4. Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais 442
Ever since the original muscle car era ended in the early ’70s, Oldsmobile has tried to recapture the magic of the original 442. Behind that honored name lies a compact, front-wheel-drive Calais two-door with a highly-tuned four-cylinder engine that developed 190 HP from 2.3 liters. Today, this doesn’t sound all that powerful, but when they presented this car almost 30 years ago, 190 HP was considered powerful.
Thanks to its low weight, race-tuned suspension, and gearbox, the Calais 442 W41 could accelerate rapidly. It could even beat much bigger and more expensive cars. Unfortunately, they limited production to only 204 cars. Despite its great performance, most drivers forgot about the W41. However, it influenced other car manufacturers to present similar compact-but-powerful cars. Without this obscure Oldsmobile, there would never have been the Chevrolet Cobalt SS or Dodge Neon SRT-4.