5 Times Automakers Recycled Long-Dormant Names

Times may have changed the cars, but these nameplates remain the same.

Blue Dodge Hornet driving under bridgeDodge

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The car world is a rapidly changing landscape with new and updated models introduced every year. Yet, sometimes a familiar name stretches across decades or makes a sudden reappearance on a vehicle vastly different from its long-ago predecessor.

We’re about to explore five vehicles whose dormant names were brought back to life and are now available at dealerships near you. These include compact cars from the 1970s that morphed into a modern pickup truck to a sports coupe that now rolls down the road in the guise of an SUV. Keep reading to discover the history behind these five recycled car names.

Dodge Hornet

The Hornet name was long used on a range of coupes, sedans, and station wagons produced by the now-defunct American Motors Corporation. Dodge inherited the name when its parent company, Chrysler, swallowed AMC up in the 1980s. The Hornet had a cameo appearance on a boxy subcompact concept car in 2006—though the show car never reached production. For 2023 the Hornet name is set to grace a five-seat Dodge small SUV motivated by a 265+ hp, turbocharged four-cylinder or optional plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Gray 2021 Honda Passport in the mountainsHonda

Honda Passport

When is a Honda not a Honda? When it’s an Isuzu SUV in disguise. That was the case with the first Honda Passport, a rugged sport-ute sold from 1994 to 2002. It happened to be an Isuzu Rodeo with Honda badges slapped on it. Honda resurrected the Passport name in 2019 on a five-occupant, mid-size SUV. This time the Honda Passport is actually, well, a Honda.

Gray GMC Hummer EV Pickup parked in the desertGMC

GMC Hummer

The original Hummer was all about when too much was not enough. Back then, Hummer was a standalone brand within the General Motors family tree after originally serving as a hulking military vehicle. The brand’s first mainstream-oriented model, the H2 SUV, further defined Hummer. Produced for the 2003 to 2009 model years, the H2 had giant proportions, huge wheels, and a voracious thirst for fuel. The 2022 GMC Hummer is equally gargantuan, though now entirely electric-powered. Priced starting around $106,700 to more than $110,000, the Hummer EV pickup and SUV have up to 1,000 hp and can even be driven diagonally to avoid obstacles.

Red Ford Maverick Ecoboost AWD Lariat driving down highwayFord

Ford Maverick

The original Ford Maverick dates back to the 1970s when bell bottoms reigned, and gas prices soared due to oil embargoes. Competing against fuel-sipping imports from Datsun, Toyota, and Volkswagen, the first Maverick had a sleek two-door fastback shape, followed by a four-door sedan. Sales were hugely successful; more than 2 million were sold between 1970 and 1977. Reintroduced for the 2022 model year, the current Ford Maverick is a compact pickup that comes standard with a hybrid engine. Like the original, fuel economy is a hallmark of the Maverick truck—and sales are equally booming, with many shoppers waiting months to get one.

Red Mitsubishi Eclipse driving outside buildingMitsubishi

Mitsubishi Eclipse

Available as a two-door sports coupe and convertible from 1990 to 2012, the Mitsubishi Eclipse was billed as a budget-friendly performance machine. The first generation was noteworthy for its available turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and optional all-wheel drive (AWD). Currently, the AWD part of the Eclipse formula is all that connects the previous Eclipse to the current Mitsubishi SUV that's added "Cross" to its name. The 2022 Eclipse Cross is a compact SUV with standard AWD and, admittedly, a brash exterior. A turbo four-cylinder is still found under the hood, though it's engineered more for fuel economy than quick acceleration times.

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Nick Kurczewski
Nick Kurczewski is a freelance automotive journalist based in the New York metro area. With approximately 20 years of experience, he has covered all aspects of the car world, from the pit lane at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to car shows around the world, and a Zamboni lesson in Lower Manhattan. He’s also adept at providing helpful car advice and steering people towards the ideal car, truck, or SUV for their driving needs.