10 underrated and forgotten American performance cars

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American performance cars are adored by die-hard car enthusiasts and auto collectors for their power, acceleration, visual appeal, and longevity, which are universally admired. American automakers have built a host of intriguing performance beasts over the years, including the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R, Dodge Viper, and Chevy Corvette C5.

Related: 10 Most Underrated American Muscle Cars Ever Made

Unfortunately, producing a fantastic car is not always enough, and it will often underperform in the market due to circumstances beyond the control of the company. As a result, there are a number of models that were actually exceptional but have gone unnoticed and overlooked. Here are the ten best underrated, eclipsed and forgotten American performance cars that deserve more recognition.


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2004-06 Pontiac GTO

2005 Pontiac GTO at Mecum Auctions

Via: Mecum auctions

In many ways, the fifth-generation Pontiac GTO was the most underrated performance car in recent memory. It was an incredibly fast, inexpensive, and well-built machine that, unlike the traditional GTO, handled and stopped brilliantly. However, he managed to remain unnoticed throughout his production.

2005 Pontiac GTO at Mecum Auctions

Via: Mecum auctions

While the aesthetics don’t quite match the renowned moniker with a rear-wheel-drive 6.0-liter LS2 V8 engine paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, the performance does. It has a top speed of 175 miles per hour and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds.

9
1990 Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR-1

1990 Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR-1 front

Via: Orlando Classic Cars

The Chevrolet Corvette C4 generation is often considered the worst Corvette generation. It lacks the sophisticated feel of the C5 or C6, as well as the traditional look of the C2 or C3. In fact, the 1990 Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR-1 was never considered an era of outstanding automotive design. But there’s no doubt that it radically redefined what performance meant for an American car in the first place.

Related: Here’s What Makes the Corvette C4 a Practical Sports Car

1990 Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR-1

Via: WallpaperUP

With a completely revised chassis and more streamlined styling, the Corvette C4 was the most advanced and exhilarating car of its time. In addition, the high-performance ZR-1 was fitted with a 375 horsepower twin overhead cam LT5 V8 engine, making it a formidable challenger on the world stage.

8
1986 Ford Mustang SVO

1986 Ford Mustang SVO

Via: Wallpaper Abyss

When the SVO arrived in 1986, it was arguably the smoothest, lightest and most sophisticated Mustang ever made. Those who lived through the Mustang SVO era fondly remember it because it was a lot of fun to drive and provided a brief rush of pure adrenaline. It was the best performing and most manoeuvrable Mustang of the time, with superior steering, four-wheel disc brakes, adjustable Koni shocks and better weight distribution.

1986 Ford Mustang SVO Rear

Via: Wallpaper Abyss

The SVO is still one of the most distinctive Mustangs ever made, with its aerodynamic nose and radical biplane rear spoiler. Interestingly, instead of a V8, it had a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that generated 200 horsepower, which was a lot of horsepower for such a small engine. Unfortunately, the car was deemed overly sophisticated, expensive and European by Mustang enthusiasts.

7
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

Via: Mecum auctions

There’s a tiny possibility that buying a 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP never occurred to you, but if you like speed, it should have. This performance-optimized version of the Pontiac G8 featured the Corvette’s 6.2-liter LS3 V8 engine under its vented hood that developed 361 horsepower and a zero to 60 time of 4.5 seconds, making it the Pontiac. the most powerful and efficient in years. .

Side view of the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

Via: Mecum auctions

Along with its powerful engine, this overlooked performance monster also had an aggressive stance, a sleek interior with plenty of legroom and superb handling characteristics. However, the economic downturn, coupled with a higher price tag, made it less tempting to new customers.

6
1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega

1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega

Via: Mecum auctions

Only a few car enthusiasts know this Chevrolet masterpiece, which debuted in 1975 as a limited-run, high-performance version of the Vega subcompact. It was a fast and light hatchback sports coupe designed to deliver maximum driving exhilaration behind the wheel, thanks to a collaboration with British automotive engineering company Cosworth.

Related: Here’s What Everyone Forgot About The Chevy Vega

1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega Rear

Via: Mecum auctions

Chevrolet would have dominated the small car market in the 1970s if it had built every Vega as its performance version, the Cosworth Vega. This highly collectible classic features a rugged, powerful 2.0-liter Cosworth twin-cam four-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection – a first for a Chevrolet. Despite his enticing performance, it’s a shame that he wasn’t available for longer.

5
1994-96 Chevrolet Impala SS

1996 Chevrolet Impala SS Sedan 4-Door

Via: Bring a trailer

To be fair, some people have a special place in their hearts for the seventh generation Chevrolet Impala SS. However, it isn’t crowded enough and that’s a shame, as there are still very few cars that are as fun to drive as this cult favorite from the mid-90s.

1996 Chevrolet Impala SS Sedan 4-Door

Via: Bring a trailer

This high-performance version of the Chevrolet Caprice is a blast to drive, thanks to a small-block 5.7-liter LT1 V8 engine borrowed from the Corvette C4 that develops 260 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. Plus, it comes with a sleek leather interior, huge 17-inch tires, and exclusive color options of Black, Cherry Metallic, and Dark Green.

4
1985-87 Dodge Shelby Charger

1985 Dodge Shelby Charger

Via: Mecum auctions

In the 1980s, Dodge merged two of the best-known names in the US performance market: Shelby and Charger. The Shelby Charger wasn’t a traditional performance car, thanks to its sportier aesthetic, front-wheel drive, Dodge Omni chassis and Shelby racing stripes.

1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Rear

Via: Mecum auctions

Under the hood was a turbocharged 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 175 horsepower, which was a lot of horsepower for such a light and subcompact car. Plus, it was also one of the fastest-accelerating American production cars in the late 1980s, hitting 60 mph in just under 7.5 seconds. Despite his renowned name and impressive performance, he failed to live up to his nickname and was ignored.

3
1989 Ford Taurus SHO

Via: Bring a trailer

The 1989 Ford Taurus SHO is set to go down in history as one of the best performing cars ever built in America. In reality, it is largely forgotten and overshadowed. The Taurus SHO (Super High Output) was a high-performance variant of the Taurus that stood out from the Taurus not only in its transmission and engine, but also in its appearance, which included a Mercury Sable hood, side skins, bumpers redesigned, sport seats, fog lights and tachometer at 8,000 rpm.

Related: 10 Forgotten Facts About The Ford Taurus SHO

Via: Ford Authority

This four-door sedan was fitted with a 3.0-liter V6 engine sourced from Yamaha mated to a 5-speed manual transmission that generated an impressive 220 horsepower. It was a colossus and fast at the time, with a 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 145 mph.

2
1969 Mercury Marauder X100

1969 Mercury Marauder X100

Via: Zero260 Auctions

Many people have indeed forgotten the Mercury Marauder X100, even if they knew it. It was a high performance derivative of the late ’60s of the Marauder that was certainly bold, sleek, and durable. It was a gigantic hardtop coupe with a massive big-block V8 engine, and only a handful of cars of its day could match the boldness with which it had established itself as a performance car.

1969 Mercury Marauder X100 front

Via: Zero260 Auctions

The Marauder X100’s 429 cubic inch Cobra Jet-derived engine produced 360 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, making it a new generation of formidable machines. He could sprint from zero to 60 miles an hour in 7.8 seconds. In addition to its performance, it also offered an option of double comfort seats, bucket seats, Kelsey-Hayes wheels and rear fender skirts.

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1992 Dodge Daytona IROC R / T

1992 Dodge Daytona IROC R / T

Via: newoldcars.com

The Daytona was introduced in 1984 as the spiritual successor to the Challenger, and in 1992 the Daytona received an R / T performance package that stunned the automotive world with its ultimate performance, lighter chassis, and superb handling, resulting in greater power to weight ratio. The Camaro was replaced as the official IROC (International Race of Champions) car the same year, and all drivers competed in significantly modified Daytonas.

1992 Dodge Daytona IROC R / T Rear

Via: Bring a trailer

The front-wheel drive Daytona IROC R / T featured a 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbo III engine with Lotus-designed cylinder heads and direct ignition developing 224 horsepower. Considering that other muscle cars of the time, such as the Mustang GT and Camaro Z28, produced similar power output, this was rather remarkable. Despite being monstrously powerful and alluring, this racing monster has been short-lived and overlooked, which is a travesty.


Pontiac G8 GT GXP Orange Studio front view
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