As strange as it sounds, there are plenty of rare cars on the roads. Some may be a once-common model that has dwindled down to a few remaining survivors. Others are orphans from now-departed companies like Mercury, Pontiac, and Saab. Others still may be expensive classics or exotic one-offs.
Plenty of classifieds for these cars will include things like “rare model,” “rare options,” or ask “when was the last time you’ve seen one of these?,” but in reality, there are quite a few new cars on dealer lots that are just as scarce.
But how could that be – if a car is still in production, is ordered straight from the factory by dealers, and comes with a warranty and full parts support from a manufacturer, can it really be rare? Aside from the obvious numbers that prove there are fewer Maserati Ghiblis out there than Honda Civics, there more than a few cars out there that have such low production numbers that they’re practically exotic. Case in point: The Toyota Camry is having a down year in 2016; Toyota has still sold over 297,000 of them through September. As for its competitor, the now moribund Chrysler 200? Just over 48,000 — thousands less than the Dodge Challenger. And there’s a long way down from there.
While there are plenty high-end luxury cars, supercars, and one-offs that could make up this list, we took a look at cars available by major manufacturers available for less than six figures, excluded new models that launched within the past few months, and came up with a surprisingly diverse group of 8 of the rarest new models you can find on dealer lots — if you’re lucky.
All sales data is courtesy of the fine folks at Good Car Bad Car.
8. Smart Fortwo
The Smart ForTwo was supposed to be the ultimate fuel-sipping city car. And while it’s fine for congested urban traffic, its cramped interior, nonexistent luggage space, and underwhelming powertrain make it a hard sell in a market full of more practical and economical small cars, hybrids, and EVs. The ForTwo got a much-needed redesign for 2016, erasing many of the frustrating quirks of the original model. Unfortunately, nobody has seemed to notice; just 4,044 have been sold this year.
7. Subaru BRZ
If there’s any car we wished we didn’t have to include on this list, it’s the BRZ. Identical to the Scion FR-S (now Toyota 86), the BRZ is a cheap, tail-happy performance car that can handle daily driving activities and the track better than almost anything else on the road. But it’s become the textbook example of an enthusiast’s car not translating to a wider audience; just 3,362 have been sold this year.
6. BMW 6-Series
We’ve loved the BMW 6 Series since the four-door Gran Coupe bowed in 2012 to augment the coupe and convertible. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t feel that way. High price tag aside (six-figures for the M- cars), the 6 Series is the most underperforming BMW model aside from the now-discontinued 4 Series. Just 2,971 buyers have taken home a coupe, convertible, or Grand Coupe in 2016.
5. Fiat 500L
Fiat has been trying to gain a foothold in the U.S., but the subcompact 500 has remained a niche car, and it remains to be seen if the handsome new 124 Spyder will catch on. It’s other offerings, the boxy 500L and 500x are faring even worse. Built in the former Yugo plant in Serbia, the 500L has been hamstrung by quality control issues. In 2016, just 2,801 have found takers.
4. Volkswagen CC
The CC is a handsome, sporty, Passat-based luxury sedan that looks (and feels) like a baby Audi A7. But it gets expensive with options, and seems to be finding a smaller audience with each passing year. So far, Volkswagen has found 2,355 takers in 2016.
3. Audi TT
When it debuted in 1998, the Audi TT was hailed as a design landmark, and proved to be incredibly popular. Two decades later, the reception has cooled considerably for Audi’s stylish coupe. Despite a great-looking design, and the upcoming 400 horsepower, 385 pound-feet of torque RS coming for 2017 (above), the TT has largely become a niche car. This year, Audi has sold 2,265 of them in the U.S. through the end of August.
2. Chevrolet SS
Enthusiasts spent years clamoring for a full-size, rear-wheel drive American performance sedan, so General Motors gave it to them in 2008 with the Pontiac G8. No one bought it. After Pontiac closed its doors in 2010, the public clamored for the car just like it, so GM reintroduced it as the Chevrolet SS, and… no one buys it. The SS has a 6.2 liter, 415 horsepower V8 that sends power to the rear wheels via a six speed manual (an auto is offered), making it an enthusiast’s dream. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be that many enthusiasts out there; Chevy has sold just 2,153 SSes in 2016.
1. Kia K900
Kia’s full-size luxury flagship is powerful, good-looking, quiet, and comfortable. It’s also struggling with finding a market. The K900 is plagued by skeptical buyers who aren’t ready to drop $60K on a Kia, and some of the stiffest competition in the world from Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Lexus. So far, just 621 people have taken home a K900 in 2016.