The market for affordable performance models in the early 1980s was almost fully dominated by Japanese brands. And the Honda CRX is the perfect example of one of the most memorable cars from that era. Honda produced the CRX between 1983 and 1991, basing it on the Civic but with a lower body and only two seats (Via Motor1).
Since it was light, nimble, and came with precise steering, the CRX was a true sports car but with front-wheel drive and up to 140 HP. The biggest selling points of this model were the extremely light body at 1,800 pounds and a high revving four-cylinder engine. Honda never repeated the success of the CRX so many fans still remember the car as a blast to drive.
Ford was the first major American carmaker to present the retro-looking Mustang, which started the whole new “Modern Muscle Car” segment. But Chevrolet was close behind with the new Camaro and arguably they presented a better car. The Z/28 is more of a purebred racing car for the street than the tire-burning muscle car. The sharp handling, race-tuned chassis, and a 7.0-liter high revving V8 transformed the regular Camaro into a world-class sports car (via Edmunds).
It can outrun and out-handle some of the finest, fastest European sports cars. The Z/28 is full of surprises, whether it’s the trick brakes or the special aero package. The whole car is a precision driving instrument any driving enthusiast will surely appreciate. And that is why it is a future classic and one of the best Camaros ever made.
If you’re a fan of the Japanese car industry and you want to own something equally important historically and a blast to drive, the Acura Type R is the car for you. As one of the most brilliant front-wheel-drive cars they ever produced, the Acura Integra Type-R is the definitive JDM legend. It is still especially popular among enthusiasts for its swift performance and fantastic handling (via Road And Track).
The front-wheel drive train was the main reason the Integra Type R is so universally loved and sought after. Despite getting just 187 HP from its high revving 1.8-liter engine, the Integra Type R has great performance even by today’s standards. This is a definite future classic and a car serious drivers should buy today.
The package included four-wheel disc brakes, stiffer suspension, and sharper steering, transforming the little Mustang into a capable sports car. For 1985, the SVO upped the power to an impressive 205 HP, which turned the eyes of the motoring public to third-generation Mustangs.
The classic C1 to C3 Corvettes are already too expensive for the average car buyer. And the standard C4, despite its great handling, may be too low on power for some owners. So the solution is the ZR1, a mighty C4 Corvette that could outrun most supercars in the early 1990s (via Motor Biscuit).
Under the hood, there’s the LT4, a Lotus-engineered V8 engine with 375 HP and later 400 HP, quad-cam heads, and 32 valves. The engine was an engineering marvel and performed exceptionally well. With a beefed-up suspension, gearbox, and a pair of extra-wide rear tires, the Corvette ZR1 could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. That makes it one of the fastest cars of the era and a true modern classic today.
It’s insane that quality examples of the J60 series Landcruiser are getting north of $30,000 today, but this is the reality of the collector car market. The classic ’80s SUV was affordable not that long ago, but now the prices are getting out of hand. However, most restoration projects are still somewhat affordable. So if you have the means to, you should consider finding an ’80s Landcruiser (via Cars Guide).
Toyota introduced it in 1980 and discontinued it in 1989, selling the J60 all over the world. And it was especially popular in America. The Landcruiser combined the ruggedness of a classic FJ40 with a durable 4.2-liter inline-six engine and a bigger, more comfortable body. The combination proved so influential that the J60 is now the focus of collectors all over the world.
When the NSX first appeared in 1989 it revolutionized the supercar market. Buyers got the Ferrari performance and look for a supermarket price, along with Honda’s signature reliability and maintenance costs (via Honda).
But the heart of the NSX is a 3.0-liter V6 with 274 HP and later, a 3.2-liter V6 with 290 HP. Since the car is light, the 0 to 60 mph time is lightning quick at five seconds and the top speed is over 170 mph. Although prices are still affordable, they will go up soon so you should hurry and buy this car.
They produced the Esprit from the early ’70s all the way up to the early 2000s. It was always a fantastic supercar even though it had a smaller engine than its competitors. But the last and best version was the V8 that produced 350 HP (via Supercars).
And with its lightweight body, the Esprit could outrun many of its competitors while still retaining that classic wedge look. This was a bonafide exotic car, but current prices are relatively affordable. That means drivers should snap this piece of classic British engineering up right now.
Introduced in 1984, the Cherokee XJ generation was an enormous success for Jeep. With its boxy yet elegant looks, great build quality, and lots of usable features, the second-generation Cherokee was the SUV of the ’80s and a globally successful model. Despite being a modern and comfortable vehicle, the Cherokee XJ retained all its Jeep characteristics (via Gear Patrol).
These included rugged mechanics, a dependable AWD drive train, and updated engines. All that helped it claim the title of one of the best SUVs of all time. Jeep offered the Cherokee XJ until 2014 in some foreign markets. That just shows how good of a car this Jeep was. The XJ is the next big thing since the quality examples are hard to find.
One of the best cars in the long line of Nissan Z sports coupes is the 300 ZX. Nissan introduced it in 1990 and discontinued it in 1996. Car enthusiasts respect the 300 ZX since it’s a proper sports coupe. It comes with the technology and performance to rival those more expensive and exclusive cars. The twin-turbo V6 engine pumps out 300 HP and the 300 ZX can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds and top 150 mph (via Nissan).
The prices for this model are currently at around $10,000 for decent examples with full-service history and no accidents. You can find them for less, but it’s possible that these will not be as good. Since the 1990s Japanese cars are slowly getting more desirable, drivers had better hurry up since the Nissan 300 ZX could soon go up in price soon.
People colloquially called the C/K the “Square Body” for its boxy design. And in fact, the third-generation C/K featured a computer-designed body with more space and comfort than ever before. Also, the truck was bigger and tougher due to the new platform, revised suspension, and tougher axles (via Chevrolet).
Customers had numerous cab configurations, special editions, engine options and details to choose from too. All of that made the third generation C/K one of the best trucks in the world at that time. Chevy produced it from 1973 to 1991 in the USA. However, also built this model in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and South Korea. During the long production run, Chevrolet introduced the diesel engine as an option, which proved to be highly popular in Europe and South America. Today, most of the trucks are worn out, but well-preserved examples are fetching high prices as people remember these utilitarian trucks.
The 3000 GT is another ’90s legend mainstream sports car enthusiasts have forgotten, which is a shame. With its pop-up headlights, rear panorama glass, and big spoiler, the 3000 GT screams early ’90s car design (via Auto Evolution).
But there is much more about this car than its contemporary nostalgia since this is one serious driving machine. Under the hood is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that pumps out 300 HP, sending power to all four wheels over an intelligent AWD system.
Ford started offering the Bronco in 1966, but in 1979, they introduced a new generation that was sold until 1986. Along with the Chevrolet Blazer, the Bronco is the quintessential American compact SUV of the ’80s. Like all cars of this market segment, the Bronco was a tough and well-engineered SUV built on a truck chassis with heavy-duty components (via Bronco Bastards).
Customers used most Broncos as off-road vehicles or law enforcement transportation, which explains why well-preserved examples are so rare. And rare means expensive, so if you want to own a proper Bronco, drivers should act fast.
If you know anything about Japanese sports cars, you know the RX-7 has a special place in the nomenclature of performance cars from the “Land of the Rising Sun.” The reason is the engine. In contrast to all the other cars on the market with conventional piston engines, the RX-7 has had a rotary Wankel engine since the beginning (via Evo).
The third generation, which they presented in 1992 and discontinued in 2002 delivers from 252 to 276 HP. Also, it has a vivid performance thanks to its small weight and perfect balance. Better yet, they are still affordable, so hurry up and buy one before the prices soar.
When you think of the best car of the 1990s, this car that stands out. These SL roadsters were always fantastic driving machines and ultimate Stuttgart classics. But, the R129 was the symbol of the decade as well as the automotive personification of success, power, speed, and quality.
The mid-90s SL 600 with the V12 engine had an MSRP of over $120,000, which is around $200,000 at today’s rate. Today, those cars are significantly less expensive, but not for long since more people are realizing how good the SL 600 really is (via Hemmings).
Today, fast SUVs are nothing special, but in the 1990s, they were extremely rare and obscure. However, Jeep produced one that will be a collector’s item in the near future. This is the 1998 5.9 Limited, a one-year, top-of-the-line model. Jeep equipped it with every luxury item they had to offer as well as the 5.9-liter Magnum V8 delivering 245 HP (via Motor Trend).
Although 245 HP doesn’t sound like much today, it was a lofty number for a late 1990s SUV. The Grand Cherokee 5.9 is kind of a Jeep hot rod before those modern SRT versions with powerful Hemi engines. They only made about 15,000, so the 5.9 Limited is a definite future classic.
In 1983, Chevrolet decided to re-introduce the SS trim level on the 1983 model. They continue to offer this option until 1988 with great success. The mid-1980s Monte Carlo was one of the coolest two-door coupes of the period although the performance wasn’t exhilarating (via Motor Trend).
Under the hood was a 305 V8 with 180 HP they mated to slow automatic transmission. What the SS lacked in performance it made up with its looks and reputation. In its five-year production run, Chevrolet built over 180,000 of those sleek coupes.
In most cases, the Eclipse was just an attempt from Mitsubishi to introduce a sports coupe. They built it on a regular car platform and shared engine and front-wheel drivetrain with the rest of the Mitsubishi lineup. However, there was one special model from the 1990s, which was highly respected and worth looking for (via Get Jerry).
The Eclipse GSX was an all-wheel-drive version with a highly tuned 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good enough for 210 HP. In a relatively light body and with AWD advantage, the Eclipse GSX was a rapid coupe.
Although there’s been a recent rise in prices, the Fox-body Mustang Cobra flew under the radar of mainstream collectors for quite a while. Most people tend to dismiss it as another Fox-Body Mustang, but the Cobra is much more than just that. It is a proper performance car, blurring the line between classic muscle car and sports coupe. Sadly, they produced it for one year only in 1993, marking the end of the Fox-body Mustang generation (via Mustang Specs).
Under the hood was an SVT-prepared 5.0-liter HO engine with trick GT40 heads and various other upgrades. The 0 to 60 mph time was well under six seconds and the 1993 Cobra handled perfectly thanks to the revised suspension. Ford made just 4,993 examples in 1993, so you should buy one before they become Shelby GT350s of the 21st century.
The SLP Firehawk was an interesting late muscle cars. The model first appeared in 1995, marking the start of a successful venture between GM and the Street Legal Performance Company from New Jersey. This was an outside firm that produced performance kits for Firebirds (via Zero 260).
However, the cars weren’t just improved base models and were much more. The SLP Formula Firehawk had a 5.7-liter V8 engine with 300 or 315 HP, which was a lofty number for 1995. The six-speed manual version could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds, making it one of the fastest production cars in America. The package cost $6,500 over the price of the regular Trans Am. It included numerous upgrades and a Ram Air hood, and it was well worth it. Today, Pontiac is no longer around, which means thoroughbred muscle cars from this company will just go up in value.
The CTS is a mid-sized Cadillac sedan with the performance V option. Arguably the most successful was the second generation produced from 2008-2014. Under the hood was a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 delivering 556 HP, making the CTS-V the most powerful performance sedan on the market (via Edmunds).
The suspension and the rest of the drivetrain were advanced and up to the task. The CTS-V was the full package and one of the best drivers’ cars available.
Back in the early 1990s, Subaru wanted to enter the sports car market to promote their biggest assets, all-wheel drive and flat-six engines. So, the company hired Italdesign to design a sleek and modern coupe. In 1991, the SVX debuted with strange styling like its complicated side window patents (via Cars).
However, it offered sublime handling and a great performance. Under the hood was a 3.3-liter flat-six that propelled this rare car to a 7.3 second 0 to 60 mph time. But sadly, they only sold about 14,000 in America until 1996.
Produced from 2004 to 2006, Dodge Ram SRT-10 is one of the craziest, fastest pickups they ever built. That itself is a hard thing to say since Dodge always had some wild, unique versions of their trucks. But, just look at the specs. The 8.2-liter V10 engine produced over 500 HP, with 0 to 60 mph time of fewer than five seconds. However, its fuel economy was in the single digits (via Car And Driver).
Top it off with a bright red or yellow paint job, two white racing stripes, and big shiny chrome wheels, and you get the idea of what the SRT-10 is all about. It was something you couldn’t miss if you saw it on the street. Of course, with the price tag of over $45,000, the SRT-10 wasn’t exactly a sales hit. But they produced a decent number of them in its three-year production run.
If for any reason 707 HP from the Hellcat package is not enough and you want the ultimate modern muscle car with the most powerful street Hemi engine, the Demon package is for you. With standard fuel, it delivers an insane 808 HP. However, if you use the high-octane stuff, it will pump out almost 840 HP (via Car And Driver).
The rest of the Demon package is equally insane from a special transmission, suspension, and brakes to the wide-body stance and exterior details. The acceleration from 0 to 60 is less than three seconds. Under full power, the Demon will accelerate with 1.8 G force, which is faster than being dropped off a cliff. The car can cover a quarter-mile sprint in less than 10 seconds straight from the dealer.
They discontinued the last-generation Viper in 2017 due to slow sales. But a car like a Viper wouldn’t go without a fight. The last special edition they presented was the 2016 Viper ACR. It was the best and one of the fastest track-ready cars in the world. As you already know, those ACR Vipers were always a car purist’s dream (via Top Gear).
As specially-prepared road/track cars with immense possibilities, they have sublime handling and performance. The secret of the ACR Viper was a slightly more powerful engine with 645 HP and a significant weight loss. They topped all that off with a perfectly balanced chassis, race tires and powerful Brembo brakes. Unfortunately, at $120,000, it wasn’t a bargain by any means, but it was worth every cent.
The 2015 M2 is one of the best cars on the planet combining BMW’s driving dynamics, proven German quality, and M Power heritage. It is also the modern-day equivalent of the legendary 2002 Turbo, as well as a classic German muscle car. To create the M2, BMW took the compact platform of the 2 Series model, and added a performance-tuned suspension, a wider track, and a 365 HP 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six engine (via EVO).
As you would expect, the result was fantastic, making the M2 is the true Autobahn missile of the highest order with a 4.1-second 0 to 60 mph time and a top speed of 168 mph. Also, as a nod to classic performance cars, the new M2 is available as a six-speed manual. That is the version you should get if you consider yourself a true car enthusiast. For the 2018 model year, BMW slightly upgraded the M2 both mechanically and cosmetically with a new grille, sharper handling, and a slight bump in power output.
Ever since the first retro Mustangs appeared in showrooms across America, Ford fans have asked for the return of the Boss 302. For those who don’t know, the Boss 302 first debuted in 1969 as a racing car homologation special they intended for the Trans-Am races. Fast-forward 43 years and Ford revived the Boss 302 with a new 5.0-liter Coyote V8 that delivered 444 HP and 380 lb.-ft of torque (via Motor Trend).
Again, this was almost a pure racing car with no back seats and a factory-installed roll cage, as well as a host of other external and internal modifications. As you’d expect, the performance was better than a regular Mustang GT. In fact, the 2012 Boss 302 could accelerate to 60 mph in 3.97 seconds and top 155 mph.