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20 Future Classics From the ’90s You Probably Forgot

Vukasin HerbezNovember 13, 2017

  1. BMW M3 E36

Built from 1992 to 1999, the E36 M3 featured a newly designed six-cylinder plant. Earlier models had a 3.0-liter engine with 291 HP. However, from 1995 until the end of production, they used the bigger 3.2-liter motor with 321 HP. Unfortunately, in America E36 M3s had only 240 HP. This was due to strict emissions regulations that crippled the otherwise powerful BMW engine.

Available as a sedan, coupe or a convertible, the E36 M3 was popular. It also introduced new standards in handling and performance. The 0 to 60 mph times were around six seconds. Thanks to the strong chassis, sharp steering and the driving dynamics were perfect.

You can find some well-maintained, accident-free M3s for around $10,000, which is a bargain compared to newer M3 and M4 prices. This is great, considering you will get one of the most legendary performance models of the 90’s destined to be a classic soon.

  1. Lincoln Navigator

The SUV craze started long before they introduced the Navigator. But, this model was so perfectly suited for this class, it became a legend of the segment. Big, luxurious, expensive, powerful and prestigious, the Navigator was all that an SUV needed to be. Besides that, the Navigator had style and attitude, yet it was equally at home in the rich suburbs and shady downtown alleys.

You could see soccer moms and gangsters driving the same model, which was interesting. Even today, the sight of an original Lincoln Navigator demands respect. When they introduced it in 1998, the Navigator was a sales hit. It also came with a long list of options, drivetrain configurations and trim packages, too.

The 4.6-liter V8 with 300 HP was enough for most tasks. Car collectors will consider the original Navigator a valuable classic of the SUV genre in the near future. Be sure to grab a well-preserved one-owner Navigator today for a low price while you still can.

  1. Toyota Supra Mk4

While eagerly waiting for the new Supras to hit showrooms, the last model and fourth generation Toyota from 1993 should be on your mind. This is one of the most iconic Japanese sports cars ever. It became legendary by appearing in many street racing movies, like Fast and Furious, as well as racing games and music videos. If you think the Supra’s popularity is based purely on media appearances, think again. This is one serious machine, especially in the turbo version.

The base model was naturally aspirated, and despite being quick, the most sought-after model is the 3.0-liter straight six twin turbo variant with 276 HP. We know that 276 HP is not much, but the engine produced somewhat more than advertised and had fantastic tuning potential. Today, it is hard to find a stock Supra. With just a few bolt-on power adders, and a bigger turbo and intake system, you can go all the way to 1,000 HP on those rear wheels.

  1. Mazda Miata

This is a little roadster with a diminutive four-cylinder engine, but Miata’s perfect balance, rear wheel drive, rev happy engines and precise handling make it a joy to drive. This is why Mazda sold over a million of them since introducing the Miata in 1990.

You can find them at an affordable price almost anywhere. Since the power output of any Miata is relatively small, you can engage in spirited driving while staying under the speed limit and out of trouble.

For those who want something more out of this little convertible, the number of aftermarket companies who offer various bolt-on kits and components is enormous. So, you can easily personalize your Miata to make it go faster and handle even better.

  1. Hummer H1

Back in the mid-80s, the U.S. Military started using High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). They affectionately named them the Humvee. This was a big, heavy military truck capable of running over anything, even landmines. Even though they strictly made and engineered the Humvee for the military, constant requests for street legal versions made them think about entering the lucrative civilian market.

Finally, in 1992, they presented the civilian Hummer H1. It looked almost the same as the military version, featuring the same technology and engine. The power came from a 6.2-liter diesel V8 with just 165 HP and loads of torque. The only real difference between military and civilian Hummers was the interior. The street legal model had a plusher interior with air conditioning, leather upholstery and a premium audio system.

The Hummer H1 was expensive and a challenge to drive because was as big as a house. This made it impractical for most drivers. However, it was extremely popular with customers who wanted something different and opulent. They didn’t pay attention to practicality and fuel economy. If you’d like to drive a beast, be sure to nab the 1992 Hummer, which will be a classic soon.

  1. Subaru SVX

Back in the early ’90s, Subaru wanted to enter the sports car market and promote its biggest assets – all-wheel drive and flat six engines. So, the company hired Italdesign to design a sleek and modern coupe.

In 1991 the SVX debuted with strange styling and complicated side window patents. But they came with sublime handling and great performance. Under the hood was a 3.3-liter flat six which propelled this rare car to 7.3 seconds 0 to 60 mph times. Only about 14,000 were sold in America until 1996.

  1. BMW 8-Series

They introduced the E31 8-Series in 1989. It was BMW’s flagship coupe with V8 and V12 power, sublime performance, exclusivity and style. It was a big step up from the old 6-Series in technology, design and power. When it was presented, it was considered one of the best models in its class.

Today, almost 30 years after the first 8-Series rolled off the assembly line, this car still looks modern and performs just as good. Never too popular or common, especially on the American market, the E31 is still under the radar of most enthusiasts. This means you should get one now while they are still affordable.

  1. VW Corrado

Today, the Volkswagen Corrado is a forgotten model. But in the early ’90s, this was the fastest Volkswagen you could buy. Although they conceived as a replacement for the popular Sirocco coupe, the Corrado was much more. Volkswagen wanted something closer to the Porsche 944 in styling and performance than another sporty looking Golf derivate.

So, the Corrado had a revised front-wheel drive platform and a special suspension and brakes. It had a new, aggressive looking exterior design and an interesting and powerful VR6 engine option. The VR6 was a high-revving 2.9-liter V6 engine they mounted to a close ratio 5-speed manual. It delivered 190 HP, which was a high number for the early ’90s when the Corrado was for sale in the U.S.

  1. Toyota MR2

The second generation of the Toyota MR2 lasted into the ’90s. It was an interesting little sports car and a true early ’90s icon with a mid-mounted engine and rear wheel drive. But the version you should look for is the 1.6-liter supercharged model they called the SC, for supercharger. It delivers 145 HP and 140 lb-ft of torque.

Those power output figures may not sound powerful today, but the MR2 could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just seven seconds. The prices for well-preserved models are still affordable and the MR2 is tons of fun to drive.

  1. Plymouth Prowler

The hot rod culture is one of the key ingredients of the American automotive landscape. However, no company ever dared to present a factory built hot rod until 1997 when Plymouth presented the Prowler. It was a retro-futuristic roadster with a V6 engine and fantastic looks.

Imagined as the follow up of the Viper, the Prowler was the hit on the show circuit and Chrysler wanted to capitalize on that. Despite initial success, the car proved to be a failure mainly due to the fact that customers expected V8 and not V6 power. If you are smitten by the interesting story of this car and the fact that Plymouth is gone, get one today.

  1. Pontiac Firebird SLP Formula Firehawk

The SLP Firehawks were interesting late muscle cars. The model first appeared in 1995, marking the start of a successful venture between GM and the Street Legal Performance Company of New Jersey. They were an outside firm that produced performance kits for Firebirds but the cars weren’t just improved base models, they were much more.

The SLP Formula Firehawk had a 5.7-liter V8 engine with 300 or 315 HP which was a lofty number for 1995. The six-speed manual version could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds, making it one of the fastest production cars in America.

The vehicles on this list run the gamut from practical and efficient to outrageous and challenging. But soon they will be on the list of classic car must-haves. If you want one of these, be sure to get one before prices skyrocket.

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