its main financial backer pulled out.

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