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Hagerty Employee

4 canceled vehicles that deserved a second chance

The automotive industry is brutal. Dollar signs drive design decisions every day, and if a product doesn’t continue to satisfy bean counters and board executives, it’s tossed aside regardless of the cult that might follow the nameplate to its grave. 


Today we both celebrate and mourn the loss of several models that were axed before they could be polished or refined to the full extent. Read the full article on

122 REPLIES 122

The Aztec? REALLY?!!!! It looks like Pontiac had a "Have your kids design the next Pontiac" contest at work. That or maybe the Transformers or Go-bots mistakenly sent their blueprints to Pontiac.

Get rid of the current "Charger" (because nothing with four doors is a Charger) and drop the Magnum body on it with all the same available drive trains. YUM!!!


There we go. Does anyone remember the Charger concept in either late '99 or early 2000? THAT would have been awesome. Had the "hidden" small rear door, the fender mounted fuel cap, flying buttress b pillars. The styling was a great tribute to the original. Instead we got a re-badged 300.

"Each system of the Phaeton would be world-class, from the active suspension to the all-weather 4Motion all-wheel drive and CNC-milled trunk hinges. " But those "world class" features all make it an incredibly complex and stupidly expensive. Active suspensions have never had durability. 4motion was incredibly expensive to service or god forbid, repair. And really CNC hinges? Destined to fail before it got iff the drawing board.

If one took the Axtek technologies, added some Stealth style.... ie, basic, reliable, inexpensive to service systems in a cool, fast car...... theres a winner, simple, stylish, functional, sporty, powerful.
New Driver

As you can see, almost everybody that ever owned a Dodge Magnum would buy one again if they could. Our 2007 SXT went from coast to coast a couple of times and a daily driver as well. I wished I had bought the Hemi but I did do dual exhaust and fatter tires so I could at least feel like I had. Except for very poorly designed front end components which got replaced every 40K, it was and still is the most enjoyable "sedan/wagon" style car we ever owned and if they ever came back would buy another one in a heart beat. I felt Chrysler did a very poor to none job of marketing this car and the FCA takeover timing didn't help. Admittedly, it always was a sort of bad boy or cult image car that would appeal to a smaller market anyway.
Pit Crew

I would buy a modernized Magnum, probably, but instead have on order an AWD Challenger based on the same basic platform after driving several AWD Chargers in the interim.
New Driver

I looked at that Challenger to replace my old Vette so I could have a fun drive in the winter as well. Problem for me was that it only came with a 6 cyl which would not be much fun in the summer if you're used to a lot of power.
Pit Crew

I had a 2005 AWD Magnum, a very nice car but with some significant design problems that later were addressed in the Charger versions of the same platform:

1) Poor visibility to the front (low windshield meant you couldn't see traffic lights where you were at an intersection) and rear (tapering greenhouse narrowed this).
2) Not much cargo space. Using the Chrysler 300 doors and greenhouse caused that taper, and there really wasn't a lot of space as a result.
3) Interior that looked like it was made by Rubbermaid.
4) I am told by insiders that the rear design meant that it could not be produced economically so as to make a profit.

My Magnum had sat on a dealer lot for something like 15 months before I bought it. Apparently "cool" was not enough in the market. Later model year Chargers that I had were significantly better in the areas above and also had improved drive trains.
Pit Crew

. . . and I did not previously mention the cruise control wand (from Mercedes) that could easily be mistaken for the turn signal lever.
Intermediate Driver

When I saw a Dodge Magnum in 2004, it had a vanity plate on it -- "Man Wgn". From then on, my BMW '00 323i touring was known within the family as man wagon. So, too, is its predecessor, an '09 328i touring. For as long as possible I will own a wagon, and I won't be buying a crossover. You hear that BMW?

The Phaeton didn't sell because it had no beauty, and no character. It was the automotive equivalent of an overcast sky over Toledo.

The Magnum--Hagerty nailed it. No stick.

I think the Volkswagen Phaeton ought to be made again, as bizarre as it is with its VW insignia; I got
close to one in a parking lot here on the Left Coast and it is certainly in the Rolls Royce class, without
the ostentation.
Dodges are ugly no matter what manifestation. The car is simply rude. And so are the trucks.
I have a very old Mitsubishi 4 cylinder in a truck I own; I have no experience with the sophisticated
engine you describe, but I can tell you my 2 Litre 4 Cylinder is now in its 41st year and still running.
A friend who is another car nut recommended putting a Mitsu V-6 in the truck, with the automatic
transmission and appropriate attachments. I haven't done it. The truck is numbers matching, except for the transmission, a weak link in the thing. A reluctant 4 Speed manual. Everybody in the family drives it including the girls.
Thank you for this.

I would love to see what a contemporary Pontiac Fiero would be like. I owned several of the V6 GTs, and the last year '88 GT with a 5 speed was a blast. Imagine what a mid-mounted V6 could be today.

The VW should have been an Audi. Too much car for value leader VW.

The Magnum no because no matter how cool you make a wagon there is still not a great enough buyers. The Magnum proved it.

300GT too expensive to repair and still ugly. Besides who buys Mitsubishi cars anyways.

The Aztek? I am and have been a Pontiac fan since birth but I e mailed Pontiac when I saw the Aztek prototype in Detroit and asked what the hell are you thinking?

There are a great number of good looking CUV and SUV models out there that fill this segment. No need to revisit a poorly styled model.

I even had a new AWD Aztek offered to me for $14,000, that is $11,000 below sticker and I could just not pull the trigger to buy it. Besides Pontiac is gone so no need bringing this back. If Pontiac ever returned there are many more themes better revisited.
Pit Crew

If the Dodge Magnum Wagon had come out as a 2-door Hatchback with a hemi under the hood, I and a lot of folks I know would have bought one. But NOOO, management had to make a 4-door out of a classic design!
Pit Crew

The VW dealer experience for their premium cars (Touareg) has never met the expectations of buyer (me). Phaeton should have been positioned as an “Uber” Audi.
New Driver

i always thought the aztex looked like a mini trash truck?
New Driver

I LOVED my Magnum. I had the 340hp RT that was totaled when I got rear-ended by a SUV
AWD & 340hp great in snow.
When I drove cross country I cruised at a buck & a half thru north Texas. At 4500lbs it was heavy enough to feel completely grounded as I've been in 911s that float at 150
(had the programmer to unlimit it)
New Driver

People that had the Aztek loved it. It was just too damn ugly.
New Driver

"like the Honda Element" >> Absolutely, the Element deserved a longer chance (2003-2011) - it was way better than the Aztec - 325,000 sold, better camping capabilities, very dog- and spill-friendly, and left the gimmicks up to a tremendous aftermarket. The Element only looked unusual when you DIDN'T have something on the roof! It's only crime was sales overlap with the more conventional CR-V. Known as "the box that the Pilot comes in" or "H 1/2", my 2003 is still going strong with 250,000 miles and only repair being a new starter (which I could do myself, in the driveway). The AWD still wasn't on par with Subaru, which is why the lower headroom Outback is still going (and made way for the CrossTrek).
New Driver

Took the 2005 Hemi Magnum Hunting yesterday. Got a good deal on it in 2009. Not an economy car as the front end parts and springs have all been replaced and the last tune up was $600, but it's easy to get in and out of and the way it effortlessly pulls you around is luxury. The back end storage with seats up is not spacious but I have managed to get a twin bed in back of it. We have a conformist Grand Cherokee but I still appreciate the Magnum. I'm not opposed to investing a few bucks to keep it going. 140K now and I plan to keep it indefinitely. JT
New Driver

All the cars in these articles are dogs and money pits.
Don’t invest your money in any of them, you will find yourself dealing with repairs, emissions, high cost per mile and massive depreciation.
A new mode of auto is here, it is fast, efficient, cheap to run, has almost no maintenance,is electrified and computerized by the best engineers.
Find yourself on the right side of technology or you will be left behind.