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Car lovers: Call them hobbyists, enthusiasts or devotees, but we all know they have their cultish side. Cars can get a cult status from being rare, iconic or just plain weird. They are loved by communities of passionate fans who appreciate them. Buy one and you’ll have a distinctive set of wheels — and a whole new group of local and online friends. Should you defect, you will always have a fanatical fan base to sell to. Here’s our list of cult vehicles on KSL Cars.
Ford Fairmont Durango
That’s not a typo. Ford commissioned a custom builder to turn Fairmont Futura coupes into a replacement for the Ranchero. There were only about 200 built, so they are very rare. While 200 of anything might mean you have to carve your own replacement parts out of wood, the Fairmont Durango shared most of its composition with the more common Fairmont Futura.
Japanese Market Cars
Some cars from the Japanese Domestic Market look like nothing else in the states, which makes them extremely popular with fans. Because of the 25-year import rule, JDMs are rare. Most of them are right-hand drive, which is cool except for two-lane passing and drive-thrus. You can search KSL Cars with the keyword JDM and get other options, including U.S. spec cars with JDM engine swaps.
Look for a Delica adventure van that has diesel all-wheel drive that seats and sleeps eight. Mitsubishi stopped making them, and stopped selling vans in the U.S. in 1990, but sold zillions all over the world so your international cult friends can help you find parts.
American Motors Corporation
America’s fourth car company, which merged into existence in the 1950s and exited in the late 1980s, has a fan base that still holds get-togethers celebrating the now orphaned Pacer, Gremlin and Javelin. Any AMC will get you into the club, like a 1967 American or a vintage Jeep. Search keyword AMC on KSL Cars.
Name a British car brand — and there’s a cult for it. British Field Day is August 28 at Liberty Park. Buy a British Racing Green MGB before then, and if you’re not inspired by your fellow Anglophiles, someone there will take it off your hands. Or try a 1962 Land Rover that looks ready to pick up Marlon Perkins and shoot tranquilizer darts at rhinos. By the way, if you’re not a pink-slip carrying member of the British Car Cult, you cannot make jokes about them dripping oil. Check out these search results for British cars.
Citroen and Peugeot left the U.S. in 1974 and 1991 respectively, but not before selling some distinctive designs. Buying a Peugeot or Citroen will get you into a clique within a cult, one that lets you speak French. Real French, not the “pardon my French” you might be tempted to use when it breaks down. Check out a 2CV and imagine all the new amis francais you’ll make for under $10,000.
This rally inspired, turbocharged sedan had a cult following before it was even for sale in the U.S. The first ones to roll across the docks in 2002 are called Bugeyes for their headlight shapes, followed by Blobeyes and finally Hawkeyes in 2006. They were built tough, fast and easy to modify. Their cult following of racers are either selling their old project WRX or looking to start a new one. It is very difficult to find one that doesn’t have aftermarket changes done to it, so look for one with swapped out parts.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Old VW Beetles and Buses have cults, but they’re so vast they’re almost mainstream. The niche Golf GTI started out in 1976 as a Golf (known as a Rabbit in the U.S.) with more power and better handling. Eight generations later it is still sold today, but the older the model you can get, the cooler you are in this cult. Here are the KSL Cars search results for a VW Golf GTI.
1991-1999 Honda Civic
In the 1960s hot rodders rebuilt 1957 Chevys into street machines. The same thing happened in the 1990s with the Honda Civic. With aftermarket parts and tuning, these econo-commuters embarrassed V8 drivers at drag strips. They were cheap to buy and ready to alter. In 2002, at least in Utah, hot rodders moved on (see WRX). Not all of these got turboed, nitroused and remapped, however, and you can find some stock versions ready to go.
This umbrella cult includes factions for new and old Land Cruisers, 4Runners and Pickups. Tenets dictate that the older your model, the higher your standing. A 1982 Pickup (the Tacoma name was not used yet) will get you instant cult cred. Or drive a 1995 4Runner with oversized tires. You can find Land Cruisers of all years and body styles on KSL Cars, but be prepared to shell out some cash. It's worth it to be revered among the Toyota faithful. KSL Cars search results for Toyota 4x4s.
If you didn't convert to any of these car cults, that's okay. There are plenty of other cars on KSL Cars to check out before you choose the right one.
About the author: Having owned everything from a DeLorean to an E46 M3 to a Toyota Land Cruiser, Jason Bell is a lifelong car enthusiast who loves sharing his passions as a teacher, writer, speaker and social media manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, questions or just to say “hi.”