As a rally car, the Stratos is badass, but as a road-going car, it exists only to skirt racing regulations. The rally car gets credit for winning a ton of events as a car with the engine in the back, but the Renault A110 did the same thing…before the Stratos. As a road car, it's a cool, quirky-looking ride, but one with almost no rear visibility, and almost no usefulness on the street.
2. Shelby GT500
Fact: Eleanor wasn’t originally a Shelby GT500. The original Gone in Sixty Seconds hero car was a Plain Jane Mustang with a Sportsline roof. In the mid-1960s, the Shelby Mustang did it all. It won countless races, established the Mustang as a performance car known as more than merely a “secretary’s car,” and coasted into retirement with its well-deserved legendary status locked firmly in place. That was the GT350, though. The GT500? It was a heavy cruiser with a big engine that guys used to cruise up and down the strip and show off their big, um, “engine.” It wasn't until decades after its demise that it became collectible.
3. Land Rover Defender
When they’re new, Defenders are wonderful vehicles that can go just about anywhere on Earth. When they’re not? Every Defender you’ve seen awesomely plowing through a river is likely a rusted lump of metal by now. That’s to say nothing about unreliable transmissions, and you don’t even want to think about the poor owners who may have skipped an oil change or two.
4. Ferrari 250 GTO
Giotto Bizzarrini, the 250 GTO's designer, once said, “The GTO was an excellent car, but it had a lot of little defects at the rear.” Bizzarrini went on to perfect his design, and the resulting front-mid-engined Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada was widely considered one of the best high-speed touring cars of the decade. It can hit 180 mph without batting an eyelash, yet sells for a tiny fraction of the tens of millions you'll see a 250 GTO go for today.
Tales of the Supra’s potential are what legends are made of. Chances are you used to know someone who knew someone who heard of this guy who had one pushing 1,000 hp on the stock engine block. But you didn’t know that guy yourself, and that’s the thing: The Supra always had potential. It was always about what it could be. Only a miniscule percentage of those cars lived up to the hype.
6. Toyota Prius
Some people worship the Prius as the king of green, and though in practice it rarely hits the kind of fuel mileage Toyota designed it for, this isn’t really the car’s fault. The people that choose to drive a Prius have a propensity for thinking of a car in the same light as a washing machine or a refrigerator, and the overwhelming majority don’t know, or care, to learn how to optimize their driving for fuel economy. Ultimately, they're not much better off than they would've been in an ordinary diesel.
7. Lamborghini Countach
Countach roughly translates to “holy sh*t!," which is what the head of the Bertone design house (which handled the Countach) said when he first saw the car. Sure, the looks are certainly ageless in a childhood bedroom poster kind of way. And the angles are pretty sharp. But performance-wise, did you ever see one do anything noteworthy on a race track? Didn't think so.
8. BMW E30 M3
The E30 M3—i.e. the first M3—has attained an almost mythical status as a nearly perfect car. As a so-called homologation special, the M3 is a normal 3-Series BMW that was tweaked to qualify an engine, and some suspension pieces, for various racing series. It was no doubt great, as its motorsport record is unmatched. The engine, though, had a tendency to explode in a rather costly fashion, and is very often the first thing that gets yanked when someone’s planning on actually using the car for fun. Aside from a few minor differences, then, it’s back to being just a normal 3-Series at that point.