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20 Popular Sports Cars Today’s Drivers Forgot Existed

Cameron EittreimOctober 13, 2021

The sports car market has changed a lot over the past three decades. The ’90s were a definitive time for sports cars, as the late 1980s and early 1990s brought us many excellent sports cars. Many of these sports cars were common, and today’s drivers forgot they existed. But with a little know-how, drivers can get a greats sports car for a fraction of the price tag.

The Chrysler Laser and the unusual 1998 Ford Taurus SHO, for instance, come to mind. Just because a sports car is old, that doesn’t mean it isn’t rewarding to drive. Check out these 20 great sports cars from decades past that today’s drivers have forgotten about for whatever reason.

Photo Credit: Motorious

20: 1998 Ford Taurus SHO

Drivers from the ’90s dreamed about cramming a V8 engine into a Taurus. Well, the designers at Ford actually did that exact thing. What we had was the Yamaha V8-powered Ford Taurus. The car had a lot going for it, but its styling ultimately killed it off (via Autoweek).

Photo Credit: Car domain

There were also reliability issues with the Yamaha V8 engine. It wasn’t the most reliable, and there was also a recall. But if today’s drivers can find a Taurus SHO, it can be a fun V8-powered car. There weren’t many of them, and the sheer novelty of a V8-powered Taurus is enough to give it some credence.

Photo Credit: Ford

19: SN-95 Ford Mustang

Known as the black sheep of the Mustang lineage, the SN-95 was a stopgap for Ford designers. They didn’t know how to replace the ever-popular Foxbody Mustang, and GM introduced a new Corvette-powered competition. Performance on the SN-95 was underwhelming, and this generation of the Mustang was loathed. There was a Cobra version later down the road, but the performance still couldn’t match the Camaro (via LMR).

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Mustang enthusiasts swear by the SN-95, but in reality, it was one of the worst Mustang models. Ford would keep it going in one form or another until the 2005 model year. There have been many failures when it came to the Mustang, but the SN-95 takes the cake. The unimaginative design and lack of true performance left this Mustang behind.

Mazda RX-7
Photo Credit: Super Street Online

18: Mazda RX-7

Perhaps one of the best sports cars of this decade, and it never gets a light shined on it. The last Mazda RX-7 is an iconic and forgotten sports car. The sleek design was far ahead of its time, and the rotary performance was legendary. There was a lot that the RX-7 did right and very little that it did wrong. Unfortunately, consumer tastes had shifted away from sports cars and automakers exited this segment (via Motor Trend).

Mazda RX-7
Photo Credit: Super Street Online

The RX-7 is often credited as one of the most beautiful driving sports cars on the road. From a design perspective, there are very few cars that can match it. The exceptional design and unique driving attributes of a rotary engine have never been replicated. Today’s drivers can still find these cars in beautiful condition, but it’s getting harder to do.

Photo Credit: Tuner

17: Eagle Talon

The Eagle brand was a brief thing at Chrysler that was sold next to Jeep models. The Talon was the stylish cousin of the Mitsubishi Eclipse and took the place of the Plymouth Laser that had come before it. What happens when you cram a turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive design together in the same package? You get a car that is both fun to drive and incredibly performance-minded on twisty roads (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

From a style perspective, the Eagle Talon had its own unique style like many rebadged cars from this era. The unique thing about the Talon was that it had the same performance that you’d expect from a much more expensive car. The AWD setup was also exclusive to the Talon model, whereas the Eclipse got the convertible option.

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16: Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

Speaking of the Eclipse convertible, we have to look back at the first model. Released at the end of the 1990s, the Eclipse Spyder was a unique-looking car. The beautiful curves and styling were far ahead of the time. The decade had just come out of the boxy era, and it was refreshing to see a car like the Eclipse Spyder. Complete with a turbocharged engine, there were very few that could perform as well as this one could (via The Auto Channel).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The Eclipse Spyder has become a rarity in the automotive world. For today’s drivers, finding one untouched is not the easiest thing to do. But if you can find a low mileage original version of the car, you should be greatly pleased. Even by today’s standards, the performance of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is much better than you’d expect.

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15: Mitsubishi 3000 GT

The Mitsubishi 3000 GT is perhaps one of the most underrated sports cars of all time. The styling was both iconic and underrated. But it was the performance that set the 3000 GT apart from the crowd. Under the hood of this modest-looking sports car is a twin-turbo-powered engine. There were very few like it, and for the price, you can’t beat it. The 3000 GT’s performance that rivals the Toyota Supra (via Car Scoops).

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There are different models of the 3000 GT that came out during its run. The rarest is the convertible model, which is highly coveted. There is also the VR4, which is equally exciting and highly sought after. Today’s drivers can find one of these for a fairly cheap price, and you’ll have performance that rivals the best that Japan has.

Photo Credit: Mecum

14: Third Generation Chevrolet Camaro

The third-generation Camaro wasn’t the fastest, and it wasn’t the best. But for most, the styling and V8 power were enough. Nowadays, the third generation is on the verge of becoming the next popular classic. The styling is quintessential ’80s with lots of boxy shapes and edges. Many of this was cleaned up as the decade turned into the 1990s, and electronic fuel injection was added (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: BAT

The Camaro will continue to be a popular model for the foreseeable future. But the third generation has become sort of forgotten in the lineage. For an excellent muscle car with decent performance, the third generation Camaro cannot be beaten. There are very few like it on the road today, and the nostalgia is evident. Today’s sports cars just don’t quite live up to this one in that regard.

Photo Credit: Vanguard Motor Sales

13: Fourth Generation Chevrolet Camaro

When the Camaro was redesigned for 1993, we were introduced to a whole new style. By this point in time, cars were moving away from the boxy styling of the past. The Camaro was in many ways an entirely new car. But the most pressing change was that there was a Corvette-derived LT1 engine under the hood. You could get Corvette power in a car that cost thousands less (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Camaro Z28

The fourth-generation Camaro was initially a sales success for GM. But as the ’90s went on, consumer taste for muscle cars started to dwindle. These cars are popular, but many have been badly beaten up. Today’s drivers can still find a clean example from time to time if they’rere willing to put the effort into it.

Photo Credit: Tuner

12: Mazda Miata

The Miata was a revolution for the Mazda brand at a time when the company was in transition. Consumers didn’t want an ultra-powerful sports car like the RX-7 anymore. But the Miata seemed to strike an agreement between cheap performance and fun. The Miata had a classic style that brought us the joy of the roadster again. The curious thing about the Miata is that the engine isn’t that powerful at all (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Mazda

But the lightweight design of the car coupled with the tremendous driving dynamics made for an excellent package. Likewise, the Miata has maintained a reasonable price tag on the used car market. Today’s drivers can find one for a fairly cheap price and have an enjoyable driving experience right out of the box.

1989 Ferrari Testarossa
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

11: Ferrari Testarossa

Ferrari changed the narrative in the 1990s, transforming into the sports car maker we have today. The Testarossa was the first of these standout sports cars. The Testarossa had impressive performance at a time when few Supercars could match it. Likewise, the styling is about as iconic and quintessential the 1990s as you can get, even being featured in video games and media from the era (via Motor Biscuit).

1989 Ferrari Testarossa
Photo Credit: Super Street Online

The Testarossa is the car that put Ferarri back on the map with the average consumer. This was the car every kid wanted to get. There aren’t many cars like the Testarossa on the road with today’s cars, which is why the value has been maintained. But in recent years, we might have forgotten that this car existed and was at one time the most popular Ferrari model.

Photo Credit: Streetside Classics

10: Porsche Boxster

The Boxster is the car that set Porsche snobs on fire in the 1990s. The mid-mounted car was everything that every other Porsche was not. Then you had the affordable price tag, and you had a recipe for brand awareness. The Boxster became an instant hit, the average consumer was pouring into Porsche dealerships. The styling of the car coupled with the unique performance made it a smash hit (via Car Buzz).

Photo Credit: Porsche

To this day, the Boxster has remained one of the most popular Porsche models ever made. Nothing else on the road rarely matches the performance. The Boxster is a car that needs no introduction as its design was excellent. Today’s drivers can still find these for a high price, and for the performance, they can’t go wrong with it.

Photo Credit: RM Sothebys

9: Porsche 928

The Porsche 928 was one of the longest-running Porsche models of all time. By the 1990s, the design was a bit exasperated and Porsche had to do some refreshing for it. The 1990s model is by far the most desirable one you can get. The edges have been smoothed, and the drivetrain and interior are fairly modern. As with any Porsche, you’ll get a rough-riding experience, but the performance more than makes up for it (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: RM Sothebys

The 928 was one of the last Porsche models to be offered with a V8 engine. The model had been released since 1977, so there are many replacement parts. Although the styling might seem dated, the driving characteristics rock. The 928 is definitely an excellent Porsche to start with or add to a collection for today’s drivers.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

8: 1991 Mercedes 300 SL

Mercedes went all-out at the turn of the 1990s with a brand-new sports car design. The 300 SL and the 500 SL were beautiful cars to look at. The interior was fairly modern, and there were plentiful luxury items to go around. Mercedes did everything right with this car, and today’s standards still consider a supercar it. The best part? Today’s drivers can find one for almost nothing and get it running well (via Motor Biscuit).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Many of these older Mercedes models have been beaten up, but if you can find one with low mileage, that’s key. The 300 SL introduced us to many of the modern Mercedes features that we have today. From the heated seats to the electronic traction control, this car had almost every option.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

7: E36 BMW 318is

The E36 BMW of the 1990s was a game changer for the brand. From the styling to the performance, everything about this beamer was better. The luxury aspects of the car made it much more reasonable to live with. Many consumers also enjoyed the compact nature, although the interior was comfortable (via Classic World).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The 318is will be one of the most popular BMW models of all time. Many were sold, and it became a common car. Some have forgotten that this BMW existed, but for a short period, it was one of the most popular. For the price and luxury characteristics, you can’t go wrong with the 318is.

Photo Credit: Ford

6: Ford Probe

It’s funny to look back on it now, but there was a time when Ford believed the Probe would replace the Mustang. The executives quickly realized that wasn’t going to be the case, however. The Probe was a decent car, especially in the 24V version. But true pony car enthusiasts are loyal to the Mustang brand and the Probe wasn’t going to change that (via Driving Line).

Ford Probe 24V
Photo Credit: Ford

There were some reliability issues with early Probe models, but this had been rectified by the 1990s. Many people have forgotten about the 1990s Probe. The car was lesser-known yet it had modern styling and decent performance for the price. Even if you aren’t a Ford person, giving the Probe a second chance might not be a bad idea.

Photo Credit: Subaru

5: Subaru SVX

In the 1990s, Subaru was far from the trendy and well-regarded company it is today. They were throwing mud at the proverbial wall to see what stuck. The SVX didn’t stick, and most drivers were confused by the looks of the car. But from an honest performance perspective, the SVX is one of the best driving cars you’ll ever experience. The all-wheel-drive motion gave the SVX a stellar driving characteristic that still can’t be matched (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Subaru

The prices for the SVX on the used market have remained steady. You get a lot of cars for the price, and the styling still looks good to this day. There were a few different SVX models, and if you can get a later one, you’ll be much happier. The SVX is sort of the start for Subaru beginning to explore the sports car market.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

4: Fourth Generation Pontiac Firebird

The final generation of the Pontiac Firebird is a relic of GM’s past. Even Jay Leno owns a 2002 model, and there is a lot to like about this car. The Corvette-powered LT1 and later the LS1 are two of the best engines GM ever made. From bulletproof performance to stellar reliability, the LS1 will be running long after the rest of the car falls apart (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Even with that being said, the Firebird had some of the most iconic stylings of any car around in addition to being one of the last cars to have pop-up headlights. We’re sorry GM won’t revive the Firebird because Pontiac is no more. The Firebird is still one of the most iconic muscle cars thatever graced the roads.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

3: Tenth Generation Ford Thunderbird

The final Ford Thunderbird, who could go wrong with this one? On top of being a rear-wheel-drive coupe, it also featured a V8 engine. The mixture made the car one of the best driving experiences of all time. The Ford Thunderbird had a lot going for it with the smooth styling and spacious interior. If you wanted a V8-powered Ford but didn’t like the SN-95 Mustang, the Thunderbird was the car to get (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Many things about the Thunderbird have made it a memorable ride. But it’s easy to forget many ’90s cars because of the bland styling. A new generation of drivers are missing out by not experiencing what this car has to offer. You can find one for a cheap price, and you’ll be delighted with the performance for the price.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

2: Eighth Generation Mercury Cougar

The final Mercury coupe ever hit the road was the cat eye-inspired Cougar. Although it didn’t have a V8 engine, this was a peppy little sports car. Many drivers forget this short period for Mercury, where the brand reinvented itself. The Cougar has modern styling that still looks good to this day (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The interior was fairly roomy, and many of the underpinnings were shared with the Mustang. The handling is also one of the best features of this car. You can find a Cougar from this generation for almost nothing. Many times, the cars are still in excellent running condition with a little work, and you can’t go wrong with the styling.

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1: C4 Chevrolet Corvette

The C4 Corvette is by far the most forgotten Corvette model of all time. This model lacked the traditional characteristics of the later models but made up for it by offering stellar performance. The styling was nothing to sneeze at, and the performance was above average. The Targa-top was an attractive option for those who didn’t want to opt for a convertible model. The C5 Corvette often overshadows the C4, but there is a lot to love there (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: GM

The C4 had many unique features that made it stand out, and you can find one for a fairly inexpensive price. Few cars have managed to create the same type of impact as the C4 Corvette in a short period. From the styling to the unique performance, the C4 is a true gem in the storied history of the Corvette line.

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