Triumph Dolomite Sprint

13 Underrated Vintage Cars

There are plenty of cars out there that get the attention they deserve. However, some are massively underrated, and enthusiasts pass them over.

This is particularly true for classic and vintage cars. Many vintage cars are often overlooked for one reason or another.

Our list contains some of the best classic cars that enthusiasts and gearheads underrate. We have selected them based on their looks, performance, and some notable features.

Lotus Elan M100

Lotus Elan M100
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Lotus Elan M100 is only an underrated car because Lotus misjudged the market it entered. But that hides the fact that this little sports car is one of the best Lotus ever produced.

It was typically lightweight, producing a car with superb handling characteristics—the best you would ever see from a sports car. The Elan M100 also had independent suspension all around, and under the hood was an exceptional Isuzu twin-cam engine with a turbocharger. Like many other Lotus cars, the Elan M100 was a great-looking machine.

Bentley Mk VI

Bentley Mk VI
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Bentley Mk VI is one of the most recognizable cars in the history of the legendary marque. It was the first post-war luxury car from Bentley and the first car from Rolls-Royce, who at the time owned the company, to have all-steel coachwork.

It was also the first complete car assembled and finished in their factory. Under the hood were a 4.3- and 4.6-liter inline-six. Bentley would provide a few higher-performance examples to become the first Bentley Continentals. Incredibly, vintage examples can sell for $20,000, which seems like a bargain for such a fantastic old car.

1965-1968 Buick LeSabre

Buick LeSabre Turbo
Image Credit: Lou Costabile / YouTube

Buick was once one of the biggest names in American automobiles. The LeSabre was a long-running part of its lineup, yet it was also the most ignored of the General Motors B bodies. 

The LeSabre, however, had some unique features that separated it from cheaper siblings, such as the Chevrolet Impala. LeSabre interiors were very ornate and luxurious, and the car provided the comfort you would want on a long drive. Power was plentiful, too, with the 300 ci 4.9-liter and 340 ci 5.6-liter V8s available under the hood. Both provided plenty of torque at the low end for a smooth driving experience.

1967-1969 Ford Thunderbird

1968 Ford Thunderbird
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The 1967-1969 Ford Thunderbird is undoubtedly an underappreciated classic. It marked a significant departure from the more conservative previous generation, as Ford shoehorned in its 390 ci 6.4-liter and 429 ci 7.4-liter V8s into the Thunderbird.

The styling also saw a shake-up. Ford gave the Thunrderbid a large jet-intake style grille that looked like it belonged to a jet fighter. It also had sleek Coke bottle body lines, and the move to body-on-frame construction eliminated the vibrations found with the unibody design.

1980 Porsche 924 Turbo

1980 Porsche 924 Turbo
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Forgotten amidst the glory of the 944 Turbo is just how good the 924 Turbo was. Porsche created it to bridge the gap between the 911 SC and the regular 924. Four vents and a unilateral NACA air opening on the right side of the hood provided extra cooling for the turbo.

The revisions also separated the 924 Turbo from the regular model. Under the hood was a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine, producing 170 hp, which increased to 177 hp in the 1981 model year. Other exterior changes included the spoke design, aluminum wheels, and the black spoiler at the rear.

1961 Volvo P1800

1961 Volvo P1800
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

It is easy to forget just how good the classic Volvos were. Volvo produced the P1800 from 1961 to 1972, giving the stunning Coupe a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 100 hp. This increased to 120 hp, and in 1968, Volvo added a 2.0-liter engine to the lineup, producing 118 hp.

The P1800 appeared in “The Saint,” starring Roger Moore, which helped to increase its popularity. Volvo also produced a shooting brake, the P1800 ES, and the design of both remains one of the best from the Swedish manufacturer. It was punchy, comfortable, and safe, as all Volvos are.

1933 Plymouth Coupe

1933 Plymouth Coupe
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The 1933 Plymouth Coupe came when the parent company, the Chrysler Corporation, struggled. These struggles came after America started to climb out of the Great Depression, and the company spent millions of dollars restyling some of its Plymouth models.

The result was the 1933 Plymouth series, of which the Coupe was among the best. The 1933 Coupe boasted an aggressive and bold design, with a new and powerful inline-six engine under the hood. The 1993 Plymouths were very well built, making them one of the best classic cars currently available on the used car market. Unique features included the suicide doors on five-window models.

Reliant Scimitar GTE

Reliant Scimitar GTE
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

British manufacturer Reliant is best known for producing the three-wheeled Robin. But the gorgeous little Scimitar GTE is one of its best and arguably best products. The GTE was the sports estate version of the Scimitar, available in SE5 and SE5A forms.

Under the hood sat a 3.0-liter Ford Essex V6 engine, providing a top speed to the GTE of over 120 mph. The Essex V6 produced 138 hp, and the car’s innovative design proved very popular in some quarters. It was also practical thanks to its luggage space, which increased thanks to the individual folding seats, and the Scimitar GTE was a joy to drive.

Jensen Interceptor

1971 Jensen Interceptor MkII (US)
Image Credit: Mr.choppers/WikiCommons.

The Jensen Interceptor is sometimes forgotten amongst the great sports cars of the 1960s and 1970s. Yet the Interceptor was a spectacularly good car; its only downside was that it was unfavorably compared to more expensive offerings such as the Jaguar E-Type.

However, the introduction of the Interceptor saw a significant increase in sales for Jensen, and its use of the older C-V8 style chassis kept things simple and easy to build. The Interceptor also had enormous V8 power under the hood, ranging from the 360 ci 5.9-liter small block LA V8 to the massive 440 ci 7.2-liter high-deck big block V8 from 1971 to 1976.

Triumph Dolomite Sprint

Triumph Dolomite Sprint
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The little Dolomite Sprint was one of the rare occasions on which British Leyland got it right. The Spring was Triumph’s answer to the BMW 2002, creating a higher-powered Dolomite with an improved 16-valve 2.0-liter slant-four under the hood.

Initially, the car was to have the name Dolomite 135 based on its 135-hp engine. However, tests revealed that the engine could produce up to 150 hp, hence the name change to Dolomite Sprint. Triumph claimed that the Dolomite Sprint was the world’s first mass-produced multi-valve car; the car was in production from 1973 to 1980. Today, it is a highly regarded British classic.

1974-1978 AMC Matador Coupe

1976 AMC Matador coupe cocoa
Image Credit: CZmarlin/WikiCommons.

It is easy to forget how good the AMC Matador Coupe could be. This is despite the fact it starred in the 1974 James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun. That worked, as the Matador Coupe sold very well in 1974.

Sales dropped due to rising fuel prices, detracting from an excellent muscle car. The Matador Coupe had aggressive fastback styling, giving the appearance of power and speed. The fuel crisis of the 1970s did sadly overshadow the Matador, but it is one of the best American cars of that challenging decade. It is undoubtedly a classic car worth considering.

1972 Fiat X1/9

1972 Fiat X1/9
Image Credit: Rosko/Pinterest.

There is no denying that the Fiat X1/9 is a striking-looking car. That is thanks to the design coming from legendary coachbuilder Bertone. Fiat manufactured the vehicle between 1972 and 1982, with Bertone manufacturing it for the last few years until 1989.

The X1/9 is becoming incredibly scarce in 2024, pushing values up—sometimes as high as $20,000+. Under the hood, you will find a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine with 75 hp. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is enough to push this small sports car to a top speed of 106 mph. The X1/9 is a fun, nipply little car to drive and is massively underrated.

1981 Volkswagen Scirocco Mk II

1981 Volkswagen Scirocco Mk II
Image Credit: Flickr.

Classic Volkswagen Sciroccos are some of the best-looking cars on the planet. Volkswagen introduced the Mk II Scirocco in 1981, a larger, more powerful evolution of its predecessor.

A variety of engines were available for the new Scirocco. Buyers chose a 1.6-liter engine with 75 hp, but the more popular choice was the 1.8-liter fuel-injected powertrain. This would provide 129 hp. The Scirocco Mk II values are rising, and Classic.com lists the top sale at $46,500. The most recent sale at the time of writing was $10,986.

Henry Kelsall

Author: Henry Kelsall

Title: Writer

Bio:

Henry has freelanced for over eight years now, mostly in automotive matters, but he has also dabbled in other forms of writing too. He has a lot of love for Japanese classics and American muscle cars, in particular the Honda NSX and first-generation Ford Mustang. When not writing, Henry is often found at classic car events or watching motorsports at home, but he also has a curious passion for steam trains.

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