Car Culture / Cars

Car Culture: What Is An Orphaned Car?

Car shows can cater to all types and genre of vehicles. On-road or off road, American muscle or tuners, even Fords or Chevys. But what is a car show for discontinued and orphaned cars? And how are cars orphaned? We have a show for these neglected rides here at Griot’s every year. These are the forgotten cars of yesteryear… rides that the aftermarket bypassed in a big way, leaving them with no go-fast parts… and in dire circumstances limited replacement parts.

The poster child for these lost souls is the Chevy Corvair… a nice, rear-engine, Beetle fighter torpedoed by Ralph Nader’s book, “Unsafe At Any Speed” which criticized the car’s handling… when the rear tires were under-inflated. Today, the innovative cars are cult classics… which in many ways is code for an orphan type of vehicle.

Other popular orphans include pretty much any kit car… with VW-powered examples being especially pertinent, offerings from Studebaker, Willys, and International fit the mold as do AMC, DeLorean, and anything with Nash in its name.

Orphans can be vehicles from a now defunct carmaker or individual models from a closed automaker or an individual models from a current automaker that has been discontinued… but a discontinued models does not necessarily create an orphan. The Pontiac Firebird was discontinued and then Pontiac was shuttered… but the car has tons of aftermarket support so it’s not necessarily an orphan. There are no ‘guidebooks’ to orphanism… it’s a ‘you’ll know one when you see one’ type of scenario.

This 1980 Toyota Celica fits the bill. It’s a second generation, an unpopular design, has limited aftermarket support, and has been discontinued for some time. On the cultish side, it’s a rare Sunchaser model. Toyota commissioned The Griffith Company (of Griffith TVR fame) to convert 500 Celicas per year from 1978 to 1981.

Like many car shows, attendance can be limited by year of manufacture. Goodguys used to cater to 1972 and earlier vehicles, before recently moving most of its events to 1987 and before models. Orphaned and discontinued shows have to advance with the times as well. Many shows are expanding the categories to include awards for cars from the ‘90s.

The appearance of this Honda del Sol at the Orphaned and Discontinued show at Griot’s Garage threw a monkey in the wrench. The show, hosted by a Corvair club, only had a category for the 1980s. The car’s owner, Kathy G., won a People’s Choice award.

The great thing about Orphaned and Discontinued car shows is how they guarantee anyone with a cool car, no matter how popular (or unpopular) will have a way to tap into the car hobby and share their experiences with others. America has always loved the underdog, which explains why the orphaned and discontinued cars are still collected and appreciated by their owners.

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