Sometimes, bad things happen to great cars. The exhilarating Pontiac G8, for example, came along just as parent company General Motors decided to kill the entire Pontiac division. The 2009 retirement of the Honda S2000 roadster caused remorse even at Honda.
But most discontinued cars are killed off for good reason, and with a dramatic plunge in auto sales over the past two years, automakers are aggressively thinning the herd. GM is winding down its Pontiac and Saturn divisions, and Saab may disappear as well. Chrysler is killing several duds as it tries to build a thriftier, more exciting lineup. All told, automakers plan to retire nearly 50 models over the next two years, which will turn many showrooms into automotive versions of the clearance rack.
A few discontinued models will be great buys. Others may be deeply discounted—but still not worth the money. To determine which discontinued models are the weakest, I asked the analysts at car-research site KBB.com to first identify models likely to be discontinued over the next couple of years. For some of these models, the manufacturers have confirmed that the car is being axed; others made the list because of strong indicators that they’re being discontinued, such as manufacturing changes or declining shipments to dealers. KBB then predicted the residual value of each of those models in five years—the amount it’s likely to be worth, expressed as a percentage of its original list price. The median vehicle on this list has a predicted residual value of 22 percent in five years. The highest residual value is 35 percent; the lowest, 15 percent.
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