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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Yes the Taurus SHO is the step child of all car lists.....
However if you ever bounced the tach off the 7300rpm limiter then you've had at least one smile in your lifetime.
I’m with you on this one!
I own a very nice ‘94 6-speed Coupe with the Z07 handling package and it is a great all around performer that won’t break your wallet. Very reliable as well. C4’s get no respect in the Corvette world either. If you don’t own a C5 or later most people raise their nose to you. It’s a shame.
300ZX Twin-Turbo not included? What??? This is amazing that this superb vehicle would not have been included. Please update this list at your earliest convenience. Or sooner.
1992-98 Mclaren F1 HPG #2 (Excellent) value: $18,000,000
??? I'm sorry. Anyone, ANYONE who spends that kind of money for a car, no matter what it is, has way more money than brains. At that price you simply mount the **bleep** thing over the firepl...sorry, Harth, and look at it in your living room, sipping your martinie whilst boasting to your other one percenters. What a waste.
I bought a 1998 Boxster brand new. Waited 5 months for my custom order to arrive from Germany. It was the worst car I have ever owned. After about 20 months of torture it went back to Porsche under the Lemon Law. EVERYTHING broke. The engine blew up on start up; the trans had to be hacked out of the vehicle to replace the engine; the top cover support collapsed while putting the top down, warping the cover into a potato chip shape; red lights came on bi-weekly. I got to know the local dealer's service writer way too well. The entire dash had to removed and the cowl rewelded to hush a one-man-band cacophony of creaks and groans. I could go on and on. I can only imagine how time has not been kind to these cars.
The Mercedes - AMG breakout started with the C36 and then the C43, sold as new models on Mercedes showrooms around the world. Kind of forgotten now, their success spawned a generation of MB/AMG cars that are the dominant representation of Mercedes today.
This C class was the last of the Bruno Sacco designs in production, by the way. The Chrysler merger pretty well destroyed Mercedes long history of quality above everything else..
I just loved my 2002 540i! It was always ready to have fun; its get up and go and tight handling made it a joy to drive. It was my daily driver for 10 years, up until I retired, and now someone else gets to have all the fun!
Yes, where is the Supra TT? By far one of the best if not the best car made in the 90's . I understand the McLaren but that's millions of dollars! What a disgrace to leave the Supra out, especially if you are listing the RX-7, NSX and Miata in this list.
What about the 1992-2000 Lexus SC 300/400? These legendary coupes are still around, some with more than 300,000 miles and still going strong. The 300 came with a six-cylinder engine and, for 1992-97, a five-speed option. The 400 had a four-liter V8 and automatic transmission. I have a 1997 SC400 with 90,000 miles on it and it feels like it's still in the break-in period.
Right-on! I have a '92 SC400 with 130K miles, and it's silky smooth.
The original paint and interior are also in great shape.
Now if only they'd got those window regulators to last beyond 27-28 years!
I have owned 2 SC300's and they are truly a joy to drive. Hard to imagine them not becoming a future collectible as they were quite pricey when new. Some of the best blend of engineering, performance and sex appeal in the automotive world IMHO!
While I'm not a fan of all the picks, I can understand why they're on the list. But for a couple of them, nothing says "blah" like a 4 door sedan. And I don't mean a 4 door hardtop without a post available in the 50s & 60s. My mommy drove a 4 door sedan. No matter what was under the hood, how they might handle or high style they might be, they just aren't "cool" in my opinion. But I understand the tastes of Gen X, Y, Z & Millennials are not the same as Boomers. Like what you want but I don't have to agree.
Re the authors "nannies" comment. When programmed and built correctly, the nannies are a life saver which enhances the ability to drive fast. My LS3 Corvette has an outstanding sport setting. It allows just the right amount of drift through the twisties, while protecting the driver from losing control. A professional driver did laps using each of the 3 settings. Normal setting was a bit over protective and perfect for most of the owners who have limited skills. Turning it off allowed him to get too squirlley when pushing it to the limit. His fastest lap times were in sport mode. He said, "You can't win a race after spinning out off a corner. Sport setting lets me wring every bit out of the car without crossing into uncontrolled moments needing big corrections which scrub off speed. My fastest laps were in sport setting." He also said, "Why would you EVER turn it off?"
You left off what many Ferrari and automobile experts consider one of the very best Ferrari of all time, the F355. This was the car credited with turning Ferrari's fortunes and reputation around. 5 Valves per cylinder. The highest horsepower per liter normally aspired motor ever at that time, 8500 RPMs, 0-60 comparable to the 550 that came after it and faster around the racetrack than the 12 cylinder 512TR and a car many people say is the the best looking modern era Ferrari.
What? No mention of Lexus (LS400 or SC400) beating the lederhosen off nearly all of Deutschland's aristocracy?
Then there's the incredible Toyota Supra Mk 4.
Sure, I'd like a Ferrari, but "having a favourite" should also include having even a remote possibility of "having" it.
Dates are wrong for the E39, which did not come out until 97 or 98. I test drove both the E34 540i 6 speed and the E39 when I bought my 95 E34. While the E39 was definitely faster, I loved the stying of the E34 more and bought it. Both are great with the 6 speed, which was only available in 95 as a bridge to the new model and a new M5 slated to come out in a couple of years. The earlier 5 series has retained it's value better, I believe and given its production run into the mid 90s is more representative of this list than the later 5's.
Im not really fan of the Mitsubishi 3000gt AWD or the sister car known as the Stealth.
But that 4 wheel steering twin turd-bo all wheel peel is sorta before its time.
I wouldn't throw one out of my garage, lets just say that..as an American only buyer.
4 whl steering..come-on..thats pretty cool for 25+yrs ago.
I was lucky to own a '93 3000 GT VR4, from '96-'99. It was a fantastic handling beast and a techno tour de force. Unworldly grip in the wet! Also very reliable, up to 90k miles, when I let it go. I'd place it above the Mustang and RX7 for sure.
Yes owned one too, a Stealth. Very fast and comfortable but I had to let it go simply because the parts were becoming more & more difficult to find. Not all Mitsubishi parts fit in them too.
A great list, but a C4 corvette would be a worthy addition. Performance, handling, technology, serviceable, reliable, with affordable examples in all levels of condition.
I could easily pull three off that list and add one spectacular car you missed. Perfectly entering the fray right at the beginning of the decade, the 1990-1996 Nissan 300zx Twin Turbo deserves a spot on that list. Gobs of power, all the techy stuff Japanese manufacturers were stuffing into their cars in the 90's, and a gloriously beautiful body meant a car that nobody should ignore. While those old Saabs are more likely to be found at a wrecking yard than on the street, and you'll never grab a Mustang Cobra R with those production numbers, 300zx TTs are easily still found in either totally stock or heavily modified condition. If I had to pull a car off this list (and you don't want to budge on the aforementioned Saab or Mustang) then ditching the unreliable Mazda RX7 would be a straight twin-turbo swap.