The 1990s are now a grand 20 years in the past, and an incredible swathe of cars is up for historic plates in the next few years. From JDM wonders to kooky Swedes, cars of the ’90s represent the Goldilocks recipe to enthusiasts. They're new enough to posses the modern technologies that ensured stout reliability and top-tier performance, but old enough to lack electronic nannies that kvetch and whine at us when we attack the twisties. So we decided to put our resident ’90s experts in a livestream for an hour and pick their 10 favorite cars.
While Brad Phillip's official title is Hagerty's Director of Automotive Lifestyle Business Development, you may know him as Brad the Sunbeam Tiger King. Joining him is our Marketplace Editor Colin Comer. While some cars qualify for the top 10 list through Phillip's or Comer's personal experience, the pair discussed others as the pinnacle of their performance genre.
From the humble Mazda Miata to the world-beating McLaren F1, there's something for everyone in this list.
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90s Civics and Jettas will have their day.
They were the growing up/high school/college ride a lot of people (or their friends) had. So they are memory machines --the fuel for nostalgia, which eventually equals collector interest.
Many 90s things will be future-appreciated for those that want less digital. It will interesting to see which things get enough aftermarket support for hobbyists to keep going and which things you hunt years for a specific dashboard bit or such.
They won’t 😞
First, they made millions of them. Second, what usually rises in value are the aspirational cars....ie cars you wish you had in high school but couldn’t afford, not what you actually had. They might see a slight rise from the bottom, but will never be “collector cars”
Your comment is interesting to me PalmEvent
"They won’t 😞First, they made millions of them. Second, what usually rises in value are the aspirational cars....ie cars you wish you had in high school but couldn’t afford, not what you actually had. They might see a slight rise from the bottom, but will never be “collector cars” "
Millions of VW Beetles, Tri-Five Chevys, and 60s Impalas were made. Doesn't stop them being collectable. Highest value of their respective eras --not usually.
Best investment picks... rarer aspirational models drive the market I agree, I think most would. If you have a locked-away-pickled-low-mile high-spec early 90s Jetta I think you see it sell at a premium. Was it logical to pickle it? --I guess it depends what that premium ends up being... (Is it ever? Take the special edition Corvette situation as many have been pickled since the 70s and they don't always seem to bring high auction money)
I see a lot of people spend a lot of money to have what they used to have, often in a much better form. People also way overspend restoring heirloom cars. How big a slice of the market is this... not sure. I agree that people "finally getting that Corvette" or whatever are a slice and probably a bigger one or at least the one that makes better auction TV --except when someone on the TV auction way overpays the market on some oddball thing. "Had to have it" as they say.
The "never collector's car" argument... I'm leaving that alone. Others can chime in (usually do on that topic).
To the person who said usually aspirational cars usually rise in value, not what we had in high school, I totally disagree. When I was in high school you could get a tri 5 Chevy for$100. In decent shape, I bought a 68 mustang a code fastback for $1,000. There were tri 5,s ,chevelles, camarosm mustangs,etc...,you sure can't dismiss their value today. I think there will absolutely be a place in collectibikity for civics, Acura integras,fox bodies mustangs, etc...
I have an old Civic and offered to fix it up and give it to my son for his 16th birthday. He laughed. Then he looked at me and said, "Oh, you weren't kidding."
You've got to love the GMT400-based C/K1500 Chevy/GMC Suburban/Tahoe/Yukon - practically every midwesterner between the ages of 20-30 grew up fighting with their siblings in the back of one!
I think I would have put the 993 over the Boxster. It's the last air cooled 911 , is mechanically superior, has much better handling and is a more collectible car than the Boxster. Since cost doesn't factor into making the list (the McLaren). Then ask yourself, if you could only pick one and were offered a free 993 or a Boxster, which would you choose?
I think that the Boxster is way more important of a car. Sure, I would rather have a 993 now. However, the Boxster was much more important to Porsche than the 993. It was also much more symbolic of the decade (Remember lusting over the prototype when it was first displayed?)
I'd definitely take a 993 over the Boxster as well. That said, I think Brad and Colin were right to chose the Boxster here; a car that saves a brand from bankruptcy is a really big deal.
Gotta tell ya, I’m not a rich guy, so the super cars were never on my list , cause I couldn’t afford one, but for a guy who turned 30 in 1991, the Lincoln MK VII was a great car, cause it had the 5.0 motor in it, and it had style, I owned new cars from the late 70s up, GM had horrible underpowered cars with poor build quality, I wasn’t into Mercedes or BMW yet though I’ve owned many Benzs since and currently own an E43 AMG, but that Lincoln had a great balance of ride, style and power, after the MK VII I bought a MKVIII, after that and one more LSE I went foreign
Get ready to add to that the 1999 nissan gtr vspec also known as (godzilla) the r32 ,33,34 are going to seem insurance carriers. Sharpen your pencils folks. The jdm secret weapon is on its way... 😎
Porsche 968! Best looking front-engined car Porsche has ever made. Surprisingly quick with the 3.0L 4-cylinder pushing ~240bhp, a sweet 6-speed manual and sub-3000lb. 50:50 weight balance makes the twisties a blast. Tons of parts straight out of the 911 parts bin and Legendary Porsche engineering. 968s are rare and definitely under-appreciated!
I would like the Mercedes SLK series to be considered. Starting in 1996 (R170) through 2010 (R171) these are truly an affordable, fun to drive, exceptional roadsters. As an owner of a face-lift 2001 R170 model, I believe this car should be recognized and added to a "list" in the future.
Where is the 300ZX Twin Turbo? Remember the tv commercial featuring “Barbie”, “Ken”, “GI Joe” ... and MR. K! That alone merits inclusion of that car on this list.
I agree. I have never owned one, but will never forget cruising I5 at n40 mph in an 86 Mustang only to be eventually passed by a 300ZX TT at around n50 mph. No racing, just cruising to our destinations. In the good ole days when there were no cars on I5 on a weekday morning.
Who are these people that made this list? What planet are they from. This list is totally impossible to relate to for most unless you thrash around in a smoking Wankel RX7 or a stinky old Mazda Merida. I myself can only relate to the 18 million dollar McClaren.
I think quarantine is getting to the writers.
The 90-95 Corvette ZR1 certainly deserves attention. These cars have the marvelous Lotus designed 32 valve dual overhead cam engine which has proven to be very reliable. Besides why not own a car that set the 24 hour speed record at 175 mph? They are even well within the reach of many owners with prices that can be in the low 30 thousands for a decent one.
why not put in the 1994 to 1996 GM sleeper wagons, meaning the Chevy caprice and the Buick Roadmaster estate wagon, the Buick came standard with a detuned 260 hp 330ft lb torque 350 ci LT1 under the hood and it was an option for the caprice, I own a Buick and it can do more then most people suspect such a big car should be able to do, plus the 5000 pound towing capacity is another nice bonus if you find one with the tow package.
I have owned four Saabs, two from the 90s, and still have my 1996 Saab 900 convertible. To my eyes, it's the prettiest car I've ever owned. Great fun to drive along the Oregon Coast with the top down, or over any of the mountain highways here in western Montana. BUT-- the top mechanisms stopped working and the parts are not available to fix it. I can raise or lower the top manually, but I have been unable to latch it in place when down. Still, it's great fun to drive, but what do I know. I also own two Triumphs.
So, it's tough to actually defend the Aztec as it's the punching bag for everyone who does an ugly car list; however,................
Bypassing it's not attractive, it was supposed to be the VW Thing of the '90's. It delivered on the goal. For those that have forgotten, you could wash the interior out with a hose. Everything was plastic mats and not carpet. It had power supplies around the car. Basically, it was way ahead of it's time for what it tried to do, and it failed miserably to attract buyers. The Cube, and rodent cars that followed stole nicely from the concept. All the go-anywhere commercials you see today are the concept it was trying for. Toss in that it didn't have a ton of power (hey, that's mostly what we care about on this site), seats were uncomfortable (which we should mostly be used to), and the entire thing felt a little cheap and it was a disaster.
And, no, I didn't own one........... thought about it some though. I think I bought an old transit van instead and turned it into a go-anywhere mobile.
The twin turbo Z32 and the all wheel drive VR4. The '90's to me was the decade of Japanese automotive engineering.
Never cared much for the Boxster.
McLaren? No recollection.
The Ferrari? I guess, but the fate of most of them is to middle aged males driving around stop light to stop light in the city.
I know it’s not launched outside Japan and was first seen 1989... but of course you can’t miss the king of JDM sportscars in the 90s, the Skyline Gt-r BNR32. It’s motorsports records and feats will make it automatic in the 90s list.
OK, while everybody else bounced around, sitting on the floor of these cars I was floating along in my big fancy Lincoln Town Car, still one of the very best buys for the money right now.
90's GM F Body platform were a lot of fun. I bought a 1993 first year 4th generation Camaro Z28. 275hp LT1 V8, 3:23 posi rear. Ran the quarter in the 14's and civil enough for long road trips.
I worked at a GM dealership in Indiana pand got to drive the striking Z28 Indy Pace Cars. Just a neat era to look back on. Rock the Mullet! LOL
The list could have come straight out of old Road and Track's, where are the P/U's, Jeeps and even the Corvette C5's. Those Mustang's dressed for state police work was quite a car.