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Stealthy Speed: Unassuming ’90s Cars That Left Cops In The Dust

Cameron Eittreim December 1, 2023

The 1990s were a golden age for cars, a time when innovation and style came together in unexpected ways. This decade, often overlooked next to the era of iconic muscle cars or today’s high-tech vehicles, was a special period for car lovers. It introduced a range of cars that were not just about looks or new technology but also hidden power. These cars might not have looked intimidating, but they packed enough punch to outrun the police cars of their time.

In this article, we’ll explore several ’90s cars that were surprisingly fast and powerful. From turbocharged powerhouses to sleek sedans with hidden speed, these vehicles represent a diverse automotive era. They weren’t the typical choices for high-speed chases, but they had the strength and speed to beat the police cruisers of their day. Each of these cars is a nod to the engineering marvels of the ’90s, combining everyday use with exciting performance. They were more than just simple modes of transport. These cars were symbols of speed and technology. Let’s go back to the ’90s and highlight the cars that could leave the cops trailing in their wake.

Mazda RX7 via Motor Junkie
Photo Credit: Mazda Life

Mazda RX-7 (FD)

The RX-7 of the 1990s was a true standout in the automotive world. Known for its unique rotary engine, it was a car that combined sleek looks with serious speed. Unlike most cars, the RX-7 had an engine that was small but powerful. This made the car light and fast, perfect for quick turns and rapid acceleration. Its design was eye-catching too, with a smooth, aerodynamic shape that made it look as fast as it actually was (via EVO).

Maza RX-7
Photo Credit: Hemmings

The RX-7 wasn’t just about speed, however. It was also fun to drive, offering a thrilling experience behind the wheel. This car wasn’t the biggest or the loudest on the road, but its combination of speed, style, and excitement made it a favorite for those who knew its true potential. The FD was one of the rarest RX-7 models drivers came across because there weren’t a lot of them built.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Toyota Supra MKIV

The Toyota Supra MKIV is a legend in the car world, especially for its incredible power. This car, built in the 1990s, had a turbocharged engine that gave it a ton of speed and strength. What made the Supra stand out was its ability to be easily upgraded. Car enthusiasts loved it because they could make it even faster with some changes. Its design was striking, with a sleek, sporty look that turned heads (via Autosport RL).

Photo Credit: AutoSport RL

The Supra was more than just a fast car; it was a symbol of the tuner culture where people customized their cars for better performance. The focus wasn’t only about how fast cars could go; it was about the potential to become faster and more powerful because of the modifications. This version of the Supra has become a legend in recent years and the 1990s model is also one of the most expensive vehicles you can buy today.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4

The Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 was a standout in the 1990s car scene, boasting cutting-edge technology and impressive performance. This car was equipped with a powerful twin-turbocharged engine, delivering exceptional speed and power. What set the 3000GT VR-4 apart was its advanced all-wheel-drive system and active aerodynamics, which enhanced its stability and handling at high speeds. Its design was futuristic and bold, reflecting the innovative spirit of the car (via KBB).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The 3000GT VR-4 was more than just a fast vehicle. It was a showcase of the era’s technological advancements in automotive engineering. It appealed to those who appreciated a combination of speed, style, and state-of-the-art technology, making it a memorable and sought-after model among car enthusiasts. The Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 represented not just speed, but the pinnacle of ’90s automotive innovation.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo

The 300ZX Twin Turbo was a trailblazer for Nissan in the ’90s. Its key feature was its twin-turbocharged engine, which provided impressive power and quick acceleration. This car was renowned for striking a balance between thrilling performance and everyday usability. It had a distinctive style featuring a sleek, aerodynamic design that made it instantly recognizable. The 300ZX was not just fast but also a joy to drive thanks to its responsive handling and comfortable interior (via Classic).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

It appealed to those who sought a car that could deliver excitement on the road without compromising on comfort or practicality. The Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo remains a beloved model for its combination of speed, design, and driving pleasure, making it a cherished classic among car enthusiasts. The 300ZX was the final generation of the original Datsun Z car for the next decade, so it had a lot to prove. Unfortunately, consumers had moved on from sports cars during the 1990s and it just didn’t sell very well.

Photo Credit: Which Car

Subaru Impreza WRX STI (GC8)

The Impreza WRX STI (GC8) was another iconic car from the ’90s that was especially known for its rally heritage. This car had a powerful turbocharged engine and featured Subaru’s famous all-wheel-drive system, giving it exceptional traction and handling in all kinds of conditions. The WRX STI was not just fast but also incredibly agile, making it a favorite in both rally racing and on the streets. Its design was functional and sporty, with a more rugged look that reflected its rally roots (via Northwest Motorsports).

Photo Credit: Which Car

Inside, it was simple and focused on the driver, a true reflection of its performance-first approach. This car appealed to those who loved driving, offering an exhilarating experience that combined speed, control, and versatility. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI (GC8) wasn’t just about going fast in a straight line. It was about conquering every turn and every road, making it a legend in the auto world.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

BMW M3 (E36)

The BMW M3 (E36) of the 1990s was a symbol of performance and sophistication. Known for its smooth and powerful inline-six engine, it delivered a perfect mix of speed and agility. This car stood out for its balanced handling, making it a joy to drive on both highways and winding roads. The design of the E36 M3 was elegant yet sporty, capturing the essence of a luxury sports car. It wasn’t just about raw power; it was about driving refinement and precision (via Road & Track).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Inside, the M3 offered a comfortable and upscale environment, making it a great choice for both spirited drives and daily commutes. This BMW was popular among those who appreciated a car that combined top-notch performance with everyday usability and class. The BMW M3 (E36) offered a sophisticated blend of speed, style, and comfort.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Acura NSX

The NSX introduced in the ’90s was a game-changer for Honda. First, it was renowned for its mid-engine layout, a rarity at the time. and especially in a relatively affordable car. This design provided exceptional balance and handling, making the NSX a delight to drive. Moreover, its V6 engine, though not as large as some of its competitors, was incredibly efficient and powerful, thanks to advanced technology like the VTEC engine (via Axel Manos).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Additionally, the NSX stood out for its all-aluminum body, a pioneering feature that kept the car lightweight and agile. Its design was futuristic and sleek, drawing inspiration from fighter jets, which gave it an appearance as thrilling as its performance. Inside, the NSX was equipped with a comfortable and driver-focused cockpit, blending luxury with a sports car feel.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (4th Gen)

The Camaro Z28 (4th Generation) was a notable presence in the 1990s car scene as it embodied the spirit of American muscle. First and foremost, it was powered by a robust V8 engine that delivered substantial power and a thunderous roar, a hallmark of classic muscle cars. This made the Z28 not just quick, but also a car with a commanding presence on the road. In addition, the Camaro Z28 boasted a distinctive design that merged traditional muscle car elements with modern aesthetics. Its sleek lines and aggressive stance made it stand out, capturing the attention of enthusiasts and casual observers alike (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Auto Journal

The interior, while focused on performance, offered enough comfort for everyday driving. This struck a balance between a sports car and a practical vehicle. Furthermore, the Camaro Z28 was more than just about straight-line speed; it offered improved handling and braking compared to its predecessors, making it a more complete driving machine. This car appealed to those who loved the raw power and bold style of classic muscle cars but also appreciated the advancements in performance and design.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

The Mustang SVT Cobra developed in the 1990s marked a significant milestone in the evolution of the iconic Mustang line. Distinguished by its exceptional performance, the SVT Cobra was engineered by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team, a group renowned for pushing the boundaries of speed and power. One of the most striking features of the Cobra was its engine. Unlike the standard Mustang models, the Cobra boasted a more powerful, finely-tuned engine. This was often a hand-built, high-performance V8, capable of delivering exhilarating acceleration and a top-notch driving experience (via Car Scoops).

Photo Credit: American Muscle Car Museum

The roar of the Cobra’s engine was not just louder, but also richer, signaling its enhanced capabilities. The exterior featured distinctive styling cues, including a more aggressive front grille, special SVT badges, and exclusive wheel designs. Inside, the Cobra offered a more refined interior than the standard Mustang. The handling and suspension were other areas where the Cobra shone. It came with upgrades like stiffer springs, better shock absorbers, and larger brakes.

Dodge Stealth
Photo Credit:: Car Domain

Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo

The Stealth R/T Turbo emerging in the ’90s was a unique blend of American flair and Japanese engineering. It shared a platform with the 3000GT as part of Chrysler’s platform-sharing agreement with Mitsubishi at the time. The design of the Stealth R/T Turbo was a leap from traditional American aesthetics, embracing a more futuristic and aerodynamic look. Inside, the Stealth boasted a cockpit that was both comfortable and technologically advanced (via Car & Driver).

Photo Credit: Supercars

One of the most notable aspects of the Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo was its dynamic all-wheel-drive system. Paired with a sophisticated suspension setup, it delivered exceptional handling and traction. The Stealth was not just a powerful straight-line performer but also a capable and confident handler in the corners. Overall, the Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo was a car that broke the mold in the ’90s, offering a unique combination of style, technology, and performance.

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