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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    I have a 1991 F250 bricknose, and probably get more people saying they like it or thumbs up than I had expected to when I started fixing it up. And it rides like a truck because it is a truck and I am glad that I have it.

    I rented a Lincoln MK VII LSC when it was new for a road trip. A comfortable great driving car with good performance. If it wasn’t for the complexity and lack of support I’d buy a good used one now.

    The Olds Turbo Jetfire has always been a favorite of mine, but very scarce now.

    I found the comment about the 55, 56, 57 Chevy 1/2 pickups odd. A far as I know they have always been popular. They do ride like a truck with the original suspension. I bought a used 57 1/2 ton pickup Cameo model, the special model with fiberglass rear fenders. Original except for a repaint and in good shape. I’ve NEVER had a vehicle were so many women would pull up next to me and yell “I like your truck”.

    I drove a friends Hornet and was surprised what a nice ride it was.

    One car I’ll add to your list for consideration is the OHC six cylinder Sprint first generation Firebird (also in the Tempest Lemans). That OHC Pontiac six was a marvel. Turbine smooth and it liked to rev. Lighter on the front end and made the Firebird a good handler without a overly stiff suspension. Ask Jay Leno who bought one!!

    I heard of a lot of obscure cars when they were new, but never heard of a Skylark Sport – and my dad always owned Buicks, so I tended to follow them more closely than some other makes. Interesting that they built it.

    Why no love for the downsized GM C-body cars starting in 1977. I had an Olds 98 I purchased used in 1982. My smooth rider that handled unexpectedly well for a big car. The 403 motor had over 300K miles when I finally had to drive it to the boneyard in 2011 (young kids and all). Admittedly the motor was tired and never had much power to begin with, and took 20W-50 oil in its old age, but hey. That’s the only car I ever had that I felt like one with. Those B and C cars were among of the few vehicles GM did right in the 1970’s.

    I had a 84 Delta 88, had a Chevy 305 if I recall correctly. But it was a nice car….get that rolling on a highway and it moved smoothly and with a solid feel. I ordered it with what I recall was a ?… sport? Suspension. F41 option? I can’t remember what I had for breakfast but I think that’s right

    My 1st car should be on this list: a ‘63 Pontiac Tempest LeMans Convertible. Its 326V8 (actually 336cid) lived inside a 389 cast-iron block coupled to a modified PowerGlide 2-speed rear transaxle by a torque shaft – the infamous “rope drive” – that resulted in a near perfect 54/46 front-to-rear weight distribution, with a bonus being its independent rear suspension. It was heavy enough and powerful enough to make the 322 mile state roads trek between home and college in just over 5 hours.

    Bought a new V8 LeMans Convertible with the 3-speed manual (4-speed manuals only available with the 4-cyl engine). Never a problem with the “rope drive,” but couldn’t keep a rear end in it. Added a Camber Compensator to tame the swing axle rear suspension. Great fun to drive. Sold it just before the (12 mo.) warrantee ran out.

    Bought mine 10 years used. While chauffeur to 2 female classmates on the way home for spring break, the LeMans transaxle failed in a tiny VA town … right in front of a Pontiac dealer … who happened to have a ‘63 parts car on his back lot. You can’t make this stuff up! Also replaced the rear springs after hauling several full loads of campus newspapers from the printer in that massive trunk. Then there was the radiator replacement, starter solenoid issues … But it was my 1st car so it was the best car.

    The Saab 99 came to the U.S. in 1969 and had 4-wheel disc brakes, just like the Volvo. Unlike the Volvo, it also had front-wheel-drive and an emergency brake which worked on the front wheels, where most of the braking is needed.

    Saab 99 ? Too bad the 4 speed transmissions were made of balsa wood ! The BW automatics weren’t much better than the manuals. The 900 Saab was a great turbo but it was still a Saab and very few saw over 100k . I worked at a dealer…the 9000 was sad.
    I say kudos for all of the GM aluminum block 215 cid jewels including the Poncho rope drive. Forget the X cars as they were junk new and didn’t last long enough to be cool. Guy across the street bought a 3spd v8 AMC Hornet with the goofy stripe. It always worked and was totaled by a drunk driver. Trucks ? I don’t get it -especially 50’s Chevies. No love for the V6 German Crapp-y ?

    How about the fuselage-style full size Mopars from ’69-’74, particularly the Plymouth Fury? While other from-this-era full-size offerings from GM and to a lesser extent Ford are always to be found at car shows, people seem content to send the Mopars to the crusher. My ’69 Fury III weighed under 3600 pounds, so any hot Mopar engine of the era could get it down the road with authority.

    My dad bought a brand new ‘73 Plymouth Gran Fury 4-door hardtop (no “B” pillar), and I thought it was the most beautiful automobile he ever owned, especially from the rear 3/4 view w/all the windows down.

    ABSOLUTELY agree about the Fox Capri. In fact, I ordered one new from the factory in their 1st year ’79, (5 liter, 4spd OD, TRX, Ghia, Sunroof, white with black below beltline) because they looked much, much better than the Mustang. My only regret was selling it in 86 as the speedo turned back to 0 (100,000 miles.) I’d attach a pic, but I can’t 🙁

    PS: I’ll take a BMW Coupe please.

    I’m sticking with the early Nova’s. I’ve had many 63’s and 64’s and currently have a 63 SS convertible with 61K.
    Bought it in 1980, it is a true survivor. love this car

    My dad had a 63 Olds 98 with the Olds Starfire package. Very rare 394 Buckets seats, centre console with auto floor shift with the tach on the floor at the front of the console. It had every option you could think of. It was incredibly fast for a big car. I would race 57 chevy’s and many other cars of that era with hopped up engines and all sorts of others and never lost. Brake stand out of the hole they couldn’t catch me in the 1/4 mile.

    I think for the vast majority of folks(non owners) collector cars are Enjoyable because they are just Different–You don’t see them everyday– & the “OLDER” ones had more exterior Style than anything today– Things like Real Chrome or polished stainless instead of plastic– Car makers “Used” to Try to make their cars stand out with exterior styling–Now it’s the interior if at all- It’s hard to look out in the parking lot-pick out your car & be Proud of how it looks-

    My 73 Hornet Hatchback X went 153k, 25k of which was towing an RV. GREAT car. Went cross country with it.
    Had to sell it when I went to law school. Blue w/ white seats, vinyl top and racing stripe. Back seat folded down into a bed with a tent attachment to boot. Loved the car.My buddies were driving generic Japanese cars, mine got the attention. 8 cylinder.

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