Throughout the decades, there have been a significant number of classic cars that have gone largely underappreciated. Whether they were outshined by another historic car at the time, or if they simply weren’t perceived well by the market many classic vehicles have been given the proverbial cold shoulder by practically everyone the world over. Here are 16 of the most underappreciated classic cars.
1) Porsche 914/6
Porsche has a long history that dates back to WW2. With so many successful lines out, it’s not a surprise that one would be lost along the way. Of course, I speak of the Porsche 914/6. With the 911s, Caymans, Panameras, and Cayennes to deal with the Porsche 914/6 were simply swallowed up. There’s not much to say about this vehicle. It’s safe to say that it’s underappreciated mainly because it’s compared to every other vehicle that Porsche has put out since its inception. Just think of the 914/6 as the forgotten middle child of the Porsche brand.
2) Sunbeam Tiger
The Sunbeam Tiger truly deserves more recognition. With its V8s (260ci in Tiger Mark I and 289ci in Tiger Mark II) it had raw horsepower on its side. Too bad Carroll Shelby didn’t reserve the rights to this classic automobile. Instead, Jensen Motors took the reins and…well, the Sunbeam wouldn’t be on this list if things had gone well for it, now would it? The Sunbeam Tiger ran from 1964 to 1967 and produced 7,083 units. Keep in mind that the vast majority of these, 6,450 to be exact, was the Mark I models. Most collectors who own these antique vehicles have modified them in one way or another, thus finding one in its original condition can be quite expensive.
3) Studebaker Avanti
The Studebaker Avanti couldn't have been released at a worse time. When it was revealed to the world in 1962, people found that the Avanti was a great grand tourer. As a plus, you could also get this historic vehicle with an optional factory supercharged V8 that could crank out 355 horsepower. However, hard times forced Studebaker to close down the Avanti factory in 1963, and they gave other automakers permission to produce the Avanti on other platforms. Sadly, these other platforms had much lower standards than Studebaker. The lower quality Avantis pretty much ruined the reputation of the Studebaker Avanti and the rest is history.
4) Mercury Cougar
The Mercury Cougar had its time in the spotlight once upon a time. That time, sadly, is far behind it. Having been around for nearly three decades, it’s safe to say that this old car is very much underappreciated. During the time that the Mercury Cougar was related to the Mercury, you could throw all kinds of features into this bad boy such as equipping it with the Cobra Jet V8 or 289ci Windsor V8. There was even a blacked out performance package available. That time is past and the Mercury Cougar is very much underappreciated in today’s classic car market.
5) Ford Centurion
In the beginning, Ford Broncos could never get the four-door thing down. At the time Chevy's Suburban dominated the four-door market, and it seemed like Ford didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole. That all changed when the Expedition succeeded the Bronco. Well, let’s not forget that the fourth and fifth generation Bronco was able to offer a four-door package. Enter the Ford Centurion, a vehicle produced by Centurion Vehicles who focused explicitly on manufacturing Ford’s trucks. If you were to break the Ford Centurion down you would find an F-150 and F-350 chassis married to Bronco panels. The result was the release of the C-150 and the C-350. These were terrific vehicles, but over time, with the release of the Expedition, they just faded into black. It’s a pity because these were truly amazing vehicles.
6) Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
With a name like the Turbo Coupe, you should instantly expect great things. After all, the Turbo Coupe was the best option you could get to match Europe's sports coupe in the 1980s. The Turbo Coupe could hit 190 horsepower and sported a medley of features: sound brakes, special shorter gearing for better acceleration, and adjustable suspension. Despite all of its fantastic features, the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe only lasted about four years before disappearing from the hearts and minds of the people. Even classic car collectors seem to pass up the Turbo Coupe. On the other hand the Mustang SVO, its sister car, still maintains a legendary status amongst Mustang fans to this day.
7) Ford Maverick
From its inception, the Ford Maverick was doomed. It was first brought about as an experiment in 1970 and was a few years behind the introduction of pony muscle cars. This was the reason the Ford Maverick couldn't possibly compete, but Ford still wanted to see what they could do with this antique car. Equipped with base anemic engines and a low base price, the Maverick wasn't entirely impressive though you could configure them differently if you so desired. Some models were equipped with 302ci V8 engines and could hit around 210hp. This was fine for a sedan of its type, but 1977 saw the end of its run. Soon afterward, the Ford Maverick faded away from the hearts and minds of the people.
8) Ferrari Dino 308 GT4
Ferrari is known for its ultra-expensive supercars. Nowadays, if you drive a Ferrari that probably means you're rich. Well, you may be surprised to learn that Ferrari tried to market a more affordable vehicle for the general population using the Dino badge. Ferrari offered these vehicles from 1968 to 1976, releasing three models during that time. The last model was the Ferrari Dino 308 GT4. This collectible car sported a V8 engine and was able to hit 250 horsepower when you really put your foot down. It had a good run until 1976, where Ferrari transferred the 308 away from Dino and gave it the Ferrari name. Oddly enough, this is probably the reason this collectors car faded existence and is largely unappreciated.
9) Studebaker Lark
If you don't recognize the Studebaker Lark, we can't blame you. The "Big Three" dominated the market at the time, so Studebaker had a lot to compete with. Despite the stiff competition, the Lark held its own. This vehicle was manufactured between 1959 and 1966, when the company folded. This vehicle was offered in every type of body layout that was available at the time, and a large selection of powertrains. If one thing could be said about the Lark, it was one of the most versatile American cars in the market at that time. Too bad this vehicle faded into obscurity after the company folded.
10) Pontiac 2+2
This vehicle was initially offered as a trim package for Catalina in 1964. However, the Pontiac 2+2 was eventually marketed as its own vehicle and ran from 1965 to 1967. The Pontiac 2+2 was European inspired and was offered as a convertible or as a hardtop coupe. The 2+2 was most certainly its own vehicle, differing from the Catalina by offering different exterior panels, bucket seats, and a different center console. In 1964, the trim package came with either 389ci or 421ci V8 engines whereas the 2+2 only offered 421ci or 428ci Rochester V8s that could hit 376 horsepower. During its run, the Pontiac 2+2 was regarded as one of the finest classic cars at the time, but today you'll find that it's largely underappreciated.
11) Chevrolet Kingswood
Station wagons were never quite as popular as sedans, especially in the United States. However, with its two short runs, the Chevrolet Kingswood could most certainly compete in the power department. This is especially true for the second generation that ran between 1969 and 1972, where Kingswood sported 454ci V8 Chevy big-blocks. In other words, these station wagons had some power. Though largely forgotten and unappreciated for what it was, you couldn't say the Chevrolet Kingswood didn't have class. How could anyone not appreciate those wooden exterior panels?
12) Datsun Sports
We might think that the original Fairlady was the first Z car, but that simply isn't the case. That title belongs to Datsun Sports. Datsun Sports had a run that lasted from 1959 to 1970 and had five distinguishing brands for the consumer to choose from Sports: 1,000, 1,200, 1,500, 1,600, and 2,000. These compact roadsters were stuffed with 4-cylinder engines. Reliable, affordable, and very much fun to drive the Datsun Sports had a fantastic run. However, along came Nissan with its Z cars and suddenly the bar was raised exponentially. From that point onward Datsun Sports faded into the background. Now, despite being good vehicles, they're underappreciated and mostly forgotten.
13) Cadillac Allante
You could say that the Cadillac Allante was the spiritual predecessor to the Corvette-based XLR. The market didn't exactly receive this vehicle well when it was first introduced due to its front-wheel drive and poor handling. However, Pininfarina (the Italian design house that designed scores of Ferraris) built the body in Italy and flew them out to Detroit where it was fused with a decent chassis and V8, so you can't say that the Allante had any design flaws. Today, it's parentage seems to be somewhat unappreciated as bigger and better models pushed it into obscurity.
14) Ford Pinto
How could anyone ever forget the unforgettable Ford Pinto? Perhaps it may be fresh in some of our minds, but it's still underappreciated for a number of reasons. For one, it tended to catch on fire a lot. Despite its other features, Ford simply couldn't get rid of that stigma. Despite its proneness to combust, the Pinto provided an economical car that was perfect for the gas crisis that defined the seventies. It handled well and was a fun drive, especially if you got the manual version. Unfortunately, there was no getting over that stigma, and the Ford Pinto remains unappreciated to this day.
15) Kaiser Darrin
It could be said that the Kaiser Darrin was the United State's direct challenge to the British that they could build better roadsters. This contemporary of the Thunderbird and Corvette didn't sell well, however, because it wasn't all that fast. Still, what the Kaiser Darrin lacked in speed, it made up in style. It's mostly recognized for its unique doors (along with the BMW Z) that slide into the front fender. Sadly, the vehicle remains underappreciated to this day.
16) Buick GNX
For the most part, every single vehicle bearing the Buick Grand National name that was built in the mid-1980s could be said to be a bit on the underrated side. These eighties muscle cars were turbocharged and capable of 245 horsepower. These were the "normal" specs, however. When it came to the GNX, your typical Grand National was sent to Michigan where it underwent some serious fine-tuning. Everything was tweaked from the transmission to the turbo. The result was a badder more fierce muscle car then your run of the mill Grand National. Often referred to as "Darth Vader's car" due to its all black appearance and tough demeanor, somehow the Buick GNX fell out of grace and was never truly appreciated as the beast that it truly was.
17) Chevrolet Corvair Monza
The Corvair Monza had a bit of bad reputation due to Ralph Nader's book, Unsafe at Any Speed. Nader argued that a lot of people ended up losing their lives because GM didn't give the Monza's suspension the love that it truly needed to be driven safely. In actuality, it was discovered that the suspension of the Corvair Monza was essentially the same as contemporary Mercedes and Porsches. Statistics even proved that the Monza wasn't any more dangerous than any other vehicle on the road at that time. The Corvair Monza sported an advanced air-cooled flat-six engine that was mounted in the rear. You could think of the Corvair Monza as a Porsche for the average man. However, it simply could not survive the controversy that surrounded it, and it ended up fading away into obscurity.