Nigeria is one of the few African countries that follow the Global trend with cars.
The day Cristiano Ronaldo bought his BMW i8 in 2015, I was wondering how long it would take before the car is spotted on a Nigerian road. Lo & behold, I went to Lekki, Lagos the next day and saw the car in a convoy with a brand new Range Rover Autobiography.
BMW i8 is in Nigeria (Source: Gidicars)
We buy a lot of the most popular car brands in Nigeria, ranging from the most luxurious to the fastest of cars even though their Nigerian owners never get to maximize their potentials. This is usually because of bad road networks and insufficient modern servicing centres that can handle the repairs and maintenance of these cars.
Abandoned cars in Nigeria
It recently came to my notice that some top car brands in Nigeria of yesteryear are no longer being purchased by Nigerians. These are brands we all grew up knowing as common cars on the road in the concluding years of the 1990s i.e between 1990 to 2000.
Ikorodu road Lagos in the 1990s (Source: Travelstart)
This article highlights six of these abandoned brands that used to be the best car brands in Nigeria and explains where the cars went wrong with Nigerians. Did we get tired of them? Did the cars get ugly? Did they become too difficult to maintain? You will find out as you read through. Permit me to digress a bit to shock you; have you seen the 10 most expensive million-dollar cars in the world abandoned due to unforeseen circumstances? How about closer home? Even in Nigeria exotic cars are abandoned by lavish owners! I bet you would like to see these!
What are abandoned car brands in Nigeria that used to be popular?
Volvo is a Swedish car manufacturer that started production as far back as 1927. A Volvo was a vehicle that every household used to have back in the 1990s concerning its reliability and rugged build.
Popular Volvo cars in Nigeria in the past
The common Volvo models in Nigeria were the Volvo 200, 700, 800 and 900 series which came in Sedan and Station Wagon body styles.
A Common Volvo 700 series
They mostly had a simple 4 cylinder engine design which made it one of the most reliable car brands in Nigeria. The Swedish car manufacturer produced this series between 1974 and 1998 with one thing in common, a boxy shape that was the in-thing in regular car designs in the early 90s era.
Simple engine bay of a Volvo
When the next series of Volvo cars were released after 1999, the naming system changed from 3 digits to an alphanumeric with one letter and two digits. Then the S70 replaced the 800 Series Sedan, the V70 replaced the 800 series Station Wagon, the S90 replaced the 900 Series Sedan, the V90 replaced the 900 series Station Wagon, and lastly, the S40 was introduced as a newly designed saloon car.
A Volvo S40 Sedan
At this time, Nigerians had moved on from that "Grandpa" looking Volvo shape with the all-round curvy looking Toyota Camrys and Honda Civic cars that were way more affordable than the Volvos. These were then doing very low units of imports into Nigeria.
Till today, we can find a lot of Volvo Estate cars from the 90s being used as ambulances and hearses because of their ability to comfortably contain coffins. It's still being produced globally and recently, Volvo is on its way to stop producing cars that use fuel in 5 years' time.
Why Nigerian people don't buy Volvo anymore
In these recent times in Nigeria, nobody buys a brand new Volvo car and few models of Volvo cars you would find around are the SUV (XC90) and a couple of the 2 door C70 coupe cars as well as C sedans as they look very sporty.
The Volvo XC90 SUV
Every day on Nigerian roads, you can only count a very few numbers of Volvo cars plying the roads simply because Nigerians lost interest in the designs. This also made spare parts dealers stop stocking Volvo parts so when a lover of a particular Volvo car wants to import one into the country, he/she is advised to not go ahead with the purchase because when the car needs a replacement part it could be very difficult to acquire.
Before Volkswagen took control of Porche, Audi, Bugatti, Porsche, Lamborghini, Seat, Man, Skoda, Scania, and Bentley, let me tell you how popular the Volkswagen car brand was in Nigeria.
Volkswagen ownerships of brands
Popular Volkswagen cars in Nigeria in the past
The Golf 1, Golf 2, Jetta and Passat, up until 1999, were the go-to German cars for Nigerians because they weren't luxurious like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, they had great fuel economy and were very practical for Nigerians at the time. The Beetle made Volkswagen one of the most popular car brands in Nigeria around the late 1990s. It was one car that was practically everywhere in Nigeria before the 2000s.
Volkswagen Beetle aka Tortoise car
The Golf 1 & 2 had that unique rounded headlight hatchback design with still enough space for luggage while the Jetta and Passat had both Hatchbacks and Saloon designs.
The Golf MK1 aka Golf one in Nigeria
These cars rarely developed faults and a lot of automobile technicians in Nigeria at that time were Volkswagen professionals. The gradual disappearing of Volkswagen cars in Nigeria was because of two main reasons:
Why Nigerian people don't buy Volkswagen cars anymore
- Limited models
The company was focusing on its other subsidiaries and wasn't rolling out new models and designs like their German counterparts (Benz and BMW) were doing. Volkswagen wasn't direct competition for Benz or BMW because it wasn't a luxury brand. In Nigeria, its direct competition was Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet, and other popular non-luxury brands.
The 1995 Volkswagen Jetta
The Volkswagen available after 1999 was only Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Passat while other brands had over 10 models in circulation in the Nigerian car market. The Touareg (a luxury SUV model) came later, and it also didn't redeem the Volkswagen brand in Nigeria.
- They became complex
You need to know that Japanese cars were already in production and circulation in the Nigerian car market in the late 90s also but German cars had a respectable amount of reliability that made Nigerians pick them over their initial Japanese counterpart.
Volkswagen Passat being overloaded with goods in Lagos, Nigeria
You will agree with me that it is impossible to find a Japanese car from 50 years ago still being in use today for commercial purposes in Nigeria like the Golf 2 and Passat from as far back as the 1980s.
You still see these Passats on Nigerian roads till date
From 1999, the Passat and the Jetta got a complex drive train that involved a lot more electrically inclined components with new technologies like TSI (turbocharged stratified injection).
A 2005 Volkswagen Passat
Every car brand and its distinctive strength is a major factor Nigerians consider when buying cars. Volkswagen became difficult to maintain unlike the Corolla, Civics, Camrys, Accords, and others, so this just made people avoid the brand in this new Millenium.
Don't get me wrong, the Passat CC and Jetta new generation models are being bought by Nigerians because they look beautiful but guess what?
2015 Volkswagen Passat CC
They have a very poor second-hand value because Nigerian technicians haven't hacked their repairs and maintenance yet. Buying a badly maintained Nigerian used Volkswagen car is something you never want to try. Even the flagship Golf has been receiving a lot of critics from its fans.
All generations of Golf (Source: VW Cult)
With each new generation, it seems like Volkswagen is not trying to make the car better. Same old feel, appearance, and ambience always.
>>> Still a fan of Volkswagen? Check out Volkswagen cars for sale on Naijauto.com!
Peugeot is a French manufacturer of cars that had very strong ties with Nigeria back in the 90s. It is a car brand that is part of automotive history in Nigeria.
A Peugeot 505 in a Nigerian compound
Popular Peugeot cars in Nigeria in the past
I am sure your earliest memory of a classic Peugeot car is the 505/504 and did you know that the 505 models were also manufactured in Kaduna, Nigeria? Yes! they were assembled in the North and there was even an incredible Nigerian Professor that drove the Peugeot 504 from London to Kano in 24 days, just to tell how much of a reliable car brand in Nigeria it was.
The Peugeot 504 Saloon car
The Peugeot brand was the go-to car for the Nigerian government utility vehicles for ministries, military, universities and every other division of the government. It was also the official car brand for a lot of companies back then because it was amongst the best car brands in Nigeria. Basically, Peugeot always meant business!
The Peugeot also had a lot of applications in the health sector, serving as a reliable car brand in Nigeria for ambulances and emergency vehicles.
Old VS New Peugeot ambulances in Nigeria
After the 505/504 model, the next model that had a good reign in Nigeria was 406 because of the Military. The Military in Nigeria has a thing for Peugeot cars even up till now.
The Peugeot 406 Saloon car popular for Military in Nigeria
Why Nigerian people don't buy Peugeot cars anymore
From 1996, everybody stopped buying Peugeot cars except the Nigerian Military because Peugeot lost track with the production of Sedans between 1996 and 2004; they were only producing the 607 which was more of an executive large-sized sedan. Guess where Peugeout's strength was focused? Small-sized family cars!
The Peugeot Family sized small cars ( 206 and 307)
The 206 then the 307 were 4 door hatchback cars that weren't practical though they are much appreciated in the North because they love sporty looking cars. That long break gave Peugeot away and official cars in Nigeria were replaced very quickly with top car brands in Nigeria from the early 2000s which were the Japanese car brands like Toyota, Honda, and others.
Something miraculous happened to me though, I started noticing a Peugeot SUV badged 3008 in Lagos recently and a couple of recent-year 308 sedans.
The 3008 SUV by Peugeot
Peugeot might never be able to make it back on top as the go-to car for the Nigerian government or large-sized companies but we will always see a few around.
Renault is a French Automobile manufacturer that had a limited number of models in production which was why it wasn't as common as the first three brands on this list.
The Renault 21 Saloon car
Popular Renault cars in Nigeria in the past
My dad owned a Renault 21 Estate which was a very large-sized family car that drove pretty awesomely with its 5-speed manual transmission.
The Renault 21 Station Wagon
Throughout his ownership of this car for 3 years, it never developed a fault for once, just to tell you it was uncommon but still a reliable car brand in Nigeria at the time. The Renault 19 was the common Renault in the last decade of the 1990s in Nigeria.
The Renault 19 hatchback
It was a small-sized hatchback 4 door car that still had enough space for utility by families who owned them. This car was bought by a lot of small-sized car lovers but after the 2000s, the rate at which Nigerians purchased the Renault brand reduced greatly.
Why Nigerian people don't buy Renault cars anymore
The only Renault you would find in Nigeria today is either the Megane or Trophy oh wait, there are a few Lagunas too.
One of the popular Renaults in Nigeria today
You would rarely see a Nigerian buying and driving a Renault brand except it got imported directly to end-user from mostly France and Italy because car dealers in Nigeria won't stock the car based on the fact that it is far from being one of the most popular car brands in Nigeria.
Popular Datsun cars in Nigeria in the past
Datsun is a car brand owned by Nissan. The Nissan brand has always been popular in Nigeria as Datsun since the 1980s but for some reason, between 1985-1995 the Datsun Laurel was being purchased by a lot of Nigerian saloon car lovers of higher age ranges (especially men), especially the fifth generation.
The Datsun Laurel for Nigerian men back in the day!
Why Nigerian people don't buy Datsun cars anymore
However, for every Datsun model, there was always a Nissan original that looked almost perfectly alike because Datsun was simply any Nissan car for another country's market other than Japan.
Datsun stopped production of automobiles in 1986 but unlike other car brands that stopped to exist, it relaunched in 2013 when Nissan decided to make Datsun a low-cost automobile brand for use in Indonesia, Nepal, South Africa, India & Russia. As these new Datsun models are being assembled in South-Africa, you would rarely find one here in Nigeria.
The new face of Datsun in India
I have never seen a Datsun Go, Go+, Cross, MI-Do, On-Do, Redi-Go (all these are the new models of Datsun).
Opel, owned by General Motors, is a German car manufacturer that saw good days on Nigerian roads until the beginning of the 2000s.
Popular Opel models in Nigeria in the past
The Opel Senator was a common executive saloon car that was produced by Opel between 1978 and 1993. It's one of the cars that made Opel a top car brand in Nigeria.
The Opel Senator was quite common in Nigeria
The Opel Kadett was also a common model from the German manufacturer in Nigeria before the 2000s.
The Opel Kadett Coupe
Why Nigerian people don't buy Opel cars anymore
A small sized family car that was discontinued in 1993 and replaced by the Opel Astra, the Astra is the only Opel model that you can still find on Nigerian roads today and it would definitely be the first & second-generation models.
The second-generation Opel Astra
I have also come across a few Opel Zafira minivans in Lagos, Nigeria.
Did you even know that the Vauxhall brand of the UK in recent times have been rebadged Opel models since Groupe PSA (owners of Peugeot Automobiles) took over both Opel and Vauxhall from General Motors in 2017?
Vauxhall in the UK is just rebadged Opel cars