According to You: Which classics were underappreciated when new?

1992 Lincoln Mark VII LSC Special Edition

We asked and you answered! Last Friday was Collector Car Appreciation Day, so we wanted examples of the breed that people don’t necessarily consider. We can all appreciate a hot Corvette, a plucky Porsche, or one of the many muscular American icons that had an instant following that only grew as time progressed. My initial suggestion of the Chevrolet Nova was well received by members of the Hagerty Community, as the compact was forced to play second fiddle to other Chevrolets in the same showroom. Your feedback went above and beyond my sample answer and covered all the bases.

Well, perhaps not every single base—but the submissions represent a good smattering of vehicles that will inspire you to think about underappreciated classics. So have a look!


1980–81 Buick Skylark Sport

1980–81 Buick Skylark Sport

Now this will get the ball rolling! Hagerty Community member @Gerald knows that GM snuck some gold into them there X-body hills, and not just in the form of the Citation X-11.

The 1980–81 Buick Skylark Sport Sedan looked like a Mercedes sedan of the period (sort of, if you squinted), and it had no hood ornament (rare for a Buick), a front air dam, the 2.8 liter (same as Mercedes-Benz’ I-6) V-6, and a four-speed transmission. I’d take it in for service and they’d have to find someone who knew how to drive a stick. Actually, not bad-looking for the period but, like all cars back then, it rusted like crazy.

The interior was bulletproof—luckily, because I discovered the passenger side floor was gone, held up only by the thick vinyl backing of the carpet. Patched it with fiberglass. Drove and handled nice for the period. Very few sold; people just didn’t associate “sport sedan” with Buick. Mine looked just like the picture except it was a four-door and wore no stripe.

1994–1998 (SN-95) Ford Mustang

1994–1998 (SN-95) Ford Mustang

@MarveH: People thought the 1994–98 SN95 Mustangs looked soft or something; I don’t know, because looks aren’t the number one thing for me. Many didn’t like the weight increase but that was from the reinforced structure over the Fox-body Mustang. (If you want any power from a Fox you have to do those reinforcements on your own anyway.) Another complaint was the 4.6 V-8—Ford left a lot of power on the table with its measly 210 hp. It doesn’t take much, however, to get even a two-valve mod motor up to some serious power.

Oldsmobile Jetfire

oldsmobile jetfire
GM Heritage

We couldn’t agree with @Frank more: It’s taken way too long for collectors to appreciate the Olds Cutlass Jetfire, which, he writes, “flat out flew, but like the Fuelie Corvettes, they were hard to work on as the ‘new technology’ was foreign to the average person.”

Lincoln Mark VII LSC

Lincoln Mark VII LSC underappreciated classic cars

Perhaps the first production hot-rod Lincoln always had a following, but it was never as popular as the song that mirrored its mission. But @John couldn’t afford the most luxuriously aggressive Fox-body Ford product until now:

I finally acquired a car that I liked when new but couldn’t afford. I worked at a dealership where I was able to “test drive” a Lincoln Mark VII LSC. Fast forward to last January and I bought a black-on-black ’92 with 38,000 miles. It is not a race car, but a nice road-trip car that both corners and drives well. They have a small but strong following, but not mainstream by any means. To drive one is to understand, and you will become a fan.

BMW M Coupe

BMW M Coupe
BMW/Daniel Kraus

@Randy: Are we talking about just American cars, GM cars (with a concession to 5.0 Mustangs)? Because on a much—much—smaller scale, I’ll mention the 1999–2002 BMW M Coupe and 2.8/3.0 non-M coupes.

Admittedly a polarizing style, built by enthusiasts for enthusiasts! The dealerships hated them for lingering so long, and many were traded to among dealerships as an add-on with a car another dealership wanted to have; they’d trade you the one you want as long as you take the second-place coupe too! Nowadays, and particularly with the 2001–02 (S54 engine) versions, clean low-mile cars are going for 150 percent of their MSRP! The 1999–2000s aren’t doing too badly either, especially compared to their more numerous open versions (the Z3 and M Roadsters).

Ford Mustang II King Cobra

Ford Mustang II King Cobra

While the Mustang II sold like hotcakes, it just never got the respect it deserved from Mustang purists. @Hooch speaks up for the black-sheep Stang: “I love a hot-hatch compact car with a V-8.”

AMC Hornet Hatchback

AMC Hornet Hatchback underappreciated classic car

While I am not sure that @Mitch is correct about the Hornet being the first hatchback on the market (1971 Vega?), there’s no doubt that this car doesn’t get enough recognition.

Underappreciated then, underappreciated now: 1973 AMC Hornet Hatchback. The very first of the hatchback trend, and the six-cylinder drivetrain was bulletproof. I drove mine 174,000+ miles with the original clutch. It finally “gave up the ghost” after the front suspension became too rusted to weld on, so my cousin pulled the engine and tranny and drove it in his Gremlin for several more years. Until that unibody rusted out. I bet that engine is probably still running somewhere!

Volvo 140/240 Series

Volvo 244s transparent underappreciated classic cars

@snailish: In North America, I vote for Volvos. I’m talking about the bricks from the late 1960s to ’80s. Sure, they had their niche cult following, yet wider appreciation wasn’t in the cards. But now you have all sorts of flavors of in the Volvo fanbase: original, LS-swapped, etc.

@Dennis: I know I loved mine, @snailish! I had a 1970 Volvo 142 in dark blue (rather than white, red, or black). I think it was just me and Corvettes that had four-wheel disc brakes as standard equipment (of the non-exotics in that era). And it even had a mechanical system to provide some antilock brake protection. I swear it saved me from rear-ending someone. I could go on . . . but as the advertisement of the time predicted, I had mine for 11 years.

Fox-body Mercury Capri

Fox-body Mercury Capri underappreciated classic cars

@Scott: I wanted a Mustang GT for my first car, however, I was responsible for insurance and fuel. Insurance made it a no-go and I was disappointed until I discovered a most unappreciated alternative—the Fox-bodied Mercury Capri with the 5.0 engine and automatic transmission. OK, the last part wasn’t great but it dropped the insurance cost down to a level I could afford. We spent many weekends searching for one between Chattanooga and Atlanta only to find a copper-colored example with TRX wheels and tires within a half mile of my parents house. Man, those TRX tires gripped the road.

My dad bought the car about a week before he told me as he was waiting on a new set of Michelins he’d ordered. I’d fill the tank with Amoco Gold (white gas as my dad called it) and add a can of 104+ octane boost. The exhaust fumes would bring tears to your eyes but good Lord, that car would fly. I wore those tires out in 24,000 miles and had to buy the next set ($400). They must have changed rubber compounds as the second set lasted much longer.

1955–57 Chevy Task Force

underappreciated classic cars

This truck brought about an interesting thread about the rise in popularity of all work trucks in recent history. Tri-Five Chevy automobiles have been in the spotlight since 1955, but when did you really see the trucks going for big bucks? More to the point:

@DUB6: Sajeev, I agree 100 percent with you on the Nova but my vote is really for a truck rather than a car. The 1955–57 Chevy 1/2 pickup was just looked upon as a work vehicle (business or home or farm) when introduced. It lived in the shadow of the Tri-Five cars for years. Still does to some extent, but due to the surging popularity of light pickups in general, they certainly qualify as “classic” and “collectible” these days. I learned how to drive in a green ’55 long-bed Stepside and thus fell for them early in life, but I don’t think they were appreciated by the masses as much when new as they are now. I see them restored and shown all the time.

@Jeff: I would say that the Cameo version was always somewhat special.

“Bullnose” Ford F-Series


@Jeepcj5: My 1985 F-250 and 1986 F-150 were underappreciated. Even though Fords are usually the best-selling truck, older/classic Ford trucks still live in the shadow of Chevy trucks. Also, my 1968 Chevelle Malibu, because it’s a four-door post sedan. When I got the car years ago, most people turned their nose up to a four-door. It seems that a lot of people are coming around to the notion that any old car is neat in its own way.

Cadillac Roadsters

@TG: Allanté, anyone? I love mine . . . take all of the lingering 1990s-era complaints off the table, and it is a great car. It’s 30 years old and the styling is not terribly far off the mark of Cadillac’s current offerings. Plenty of power, handling is a little soft but as to be expected for a luxury-oriented car. Fun to drive and turns heads everywhere I go—particularly heads of people not involved in car collecting who don’t know they are supposed to hate it.

@David: TG, I’m adding another Cadillac . . . the XLR.

@audiobycarmine: The XLR is/was always a wow car. It’s the “Waldorf-Astoria” of Corvettes.

All of them!

Patrons crowd the yard at Grimsthorpe Castle to see the Concours de l’Ordinaire underappreciated classic cars

@Justin: This is an easy answer: ALL of them! Remember, every high-dollar collector car was once a worn-out rusty junker that no one wanted. Most of them only become collector cars because they get expensive.

Most people want them because everyone else wants them, this is certainly the case with my early Broncos. Ten years ago I tried selling my ’73 Bronco, which had a 1990 EFI Mustang engine, a five-speed from a Dodge Dakota, power steering, and disc brakes, all for $5500. Only one person came to look, and they complained about the dings, dents, and faded paint.

Now that Broncos are expensive, I have random strangers stopping and wanting to buy mine. They don’t want it because they “have always wanted one,” rather because they think they can quickly flip it for a fast buck or use for a status symbol now that Broncos are expensive. Remember, some Dodge dealers converted the Super Birds and Daytona back to Chargers with the normal front end so they could sell them. And some of the Cobra race cars were given away because they couldn’t sell them. You never know what car is going to be the next one to shoot up in value.

@77GL: All of them. Cars have always been built to be disposable and that destiny came true for almost all of them.




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    Every time I see a reply of mine in an article like this, I feel a little bit like Navin R. Johnson when he sees his name in the phone book.

    Everyone wants something special but not everything is. While I likes some of these cars they were often under appreciated because they were not that great of a car to start with. The XLR was cool but the Corvette was cheaper and better. The Lincoln was Expensive to maintain and not worth much after 5 years. The Skylark was a Citation you trashed in a story not long ago.

    The Mustang not the 2 was appreciated well ands still is. The Two was nothing but a long wheel base Pinto.

    We need to keep perspective here and not put on the rose colored glasses.

    I being a Fiero owner know this well. One could say it was under appreciated but let also be honest it came up short in many areas and I am not going to deny it. We all can like and love these cars but we also need to be honest with ourselves and others. It is only fair to the car to be honest with what was wrong to be able to accept all that was right.

    Honesty in the car collector industry often gets lost.

    I get your point. But for me, the history of the Pinto for example is one of the reasons I appreciate it now. It was always meant to be a disposable economy car, and it was a crappy one at that. And because of that, I enjoy seeing survivors now. They weren’t supposed to be around this long. At the local car shows – there are always the 2 door sport versions of desirable cars and always will be. But original survivor Pintos, 4 door base model cars, etc., those are the ones that draw my attention. Sure not every car is worth restoration, but they can be worth getting running/driving and enjoying them for what they are.

    Our 1972 Pinto Runabout was the second most reliable car I’ve ever owned. Rust was its final demise at about 75,000 miles. Pulled a 4×6 U-Haul trailer from Traverse City to San Francisco, which required a lot of 3rd gear WOT. It did love to dine on 10w30 Penzoil heavily laced with STP though.

    I was a poor GI stationed in Germany, I had the pinto Party wagon with a transplanted German Capri 2.0 & a header, torture for a car guy but 0 to 30 I could take anything , getting the flash & a bump on the Autobahn from some big Benz was always exciting. The thing ran forever & never an issue , would cruse @ 90 all day. A piece of rebar sticking up in a parking lot ripped the oil pan off it, I took my plate & left it there. My X/19 was more fun

    Waxing nostalgic about the virtues of a car that died at 75k mi is about the clearest indictment I’ve read if 70’s-era American cars. Thanks.

    My son is 22 and recently bought a tatty MG Midget. He put a little money into interior and carbs and got it running decent and looking decent, and he took it to the recent car show and won 2nd in class. As we walked around all the British classics, he commented how remarkable it was that almost every car there was an orphan – no longer made or supported by a manufacturer. And yet here they are. I said no one expected a 1964 Midget to still be driven and showed in 2023. They are now something of a classic, and under appreciated perhaps, and maybe not fabulous cars in many ways, just as you say. But they sure are loved. And that is what counts in this hobby.

    I don’t agree with most of the picks, but I do agree with the Cadillac Allante. I had a 1988 for 13 years and loved it. Mine was pearl white with saddle leather interior. It was a great looking car that drove extremely well. But it had one fatal flaw. The top was a nightmare to put up. Trying to get the back to hook and pull tight was a real pain in the butt. And it leaked in the rain.

    My Dad bought a 1983 F-150 Stepside truck new in ’83. Still has it. 4.9 L straight 6. 4 speed with a super low granny gear for 1st gear. Runs great. I’m borrowing it for the Summer. It has that big bullnose front end. 106,000 original miles.

    Almost any four door or wagon was not appreciated as they were the family barge used only to haul kids around in. Most got beat to death and their big engines pulled to put in sportier two door models. Now that ‘muscle’ cars have gone into the stratosphere for price, how many enthusiasts will look for the lowly four door or base 6 cylinder car, if you can find them? I can appreciate them more now. Full size rules after dealing with so-called ‘full size’ cars of today that you can barely fit 2 people (with short legs) in the back seat. I don’t care how fast it goes. Anything pre-1980 (and a few up to about 1988) has 1000% more style than the stuff out there today.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. My personal desire has always been to own a plain full-size four-door sedan from the Sixties because such cars are so extremely rare. In early 2021, a 1964 Chevy Bel Air four-door came up for sale in the Netherlands. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s a CKD model assembled in GM’s former Continental plant in Antwerp, Belgium, and has always been owned and operated in Europe. It’s a very basic model, 230 CID Six, Powerglide, tinted windshield. That’s all. No power steering/brakes/windows/seats/door locks, no tilt steering wheel, no air conditioning etc. The car needed and continues to demand quite a bit of work because, being a family hauler, it did not receive a lot of tender loving care, but that’s okay with me. I love my Chevy because it’s stylish, solid, and probably the only one of its kind in all of Germany, which is where I live.

    Still appreciate our 73 Pontiac V8 Ventura hatchback. Never did get a tent for the back. Someday I’ll post a picture of it here somehow.

    No mention of the AMC Javelins and AMX’s … not to say I’ve ever had one, but they do look good and were proven performers on the strip & oval. The public didn’t precieve them in the way AMC had hoped.
    Another AMC product was the 4×4 “SUV” Eagle. Way ahead of it’s time.
    All were very underrated even when new.

    I was excited about the 90s retro Mustangs – until I drove one. I went with a Pontiac Grand Am and never regretted it.

    Insulting to the attractive Cadillac to even mention it in the same sentence as that ridiculous “clown shoe”. To each his/her own, though.

    Exactly! Why these stupid looking cars ever get mentioned in articles like these is beyond me. The 1st M3 roadster looked like they couldn’t figure out what to do on the back end so they just didn’t do anything but chop it off. Beamers are always soooo lauded but they’re just overpriced Mercedes stand ins.

    I had one of those Capri’s when they first came out. Mine was black with black leather and every option you could get on one. It was surprisingly fast and really fooled a lot of people including my Farmers insurance agent. He was a good friend and somehow for the longest time played games so head office of the company didn’t realize I was driving a Corvette. He called me and told me I had 2 weeks to sell the Corvette or my insurance was going out of sight price wise. Thus my chance purchase of the Capri. It was truly a surprise to everyone including me.

    Seeing the AMC Hornet hatchback brought back memories for me. I had a 74, but it was the Hornet X version, purchased used in 1976. Nice rims, tires and stripe along the side (like in the James Bond film). It had the 304 V8 and a 3 speed manual on the floor. The only car I ever got a speeding ticket in. I’ve looked around for one recently but just can’t find one and when I did see one, it was in terrible shape.

    I had a 76 with the 304 and the 3 speed. Still one of my favorites. Like you I have looked and can’t find any.
    Bet they all ended up squished at the wreckers.

    Regarding hatchbacks…the real first hatchback was the 1948 Kaiser Traveler, but AFAIK the first modern one on the US market was the Renault R16 in 1965. Typically quirky French (different wheelbase on left and right sides) but wonderful ride, lots of hauling space and front wheel drive when only Saab had a fwd car in the US market

    The BMW M coupe wasn’t a car that appealed to everybody, but I always liked it. It seemed a little more daring and aggressive than the roadster convertible version. My opinion – you don’t have to agree.

    My father bought a new Jetfire for my mother. He was a tool and die maker and the turbo really intrigued him. The problem was everything under the hood had little lead seals on them. It had a warranty and those seals meant business,keep your hands off. A year latter one showed up at a Ford dealership that he did a lot of business with. He drove it home. that evening he had the turbo apart all over his work bench. by the time he finished it would blow the doors off my mother’s stock. It even had a make shift heat exchanger on it that he made.

    Not really a brilliant observation but I had a thought. Back in first turbo days, first fuel injection, and so forth, look at what is now. Everything injected, most everything turboed. Those early attempts seem like lab experiments that took a while but worked into mainstream. I am thinking the safety warning stuff we’ve been seeing for a while now are the precursors of self driving cars. They are sort of here but all the bits still need refinement so manufacturers are plopping all sorts of stuff into their cars. In a while all that will be incorporated into self drivers.

    Talking about all those unloved ones of the classic car market that show up less and less because nobody cares to preserve them. One day they will be gone because they were parted out or scraped. I’m still staying with my Jensen Harley and have to say that it can be a very enjoyable little roadster since today we have all the parts that caused the bad reputation in the past in high quality versions.

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