5 Iconic Luxury Cars Leaving the Market in 2016

Even luxury car brands don't last forever.

With auto sales increasing just a tepid 0.6% through August, there are some brands that are faring far better than others. Within the last decade, the U.S. market has bid goodbye to Hummer line, Saab (which just this year was deemed defunct as a brand) and the entire Suzuki brand.

There have been questions about Mitsubishi's survival in the U.S. market, especially after it closed its U.S. plant in Illinois earlier this year, but its sales here have increased steadily since 2012 and are up this year. Volvo heard the same mutterings in recent years, but its sales are up 30% this year and now exceed those of Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, Fiat and Mini.

While there may not be an entire automaker exiting the market this year, each year puts another brand of vehicle on the shelf or eliminates it entirely. This year, for example, is the last for the Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart, Honda CR-Z, Volkswagen EOS, Buick Verano and Toyota's entire youth-focused Scion brand. However, it isn't just the everyman models that find themselves pulled off the road when their either no longer wanted or compare poorly to the younger, updated versions taking their place. We looked at the 2016 vehicles that won't be rolling into 2017 and found five luxury vehicles that have come to the end of their road -- at least for now:

5. Dodge Viper
5. Dodge Viper

Of all the models that Chrysler's new masters at Fiat trimmed after forming FCA, this one hurts the most.

Back in 1991, the Dodge folks really wanted to make a U.S. supercar and decided to modernize the the company's fabled Cobra. The biggest engine they had around at the time was an 8.0-liter, V10 Dodge truck engine, but since Chrysler just happened to own Lamborghini at the time, the Italians made an aluminum version of that engine and "Team Viper" did its thing and cut its weight dramatically.

The Viper served as the pace car at the 1991 Indianapolis 500, but the most current 8.4-liter, V-10 engine cranks out 640 horsepower and tops out at 206 miles per hour. When it was announced that the 2017 model year would be the last year, multiple special edition Vipers were sent out to market. The 31 black graphite Dodge Viper Voodoo II American Club Racers sold out in just two hours. The 100 GTS-R Commemorative Edition ACRs (in white exterior with twin racing stripes) sold out in just two days, while the 22 Dodge Viper Dealer Edition vehicles went in five days. Dodge has one more special edition, the Dodge Viper Snakeskin ACR, coming in 2017, but was of the above were particularly impressive compared to the most-popular of the bunch.

The 1:28 Edition ACR (American Club Racer) and its 28 yet-to-be-built models sold out in a mere 40 minutes. The black-and-red car is named for the 1:28.65 it set at the Laguna Seca track last year, where it was 1.24 seconds faster than the Posche 918 that set the previous record. The Viper ACR has more than a dozen other track records and was the fastest street-legal viper of all time, but this version surrounds the 200+ mph Lamborghini V10 with carbon ceramic brakes, an aero package (read, a pronounced rear spoiler) and a custom car cover with the owner's name on it.

4. Aston Martin DB9
4. Aston Martin DB9

The James Bond car wasn't built to be cheap or efficient, but its 6-liter, 510-horsepower V12 engine is going to hit 60 mph in under five seconds and top out above 180 miles per hour. Critics have said the handling is a bit firm, but it handles like a Gran Turismo even after dropping considerable weight since 2015. Meanwhile, if you can enjoy amenities like a leather and bamboo, teak and cherry interior or a crystal start button and can make do with cargo space about the size of carry-on luggage, it's a worthy pickup.

Sure, the DB9's aluminum dials, crushed glass crystal ashtray and button gearshift were sexy when it debuted in 2003. However, the all-new DB11 will be Aston-Martin's bold new face of the future.

3. Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe
3. Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe

The bespoke beauty with the 453-hp 6.8-liter V12 engine that goes from 0 to 60 mph in less than eight seconds was supposed to be a somewhat sportier version of the automaker's iconic limo.

But that never happened. This car is built to weigh nearly three tons and comes equipped whole lot of wood, leather, tech, armor and other assorted features that the Rolls Royce bespoke team is more than happy to add at a customer's whim. To make any of that "sporty," the coupe's GT body would have had to be accompanied by a far more powerful engine. However, when Rolls Royce failed to upgrade to a V16 and then introduced the smaller Wraith to its lineup, the coupe became the odd car out. It was a nice idea, but it would have been nicer if the typically meticulous folks at Rolls-Royce had worked this one through.

2. BMW M5
2. BMW M5

BMW loses a little bit of its street cred with this one.

The M5 is a more than 560-horsepower, 4.4-liter V6 sedan that's basically a juiced version of the 5 Series. However, the 5 Series is an underpowered little wimp of a luxury car that gets by on its Xenon headlights, LED accent and fog lights, LCD displays, automatic dual-zone climate control, ten-speaker stereo system, moonroof, leather steering wheel, dark wood trim, BMW Navigation and iDrive system with touchpad controller. It can't muster 250 horsepower and just doesn't look right on the track. In fact, it looks as if it's being driven by someone's dad who's picking them up after their laps are done.

The M5 was supposed to make the 5 Series track worthy and, in its Competition package, strip out all of those amenities in favor of a lighter frame, better handling and more speed. The M5 is for BMW owners who care more about what's under the hood than the emblem on it, and its loss seems to just accept the fact that some sedans will just never be cool no matter how you design them.

1. Land Rover Defender
1. Land Rover Defender

Why?

It's the four-by-four that enthusiasts have loved for seven decades. It's had its iconic look and utility for nearly that long. Why is it dying off now? Because modern safety and emissions regulations just won't allow new production of it. In fact, Land Rover has been restoring dozens of older models each year just for collectors.

The company is introducing a new Defender that will be significantly altered to meet modern demands, but any Defender made prior to the cutoff this year just became a sought-after collector's item -- if it wasn't already.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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