The Lightning is not a sports car but it could hang with the best of them from the ’80s and ’90s. The Lightning needs no introduction because it introduced the world to the performance truck. This truck was designed after the success that GM had with the Chevrolet 454 SS. The 5.8 L V8 could deliver a whopping 240 HP coupled with a five-speed manual transmission. The F-150 Lightning was a monster of a truck and was initially released in limited numbers. The truck was only released in a single cab configuration in its original form.
Still, to be able to drive a supercharged Ford truck is a unique experience. The Lightning is one of the rarest pickup trucks drivers can get. You can expect to pay a pretty penny for one of these but the complete package is perhaps one of the best pure sports cars around. Not to mention the fact that the F-150 of the ’80s and ’90s is a solid platform to build on.
There were a few different SHO models during the ’90s but the latest model is perhaps the most notable one. Powered by a Yamaha V8 engine, the thought of a V8 in this generation of the Taurus might be laughable Yet the result was something that drove amazingly well. The 3.4 L V8 handled business on the track and around town. With a pair of dual exhausts, the sound was resonating. The body was also a bit smoother with enhanced lines to give the car a finished look.
Coupled with leather interior and chrome rims, this is not your grandma’s Taurus. These cars were rare and there was also an issue with reliability as it pertains to the Yamaha motor. The key is to find a 1998 SHO that has been well maintained, particularly an original owner car that you’ll be able to enjoy.
The final years of the Thunderbird were a mixture of sales successes and letdowns. As the onslaught of SUVs began to flood the market, the appetite for a large two-door coupe was minimal at best. But before the Thunderbird said its final goodbyes, the car had an interesting option, the SC. Known as the “Super Coupe,” the supercharged Thunderbird was designed to be a blast to drive. The MN12 platform which the Thunderbird is built on has a cult following because of its exceptional performance.
The 3.8-liter V-6 is a supercharged marvel of engineering that can produce a 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds. While this number might not seem all that impressive, it’s a very respectable number when you consider just how heavy a stock Thunderbird is. Overall, the Ford Thunderbird is one of the last iconic two-door coupes ever sold in the ’80s and ’90s, and the SC is going to be a collectible.
GM had a couple of unique two-door coupes on the market during the ’90s, but perhaps none got as much flack as the Monte Carlo Z34. The car, affectionately called the two-door Lumina, by some had a fairly decent run on the NASCAR circuit. On the consumer side of things, GM needed to shake up the sales, and thus the Monte Carlo Z34 was launched. With a sleek paint scheme and flowing lines, this was an aerodynamic coupe. The 3.8 L V6 was not a performance motor, but it did manage to move the Monte Carlo with authority.
The Z34 from this generation might not be the first car from the ’80s and ’90s that comes to mind. Finding one of these in clean conditions can lend a collector a decent piece of GM history. The Monte Carlo from this generation is known for a stellar NASCAR run as previously stated and the design is still handsome to this day.
There’s no doubt that Ford was having fun during the ’90s in terms of creating fun-to-drive projects from the SVT division. Another one of these projects was the second-generation Ford F-150 Lightning. This stylish-looking single cab truck was tremendously faster than the first generation. Its styling is iconic after it was featured in the original Fast & Furious movie.
The Ford F-150 Lightning had a powerful presence on the street and the track, making for a stellar pickup truck that could double as a sports car. The truck didn’t change much over its short production run, although there were subtle horsepower increases over time. The truck was available with an automatic transmission and a bench seat, but there wasn’t an extended cab version. Overall, the Ford F-150 Lightning in its second generation is a truck worth considering for any collector.
The Ford “New Edge” design scheme was seen across quite a few vehicles. The Cougar is one of the final cars to wear this new design aesthetic. The car was designed by Darrell Behmer and the goal was to attract female buyers into the showroom. Performance-wise, the car got its powerplant from the Ford Contour and it managed to perform admirably in most circumstances. There were two engine choices for the Cougar, a 2.0 L 4-cylinder, or the 2.5 L V6.
Both of them performed very well, and the optional leather interior gives the car an upscale look inside. The Mercury Cougar is sure to become a collector’s item because this was one of the last two-door Mercury vehicles ever created. The brand has since folded and the Mercuries you’ll see on the road will become lesser.
The Pontiac Fiero was one of the most underutilized and most scrutinized sports cars to come out of a GM factory. The first problem was the fact that the car had suffered from engine compartment fires early on. This created a media frenzy for GM and there was a recall on the car, but aside from this, the Fiero was an excellent car to drive. The unique look of the car had some of the aggressive stylings some Pontiac models had seen. The only direct competition for the Fierro was the Toyota MR2.
Finding a mid-engined sports car for as cheaply as you can get the Fiero is a hard thing to do. With the design elements and the capability to do an engine swap, the Pontiac Fiero is an excellent platform to build on. Not to mention that cool-looking ’80s styling that makes the Fiero reminiscent of a better time.
The Dodge Shadow was an unassuming compact car for the duration of its life, so when Carroll Shelby decided to supercharge it many in the automotive community were interested. The Shelby CSX was the Dodge Shadow but on steroids, and it had a lot going for it during the ’80s and ’90s. Power was derived from an intercooler Turbo II 2.2 L inline-four, producing 175 hp (130 kW) at 5300 rpm. The power was just right for a car that was this small, and results were exceptional when it came to performance.
The car wasn’t much to look at but, the ground effects helped give it an updated look. The CSX is perhaps one of the most unique parts of ’90s automotive culture. The distinct design and signature performance was a high point for a compact car that had these dimensions. Rarity and hot hatches are not what they used to be, but the CSX is a car that’s worth considering.
Finally, we have one of the most underrated and potentially iconic sports cars to ever grace the automotive landscape. The Dodge Spirit R/T was the fastest four-door sedan mass-produced in 1991 and 1992 according to automotive historians. The car was amazingly fast and rivaled sedans even produced to this very day. Built on the K-Car platform. the Spirit was the last bit of fun for Dodge before the cab-forward cars took over.
The Spirit R/T is a rare sedan in today’s automotive market, but you can find one from time to time. The trick is to find an original-owner model that has been well maintained. With the right care and maintenance and the fact that the K-Car platform is so universally used by Chrysler, the Spirit R/T is an easy car to build upon.