13 Greatest Japanese Sports and Performance Cars of the 1990’s That Were Killing it

By Vukasin Herbez
13 Greatest Japanese Sports and Performance Cars of the 1990’s That Were Killing it

Japanese car manufacturers stepped into the global car arena in the early 1960’s. In comparison to other makes or models from America or Europe, Japanese cars were small, slow and diminutive in every aspect. Kei Cars and small sedans with four-cylinder engines were the type of cars the Japanese car industry produced for the domestic market and similar Asian markets.

However, after the Japanese brands realized they needed different models for success in the American and European markets, they invested in design studios abroad. They also hired designers and engineers from America and Europe to fully comprehend the characteristics of the respective market.

During the 70’s and 80’s, Japanese car brands expanded to the whole world. They even became a force to be reckoned with in America and Europe. Their production has risen to the level of domestic manufacturers. Japanese brands established factories on American soil in to reduce costs. This also helped them deliver cars to the customers faster than before. Even though they became a key player, most of the cars they produced were low-optioned models, economy cars and trucks.

However, in the 90’s, Japanese car brands flourished. They finally gained the confidence to produce sports and luxury models to rival America’s and Europe’s finest. This list is all about the best, fastest Japanese performance cars of the 90’s. They were a special class of cars that featured an amazing variety of shapes, drivetrains, engine configurations, body styles and technology.

Most of these models are available for an affordable price and in left-hand drive form. So, if you are looking for a cool JDM classic, you can get one affordably. In the last decade of the 20th century, these Japanese performance cars have been the most intuitive segment on the global market.


  1. Toyota MR 2

Back in the mid-80’s, Toyota shocked the automotive world by introducing the MR2. It was a small mid-engine sports car with great performance. It brought superb road holding at an affordable price. In those days, people considered Toyota to be a dull manufacturer of economy models without any interesting cars for enthusiasts. The MR2 changed all that since it was totally different from other Toyota models.

It appealed to fans of spirited driving and dynamic handling. They presented the first generation MR2 in 1984. It featured 1.5-liter and 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines mounted centrally behind the driver between the cabin and rear axle. This gave this little car fantastic handling.

The second generation, which lasted into the 90’s was even better. It was more modern-looking and came with better technology and sharper handling.

The version to look for is the 1.6-liter supercharged model called the SC, or supercharger. It delivered 145 HP and 140 lb-ft of torque. Those power output figures don’t sound powerful today, but the MR2 could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just seven seconds, which is still respectable. The prices for well-preserved examples are still affordable. The MR2 is tons of fun, so if you are looking for a small, nimble sports car from Japan with sublime handling, this is it.

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