The reason a car is loved or hated is the greatest enigma of the auto industry. On one hand, the likes of Hummer H1 and Range Rover do not deserve the amount of praise they get all the time. They are great cars but not as glorified as people believe they are.
On the other hand, there are absolute gems, the pinnacles of automotive art and engineering which deserve so much love and attention but do not get it. We’re paying homage to 40 of the amazing cars that never got the credit they always deserved.
The concept behind the Z lineup by Nissan was to make fun to drive sports cars attainable for the masses, and they did a great job at it. The story started back in 1969 with the release of the Fairlady Z, aka NS30.
With the legendary L24 I6 under the hood, the Fairlady Z was a great car by all means. It did get attention but way after it debuted. It is a collectible today, but back in its day, it was never appreciated as much as it deserved. If you want to tune a classic, this is the car you want, no matter what import-haters might tell you about it.
With a big honking 5.7 L American V8 mounted in the front and some really sick classic cars look, the C3 Corvette was one of the best corvette models to ever be. This car is also becoming a classic quick, but back in its days, it was not given much appreciation.
There are some problems with this car, but overall, this is a nice ride to have. Especially keeping in mind the sick classic-era looks that this car has, if your driveway can accommodate the one, you should get one. Even if you don’t like it, it will give you a good return in some years.
Lexus LC 500
There is nothing wrong with this car but one thing. Lexus released the LFA before it, and that thing is the single most impressive vehicle to ever come from Japan. With all the good things it has, this car has always been overshadowed by the LFA since it entered production in 2107.
Other than the sick looks, this car has a 5.0L V8 motor under the hood, and this Japanese powerplant means business. However, it was not nearly as good as the screaming V10 in the LFA. If you want the LFA-level looks and performance at a better price, get one of these, and don’t let people tell you it is not a good car.
This car is underrated, but for a good reason. Its looks are not very attractive, per se. Nissan could really have done a better job designing the body of this crossover. But aside from the looks, the Juke is a pretty good car – and an incredibly awesome daily driver that you can take off-road.
From a humble 1.5L naturally aspirated I4 to a 3.8L twin-turbo V6, there is a Juke for everyone. Add to that the remarkable Japanese reliability, and you have yourself a perfect car. Even if its, Uhm, not-so-good looks are considered, the car didn’t get the recognition it deserved for its performance metrics.
While Americans were deciding what to do about the V8 (the second most American thing after the Statue of Liberty) when the oil crisis hit, the Japanese made this thing. The Celica XX. It did not have a V8 and came with an I6. The problem was – if you are selling a sports car in America, you need it to have a V8, not everyone is Brian O’Connor.
The later generations of the Supra were a huge success, but this one never got much love. That was also because of the lack of a removable roof. Enthusiasts still think this is still a better Supra than a rebadged Z4 with a body kit.
This one is more of a hated car than an underrated one. All the hate that this car gets from the internet might make you think this is not a good ride, but you cannot be more wrong. For starters, this is the very car that brought hybrid mobility to the masses.
In itself, the Prius is a nice comfortable car that you can use as an inexpensive family hauler, and it will never let you down. Then there is the fuel efficiency, where this car outperforms virtually anything else on the road. If nothing else can convince you, this one is also good for the environment.
Yeah, it has an engine that hardly lasts 40,000 miles, and those apex seals are a real pain, but none of that makes it a bad car. When you buy one of these, you know what you are signing up for. The reason the rotary is a problematic engine is why this car gets all the hate it does not deserve.
But, what other car has a 347lb engine that can be tuned up to 700hp and drives the rear wheels through an LSD? The RX7 is a costly car to maintain, but that instant torque kick of the rotary is totally worth it.
A 202hp engine, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential, and the most perfectly tuned chassis of any small sports car. All that for under $30,000. It looks like this car is underrated due to its price. Its blessing is probably its curse.
Also known as the Subaru BRZ, this car is the one you can drive to work daily and take to the track on the weekend. The way this thing slides through the curves (thanks to the LSD) is only rivaled by the $100,000+ sports cars. If you don’t mind people judging you for having a ‘cheap toy,’ your $30,000 cannot be invested in a better thing than the 86.
Suzuki Grand Vitara
Whenever Suzuki tries to make a car that is not, strictly speaking, an economy car, it is not a success. The Grand Vitara is just another example of that. The name Vitara has been around since 1988, and Suzuki has given the car a number of upgrades, but it never seemed to amount to much.
The car, in itself, is not a bad one, not by any means. It offers pretty much everything any other crossover at this price point offers, and from my personal driving experience, it does not feel Suzuki-like at all. The reason for this car not being loved is probably that Suzuki is only expected to make economy cars.
The story of this car is just about the same as that of the Toyota 86. You can get one of these for $26k. With a 129hp engine and a curb weight of a little over 2400lb, this is a pretty agile and fun-to-drive car by all means.
This car is not even unreliable like the RX7; these things are good for hundreds of thousands of miles with proper maintenance. The reason this cute little car gets all the hate is probably that it is too cheap to be a sports car while being a sports car.
It’s light; it has a small engine, it is not comfortable, blah blah, blah. That’s what this car has to face on a daily basis despite being a very capable off-roader for its price. The Samurai is your cheapest entry ticket to the SUV game, and it will not disappoint you.
Forget that there’s a tiny 1.0L or a 0.6L 2-cylinder motor under the hood of this car. It gets the job done. If you want to conquer the trail, this will make that possible for you, thanks to the lightweight and athletic handling. Americans are obsessed with big honking V8s, and anything that doesn’t have them is not good enough for them.
Chevy Monte Carlo
The biggest injustice with this car is calling it a pony car instead of a muscle car. This beast has a 7.4L Turbojet V8 under the hood and is an American car from the 1970s; what else do you expect from it to be called a muscle car?
This tire-melting monster of a car has everything you can ever demand from a car, less fuel economy. But fuel economy is not on your list of priorities when you get a car with a 7.4L V8. This car was probably not properly appreciated back in its day because of other greater cars that were around.
This ‘Personal Luxury Vehicle’ was manufactured between 1966 and 1992 by the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors. This thing came with a 7.5L Rocket V8 and was nothing short of a full-blown muscle car of its era.
However, that was an era when everyone in America was trying to make a better car than the one next door and that was the reason this car was never given the attention it deserved. There were better options in the market, yes, but that does not mean that the Toronado was not a good option. People have finally realized the value of this car and it is getting the appreciation and attention it rightfully deserves.
Made by VW between 1974 and 2017, the Scirocco was a front-engine front-wheel-drive sport compact hatchback. The reason this car went underappreciated was that it was another cheap sporty car. This is an unfortunate phenomenon in the auto industry. Cheap sports cars never get the love they deserve.
With a lightweight body and a small but powerful engine, the Scirocco is a nice car that is fun to drive and economical. However, most probably because VW is not, strictly speaking, a sports car brand and this was not a full-blown sports car, the Scirocco came and left unloved.
Alfa Romeo Montreal
With the tiny 2.6L V8 and the styling at least a decade ahead of its time, the Montreal was the most ambitious car to be made by the Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo. Despite being radical in many areas, the car was not a success since Alfa Romeo had to cease production after seven years.
While the masses did not love this car, there were supporters of this proposition, and supposed ‘leaked’ pictures of the car still surface on the internet. The reason this was not properly welcomed has probably to do with the fact that no one was interested in V8s in the 1970s due to the oil crisis.
This 2-door roadster is probably the most unusual production car of all time. The Prowler was created when Chrysler engineers were given a free hand to design ‘whatever they wanted’ in the Hot Rod or Sportster class of vehicles. This car, with its lightweight design and the powerful 3.5L V6, was liked by very few people.
The people who don’t like it don’t even consider it a car. To be honest, it looks more like an upscale gocart than an actual production vehicle from a mainstream car maker. Regardless of how it looks, the Prowler is one of the best performing American cars of all time. It might have gotten attention and love if the engineers tasked with making it had given it the looks of an actual car.
On paper, this car is at par with Accord and Camry, but no one has even heard about it. This mid-size sedan performs as well as, if not better than any other on the market, but it has never been given the credit for that.
The reason for that is the same as for the Vitara. People just do not expect Suzuki to make an upscale car. They are just supposed to make the Swift and Alto, the bare-bones economy cars that are cheap to buy. You can get a pretty good deal on a used Kizashi, and these things last a good long time.
The brainchild of Ed Cole, the legendary designer at General Motors, the Corvair was a ground-breaking car of its day. While others were too much into V8s, this visionary designer made this car with an air-cooled flat-six and some pretty modern looks.
The Corvair had some really sick looks and tech way ahead of its era. However, it’s the thing with the overly futuristic cars; they seldom succeed. That was the reason GM finally pulled the plug on this car in 1969, nine years after it went into production. Avid fans still have pristine examples, but this car was not a huge commercial success for GM.
In the 1960s, several European governments had wanted to make a lightweight 4X4 vehicle that could be a competitor against the Jeep. The product of that was this ‘THING.’ It entered production in 1968 and was made until 1983. This THING can be described as ‘weird but functional.’
However, back in the 1960s, convertible off-roaders were not a thing, and the THING never got the appreciation it deserved. This was also a car ahead of its time with its 1.6L H4 engine and innovations like the portal axles and chrome wheels. Collectors have immaculate examples, but other than that, this vehicle is obsolete.
It is a powerful car that is not satisfied by any amount of performance you get out of it. The Cougar was first introduced in 1967 and was made till 2002 over eight generations. In pure muscle car fashion, this tarmac shredder was offered with a menu of V8s ranging from 4.7 to 7.5 liters in displacement.
In an era when everyone was trying to make better and more powerful cars than anyone else, the Cougar did not get much love despite being a great car. Well-kept models like this one are still available, but this car never got very popular.
With a 1.5L I4 and an electric motor for instant torque and 6-speed manual transmission, the CR-Z is Honda’s take at affordable sporty cars, and they’ve got it just right. Except for the part where the car sells well.
If you have not noted so far, let me say it out loud, affordable sports cars look like a great idea, but they are not a huge commercial success. This one is just another example of that. Despite having some really sick performance stats, Honda-grade reliability, and an affordable price tag, this car never made to the wish list of many buyers.
Known in some markets as the Pajero, this old-school SUV was way ahead of its time. The design language of this car might look old today, but it was way more advanced than other Japanese models of the time, even the likes of the Toyota Land Cruiser.
The advancement is not only in the bodywork. It had all the instruments you needed to go off-road. Like, who put a dash-mounted compass in a car in the 1980s? Montero had all these bells and whistles. This was also the predecessor to the award-winning Pajero Evolution. It’s not clear why this car never got the appreciation it so rightfully deserved.
If the ZDX and Nissan Juke had a beauty (ugliness) contest, the judges would have a really hard time deciding the winner, and that is the first reason why this car was never a hit. While the slopping rear roofline gives this car great looks, the front spoils them.
Other than the ‘severe physical appearance disorder’ that this car has, it is a nice little performance crossover from Honda’s luxury cars division, and there is nothing to complain about it. However, the looks overshadow all the good qualities this car has.
Over its seven-year production run, this Mitsubishi-made car managed to win a lot of hearts but not enough to remain in production. It was sold on the US soil by Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge under the Conquest name, but none of them was a commercial success, warranting the end of production in 1989.
With a 2.6L turbo I4 and a small footprint, the Conquest was a pretty agile and capable sporty car of its time. However, this was the era dominated by other Japanese giants like the Supra, the Nissan Z, and Honda’s TypeR civics, so no one gave a second thought to the Conquest.
This compact 2-door sports coupe was made by Honda between 1978 and 2001. The reason this car is underrated is that Honda itself was making way better cars in that era, and no one had time to pay attention to this one.
Even though this car had a respectable power output of above 150hp, very good for its size, the fact that things like the Integra TypeR were around at that time and then Honda released the NSX in 1990 amounted to no one having any particular interest in this car.
BMW E34 5 Series
Okay, it is a BMW, and those things are expected to break, but that is not a valid enough reason to hate a car that it is. The third-gen 5 series, aka E34, is one of the best cars made by BMW.
The best thing about this car is that you can have it with engines ranging from a 1.8L I4 to a 3.8L V8. Add to that the rear-wheel-drive system and the quirks and features of a typical German car, and you have a car you don’t have any reason not to like. If you can keep up with the repair and maintenance bills, this car is a good one to have.
Produced between 1984 and 1997, the 300CE is the perfect sedan of all time. This car is the perfect balance of luxury, affordability, performance, and practicality, yet it was not a huge success as you would expect from a car that good.
This was also the first car in which the 4-Matic technology was introduced by Mercedes. The reason behind this car being so underrated is probably that people want Mercs to be more upscale and luxurious than it was. Regardless of what someone says about this one, the W124 is a great car to have.
Honda is not supposed to make trucks so if they make one, that cannot be a good one. That’s probably the only reason why a truck like this cannot get the love it so rightfully deserves. However, this vehicle also loses direction.
If you look at it, it is a typical pickup truck, but once you get inside this vehicle, the interior is as comfortable and practical as that of a minivan, and the AWD system Honda and put together allows this vehicle to negotiate any rough terrain. All in all, this is a good vehicle to have that you can put to a multitude of uses, but in a market where trucks are supposed to be big, bulky, and loud, this one can never make an impact.
This was a rebadged Mitsubishi 3000GT sold under the Stealth nameplate in the USA from 1990 to 1996. This is a bittersweet car, to begin with. You get a 24-valve 3.0L engine. That’s good until you know that that motor powers the front wheels.
There’s nothing wrong with this car other than being a front-wheel-drive. It had a good performance for its time and class as well. However, if you had to buy a Japanese car back then, far better options were there, so no one paid much attention to this quirky Mitsubishi.
If there is a perfect hatchback in the world, it is the A-Class, period. It is comfortable, it is practical, and it is fun to drive. However, it is not one thing, and that is cost-effective. The very point of hatchbacks is that they are cheap, and this one is not. It costs more than a Civic.
However, a $40k price tag does not mean that this is not a good car. Take any other hatchback, the GR Yaris, the Civic TypeR, or any other on the market; the A-Class absolutely smokes the competition but being underrated is the price it pays for being overpriced.
Produced between 157 and 2020, the Impala is one of the most perfectly balanced cars made by any US automaker. Over those years and ten generations, this car has gone from having a 6.7L Turbothrust V8 to an LFX V6, but nothing could help it get love.
There is not a clear reason why this car is so underrated. Nothing is particularly off about this car. It is the type of car that you can drive to offices, parties, drag strips, and grocery stores, and it does not feel out of place at any place. Still, people choose not to love it.
Produced between 1983 and 1991, this is a compact sports car with a front-wheel-drive layout. The 135hp 1.6L I4 in this car might feel like a small engine for a sports car, but this thing weighed just 1000 kg. The complete package was a car that performed very well.
However, this car never got any special place in people’s hearts, mainly because better options from other Japanese automakers and Honda themselves were available at the time. No matter what people might say about it, the CR-X is a good car, and if you want an old-school sports car on a tight budget, the hate this car gets can get you a fair price.
The Eagle was a four-wheel-drive vehicle produced by American Motor Corporation. It was offered as a coupe, sedan, station wagon, and convertible, but none of them could make a name in the market. This car had a good AWD system for the 1980s and offered 4 and 6 cylinder engines.
The concept might have been a success if AMC had focused its efforts on making one car. They overly diversified the car and offered so many variants probably led people to believe that this was not a good car.
Being produced since 1974 for over 8 generations, this Volkswagen is the true people’s car, just like the Beetle was the people’s car back in the day. Just to make it clear, no one really hates Golf, but it does not get as much love as it deserves.
It is true that this car has nothing particularly special or fun about it. It is as simple as cars can get and is purely designed just to take you from point A to point B. That’s probably the reason this car never got any special attention.
It is a Ferarri. Its styling was done by the legendary design house Pininfarina and bodywork by none other than Carrozzeria Scaglietti. It also has a mid-mounted V8 but still this grand tourer is not loved.
This is an amazing car with a very responsive engine and an extremely well-tuned engine. However, the fact that this car replaced the GT4 coupe, never let it get any particular attention. That is not to say that the Mondial is a bad car but that the GT4 was a legendary vehicle and buyers expected its replacement to be even better than the Mondial.
This series of large family cars is being made by Volkswagen since 1972 and is the low-price alternative to the upscale cars like the top-of-the-line Audi Models but on a budget. However, the affordable price of this car does not mean that it is a lesser car.
Even though this car had all the dope tech when it first came out in 1972 and has evolved pretty good over all those years, it never got the appreciation that it so rightfully deserved. That is a good thing as second-hand units can be bought for good prices.
Alfa Romeo 155
Want the Alfa Romeo swag in your life for just under 25 grand? Let haters hate it; you just go and buy a 155. This car might not have a very powerful engine, but that 2.5L V6 does not make it an underpowered car by any means.
This thing has got sick looks, Alfa Romeo’s comfort, and all the bits of luxury you can expect from a car of this era. Don’t let people tell you it is sluggish or it does not perform well. This is one great car, and nothing else really matters.
This Jag is the equivalent of the Daimler Sovereign. It was produced from 1966 to 1969, and 16,000 units were ever made of this car. It features a 4.2L I6 and is one of the best classic cars that you can buy, but none of that could make it a commercial success.
The 420 came with a 4.6L I6, a choice of automatic and manual transmissions, and all the comforts associated with the Jaguar name. It was just because people had better luxury cars from other manufacturers at the time, and due to that, the 420 was never a particularly loved car.
The XE was designed by Jaguar to make the Jags accessible for general buyers, but this car never got very famous. This was offered with engines starting from a 2.0L I4 to a 5.0L V8. A Jaguar of those specs not being loved is not a common thing.
However, no automaker has the formula of making a car that can appeal to all customers and be a commercial success. So the reason behind this car not making a name is a rather vague one. No matter what the reason was, it sure kept it from being one of the best luxury cars of the modern era.
This Porsche was one of the best Porsches on the market when it came out back in 1969, but it did not perform as well commercially as expected. There is just one reason for that. The other Porsche, the 911, was such a hugely marvelous car that no one had any interest in this one.
But if you want a rear-mid engine rear-wheel-drive Porsche that does not break the bank, there can hardly be a better option than this one. Let people hate it. Not having a flat-six is not a valid reason to hate a car.