The Trans AM GTA was one of the best Firebirds they made in the ’80s. But its swan song came in the early ’90s when Pontiac introduced the 1991 Trans Am GTA. The essence of the GTA package was to install a Corvette-sourced L89 engine into an F-Body chassis to create the ultimate performer.
By 1991, the GTA package had matured into a great driving and handling model. It had a restyled front and rear, as well as a cool body kit. The 5.7-liter delivered a healthy 245 HP and produced vivid performance numbers.
If you’re a ’90s kid, you probably remember the Panoz Esperante GTR-1 from racing games like Gran Turismo and Midtown Madness. This American supercar was the talk of the racing community in the late ’90s. However, despite the promising start, Panoz built only a few racing versions and one street-legal example. The technology behind the Esperante was clearly for racing purposes. They mounted the front engine towards the middle of the car for the best weight distribution.
Even though the characteristic front of the car was aerodynamically efficient, it wasn’t all that attractive. Under the hood was a Roush-built, Ford-derived V8 with over 500 HP they mated to a sequential gearbox. Panoz successfully raced the Esperante on numerous race tracks all over the world, but only built one street version.
The resurrection of the American performance car scene in the ’90s brought many interesting road cars. It also revived manufacturer racing efforts on an international scale. One of the most successful racing models in those days was the mighty Dodge Viper GTS-R. It debuted in 1995. Soon, it became one of the best GT racing cars in the world. Nobody thought that the Viper could become a sharp and nimble sports car. Its road-going version was a burly muscle machine with an enormous V10 they stuffed in the front.
When the racecar engineers developed the GTS coupe into a sharp GTS-R racing car, it could beat anything coming from Italy, Germany, or England. In its long racing career lasting over 10 years, the Dodge Viper GTS-R had over 160 victories in numerous international championships. This included several class victories on Le Mans.
The Spirit was a compact, front-wheel-drive model Dodge introduced in 1989. In its base form, it was popular with consumers since it had a modern design. It was also of good quality and had up to date features at an affordable price. However, the R/T version was far more interesting. It is a shame most people have forgotten about it, except for the most dedicated Dodge fans. Since the performance and power output of the base Spirit was nothing to write home about, Dodge decided to introduce a hot rod version. They called it the R/T to resurrect the famous moniker they used in the muscle car era.
The base 2.2-liter four-cylinder motor only produced 90 HP, so they gave it a turbo upgrade. After that, it produced an impressive 224 HP and 218 lb-ft of torque. For the 1991 model year, this was a hefty power level from an economy car. This newfound power raised performance to a whole new level. In fact, the Spirit R/T could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds, which made it enter Corvette territory in 1991. At over $17,000 it was expensive, but it offered fantastic driving dynamics and sublime performance for an economy sedan. Unfortunately, the market didn’t understand this car, so Dodge made less than 1,500 in the two years the Spirit R/T was available. Today, most people have forgotten those hot little cars. But if you find one for sale, you may want to buy it. It is an interesting cool piece of Dodge’s performance history.
The Dodge Stealth is another ’90s legend most mainstream sports car enthusiasts have forgotten, which is a shame. With its pop-up headlights, rear panorama glass, and big spoiler, the Stealth screams early-’90s car design. But there is much more about this car than contemporary nostalgia, as it is one serious driving machine.
Under the hood is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 300 HP that sends its power to all four wheels over an intelligent AWD system. To be honest, the Dodge Stealth is basically the twin brother to the Mitsubishi 3000 GT. In fact, apart from the exterior design, the two cars are identical. They even produced them on the same assembly line in Japan and then imported them to the states.
Everybody knows about the awesome, turbocharged Neon SRT4 from the early 2000s. However, that car wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the fantastic yet forgotten Neon ACR Plymouth produced for just two years in 1996 and 1997. Back in the ’90s, the Neon was one of the best compact cars America produced. Soon, the engineers at Dodge realized the chassis had the potential to be something more than just a grocery getter.
The Neon ACR was basically a race-prepared Neon with a twin-cam engine and four-wheel disc brakes. It also came with a different speedometer, a stiffer suspension, and a radio delete option. Plymouth derived the name, “ACR,” from the American Club Racer and soon, the Neon ACR was the favorite car for amateur racers on track weekends
Callaway had much success in the â80s with their version of the Corvette C4. They gave it a heavily turbocharged engine to deliver ridiculous performance numbers. However, Reeves Callaway wanted to go racing, so in the early ’90s, they unveiled the Super Speedster LM. It was the ultimate version of a race-prepared Corvette C4 with a turbocharged LT5 V8 engine with 766 HP on tap. However, this was much more than just a highly-tuned Corvette.
Best of all, the Super Speedster LM had numerous body modifications, a totally revised suspension, race brakes, and much more. These are the fast and fantastic but forgotten supercars of the ’90s. Most are obscure and rare machines you probably will never see on the street. However, if you’re lucky, you may see one of these beauties in a museum or at a car show. Limited in their numbers, these cars have quickly been forgotten.
The legendary Roadmaster name returned to the Buick lineup in 1991. After a 33-year-long hiatus, they presented a freshly styled luxurious sedan and station wagon model. The car was basically the same as other offerings from General Motors in the same class.
However, Buick engineers installed a Corvette LT1 5.7-liter V8 engine into the Roadmaster’s engine bay. The LT1 produced 300 HP in the Corvette, but in the Buick, it delivered 260 HP. That was more than enough to turn this heavy car into a proper hot rod.
The fourth-generation Mustang got its first restyling in 1999 featuring numerous upgrades in design and technology. The GT model was again one of the best muscle cars money could buy thanks to the 4.6-liter V8 engine with 260 HP.
They offered the 1999 Mustang GT with a special 35th-anniversary package. Also, it was available as a coupe or a convertible with an automatic or manual transmission.
Steve Saleen was called the Carroll Shelby of the ’80s due to his connection with the Ford Mustang, racing success, and a string of tuned Mustangs released to buyers. In 1993, he presented one of the best Fox-body cars in form of the Saleen Mustang SC.
The 5.0-liter V8 was given a supercharger and delivered mighty 325 HP. Of course, Saleen Mustang SC was equipped with bigger brakes, beefed-up transmission, new suspension, special wheels, and rubber along with characteristic body kit and exterior trim.