10 Overlooked and Almost Forgotten Classic Cars
Updated May 27, 2018
One might say that every time someone publishes a list like this – more and more classic cars step out from the obscurity and into the light where we can finally appreciate them the way they were meant to be appreciated. That has pros and cons of its own. On the plus side, people finally grasp their importance. On the other hand, their prices might soar in correspondence with their newly acquired prominence. But I wouldn’t go that far. Obscure cars usually remain obscure until at least a few factors decide to change that. So, don’t despair if you actually wanted to buy one of these. I’m confident their prices will remain intact regardless of this list.
And we’re bringing you no less than 10 unappreciated, underrated and almost forgotten classic cars. They’re more than that, though. These ten are basically hidden gems which never received acclaim they probably deserved for various reasons. Even muscle cars had their own undervalued and unappreciated members, so why wouldn’t family cars, supercars and sports cars have their own? Which of almost forgotten classic cars do you think we’ve completely forgotten to include?
Things might have worked out differently for the British Rootes Group’s roadster had Carroll Shelby managed to reserve the rights for it. Although Shelby stuffed the Tiger with his V8s (260ci in Tiger Mark I and 289ci in Tiger Mark II), it was Jensen Motors who got the contract to produce the car. Performance-oriented roadster was eventually produced between 1964 and 1967 in 7,083 units, 6,450 of which were Mark I models. Most of surviving Sunbeam Tigers are modified to some extent which makes original models quite expensive for today’s standards. Well, maybe it’s not as unappreciated as some, but it’s largely forgotten anyway.
Considering it’s been around for almost 35 years, Mercury Cougar is one largely unappreciated and forgotten classic car. Although discontinued in 2002, Cougar’s best years were already far behind it by that time. First two generations when it was still related to Mustang were its golden years. You could have had it with everything from 289ci Windsor V8 to 429ci Cobra Jet V8 at the time. And let us not forget the blacked out Eliminator performance package. All in all, Cougar was one of the most interesting classic cars of its era.
In a sea of successful and prominent Porsches throughout history there’s bound to be at least one that’s underrated. Well, our choice falls on 914/6 which is almost forgotten now in the era of 911s, 918s, Boxters, Caymans, and even Cayennes and Panameras. Targa coupe sports car was powered by 2.0L flat-six making only slightly north of 100 horsepower. It might be anemic for Porsche’s current standards, but those were late sixties to mid seventies after all. Europeans then lagged a little bit behind American muscle standards.
There’s only one thing Ford Bronco always lacked and those are two additional doors. People down at Blue Oval simply didn’t want to intrude on Chevy Suburban’s territory and never offered a legit 4-door full-size SUV until the Expedition succeeded the Bronco. Fourth and fifth generation Bronco did manage to find a way, though. That way was called Centurion Classic and it was produced by Centurion Vehicles who specialized in Ford’s trucks. They basically used F-150 and F-350 chassis, and Bronco panels. C-150 and C-350 were the results of this obvious merger, and the results were astonishing. C-150 Centurion was powered by 5.0L and 5.8L gasoline V8 engines, while larger C-350 version came with 7.3L diesel and 7.5L petrol V8s. Although Bronco was survived by the Expedition, Centurion – as large as it was – is more closely related to Excursion.
Ferrari Dino 308 GT4
Even Ferrari wasn’t immune to general population back in the day, hence they tried to offer more affordable cars under the Dino badge. That practice lasted from 1968 to 1976, and they offered three models during that time – last one being the 308. Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 was 2+2 seater and the first Ferrari with V8 engine which generated 250 horsepower. After 1976, it finally switched from Dino to under Ferrari’s own wing which is probably the main reason you don’t remember it. Another is Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS which came with only two seats, updated look, and generally overshadowed the poor Dino.
Initially a trim package for Catalina in ’64, Pontiac 2+2 became a nameplate of its own between 1965 and 1967. European-inspired 2+2 was available in 2-door hardtop coupe and convertible forms. It differed from the Catalina by offering bucket seats, different center console, and different exterior panels. While trim option came with either 389ci or 421ci V8s in ’64, independent 2+2 only offered 421ci or 428ci Rochester V8s capable of producing up to 376 horsepower. Very few people still mention Pontiac 2+2 today even though it was one of the finest classic cars during its short lifespan.
Although Studebaker always remained in the shadow of the “Big Three”, they weren’t as obscure as people would think them today. That’s mostly thanks to Avanti which is one of the classic cars which will always hold that special spot in car enthusiast’s minds. Studebaker Lark and more powerful Super Lark are almost forgotten, on the other hand. Just like the Studebaker badge. Compact car was produced between 1959 and 1966 when the company finally went under. It came in all imaginable body layouts of the time, and offered wide range of powertrains which made it one of the most versatile American cars. Sadly, it obviously wasn’t enough.
The original Fairlady wasn’t the first Z car. It was Datsun Sports which was produced between 1959 and 1970. There were five distinctive models produced during that time: Sports 1,000, 1,200, 1,500, 1,600, and 2,000. Needless to say, their nomenclature is reminiscent of their powertrain displacement. Compact roadsters all came with 4-cylinder engines and were fun to drive, especially in convertible form. They were also affordable and reliable, but Nissan’s Z cars raised all that to entirely new level later on, effectively sending Datsun Sports into near obscurity.
Maverick was born as an experiment in 1970, few years after pony muscle cars first appeared. That pretty much doomed it straightaway, but Ford still wanted to see what they can do with other platforms they had at their disposal. Mavericks usually came with base anemic engines and low base prices, but there was always an option to configure them differently. Strongest models came with 302ci V8s with as much as 210 horsepower. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was just fine for pragmatic, affordable compact sedan. Maverick was discontinued in 1977 (later in South and Central America), and it almost fell into oblivion after.
Produced in two rather short stints, Chevrolet Kingswood never managed to pique enough interest among sedan-spoiled domestic buyers. Station wagons might not be as interesting as sedans – that’s true – but Kingswood certainly didn’t lack power to compete with them. Especially in second generation produced between ’69 and ’72. That’s when you were able to stuff one with 454ci V8 Chevy big-block. Although definitely overlooked, Kingswood was one sleek wagon, especially with optional wooden exterior panels.
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