Let’s face it, some of the cars from 20 years ago weren’t really that cool. After Y2K, there was an emergence of weird cars in the market that didn’t exactly hit home runs with most car buyers. Do you remember the Pontiac Aztek? Yeah, I rest my case.
Nonetheless, while there were some weird grapes in the bunch, some of them have grown into being a fine wine over the years. In fact, some of these cars have even become cult classics. Here is a list that MotorTrend recently put together of uncool cars from the early 2000s that are now rising in popularity.
The 2008-2010 Chevrolet HHR SS is slowly becoming a future classic
The Chevrolet HHR brought retro back by providing buyers with a functional wagon shape and four-door practicality. The base trim levels of this car were great for fuel economy and point A-to-B transportation, but the SS models were made for power.
MotorTrend reports that the HHR SS was the performance-oriented version that packed a turbocharged 2.0-liter punch. The feisty little four-cylinder engine produced 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and could be attached to either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. According to Chevrolet, this wagon could rocket to 60 mph from a standstill in a respectable 6.3 seconds. That’s not bad even by today’s standards.
It’s hard not to like the 1997-2002 Plymouth Prowler
Whether you like it or not, the Plymouth Prowler was an automotive icon in its own right. Its unique retro was polarizing, but there’s no mistaking it for anything else if you ever see one on the road. However, that would be a rare sighting considering Chrysler only sold 11,702 examples of the car.
If you are interested in buying one, then you should aim for the 1999 and newer models as those ones produced 253 hp as opposed to the 214 hp offered on older units. That power is routed through the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission. And although it may not sound impressive, that setup was able to get the car from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.
The 2002-2005 Ford Thunderbird is a newish take on an old classic
The retro resurrection of the Ford Thunderbird wasn’t quite the success that the American automaker intended it to be. The Thunderbird’s lackluster engine and cheap interior overshadowed its potential cool factor, which lead to its demise in 2005. However, there’s something fascinating about failed retro cars that the public seems to like, so the 11th-generation Thunderbird has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years.
The Lincoln LS V8 was quite the sleeper sedan
MotorTrend notes that the Lincoln LS V8 shared platforms with the Ford Thunderbird in the early 2000s. However, the main difference is that this luxury sedan housed a potent V8 engine that pumped out 252 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque that complimented the car’s “razor-sharp handling.” Overall, the Lincoln LS was quite the sleeper. And while it wasn’t popular back then, many car enthusiasts are enamored by it now.
The 2003-2006 Pontiac GTO had a lot of power under the hood
Speaking of large V8 engines, the fifth-generation Pontiac GTO didn’t do well when it came to winning over the public with its bland looks. But it did salvage some praise for its potent 6.0-liter LS2 V8 engine. That powerful mill was able to get the GTO up to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 180 mph. While the GTO’s look may not have been impressive, but they sure were deceiving.
The first-generation Honda Insight is a cult classic
The first-generation Honda Insight was the first hybrid car to hit the U.S. market back in 1999. It looked weird and drove like an appliance, but it was able to achieve over 60 mpg, which is definitely nothing to scoff at. Now, over 20 years later, the first-gen Insight is gaining back some of the popularity that it originally deserved thanks to a resurging interest in eco-friend hybrid cars.
There are plenty more early 2000s cars to choose from
This is only a shortlist of the cars that MotorTrend picked out for its list. However, these are among the most interesting early-2000s cars that you can still find in your local classifieds. They may not have been cool 20 years ago, but they sure are unique now.