What classic car was underappreciated when new?


Did you know this coming Friday is Collector Car Appreciation Day? Well now you do, and we need to find some automobiles to truly appreciate. We could pick the usual suspects, but all vehicles are special in their own right. Very few get the recognition they deserve until decades after their debuts. Those vehicles deserve a better fate than slipping through the cracks on this special day, don’t you think?

Celebrating the life of automotive rock stars, especially heroes that made it big before they were born, has merit, but others silently live below the surface. They are in a middle ground, hoping to one day be more than just basic transportation. There’s a moment when an automobile transforms from its planned purpose into a specialized experience on its own. That moment is absolutely worth celebrating on Collector Car Appreciation Day.


While I am not sure this notion is entirely fitting for the 1968–74 Chevrolet Nova in particular, the Chevy II/Nova series wasn’t as prestigious as other cars wearing that famous bowtie emblem, and that’s truly unfair. The Nova sported stealthy style, stout suspensions, and both big- and small-block V-8s. It was a combination that made the Nova into a serious performer in sensible shoes. And it ushered the meteoritic rise of its more famous brother, the Chevrolet Camaro. Or as NovaResource.org put it:

“While many say the 1968 and later Novas were just Camaros with a trunk and seating for five, the platform was actually designed first for the Nova and then quickly introduced in 1967 as the Camaro to catch up with the Mustang. From there, the Nova and Camaro would follow a similar evolutionary path, in terms of suspension and engine availability, until the Novas demise after 1979.”

While more recent history has ushered the Nova into the same space as Chevelles, Camaros, and possibly even Corvettes (think Yenko Nova), there was far too much time when it wasn’t getting the respect it deserved. But today even the bigger bumper 1973–79 examples give the same good vibes, with a more approachable asking price. Or so it feels to yours truly, which again begs the question:

What classic car was underappreciated when new?





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    I noted comments about the usual suspects by other readers. I have always chosen unusual cars for my everyday usage and three that I would nominate based on basic design or unusual features are: 1958 Edsel, 1966 Corvair Corsa, and 1970 AMC Ambassador Coupe.

    I owned one of each of those and found them to be very satisfying to own.

    Bravo Randy Ol Jar. and congrats to Mr. Ballard, what’s not to like about a hot rod lincoln. A lot of the cars were not appreciated because of ther cost when new, keeping them out reach of the average joe. One other unappreciated car was the Jetfire Olds Cutlass. They flat out flew but like the fulie corvettes, hard to work on as the “new technology” was foreign the average person.

    Sad didn’t last long.
    I bought my 77 Nova Concours brand new from the dealer showroom in March 77, 305 V8 auto. Beautiful Brown with a tan vinyl roof. Fantastic to look at and a Blast to drive; handled well, but… my romance was over when it required a valve job before 20K and by March 80 I already had repaired significant rust through perforation in both rear fenders and wheel wheels.

    First new car I purchased was a 71 Maverick Grabber, Grabber Green, 302 with Hurst Shifter. Dealer options were Thrush Side Pipes and running lights. Often when coming to a traffic light people wanted to drag race. Little car surprised a lot of people. Kept that car for 10 years. Wish I still had it. Saw one last year at “Cruisin the Coast”. And it was Grabber Green, less the side pipes!

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

    This is an easy answer .

    ALL of them

    Remember , every high dollar collector car was once a worn out rusty junker than 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 an 1990 EFI mustang engine , a five speed from a dodge Dakota . Power steering and disc brakes , for $5,500

    Only one person came to look and they complains about the dings and dents and faded paint.

    Now that broncos are expensive , I have random strangers stopping and wanting to buy it .
    They don’t want it because they “have always wanted one “
    They want it because they think they can quick flip it for a fast Buck or for a status symbol now that they 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 .

    Remember , 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 .

    If we knew that we’d be rich .
    In rural Appalachia When I was 16 in 1980, my friends all drove late 60s muscle cars because during Carter America after the first and second Arab oil embargo , they were the cheapest cars you could buy ,

    My best friend had a 73 trans am that cost $1300
    High school girl that works as a summer lifeguard at the state park had a 69 super Bee 440 4 speed for $900

    I had a 69 Mercury cyclone cale Yarbrough edition that cost me $275

    Friend of mine sold his 69 or 70 GTO Judge 4 speed for $1,600

    When new , The Shelby mustangs didn’t cost much more than a normal mustang .
    No one knows what car is gonna spike next .
    I certainly didn’t think broncos would spike , or else I would have kept the 3 that I sold between 2003 and 2015 , running driveing , not much rust , for under $4,000 each .

    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 ’99-’02 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 2-place coupe too!

    Nowadays, and particularly with the ’01-’02 (S54 engine) versions, clean low-mile cars are going for 150% of their MSRP! The ’99-’00s aren’t doing too badly either, especially compared to their more numerous open versions (the Z3 and M Roadsters).

    Can we attach pictures here…?


    1980-81 Buick Skylark Sport Sedan – looked like (sort of, if you squinted) a Mercedes sedan of the period, had no hood ornament (rare for a Buick), front air dam, 2.8l (same as M-B 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, rusted like crazy. The interior was bullet proof, 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 4-door and no stripe. https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/UGYAAOSwEXxfOWYG/s-l400.jpg

    I don’t know why Nova’s never were that big a deal with me. Camaro’s, Chevelle’s, Corvette’s yes. Nova’s? Meh.

    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 my 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….

    What’s with the “classic car” palaver?

    Surely Hagerty’s team of wordsmiths might dredge other terms for anything out of the Kelley Blue Book than the overworked, now meaningless “Classic?”

    No one used that word in connection with automobiles until LA lawyer and Motor Trend columnist Robert J. Gottlieb coined it in 1951 for the white elephants on the back row of any big city’s used car lot available for a song because they were gas hogs and there was no source for tires. The next year, a club so named for such barges and finely wrought “fire trucks” was formed by several 20- and 30-something fellows largely in the greater NYC tri-state area.

    In 1972, a Duesenberg first owned by Greta Garbo became the first automobile to approach $100,000 at public auction. Suddenly, “Classic” pizza, Coke, “muscle” cars, Mustangs, Edsels, Pontiacs, Borgwards, Chevies, Plymouths.

    Enough already. Anyone whose car value dependent on being entitled “Classic” probably overrated, overhyped, overpriced.

    Ok. Everyone with no imagination but slim lexicon start whining.

    Thanks Ryan, he was a drag racer back in the day at 5th line speedway in sault saint marie ontario , canada and he also had a speedshop one of the first ones here

    The Svo Mustang is very under appreciated it was just way over priced new about $4000 more than the GT.The performance parts the Gt finally got were on the svo stock like 4 wheel disc brakes, 16″ wheels, 5 lug bolt pattern and it had the 85.5 had the same horse power and cornered better.

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