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50 Most Under Appreciated Cars of All Time


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Glad to see that this car ( Isuzu,G.M. Lotus IMPULSE ) made the list. We had three of them, they were rockets and go around the race track like you couldn't believe. 35MPG HWY and the only car I've owned or seen that could pull redline  in overdrive 137MPH in 5th gear @ 7200 rpm. All factory 1991 smog legal.

image.jpeg.f6238eb802d278dbed5a188f16d4b5b2.jpeg

 

  

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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49 minutes ago, Pfeil said:

Glad to see that this car ( Isuzu,G.M. Lotus IMPULSE ) made the list. We had three of them, they were rockets and go around the race track like you couldn't believe. 35MPG HWY and the only car I've owned or seen that could pull redline  in overdrive @ 7500 rpm. All factory 1991 smog legal.

image.jpeg.f6238eb802d278dbed5a188f16d4b5b2.jpeg

 

  

 

I lusted after the original first series Impulse.  What a beautiful design IMHO.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isuzu_Piazza

 

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Suspect most are best forgotten but were a few, Chrysler Crossfire (aka Mercedes SLK320 & 32) is a lot of fun particularly a Coupe with the 6 speed and really nice ones in the $5k-$10k range. Periodically am tempted but have enough cars.

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When I begin reading any of these best of, underrated, or worst cars ever, articles I'm more then a little skeptical. This article seems to be pretty substantive. It's at least a good place to start. I have to admit many of the cars of the last twenty years I've never heard of. Some of which I still wouldn't recognize in a parking lot.

 

Bill  

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4 hours ago, JAK said:

There is a lot of "All time" before 1950 in the car world!

 

Excellent point, JAK!  The reviewer's memory, or commonly

available research, evidently doesn't go back very far.

So his list is far from complete and full of 1980's cars.

 

If we asked an old-timer back in the 1940's about

underappreciated cars, we would get a lot of insights

into cars of the 1900-1920 era that are pretty much

forgotten today.  That's why recording history is so

important to our hobby! 

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I would guess the list was comprised by someone in their 40s or early 50s based on their choices.  I remember test driving several of the cars on the list when they were new.  Some I regret not purchasing due to my distrust of owning foreign cars and the servicing they might require later. Some of those cars were actually much more reliable that the domestic brands I chose instead.

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I feel special, at 64, I owned one for quite a while (Cosworth Vega); and attempted to buy another (MR2). 
In my late 20’s, my insurance company (Erie) thought the Toyota was a “sports car”- and they wanted a fortune for coverage. I declined and bought a first series Isuzu Trooper instead. It turned out to be a good choice- it hauled my junk to Hershey for many years and doubled as a cheap hotel room. The Cosworth was truly under appreciated but low mileage survivors are now headed for the sky. Imagine it’s 1975 and your car has dual overhead cams; electronic fuel injection; and a trick stainless steel header. All those things are standard fare now on almost every car. The cylinder head is described as a “pent roof “- it’s really an angular Hemi. The AACA museum recently had a special display of Hemi cars. By coincidence there was a Cosworth on the lower level. Someday it will move up. 

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Speaking of under appreciated, no mention of the 1984 Chrysler minivans, possibly the most forgotten trend setter of all time. Today everyone makes a minivan and a generation ago it seemed like half the cars on the road were minivans but nobody credits Chrysler for inventing it. And yes, I am aware of the VW transporter and others but nobody made a front wheel drive minivan as a substitute for the suburban station wagon before Chrysler.

 

I would also name the 1950 Rambler (later called Rambler American) for kicking off the compact car trend of the late 50s - early sixties.

 

I'm sure there are other examples that come to mind/

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I was puzzled at the time, that Chevrolet did not mass produce the Cosworth Vega engine and use it in all kinds of cars like the Vega, Monza, and in the more expensive models of front wheel drive sedans. It could have been developed into a versatile engine with many uses.

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I've heard that the Rambler's success in the recession year of 1958 (I believe Rambler was the #3 top selling brand that year) is what finally convinced the big three to start making Falcons and the like. I wonder how long AMC would have lasted  if the Rambler didn't take off like that in the late 50s.

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I jumped at the topic for the Isuzu G.M. Lotus Impulse because I had one and they were great cars. The reason I sold off was the unavailability of parts. Isuzu was getting out of U.S. car production in the U.S. and dealers were closing down. My car developed a MIL light problem that scanned to a faulty EGR control, but the EGR system checked OK. What was controlling EGR was a quick diagnosis but ISUZU NHQ didn't want to stand behind sending a ECM under warranty. I was in the industry working for a competitor ) and I new the law so they relented. It took 3 weeks to locate one. The other convincing part was in Ca. there was the ubiquitous bi annual emission inspection and the state had determined IMPULE had too many emission failures in testing, so that pushed all IMPULSES into annual emission testing. That was the end.   

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37 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I was puzzled at the time, that Chevrolet did not mass produce the Cosworth Vega engine and use it in all kinds of cars like the Vega, Monza, and in the more expensive models of front wheel drive sedans. It could have been developed into a versatile engine with many uses.

The Cosworth engines were assembled off line, in the “clean room” at Tonawanda, NY. It was a low production affair and one person assembled the complete engine and signed his name on a decal on the cam carrier cover. Chevrolet lost money in every one built. Eventually, engines such as these were moved onto the standard lines as automation and engineering improved. The Cosworth was an interesting stop along a long pathway to powerful and efficient small displacement engines.

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 Other great cars out there are on my list;

1975-79 Cadillac Seville

1966 Olds Toronado

Early C-3 Corvette

Datsun Sports especially the SRL 311 with the U20 SOHC

A stinger Yenco COPO 65-66 Corvair

1975-1981 Volkswagen Scirocco

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8 hours ago, AL1630 said:

I've heard that the Rambler's success in the recession year of 1958 (I believe Rambler was the #3 top selling brand that year) is what finally convinced the big three to start making Falcons and the like. I wonder how long AMC would have lasted  if the Rambler didn't take off like that in the late 50s.

I can't speak for the Big Three, but it had to have been the impetus for Studebaker. That company was on the ropes, and had no idea that basically using their existing bodies, sans about a foot off the front and back, would make it sell the way it did in 1959. So I guess if the B3 were not convinced by Rambler's success, Studebaker's success should have sealed the deal.

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Since the list is supposed to be for "all time,"

but the reviewer forgets many decades, I'll add

to the list:

 

---1930's Lincolns, KA and KB.  They are beautifully

styled, are Classics, yet they don't bring the money

that Packards and Cadillacs do.  Definitely overlooked!

 

---Locomobile Model 38 and 48 of the 'Teens and '20s.

People may admire them at shows, but people tend not

to think of them when speaking of that era's great cars.

They were designed to a high level of quality without

regard to price, and the final price was set afterward.

They were more expensive than Packards, and twice

the price of Cadillacs.  Also, their brakes are far better

than other cars', and were designed intentionally to be so.

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14 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Speaking of under appreciated, no mention of the 1984 Chrysler minivans, possibly the most forgotten trend setter of all time. Today everyone makes a minivan and a generation ago it seemed like half the cars on the road were minivans but nobody credits Chrysler for inventing it. And yes, I am aware of the VW transporter and others but nobody made a front wheel drive minivan as a substitute for the suburban station wagon before Chrysler.

 

I would also name the 1950 Rambler (later called Rambler American) for kicking off the compact car trend of the late 50s - early sixties.

 

I'm sure there are other examples that come to mind/

There were a number of British small vans sold in North America in the 1960's.  These included the Ford Thames, Vauxhall's Bedford line, BMC's Morris and Austin vans, Rootes Group's Commer series, and Standard-Triumph's Atlas vans.  They were both sold as passenger and cargo, and even camper versions.  

 

The newer Ford Transit Connect vans being sold here now bring back memories of these small imported vans.

 

Craig

Edited by 8E45E (see edit history)
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20 hours ago, Pfeil said:

Glad to see that this car ( Isuzu,G.M. Lotus IMPULSE ) made the list. We had three of them, they were rockets and go around the race track like you couldn't believe. 35MPG HWY and the only car I've owned or seen that could pull redline  in overdrive 137MPH in 5th gear @ 7200 rpm. All factory 1991 smog legal.

image.jpeg.f6238eb802d278dbed5a188f16d4b5b2.jpeg

 

  

I believe this Impulse (and the four door Stylus) also have the distinction of being Isuzu's last passenger cars before only concentrating on trucks and other commercial vehicles.  I know in a few markets other than North America, there were Isuzu-branded Hondas, but they are not true Isuzus like the Impulse.  

 

There was also the Geo Storm and in Canada, the Asuna Sunfire marketed at Pontiac/Buick dealers to keep an eye out for.

 

Craig

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33 minutes ago, padgett said:

And who could forget the Pontiac Firefly...

That was a Suzuki.  The Isuzu-based Pontiac sedan was the I-Mark branded as the Sunburst.  https://www.autoweek.com/car-life/classic-cars/a1818411/least-collectible-pontiac-ever/

 

https://www.autoweek.com/car-life/classic-cars/a33565568/the-rarest-pontiac-hatch-of-the-past-40-years/

 

Craig

Edited by 8E45E (see edit history)
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There is a whole class of small, light, fwd vehicles best suited as a TOAD. Firefly is one, Metro is another. Smart Car would qualify though RWD (tow backwards on a dolly).

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6 hours ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

Locomobile Model 38 and 48 of the 'Teens and '20s.

People may admire them at shows, but people tend not

to think of them when speaking of that era's great cars.

They were designed to a high level of quality without

regard to price, and the final price was set afterward.

They were more expensive than Packards, and twice

the price of Cadillacs.  Also, their brakes are far better

than other cars', and were designed intentionally to be so.

 

That's interesting. Locomobile, the early that they made the engines for, is right at the top of my list of cars I'll never be able to afford - along with an early SG RR. The only reason I'd differentiate between them is that I've worked on the SG but never had the pleasure of working on a Loco. At this point (I'm 69), I don't think I'd have the stamina to undertake another major mechanical restoration but if one did pop up in totally neglected condition I would be tempted. The ideal find would be one that someone had "dismantled for restoration" and then realized it was beyond their capacity to finish. I've no fear of a pile of parts, provided the major casting are there...I once reassembled a SG from about 30 boxes of unlabeled parts and I doubt a Loco would be more difficult. But, I'd need a garage...another thing I've yet to build!

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5 hours ago, 8E45E said:

There were a number of British small vans sold in North America in the 1960's.  These included the Ford Thames, Vauxhall's Bedford line, BMC's Morris and Austin vans, Rootes Group's Commer series, and Standard-Triumph's Atlas vans.  They were both sold as passenger and cargo, and even camper versions.  

 

The newer Ford Transit Connect vans being sold here now bring back memories of these small imported vans.

 

Craig

I am well aware that there were small vans before the Caravan. None of them were front wheel drive, and none were built as a substitute for a passenger car or station wagon and none were marketed to the general public. All were designed and built as utility or tradesman or delivery type vehicles, adapted for light bus use like the VW Kombi.

The Chrysler or Dodge Caravan was something new, and a trend setter copied by dozens of other manufacturers but never gets a mention as an innovation.

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Speaking of unsung trend setters, it was fairly well known at one time that Ford was inspired to build the Mustang by the success of the Corvair Monza,  erstwhile compact car made sporty by the addition of bucket seats, a few accessories and a mildly hopped up motor. It outsold its economy siblings even though it cost quite a bit more, and convinced Ford that the Mustang would be a popular and profitable adaptation of the Falcon. The Mustang in turn started the pony car trend picked up by every American car maker.

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13 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I am well aware that there were small vans before the Caravan. None of them were front wheel drive, and none were built as a substitute for a passenger car or station wagon and none were marketed to the general public. All were designed and built as utility or tradesman or delivery type vehicles, adapted for light bus use like the VW Kombi.

The Chrysler or Dodge Caravan was something new, and a trend setter copied by dozens of other manufacturers but never gets a mention as an innovation.

All of them offered passenger vans with at least three rows of seats and windows all around.   At the time, station wagons, which were still full-size offered 8-9 passenger seating; even more with smaller children on board. This was before safety laws requiring seat belt use and/or car seats for kids under a certain height & weight at the time, gave little incentive to buyers choose those imported minivans over a domestic station wagon.  Not to mention, the heaters in them were rather pathetic in the northern states and Canada.

 

As far as the T115, it was perfect timing on Lee Iacocca's part to unleash the concept to the public claiming it was 'all new', which it really was not.   Arguably, the only 'new' part was making it ride like a car with a comfort level which made it appealing to many.  By then, the true full-size station wagon was on its way out.

 

Craig

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Please point out the front wheel drive minivan designed and built specifically for passenger car use, and not adapted from a commercial vehicle, that predates the Caravan. I know other truck manufacturers made models with seats, but they were hardly the same thing.

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10 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Please point out the front wheel drive minivan designed and built specifically for passenger car use, and not adapted from a commercial vehicle, that predates the Caravan. I know other truck manufacturers made models with seats, but they were hardly the same thing.

Renault Espace and the Estafette, but they were never sold in North America as far as I know.

 

Craig

Edited by 8E45E (see edit history)
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a: Wasn't there a Ford Mustang show car in 1962 ? Open sports car that looks a lot like a Superbird. They were obviously thinking early hence the 63 Falcon Sprint.

b: FWD vans yes. Vans with the engine over the drive wheels, around forever.

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1 hour ago, padgett said:

a: Wasn't there a Ford Mustang show car in 1962 ? Open sports car that looks a lot like a Superbird. They were obviously thinking early hence the 63 Falcon Sprint.

b: FWD vans yes. Vans with the engine over the drive wheels, around forever.

concept show car.

1962 Ford Mustang I Roadster (14174957260).jpg

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