Ever since the dawn of the automobile, customers wanted to better their rides. In 1906, this desire was recognized and Rolls-Royce was established. Charles Rolls and Henry Royce changed what it meant to build an automobile – from the engine to the interior and the way the car looked – and introduced the Silver Ghost.
Since then, many automakers have tried their hands at making a luxury car to emulate Rolls-Royce, with Bentley coming the closest – and with a more sporty edge. Today, almost all the auto manufacturers of the world are building luxury cars, from German manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes, to their Cadillac and Lincoln American counterparts. Even Japanese automakers, Nissan and Toyota, and other Asian companies joined in.
Whilst some models have become quite successful in their endeavors and have lasted for decades, others failed spectacularly – either due to the car being too expensive, too unreliable, or just plain terrible in every way. Here are 5 discontinued luxury cars we are glad are gone, and 5 which were worth every penny.
10 We Don’t Miss – Chrysler TC by Maserati
The TC by Maserati was a terrible luxury car. It was a collaboration between Chrysler and Maserati to produce a luxurious coupé and convertible, aimed at elevating the Chrysler name into a higher social class. The car was projected to sell between 5,000 and 10,000 units a year. It sold just over 7,000 units over the three years it was in production.
The reason for the car’s downfall was that it was not all that well-thought-out. It featured minimal color choices, had underpowered engines, and was much more expensive than the Chrysler LeBaron GTC – which had the same level of luxury. All-in-all, the Chrysler TC by Maserati crashed and burned, only to eventually be replaced by the Chrysler Crossfire (another collaboration with a premium company) which did a little better – but not by much.
9 We Don’t Miss – Volkswagen Phaeton
The VW Phaeton was Volkswagen’s attempt at a full-on luxury car to compete against the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series. It was on sale between 2003 and 2016, but due to poor sales, VW pulled the car from the North American market in 2006. In the US, the Phaeton was fitted with a choice of either a 4.2-liter V8 or a 6.0-liter W12.
The European Phaetons were available with gasoline V6s, as well as a choice of a diesel V6, V8, and even the infamous 5.0-liter V10 TDI. Potential buyers of the Phaeton were put off by the fact that it had a VW badge on the front, whilst the Audi A8 – which was essentially the same car – had a more premium feel to it for more or less the same price.
8 We Don’t Miss – Lincoln MKS
The Lincoln MKS was a full-size luxury car produced by the luxury subsidiary of Ford. The MKS was based on the Ford Taurus sedan, which meant the car shared the same engines and technology as the much less expensive Ford. The MKS became the first-ever Lincoln to be turbocharged when Ford fitted the car with the 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 found in the Taurus SHO.
As a car, the Lincoln MKS was not bad, however, the fact that it was based on a cheaper car and didn’t do a good job of hiding it, led to the dwindling sales and eventual discontinuation of the MKS in 2016. The vehicle was replaced with the Continental sedan – specifically aimed at the luxury car segment.
7 We Don’t Miss – Lincoln Blackwood
Another Lincoln, the Blackwood was a brilliant idea – just a few years too soon. The truck was based on the Ford F-150 and shared much of its styling with the Lincoln Navigator, apart from the truck bed at the back. The Blackwood was built to be a luxury SUV/pickup truck, with the truck bed to be used as a huge trunk, instead of a traditional bed.
This failed spectacularly, and the Blackwood only lasted a single model year, before being scrapped. Lincoln tried this strategy again in 2006 after the luxury SUV trend took off with the Mark LT, successfully selling more units than the Blackwood and almost equaling the Cadillac Escalade EXT. Lincoln discontinued the Mark LT in 2008, and Ford moved their luxury pick-up trucks to the normal F-Series range.
6 We Don’t Miss – Cadillac ELR
The ELR was a weird-looking, luxury hybrid coupé produced by Cadillac between 2014 and 2016. It was based on the Chevrolet Volt’s hybrid platform – including the 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and 16,5 – 17.1 KWh battery. The biggest problem with the ELR was that it cost around $35,000 more than the Chevrolet Volt it was based on, whilst delivering worse performance and range.
Cadillac skipped the 2015 model year to fix some of the issues with the ELR and lowered the price by $10,000 – however less than 3,000 units were sold during the car’s life. The ELR was discontinued in 2016 and replaced by the Cadillac CT6 PHEV.
5 Worth Every Penny – Jaguar XJ
The Jaguar XJ has been the British marque’s most luxurious executive saloon since its introduction in 1968. The last XJ was discontinued in 2019, with Jaguar Land Rover announcing an all-electric XJ would be on its way – only to be canceled in 2021. This is sad as the last generation XJ was the best ever – a certain famous British automotive publication even created an award specifically for the XJ’s interior.
The XJ was available with a choice of between a 3.0-liter V6 and a 5.0-liter V8, both of which were supercharged, and a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 for the ‘Portfolio Prestige’ edition. In 2013, Jaguar launched the XJR, a high-performance version of the XJ, with the supercharged V8 producing 542 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque, going to the rear wheels only via an 8-speed automatic. The XJ was an excellent luxury car, and thanks to terminal depreciation, the XJ is available second-hand for a fraction of the original price.
4 Worth Every Penny – Aston Martin Rapide
The Rapide was Aston Martin’s DB9-based four-door luxury saloon, manufactured to compete against the Maserati Quattroporte, Porsche Panamera GTS, and Bentley Continental Flying Spur. It was a more driver-orientated car, fitted with Aston Martin’s awesome 5.9-liter naturally aspirated V12, coupled to a 6-speed (and later an 8-speed) automatic transmission.
The Rapide maybe wasn’t the first choice when thinking of a luxury saloon, but it was brilliant in the way it emulated the Aston Martin GT cars of the time. The Rapide’s biggest issue was that it cost well over $200,000 – whilst the equivalent Maserati cost half of that, and the Panamera was less than half. Unfortunately, the Rapide was discontinued in 2020 with the launch of the DBX luxury SUV.
3 Worth Every Penny – Bentley Mulsanne
The Bentley Mulsanne was the top-of-the-range Bentley luxury saloon, produced between 2010 and 2020. The Mulsanne’s biggest competitors were Rolls-Royce’s Ghost and Phantom. Unlike many other luxury cars, the Mulsanne did not share its platform with any other car within the VW Group – adding to its exclusivity.
The Mulsanne featured the Rolls-Royce–Bentley V8, a 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8 producing 505 hp and a massive 752 lb-ft of torque – an engine in production since 1959. In 2014, Bentley introduced the Mulsanne Speed, a more powerful version of the car, producing 530 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque. All this power went to the rear wheels only via an 8-speed automatic. The Mulsanne was discontinued in 2020 and sadly took the RR-B V8 with it, but it was nonetheless one of the best luxury cars of the last decade.
2 Worth Every Penny – Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé was an ultra-luxurious coupé produced by Rolls-Royce between 2008 and 2016. It was situated above the Ghost-based Wraith and acted as a 2-door version of the full-size Phantom. The Phantom Coupé featured the same 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 as all the other Rolls-Royces, producing 454 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque, going to the rear wheels only via a 6-speed and later an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Phantom Coupé was the last word in ultimate 2-door luxury, with all the same personalization options as that of the normal Phantom. The Phantom Coupé was the first coupé Rolls-Royce produced for 22 years and featured the classic Rolls-Royce ‘coach’ doors opening backward – instead of forwards like all other conventional doors. The Phantom Coupé is definitely a luxury car worth its eye-watering price tag – but then again, prospective customers shopping in that class, wouldn’t be fazed by the expenditure.
1 Worth Every Penny – Maserati Quattroporte V
Finally, we get to the best luxury car of the last two decades – which actually isn’t all that luxurious compared to many of its competitors. The fifth-generation Maserati Quattroporte started out as a difficult sell, mostly due to the high expense of maintaining the automated-manual transmission model’s clutch. Luckily, Fiat fixed this issue when it took over Maserati in 2007 and replaced the transmission with a standard ZF automatic – consequently creating a massively desirable car.
The biggest selling point of the Quattroporte V was the engine. It was the Tipo F136 from Ferrari but fitted with a cross-plane crankshaft instead of the flat-plane in Ferraris, resulting in probably the best V8 exhaust sound of any car in the history of the automobile. And like the Jaguar XJ, depreciation hit the Quattroporte V hard, meaning that they are now available for as little as $15,000! Definitely a luxury car worth every penny.
8 Coolest Cars Being Discontinued In 2021
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