Bill James (yes, his name is here again) once wrote about how he didn’t like the terms overrated and underrated. His point was that there really are no official ratings for most things in life and, therefore, how can anything be underrated or overrated? OK, good point, but this post from thrillist.com is about the ten most underrated American cars, at least according to the author. Some of these cars will be familiar to those of you who read this blog.
At #10 is one of my favorites, the Cadillac Allante. From the thrillist piece: “A spiritual predecessor to the Corvette-based XLR, the Allante was somewhat ill-received because it was front-wheel drive and thus didn’t have world-crushing handling. The rest of the car was an odd mix that involved Pininfarina (the same Italian design house that’s responsible for scores of your favorite Ferraris over the years) building the bodies in Italy, flying them to Detroit, and mating a decent chassis and V8 to the car. If you’re just cruising around, it’s hard to argue against its value.” It was also ill-received because it was under-powered at first (170 HP/235 LB-FT of torque for its first two model years, 1987 and 1988) and fraught with quality issues.
I still think the Allante is a beautiful car and if you can get a later one that’s been looked after, it’s a bargain and a great entry point into the world of car collecting. Here’s a picture from autoevolution.com:
So, what was/is the #1 most underrated American car? Here’s a picture from the thrillist piece:
This is the Chevrolet Corvair and this one is supposed to be in Monza trim. The Corvair, of course, is one of the most controversial cars in US history and the car that made Ralph Nader famous, for better or for worse. (It’s a little bit of both, in my opinion.) From thrillist: “Today, the Corvair is most known as the subject of Ralph Nader’s book, Unsafe at Any Speed, wherein he argues that many people died as a result of GM cutting corners with the car’s suspension. In truth, however, the suspension setup was fundamentally the same as contemporary Porsches and Mercedes, and statistically, the car wasn’t any more dangerous than other vehicles. It had an advanced air-cooled flat six engine that was mounted in the rear. It was basically GM’s version of a Porsche for normal people, but thanks to Nader’s controversy, the car died, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was born.”
Many car “experts” argue with the claim that Nader’s book killed the Corvair. Those “experts” believe it was actually the Ford Mustang that killed the Corvair because the Mustang was more versatile. For example, the Mustang, which was released in April of 1964, was offered with many engine options, including various V-8s. It was impossible to put an 8-cylinder engine into the Corvair. (Nader’s book was published in 1965.) The story of the Corvair is quite interesting and I think the best history of the car is in Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars by Paul Ingrassia.
The Corvair is another way to get into the car hobby without taking out a second mortgage. I did a search on Hemmings of second generation Corvairs (1965-1969). I found two that look decent and were priced under $10,000. I think the second generation cars look much better than the first and had the “bugs” worked out.
What cars do you think are underrated? Do you think that the concepts of underrated and overrated are valid? By the way, I am still hoping for honest, constructive feedback about Disaffected Musings. I am very proud of this blog, but maybe I am missing something that can only be seen by someone with a different perspective.