Similar to the Honda S2000, the Miata has always been nothing more than an honest roadster. On paper, the Miata is far from a powerful sports car, but on the road, you’d never know the difference. The honest driving characteristics have made the Miata a popular choice since 1989. The Miata was always ahead of its time, as it was one of the first cars to move away from the boxy era (via Motor Trend).
For the right price, you can get a reasonable Miata with low mileage and lots of fun. This car is about as barebones as you can get and that’s a good thing. There are no expensive electronics to fix on this car, and the styling is reasonable. The Miata remained the same for about 20 years, so finding a clean one isn’t a hard thing to do.
The Eclipse is a popular sports car that has become iconic in the street racing scene. But it’s the final generation of the Eclipse that is particularly elusive for collectors. Released in 2006, this was a complete evolution of the car. A modern sports car by any stretch of the imagination, you can’t go wrong with this generation of the Eclipse. The performance was also top of the line for the time and the car still looks beautiful today (via Motor Trend).
There is also a Spyder version of the Eclipse worth acquiring as well. With a lot of modern luxury features such as a power top, this convertible is fun to drive and great to look at. The aftermarket scene for the Eclipse is massive and the car still holds its value to this day.
The original Scion TC is a lost gem of the mid-2000s. What was originally the next generation of the Toyota Celica the TC was an evolution of the design. Toyota went modest with the TC when you compare it to how the Celica looked at the time. But being modest isn’t a bad thing because the TC was a refreshing change. The naturally aspirated motor didn’t need a turbo to deliver impressive performance and driving characteristics (via Edmunds).
Likewise, the Scion TC ushered in a new era of design at Toyota, where the Scion brand was being positioned toward the youth generation. The car had many interesting interior features, which made it stand out. The TC was also one of the first consumer vehicles to offer iPod connectivity and an AUX port, which was a big thing at the time.
Another unique vehicle to come out of the boy racer fad of the early 2000s was the Ford Focus SVT. The car was ahead of its time in many ways. The Focus SVT came with body kits and a ground effects package straight from the factory. There were also special edition SVT wheels that came with the car, which added to the street racing appeal. (via Car & Driver)
When you think of the Ford Focus, you generally don’t think of performance. But the SVT Focus delivered a performance that hadn’t been matched up to this time. The Focus SVT was sort of a branding car for Ford, as it was featured in numerous video games. At the time, the sales of the Focus SVT were also strong.
The Lexus brand was a big thing in the 1980s as it came to fruition after years of research by Toyota. There were three initial cars in the Lexus lineup, the LS, ES, and the SC. The SC was a sports coupe, and it came in either the 300 or 400 packages. The SC400 is notable because it has a powerful V8 motor and a lot of luxury. The timeless styling of the SC400 still looks good today when you compare it to other sports cars (via The Truth About Cars.
Take a ride down the freeway in an SC400, and you will experience a quiet interior with almost no road noise. The performance of the SC400 rivals anything you can get nowadays, which is a marvel achievement for a car that’s this old. But that’s not the only thing, because there was also a rare model with a five-speed transmission.
The final incarnation of the Z car in the 1990s is perhaps one of the most underrated sports cars of all time. The styling of the “Fair Lady” was ahead of its time when it came to a sports car. Even though Nissan was in dire straights financially, the firm was still able to bring one of the most convincing sports cars ever to the table. The twin-turbo engine propelled the 300ZX with authority, while simultaneously competing with the best that Japan had to offer (via Cars Guide).
There is also a rare convertible version of the 300ZX, which had beautiful styling for the time. For a short period, these cars were remarkably undervalued, and they are still undervalued when you compare them to other sports cars from this era. The Toyota Supra can go for thousands of dollars more, but the 300ZX will provide comparable performance.
The third twin-turbo sports car that came out of Japan during the 1990s was the 3000GT. This is a car that seldom gets the recognition it deserves. The performance is not unlike the other two more well known sports cars. The 3000GT had its own luxurious interior and solid performance numbers to hand out. The styling wasn’t as rounded as the other two, but it still looks handsome to this day (via Car Gurus).
There was also a rare convertible model of the 3000GT, and these are hard to come by. The performance of the 3000GT is highly regarded to this day, and there is a loyal following behind the car. Parts and repairs aren’t too expensive, which makes the 3000GT a solid performance car for the price.
The Dodge Stealth is worth noting because it shares a platform with the 3000GT. What makes the two cars stand out from the crowd is the twin-turbo engine design. The Stealth has amazing off-the-line performance for a sports car. Compared with other sports cars from this era, the Stealth is relatively unknown. Most drivers don’t think of a Stealth as the first sports car from this era that comes to mind (via Car and Driver).
But underneath is the stellar Mitsubishi engineering that makes the car stand out. The Stealth was by far one of the best performance bargains at the time. The styling of the Stealth makes it a notable exception to the rule of high-priced performance cars. Few cars from this era can match the sheer performance that the Stealth offered for the price.
While not officially marketed as a sports car, there is no denying that the Integra was one of the best. The Integra rose to fame in the 1990s for its high revving motor and sporty driving dynamics that made the car different. The Type-R was one of the most popular sports cars ever, and still commands a high price. The innovative design of the Acura, coupled with the precision engineering, made it an instant classic (via Edmunds).
The Integra has since become a collector’s item over the years, and these cars are highly sought after. There are many enthusiasts who specialize in customizing these cars, and there are many upgrades that you can do. The only downside to the Integra is that it is a heavily stolen vehicle.
The Nissan 240SX is a marvel of engineering that didn’t require a lot to get it going. There was no fancy turbocharged engine or even a lot of horsepower. But this honest rear wheel drive rig was a popular sports car. The styling of the 240SX was distinctly modern for the time. While many cars were still stuck in the past, Nissan decided to bring the 240SX into the future (via Car & Driver).
The car had beautiful styling, and there were a few body styles to choose from. Whether you had the hatchback or the notchback, the 240SX was a stellar sports car. The platform has become a popular choice for the drift car community to modify. These cars have maintained their value, but are not exceptionally difficult to get a hold of.
The Lexus automotive division of Toyota had a few hits in the 1990s. One of the breakout hits for the brand was the IS250. This was an interesting sport sedan imported from overseas. The styling was ahead of its time, and the small stature of the car made it a great track car. Its driving characteristics were different than other Lexus models at the time, and the styling was attractive (via Cars Guide).
For a short period, there was also a wagon version of the Lexus. The IS250 is still a popular choice among enthusiasts today. The car offers a lot of bang for the buck, and you can still find them for a reasonable price. Lexus has had many unique offerings over the years, but the original IS250 has held the test of time.
The original Audi TT needs no introduction as a car released in the latter part of 1998. But the TT offered a design that was ahead of its time in every sense of the word. There were no other cars that looked like the TT at the time it was released. Under the sheet metal was Porsche engineering, and this continued to its road manners (via Road & Track).
The TT has always been an understated and fun-to-drive sports car. The styling is iconic and still looks beautiful today. The great thing about the TT is that it has stayed in production for two decades, and even an early model still looks very modern. There are few cars that deliver the type of smiles the Audi TT does.
Here’s another sports car that you can get from the 1990s that will put a smile on your face. No matter what generation of the SL you get, the car was well appointed for the time period. There was an optional V-12 power plant, but even the standard V8 is still an impressive engine considering what you get with it. The SL-Class was one of the most expensive sports cars of the time (via Edmunds).
Many of the luxury that comes in the SL-Class is still top notch for the price. The later models were increasingly modern, and the price has depreciated quite a bit. For what you pay, the SL is one of the best bargains in the sports car market. The car offered a lot of tech and features for the price while still offering great value.
The Impreza of the 1990s is one of the most highly regarded sports cars of all-time. The amount of performance you got for the price was legendary. The mid-1990s Subaru Impreza isn’t just a special car because of its reputation in the rally scene, it’s also one of the most iconic models. The Subaru Impreza 2.5RS has been featured in hundreds of video games over the years (via Grass Roots Motors).
There’s a good chance that you grew up around this car in one way or another, and the styling and performance is iconic. The 2.5RS was later overshadowed by the “bugeye” Impreza models. But if you are looking for a stellar car that will perform well, the 2.5RS is about the best deal you can get. The signature Subaru engineering and the Boxer engine have made the 2.5RS one of the best sports cars from this era.
The Neon SRT-4 was a surprise to many in the automotive community. The sheer quality and performance of the car was surprisingly good. The price tag was also affordable enough that anyone could afford one of these. The Neon was never known as a performance car, but the SRT-4 switched things up. The styling of the SRT-4 could compete with the best coming out of Japan. While you could spend thousands more on a Mitsubishi Evo, the SRT-4 was an excellent bargain option (via Car & Driver).
The interior of the Neon SRT-4 was dramatically upgraded over the standard model. There were a few colors available that you couldn’t get on the standard Neon. Performance cars from this era were becoming more advanced in just about every way. From a quality perspective, the Neon SRT-4 was an excellent bargain for a performance car. The styling of the SRT-4 wasn’t bad, and the car has maintained a solid following in the performance community.