With a reputation for being among the best-built cars in the world, German vehicles are highly sought after. From the cult Mercedes-Benz 500E sports sedan to the iconic Porsche 911, some models have built their own fan base. Others, however, sit on the sidelines, just waiting to be enjoyed.
There have been many automotive underdogs. Cars such as the Smart ForFour Brabus, a pocket rocket that offers a truly scintillating driving experience, but is sadly overlooked in favor of more mainstream offerings.
It’s these unsung German heroes that are worth reading and then tracking down. Often much cheaper than their rivals, they can deliver just as much thrill, but on a much tighter budget. Forgotten beauties are the cars to bet on and then reap the rewards of putting a smile on your face, these are the ten most underrated German cars. classic cars you should buy now
ten BMW 8 Series E31
Alright, so it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s still once you realize what it offers. Unlike some cars from the 90s, the BMW 8 Series E31 can still boast of being a beautiful vehicle. Sleek, stylish and sporty pop-up headlights, it’s an executive grand tourer with a stack of retro ’90s attitude.
With a choice of V8 or V12, the 8 Series offered plenty of performance. Opting for the 5.6-liter V12 yields 375 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. This sees 60mph appear on the speedometer in as little as 5.7 seconds, accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack.
9 Volkswagen thing
If ever a car lived up to its name perfectly, it’s the VW Thing. Officially designated as the 181 model, The Thing was also sold in other markets, but named Trekker, Safari and, even more impressively, Pescaccia in Italy. Its distinct look makes it one of the most bizarre cars on the planet.
Sharing its mechanics with the original Beetle, the Thing is very reliable. Adding to the original appeal are removable doors, windshield and body panels. A very basic form of transport, the aptly named Thing is simply a great form of transport.
8 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG
With a muscular, hand-built 4.3-liter engine under its hood, the C43 AMG is a bit of a sleeper. Sporting a very subtle body kit, it is easily mistaken for one of its less powerful brethren. Still, with 306 hp available, it can outrun many sports cars.
Once dropped, the C43 AMG will charge to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. Its fantastic engine never seems to run out of breath. Run it through a series of turns and the car comes to life. A really great sports sedan that can be used on a daily basis.
seven Vauxhall GT
One of the most beautiful cars ever sold by Opel, the GT was a rear-drive sports coupé. Avid drivers would choose the 1.9 liter engine with 102 hp, offering a lively performance. It is often noticed that the Opel GT looks like a small Corvette.
With very little weight to carry, the small Opel GT could hit 60 mph in 8.8 seconds and a top speed of 110 mph. Alternatively, a 1.1-liter version was also offered with a less than impressive 69 bhp. Both cars handled brilliantly and were a lot of fun.
6 Volkswagen MK1 Scirocco
Designed by Italian designer Guigario and engineered by Audi, the first generation Scirocco was awesome. When fitted with the MK1 Golf GTI engine, it also proved to be very entertaining. Fashionable and reliable, it has attracted a lot of fans.
With a 1.6 liter fuel injected engine, the Scirroco could develop 110 hp. That would see the 60mph sprint dispatched in 8.4 seconds. The handling was reported as clean. The Scirocco also proved to be a competent tool for amateur motorsport endeavours.
5 Spider NSU Wankel
The NSU Spider stands out from other vehicles with its rear-mounted rotary engine. Written by Bertone, the handsome roadster made 54bhp and would hit 60mph in a leisurely 16 seconds. Delivering calm performances, the NSU was a revelation.
The complex nature of the engine meant it was unreliable. To keep the car in good condition, regular rebuilds of the Wankel were necessary. An expensive car to buy and own led to low production figures. Rare on the road, it stands out as a niche product.
4 Porsche 924
Having been branded by Porsche-loving purists as an inferior contender, the Audi-produced 924 is getting a lot of undeserved hate. A fun sports car, the 924 delivers thrills like any other Porsche product. Offering excellent maneuverability and an affordable price.
Not known for its scintillating performance, the turbo versions are the ones to look for. Delivering 168 hp, it will hit 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. Offering plenty of performance on boost, the 924 Turbo is a lot of fun. Get one now before the prices skyrocket.
3 Audi S2 Coupe
An oft-overlooked entry in Audi’s rear catalog of performance, the S2 Coupe was a force to be reckoned with. Its 2.2-liter turbocharged engine develops 220 hp. It will hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. While gripping the tarmac like only a Quattro can.
Overshadowed by the more desirable RS2 Avant, the S2 Coupé is just as exciting to drive. With plenty of power, the S2 coupe carves its way through twisty roads with deft precision, as the 20-valve engine produces a silky-smooth rumble under load.
2 Volkswagen Beetle RSI
A beetle like no other, the RSI was a real headache. Powered by a 3.2-liter VR6 engine developing 220 hp, it is also AWD. Rumbling when the throttle is pressed, this manic beetle will hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. Find a long enough stretch of road and it will hit 150 mph flat out.
Fitted with Recaro racing seats and extra gauges, the RSI is quite the racer. The bloated body kit and huge rear wing add to its aerodynamics. Just watch the RSI like Herbie on steroids, soak up the sound and then revel in the performance and grip.
1 Mercedes-Benz SL500 (R129)
This generation of SL will never win styling awards, but what it loses in visual appeal it makes up for in cruising credibility. Approached like a luxury grand tourer, the SL500 hits the mark and delivers a fantastic driving experience.
The 5.0-liter V8 develops a respectable 322 hp, delivering 60 moh in 6.4 seconds. Easy to ride, the SL500 is extremely comfortable. Prices have dropped so much that this open-top Mercedes is a bargain.