Remember Mr. Isuzu? Probably not, but he was one of the most iconic advertising spokespeople in the early nineties. There was a time when Isuzu sold cars instead of just sport utility vehicles, heck there was a time when Isuzu was part of the automotive industry period. If the impulse looks familiar that’s because it was the car that the more popular Geo Storm shared its components with. The Impulse had the makings of a great car, it was lightweight and the suspension was even tuned by Lotus.
But the car just failed to get in front of consumers and thus Isuzu let it fade into obscurity. Once the Impulse was discontinued the automaker focused on SUVs and rode the SUV boom of the nineties until the models became unpopular. A consumer outrage against SUV rollovers finally put the nail in the coffin of Isuzu for good.
The Mercedes brand has become synonymous with high-powered sedans and SUVs. But there was a time when Mercedes was a more sedate manufacturer. The C36 was one of the earliest performance sedans during the ’90s. With a turbocharged inline-six, this was a powerful and lightweight sedan.
Still, the sedan made a name for itself back in the ’90s. These C36 models are rare in today’s world and you can expect to spend a pretty penny to get your hands on one. There are very few performance sedans, especially from the ’90s, that can compete with this classic.
Up until very recently, Subaru was still making its way onto the American automotive market. The SVX was an attempt to captivate the sports car market and is often underrated. The Giorgetto Giugiaro design was way ahead of its time in the ’90s. The SVX is a rarity on the roads anymore. Performance was more than adequate for the ’90s and it also had AWD.
There’s no doubt that the SVX holds a special place in the history of sports cars, although it is often overshadowed by vehicles like the 300ZX and the 3000GT. This was a ’90s sports car that could hold its own on the track and in city streets. From its standout design to its performance, the SVX is a hidden gem.
Although most of these beautiful vehicles have been beaten and abused by now, the Lexus SC of the ’90s was a very special vehicle. The car was almost overengineered to a degree. The SC was based on the Toyota Supra. The SC400 came with a powerful V8 engine and rear-wheel-drive design. Off-the-line performance is amazing and the V8 is among one of the most reliable engines on the road.
If you can manage to find an SC300 or SC400 unscathed, you’re in for something special. The vehicle offers anything you could expect in a luxury coupe. Prices are fairly reasonable. However, many of these ’90s cars have been abused or customized to the point of no return.
Long before the SRT Jeep Cherokee hit the market, there was another performance version. The Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited shared a lot of the components with the Dakota 5.9RT. It had a powerful V8 engine and a revised suspension that gave the Cherokee a more aggressive ride. Because this was the Grand Cherokee of the ’90s, it was fully loaded.
This was one fast Jeep, achieving 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, a strong feat. These ’90s vehicles are hard to come by, but when you do find one, it’s usually been kept in good condition. The key is to find an original owner model, as this generation of the Grand Cherokee is known for its durability and reliability.
Chrysler had hundreds of vehicles on the market during the ’90s. The Stealth was a well-designed sports car with a lot of potential. The AWD design gave it a distinct edge over foreign rivals. Chrylser added little touches to the Stealth to give it a jet fighter image, and the car performed well. The aftermarket scene for the Stealth has become quite phenomenal.
While the Dodge Stealth might not be as well known as the Toyota Supras or the Nissan 300ZXs of the ‘9-s it was a comparable powerhouse. The car had a good deal of features. Dodge has not since had a sports car quite like the Stealth since the ’90s.
The Lotus Elan is a hidden jewel. It was a surprising change in the roadster segment. The car was lightweight and unlike anything else on the market in the ’90s. Lotus was known for having impeccable driving characteristics. Although the roadster wasn’t powerful on paper, it managed to perform quite well.
The short wheelbase allowed the car to zip in and out of turns with little effort. Aside from the short turning radius, the Elan was also very reliable. Repair costs were far less than other Lotus models that had come before it. The Elan was the precursor to the Lotus Elise that came later on in the ’90s.
The E34 was revolutionary in a couple ways for BMW. The car was more refined than outgoing models. With increased competition from Lexus, this was a must. A top-of-the-line straight-six gave the E34 a driving experience that still excites to this day. Very few modern luxury cars can come close to the E34 in terms of quality and drivability.
BMW has made several well-rounded sports sedans and coupes over the past few decades. But the E34 of the ’90s is close to many enthusiasts’ hearts. Its sheer power that the E34 has is at the top of the clas, not to mention the modern luxury features that make the E34 a livable sedan.
Porsche was in a bit of transition during the ’90s. The 911 Carrera RS built on an already great platform and updated it for the ’90s. The car had some updates, but for the most part, stayed to the tried-and-true formula of the ’80s. The car is still a highly sought-after collectors’ edition with good performance.
The 911 Carrera RS was available in a sports coupe and convertible. The result was a desirable car that offered a good deal of potential thanks to its exceptional design. To this day the 911 Carrera is still a highly favorable German sports car.
Bugatti had gone bankrupt during the ’90s. The Bugatti factory was one of the most elaborate automotive factories in the world and now sits vacant. The EB110 was at one point the fastest car in the world. When you think about rarity in the world of exotic cars ,the EB110 is an absolute jewel. The car was designed from the ground up to have a hand-built body and interior.
The ’90s were a special time for performance vehicles and the Bugatti EB110 was at the pinnacle. This is a car that’s constantly forgotten about but proved to be one of the most notorious sports cars on the market. Bugatti did a lot right with the design and implementation of the EB110.
You’ve probably never seen a Z1 because the car is extremely rare. The design of the roadster was unique in comparison to the other members of the BMW lineup during the ’90s. What BMW had focused on with the Z1 was a car that could tackle just about any track. While you might think that the 8-series was the pinnacle of BMW design in the ’90s, the Z1 was something even more unique.
Looking back on the Z1, there’s a lot that the car did right. The Z1 was able to tackle the track in a performance matter that very few cars can. The design was beautiful to this day and among one of the most unique beamers ever created. Aside from those attributes, the Z1 is a historic piece of ’90s BMW philosophy.
BMW was an innovator during the ’90s in terms of cutting-edge design. What you had with the M3 Lightweight was a car that could handle its own on the road or the track. The M3 was already a lightweight vehicle, but this model enhanced design. Coupled with the fact that BMW had a majority hold on the luxury car market, there was no surprise here.
The M3 Lightweight was 200 pounds lighter than the standard model. Aside from the weight reduction, BMW also added new decals to the exterior. This was a distinct feature as BMW generally steered clear of anything that would tarnish their impeccable exteriors.
14: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Tommi MÃ¤kinen Edition
The seventh-generation Lancer Evolution (August 2001 – January 2003) is the most widely-recognized variation of the car. However, the sixth generation Tommi MÃ¤kinen Edition is probably the most desired Mitsubishi on the road. The first thing that you’ll notice about this Lancer is the quintessential ’90s sports car design. Interior-wise, this Lancer offered a leather Momo steering wheel and shift knob just to name some of the features.
The red exterior color is only available in the Tommi MÃ¤kinen trim. The other exterior colors available are white, blue, black, or silver. The Lancer could also be ordered with differentiating exterior decals, one of the few cars to offer such an option. It has been said that only a few of these have been imported into the U.S. market.
The F50 is in its own league in terms of beauty. Ferrari was at the pinnacle of design during the ’90s, and the F50 was an entirely new design. The naturally aspirated V12 engine was directly bolted to the frame. Its 512 hp output was far ahead of many supercars from the same era. The precision design of the body was very smooth, down to the sculpted wing that was on the deck. The stripped-down design of the vehicle was not your average posh Ferrari.
Instead, the F50 was a street-legal track car that had all the fixings. There were only 349 F50s in production between 1995 and 1997. The unique thing about the F50 is that Ferrari would only allow customers to lease the car for two years before it could be purchased. In every way, the F50 is about as special as you can imagine.
Although Mercedes often comes off as a reserved automaker, the brand has ventured into the performance market. The standard CLK was an elegant, well-designed personal luxury coupe and convertible. But Mercedes decided to take the platform a step further with the stretched design of the CLK GTR. This was not a production vehicle but a purpose-built machine made to race in the FIA GT Championship in 1997. The car had a masterful LS600 6.0-litre V12 engine, delivering smooth power in the range of (447 kW; 600 hp) and 538 lb-ft (729 Nâ m) of torque.
The CLK GTR would compete in two rounds of the 1998 season. The CLK GTR holds the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most expensive production car ever built at the time with a price of USD $1,547,620. There were a total of 25 of these built during the initial run and the car is still among the most prized sports cars on the road.
The Escort RS Cosworth is most notable for the “whale tail” spoiler that sticks off of the back of the hatchback. If you’ve never laid eyes on this interesting hatchback, it’s because the RS Cosworth was manufactured between 1992-1996 in very limited numbers. A very small number of the total 7,145 vehicles produced have been imported legally into the United States.
The (224 bhp; 167 kW) at 6,250 rpm and 304 Nâ m; 224 lb-ft (31 kgâ m) of torque at 3,500 rpm was more than enough to propel the Escort RS Cosworth with authority. Even compared to other rally cars of the period the Escort is in its league. These cars are becoming increasingly valuable as automakers switch to the crossover.
The ’90s were an interesting time for sports cars with the SUV boom in full swing. One of the last real sports cars was the RX-7. From a design standpoint, the third-generation FD “1992-2002” was a beautifully sculpted sports car. Even by today’s standard, the RX-7 is a modern looking sports car that emphasizes design. The 1.3 L (79 cu in) twin-turbocharged 13B-REW twin-rotor is generally regarded as one of the greatest engines of all time.
Mazda made sure to create a welcoming interior that was designed to look more like a cockpit than anything. The signature popup headlights have always been a stylistic choice on the RX-7. Notable features included the hatchback design and factory alloy rims. All in all, the third-generation RX-7 is a legendary ’90s sports car.
Rev happy four-cylinder cars were a hallmark of the ’90s, and Honda specialized in them. The Integra Type-R was every bit the boy racer image that Acura intended it to be. Four-cylinder Honda sports cars are generally fun to drive and cheap to maintain. The same can be said for the Integra Type-R, which stuck to a simplistic formula.
The Integra Type-R had the highly desirable B18C5 1.8 L 4-cylinder engine. This is a highly coveted enthusiast engine that provides a high rev limit and decent reliability. Everything that made the Integra Type-R special was based around this motor. Undoubtedly, the Integra Type-R is the most distinctive Acura of the last two decades.
The 550 Maranello is a dazzling spectacle of design and performance. The 485 hp 12-cylinder engine is among one of the most well-designed engines to ever grace a Ferrari. The front-engine design coupled with rear-wheel drive gives the car an amazing blend of performance. In addition to the beautiful two-door version, there was also a roadster called the 550 Barchetta Pininfarina. This roadster was produced in very limited production numbers, around 448 to be exact.
With vented disk brakes, the 550 could stop just as fast as it could accelerate. The performance was derivative of the Ferrari manifesto and the car handle it accordingly. The interior is the quintessential Ferrari with a metal shifter and ribbed seating. With a top speed of 199 mph, the 550 Maranello is still an exciting ride to this day.
Another impressive V-12 from the ’90s was the BMW 850CSi, if you could afford the maintenance. Known as the “ultimate dream car,” the 850CSi was an impressive blend of performance and luxury. The wide-bodied coupe pretty much embodied what the BMW brand is all about. The optional 5.6L V-12 could put down a staggering 372 hp. The 8-series E31 was produced until the 1997 model year in America, with a total of 7,232 cars produced.
These cars are becoming increasingly expensive and hard to come by in the open market. But this is a car that was built for the true BMW enthusiast. In a way, the 8-series was a tad bit overengineered, which takes the car to the next level. BMW has a long history of building exceptional performance coupes and the 8-series was one of them.
Known as one of the rarest supercars of the ’90s, the XJ220 is a piece of marvel engineering. The car was designed in collaboration with Tom Walkinshaw Racing, and the concept had a 6.2 L (6,222 cc) Jaguar V12 in it. Unfortunately, due to budget restraints, the production model utilized a 3.5 L (3,498 cc) twin-turbocharged Jaguar JRV-6 V6 instead. The sheer design of the XJ220 is unlike anything else on the road, even by today’s standards.
The interior of the XJ220 is remarkably ’90s, with dual vents on each side of the driver cockpit. Rich leathers graced the interior of the two-seater, with a relatively no-nonsense design that was still comfortable. The XJ220 had relatively low production numbers, hovering around 275 (some reports say 281).
There was something different about this little roadster that separated it from the general Toyota narrative. The second generation known as the SW20 borrowed a lot of styling cues from Ferrari. The car has been called the “poor man’s Ferrari”. But don’t laugh too hard, because the MR2 is a solid sports car from the ’90s.
If you were lucky enough to get your hands on an MR2 Turbo, the turbocharged 2.0L 3S-GTE engine produced 200 bhp (203 PS; 149 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 200 lb-ft (271 Nâ m) at 3,200 rpm of torque. Although those numbers are mediocre by today’s standards when you combine it with such a small package, you still have a formidable road car.
Known as the “best Subaru ever made,” the Impreza 22B is hard to beat. The combination of the rally car design and light bodyweight made the 22B a blast to drive. The EJ22G engine was designed specifically for the 22B, producing (276 bhp; 206 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 363 Nâ m; 268 lbs-ft (37 kgâ m) at 3,200 rpm of torque. This is dubbed as one of the best engines to ever come out of a Subaru factory and has made the 22B skyrocket in value as a result.
These cars are extremely rare and have been shooting up in value. If you are in the market for a ’90s sports car, the 22B is a great investment. Along the lines of the Acura Integra Type-R price-wise, you get a lot of bang for the buck with one of these street-legal rally cars.
Extremely rare even by Porsche standards, the Porsche 911 GT2 personified the ’90s sports car. There was a Riviera Blue 911 GT2 that sold at auction for a staggering amount of $2.4 Million, quite the value for a 20-year-old sports car. For the true Porsche enthusiast, it doesn’t get much better than the 911 GT2. This generation had everything that you could want in a Porsche of this caliber.
With a curb weight of only 2,855 lbs and a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds, this is not your realtor’s Porsche. There are quite a few serious road cars driving around today and the Porsche 911 GT2 is one of them. From its beautiful design to awe-inspiring speed, the 911 GT2 is everything in one package.
The Lamborghini Diablo was an iconic piece of ’90s pop culture, more so than the outgoing Countach. The Diablo could obtain a top speed of 200 mph, which even by today’s standards is blisteringly fast. Available with either a 5.7 L V12 and a 6.0 L V12, the Diablo was well powered. The original V12 boasted 492 PS (362 kW; 485 hp) and 580 Nâ m (428 lb. ft.) of torque. The interior was well appointed and the car even had modern safety features such as anti-lock brakes.
Most people didn’t know what to make of the NSX when it was originally announced. Honda had gone from building cheap economy cars to crafting a new supercar for the world. Launched in 1990, the NSX was the first car to ever be mass-produced with an aluminum body. The styling was lead by Chief Designer Masahito Nakano and Executive Chief Engineer Shigeru Uehara. The aerodynamics were said to have been inspired by an F-16 fighter jet. The interior was no-nonsense ’90s sports car in every aspect.
The Acura NSX was produced from 1990-to-2007 and each year the car became more scarce. There was a facelift in 2002 which gave the NSX a more modern vibe as a result. The all-aluminum 3.0 L V6 engine that powered the NSX is therefore still regarded as one of the best powerplants to come out of Japan. Overall the first-generation NSX is among the best supercars ever built.