Five car brands that dared to make a comeback

Five car brands that dared to make a comeback

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From: Sebastian Oppenheimer

Not every car manufacturer is given lasting success – some brands disappear from the scene at some point. Occasionally, however, resuscitation attempts are made.

Ssangyong’s traditional brand will soon be called KG Mobility. The reason is the new owner and the past with bankruptcies and changes of ownership. In order to attract customers, car products need charisma, which tends to weaken and fail. In this regard, it seems absurd that some car brands that have failed miserably are being revived. But the revival of once lost producers with a more or less extensive history has been increasing over time.

Risen from the Dead – Five car brands resurrected: MG

A classic example of an old, respectable brand with a history of 100 years is MG. The original British company, founded in 1923 as Morris Garage in Oxford, began as a conversion specialist. Today this will probably be called an upgrade. In the late 1920s, the company’s first roadsters followed. After World War II, the “golden years” were followed by cheap, sports cars. The MGB built between 1962 and 1980 is one of the icons of this era. The 1980s also heralded a decline. MG evolved into a high-end equipment variant, then became a fixture in an economic drama accompanied by a few ups and downs and frequent changes of company names and owners such as British Leyland Motor Corporation, Rover Group, BMW or Phoenix Venture Group.

Automaker MG, which belongs to China’s SAIC Group, wants to launch a battery-electric roadster in Europe in the summer of 2024. © MG

Since 2007, the Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation (SAIC) has been in charge and has been surprisingly lucky to gradually establish MG as a car brand in Europe as well. You won’t find any old MGs on our streets anymore. But new from China – like SUV MG Marvel R Electric. MG Motor now offers five series in Germany. The focus is on electric vehicles. There were almost 16,000 cars in this country last year, which corresponds to an increase of almost 500%. In the first quarter of 2023, the plus is still almost 180%. SAIC still has many plans for MG. In 2024, for example, the Cyberster electric road will come, which continues the original tradition of the brand.

Rise from the Dead – Five Car Brands Resurrected: Lancia

resurrected? In the case of Lancia, that is probably not entirely true, because the company, founded in Italy in 1906, never really died. Unlike MG, Lancia can look back on a very long and varied lineage of ancestors, including elegant and luxurious models. This has remained the case since the takeover by Fiat in 1969. Many other Lancia models were created in the 70s and 80s. Since the merger with Alfa Romeo, Lancia has been a full-range distributor with a series of models from the luxury class to the Ypsilon minivan.

The recently presented Lancia Pu+Ra HPE concept car is 4.45 meters long and shows the direction that Lancia is developing in terms of design and technology. © Lancia

The Ypsilon was also the only series to survive the merger of Fiat and Chrysler. First all other series were discontinued and in 2017 also exports. Since then, Lancia’s only market has been Italy. The only Ypsilon car that still sells well in its home country. The Lancia name has a reputation. Perhaps that is why the Stellantis group wants to bring Lancia back to the international car market. It is said that history repeats itself. Lancia has reunited with Alfa Romeo and also with DS Automobiles. These three brands are for combining the payment market in one group. In 2024, Lancia will introduce the first new car, the Ypsilon, with electricity. From 2026 only electrical inventions will follow.

Rise from the dead – Five car brands resurrected: Wiesmann

Speaking of electronics: Next year, the Wiesmann brand is set to return ten years after its dissolution. Wiesmann made a name for itself in the early 1990s as a manufacturer of premium sports cars with retro designs. The company got eight and six cylinder engines for coupés and roadsters from BMW. After bankruptcy in 2013, a consortium of British investors took over the company’s headquarters, production lines and trademark rights three years later, with the intention of rebuilding the sports roads. Project Gecko was the name of the car’s return originally planned for 2020: as before, a front-wheel drive mid-engined BMW V8. At the same time, Wiesmann was also touched by the trend of electricity. The V8 roadster was dropped and replaced by the Thunderball electric roadster. It offers a classic retro design, two electric motors with 500 kW/680 hp and a range of 500 km. The price of the electric racer made of aluminum and carbon fiber should be around 300,000 euros.

Rise from the Dead – Five Car Brands Resurrected: DeLorean

The back of the DeLorean brand is really short and also not very glorious. Founded by former GM executive John DeLorean in 1975, the brand struggled for a long time to mass-produce the iconic DMC-12 in 1981. Until then, the company had been plagued by many problems that did not end with the market launch. and finally led to bankruptcy after 21 months and 9,000 cars were built. However, the winged doors, the sheet skin made of brushed and unpainted stainless steel and the handwriting of Giorgio Giugiaro gave the DMC-12 an attraction that made it rise to the status of a time travel machine in the Hollywood film “Back to the Future”. An icon was born.

The Alpha 5 is DeLorean's first electric vehicle and the successor to the popular DMC-12.
With the Alpha 5, DeLorean presented its first electric car. © DeLorean

The car still looks modern today, but above all the name is sonorous. That’s why he can get a double return. Both electric. In the spring of 2022, the Houston/Texas-based DeLorean Motor Company presented the Alpha 5, of which only 88 units will be produced by Italdesign starting in 2024. The Audi subsidiary wants to build a limited series of electric cars. The DeLorean Motor Company, which is primarily responsible for the supply of spare parts, has only given its name. The second DeLorean, which is more similar to the DMC-12 than the Alpha 5, was announced by DNG Motors in late 2022 with the JZD model. DNG – the letters stand for DeLorean Next Generation – was founded by Kat DeLorean, the daughter of the former founder of the brand John DeLorean, who died in 2005. Except for the announcement of an electric car, there is still no information about the Model-JZD technology. A post on the Instagram page of DNG Motors announced the unveiling of the car on September 13, 2023. It will be built in Detroit.

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Rise from the Dead – Five Car Brands Resurrected: Borgward

Revival of a car brand can work. Or not. A famous example of failure is Borgward. Borgward represents the success of the fledgling Federal Republic of Germany’s boom years like few car brands. But the success story came to an abrupt end in 1963. The large Borgward plant in Bremen was incorporated into the Daimler group. The rights to the trademark remained in family ownership. Until 2014. At that time, the grandson of the founder, Christian Borgward, sold it to Foton. The Chinese truck manufacturer wanted to enter the car business and sell SUV models like the Borgward in China and Europe in the future. The new cars from Borgward were based on the old Saab platform with modern technology and modern design from Germany. In order to gain a foothold in Europe, the European headquarters of the Borgward Group opened for the first time in Stuttgart in 2016. At the end of 2016, an announcement followed that the European market even wanted to establish a production plant for the electric version of the BX-7 in Bremen , among other things. In 2017, Borgward reinforced its European ambitions with a strong position at the IAA with the Isabella Concept.

Borgward BX 7 at the IAA in Frankfurt 2015
In 2015, Borgward presented the BX 7 at the IAA in Frankfurt – the brand is now bankrupt in China. © Arnulf Hettrich/Imago

Using the BX-7, the first Borgward model was launched in China. The BX5 followed in 2017, the BX6 in 2018 and the smaller BX3 in 2020. The main sales market was China, where a total of 165,000 vehicles were sold in five years. However, it quickly became apparent that sales were far behind production capacity. Foton’s parent company recently ran out of money for its ambitious European plans. Only a few of the BX-5 and BX-7 made it to Germany. In the summer of 2019, Borgward’s new owner Ucar canceled the construction of a factory in Bremen, and the German location was closed in 2020. Sales figures in China also collapsed this year, and production finally stopped in 2021. In April 2022, Beijing Borgward then filed for bankruptcy. It remains to be seen what will become of Borgward and what will happen to the trademark rights. (Mario Hommen/SP-X)