Automotive history is dominated by legendary cars. On top of the undisputed icons, every country has their automotive icons, and the “best ever/most powerful/fastest ever” lists seem to grow by the day too. With all these superlatives being thrown around, there’s bound to be more than a few cars that possessed a touch of that elusive greatness but failed to deliver. Some of these cars eventually find esteem in the collector’s market, but most are unceremoniously consigned to the footnotes of history.
There’s no clear formula to what makes a car great. Styling and performance are important, but not always necessary (see: Volkswagen Beetle, Citroën 2CV). Price and accessibility are factors too, but not essential (see: every Ferrari ever made). Like most cultural phenomena, for a car to be successful, it needs to come along at just the right place and time. Since this timing is impossible to predict, many cars bring something new to the market, but the audience just isn’t there yet, proving that it rarely pays to be too far ahead of the curve in the automotive industry.
In hindsight, there are plenty of great cars that could’ve transformed the auto industry, but failed for any number of reasons. Some companies ran out of money, others just couldn’t market their cars against strong competition. From the footnotes of automotive history, here are 10 of the most underrated cars ever that just never caught on the way they should have.