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 15 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.
Toyota Celica Supra
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.
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.