A car company takes a huge risk every time it releases a new model. They don’t know if customers will respect it or if its design will appeal to the buying public. Customers wonder if it will actually be a dependable machine. Answers to those questions only come with time and real-world driving. However, some cars somehow flew under the radar and didn’t achieve the mainstream popularity the companies hoped for when they were released.
The cars listed below did just that. We can’t exactly call them flops because all of the machines on this list are capable and well-executed models. But they only (and finally) gained popularity only after they were discontinued. Some of them are valuable classics today that simply were not very popular when they were new. They all had some interesting features or designs but needed to be more understood by the general market. Look back on these interesting, late-blooming cars right here.
Mercury Cyclone CJ
Even though the is far from the first muscle car name that pops into your head when you think of late ’60s muscle cars, this Mercury was popular back in the day. However, today it’s forgotten along with the brand itself, which was discontinued by Ford a few years ago. Along with the compact-sized and Mustang-based Cougar, Mercury had the Cyclone, an intermediate muscle car built on the Fairlane/Torino platform (via Hemmings).
The Cyclone was introduced in 1964 and stayed on the market until 1971. The best version, which is the most interesting to collectors, was the Cyclone CJ. Those two letters marked the presence of the famed 428 Cobra Jet engine, which was the first genuine street muscle engine built by Ford. With a 7.0-liter displacement and an advertised 335 HP, the Cobra Jet really produced over 400 horses in real life. The Cyclone CJ was a serious street racing contender, and this new engine significantly upped the performance. However, less than 3,500 Cyclone CJs left the factory in 1969.