The Top 12 Stillborn Production Cars of All Time


Jeep Cowboy


When American Motors bought out Jeep’s then-parent-company Kaiser Jeep in 1970, it didn’t waste much time in developing new models and model variants for the beloved truck and SUV brand. One project involved creating a pickup version of AMC’s compact Hornet (which also joined the AMC family in 1970) to sell as a Jeep. This charming ute – which was to wear the Cowboy nameplate in production form – not only would have been an adversary of the larger Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero, but also the rising tide of small imported pickups from Toyota and Datsun, and it likely also would have been assembled and sold in foreign markets such as ute-crazy Australia.

Alas, the Cowboy never made it past the prototype stage, as strong demand for the Hornet range (and its stubby sibling, the Gremlin) stretched tiny (relative to GM, Ford and Chrysler, anyway) AMC’s limited resources dangerously thin. That, combined with not having a 4WD system ready for the Hornet platform to satisfy the Jeep faithful, torpedoed the project. However, it wasn’t a total waste, as AMC did eventually marry the Hornet shell with 4WD in the form of the Eagle range, and the lessons learned in combining a unibody platform with a separate, removable cargo bed were later applied to the Jeep Comanche, the pickup version of the XJ-series Cherokee.

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