Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari Testarossa, Shelby Cobra, Mercedes 300SL Gullwing. There are plenty of classic cars that we collectively reflect on and say, “Nice.” We unanimously (or as close as we can get in the car community) agree on their greatness, and they are revered as a result.
There is another side to this story, though, and that would be the tons of classic cars that hardly get any love. Some deserve this lack of love, but other cars really made a statement – a statement that we somehow collectively forgot. It’s this group of underrated cars that we focus on today.
Look, I get why this one gets underrated. Plenty of people knock its design. I understand if it’s not for you, but if you can appreciate the retro cool in those lines, there’s a whole lot of car to love. It carried the first disc brakes ever offered by an American production vehicle and its 4.7L, 240hp V8 was an absolute beast in its day. Studebaker went out of business two years after making this car, so only a few thousand were ever made. Despite its rareness, the average value is less than $20,000.
People give this car flak for what it isn’t (a 911) instead of embracing what it is: an entry-level, mid-engine Porsche sports car that’s a whole lot of fun to drive. The designers didn’t knock it out of the park, but this car does have its charms. It isn’t a high-powered road slayer, but at 2,000 lbs, it doesn’t have to be. The 914 is a fun, featherweight two-seater that would give you one hell of a great time on a mountain backroad if you could simply forgive it for not being a 911. Plus, you should be able to find one for less than $10,000.
Truly one of the baddest, meanest American muscle cars ever made, the GTO often gets overshadowed by the Chevrolet Chevelle and all the brawny Camaros and Mustangs of the era. This car was Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 1968, but it just doesn’t come up in conversation nearly as much as its contemporaries do. Was it the most nimble vehicle? Of course not — but when you start with a 6.4L or 6.6L V8, who cares?
First Generation Mazda Miata
While the car enthusiast gives the Miata its due respect, the casual car guy or gal tends to lay down an unrelenting barrage of disdain for the Miata – perhaps due to its lack of horsepower, its lack of gaudy price tag, or its Pixar-adorable looks. Whatever the reason, the Miata is criminally underrated. While its horsepower and torque don’t jump off the page, it’s one of the lightest cars around, so its horsepower-to-weight ratio is incredible; you don’t feel the lack of power. Combine that with its incredible handling (consistently one of the better handling production vehicles regardless of price), and you have one of the most underrated cars on the road.
You look up any of these cars and the image results are pages and pages of pristine, professional, desktop-worthy photos. Not the Triumph TR6. It’s mostly a bunch of amateur photos taken by owners because this car doesn’t get near the love that it should. This British roadster sports a 150hp, 2.5L 6-cylinder, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The rest of the story is simple — all you need to do is look at it. You couldn’t ask for a better-looking British roadster, could you? The MGA has nothing on this car, yet it gets all the attention when it comes to little roadsters of this era.
There you have it: a trip down a path less traveled. Next time you’re driving down the road and see one of these cars go by—or if you’re in the market for a classic car yourself—we hope that you’ll look at these classics differently. While owning a highly sought-after car does feel great, sometimes finding that overlooked gem can be just as satisfying.