Every consumer knows that every automotive manufacturer has its hits and misses. The swirling world of options available on the new and used market reveals strange patterns of popularity, as design, engineering, and marketing all influence public perception. The wide range of feedback in the form of current and past sales make it very difficult for any one brand to truly know that a certain one of their cars will be a sales success, or an outright flop.
Some cars become instant classics, while other immediately fall off the map. Sometimes even certain trim levels and specifications on otherwise successful cars get left behind – after all, the truest measure for manufacturers is whether their cars are selling off the lot. Style, performance, and build quality all factor into the consumer’s preference, as do brand loyalty, reliability, and efficiency.
But because there are hundreds of models of cars built around the world, as well as plenty of misleading information available from dealers, from friends, and on the internet, consumers don’t always make the right decision when buying cars, either new or used. The sad fact is that some of the world’s best cars get passed right over, which then means that manufacturers take that perceived failure into consideration during the development of future models.
Over the century since automobiles became a mainstay in almost everyone’s lives, a wide range of cars have slipped through the cracks – but that also means plenty of amazing options exist on the secondhand market for the savvy buyer to swoop in and pick up at various different price points based on quality and condition. Keep scrolling for 25 cars that are available now, for whatever reason, at prices less than they should be worth.
25 AUDI TT MK1 ($4,000 – $5,000)
Audi’s TT concept took the world by storm when it debuted at the Frankfort Motor Show in 1995. The entire automotive industry doubted the Bauhaus inspired design would make it to production without massive changes, but three years later the TT was on dealer floors with minimal revisions. The TT is a great buy, especially in 225 hp, six speed, Quattro form. Many parts are shared with its ubiquitous platform mates, the VW Golf Mk4 and the New Beetle, while simple mods like an ECU tune and rear sway bar can greatly enhance performance. Best of all, prices are typically half to two thirds of a similar GTI, and way less than an R32.
24PORSCHE 996 TURBO ($40,000 – $50,000)
Porsche’s 996 Turbo gets a lot of criticism due to its headlight design, and some Porsche snobs even sneer at the fact that its engine is water-cooled. But don’t doubt that the 996 Turbo, even in base stock form, borders on supercar status and can be easily found under $50,000 today.
The Mezger-designed, twin-turbocharged flat six cranked out 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque when new, sending power to all four wheels.
An X50 package or later 996 Turbo S adds significantly to the price tag, though the larger turbos do make for an appealing upgrade. Best of all, the 996 Turbo rolled out of the factory with a six speed manual transmission option.
23PORSCHE 986 BOXSTER S ($6,000 – $8,000)
Most drivers on the road probably see a Porsche Boxster and think it must be a super expensive car. But in reality, the Boxster represents Porsche’s determination to produce a lower cost sports car that offers nimble handling, respectable power, and distinctive styling at an affordable price. And used 986-era Boxsters today can be found super cheap (think well under $10,000).
The best package is a Boxster S with the larger engine and six speed manual transmission, a combination hard to beat especially in twisty hills thanks to the mid-mounted layout. Buyers should do their research on the IMS issue, a cause for concern that is actually blown well out of proportion most of the time.