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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.