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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I have a BME e39 sport wagon with manual, but I prefer my red (hellrot) e34 V8 5 speed. A bit more teutonic (read that simple) and better put together. And I'm approaching 500k on this thing!
Aston Martin DB7. US imported them in 1997 & 1998. It would be the most beautiful car on the list, with a very reliable 3.6L I6 and a decent 335 supercharged horsepower.
My vote: I owned a 1995 Acura Integra GS-R with the VTEC that was a real hoot to drive. It was the perfect car for my early 20's self of modest income back in 1995.
One caution on the BMW 540I 6 speed. It eats BMW -only cat converters with the stick (not so, auto). And don't even try to replace either of them with aftermarket; got to be the real deal (about $1500 each as I recall, after about 60K miles). Otherwise it was a wonderful car. The 545 6-spd got even softer. After that,I moved to Porsche Panamera.
I imagine that Colin does not even know what a Mercedes 124 is, so I'll educate him here. It should be on the list because it was absolutely the best designed and best executed production car during the '90s.
The car was available as the satisfying sedan, the discreet but useful wagon, the sublime coupe and of course the always impressive cabriolet that awes at the country club and still gets the best parking spot from the valet. Impeccable cars but below the radar of the snobs who wrote the above.
I'll also add and agree with the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon, the Corvette C4 FRC coupe, the Mercedes R129 roadster, the Lexus SC300/400, its twin turbo six JDM companion the Toyota Soarer and the simple and overlooked (fox body) Ford Mustang LX convertible.
The above list is not for Hagerty customers but for swells hoping to impress at B-J next January.
Once again, as most times prior, your list leaves me wondering why I opened the link. I'm never sure of who your audience is, or for that matter the basis of your criteria. As usual, you're going to have many comments from people wondering why their favorite car is missing from the list - or maybe that's the point; to get us all frustrated....
I might not have read enough of the comments following, but I would have thought the MkIV (4th gen) Supra would have made the list. Don't have one, and the body style is a little plain, but it was pretty advanced for its time and the TT model was pretty speedy.
Where is the 94 -96 Impala SS? Really? How can you talk 90s without this Police Package Beast as well as the C4 Corvette! You need to visit Motor Trends take on a Great performance B Body for the Baby Boomers!! Buy the way, after Motor Trends test of this Classic, a staff member went out and bought one! That's a Great endorsement!
Thanks, The PORZ
You forgot to mention the Corvette ZR1 that debut in the early to mid 90’s. Reasonable price today with assume power to weigh ratio and great handling. One of best cars from the 90’s.
I had a 1996 ('95 and a half) Audi turbo quattro S-6, 5 speed in Europa Blue with gray interior that I totally loved! Not many knew that car and Audi was still tainted by the CBS fake news story on unintended acceleration, so there were few sold in the US.
95-96 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 Spyder (and its hardtop siblings). 300hp, twin turbo, AWD, 4-wheel steering, folding hardtop, adjustable suspension, stone cold reliable. 10 years ahead of anything comparable.
The 240sx has become quite the cult classic in the drifting and mod world. Although many were made , originals in good condition are becoming rare and difficult to find.
I would pick the Mazda Rx7 as the best sports car of the 90's for all the reasons it was picked for the list. It and the Boxster are both extremely advanced sports cars without trying to be supercars. The Maranello is a wonderful car, as its pricing would demand. The McLaren is more a collectible or investment as one of the most iconic supercars of any period. The Miata is nice, but just too simple, although it adheres to the Lotus Elan formula.
I still love my B&W 96 Viper GTS after all these years. The car is 100% timeless IMO. Yes, it is now a monster thanks to a couple of twin turbos from Underground Racing and updated with modern wheels and all kinds of aftermarket performance stuff, but it's still a timeless classic and never ceases to draw crowds.
The NSX and the Viper get my vote consistently. The styling alone is enough to sell
those vehicles. Personally, I think that Corvette stole the design of the NSX
VW Corrado. Yes it was rather quickly put together, using bits from the fleet, tho thats whats VW stands for. What makes it different is that it was built at the Karmann plant. Complimented to be the best handling car in the late 80'. Then they turned the reputable VR6 2.8 to a 2.9, just for the Corrado. What a Beast.
I've got your back Brad. I had a '96 9000 CS turbo. It drove like it had a V6 even though it was an auto. Best driving car I ever had, it felt like it was carved from a block of metal it was so solid. and to top it off, the audio (with a cassette and disc player) was about the best sounding I've ever heard.
Your Information on the 1993 Cobra R is incorrect I'm sorry to say.... Marshall Mize had 2 new 1993 Cobra R's in early 1994.. I took my Black 93 Cobra there in March of 94 because of an issue with the throw-out bearing & i had this salesman hounding me to trade my Cobra for 1 of the 2 R's as soon as i pulled on the lot.. Both had identical window sticker $ and they were just under $26,000 a piece.. Neither one had a backseat, no AC, no radio.. Just a heater panel.. They had the new 94 GT wheels painted Gloss black ( Which i didn't care for ) At least mine had unique wheels ( even if they were 4 lug.. Lol ) And they could not give those cars away... Nobody around Chattanooga wanted a new Cobra with no AC, no radio and minus a backseat that had loose fitting carpet covering another gloss black 94 GT wheel ( The spare ) He didn't convince me to part ways with mine that day but it wasn't for a lack of trying.. so the part about having to have a current SCCA competition license is inaccurate unless the person that ordered them at Marshall Mize had one but honestly it's not that kind of a dealership.. I didn't buy my Cobra from them because they didn't have one at the time so i believe the 2 R's were passed along until they landed at Mize because people were not interested in the old Mustang when GM had just released the new 93 F-Body twins that had a base price of $16,999 with the 275HP LT1.. People thought i was touched in the head for paying just under $23,000 for a 235HP Mustang.. Lack of public interest is supposedly why a 5,000 limited run ( That was the salesman's big pitch for the one i purchased " You'll be 1 of just 5,000 people to own this version of the 1993 Mustang.. Funny enough State Farm gave me that same speech but with a more ominous tone when i insured it ) Cobra stopped at 4,993 units.. So it didn't matter if it was a Cobra R, Cobra, GT, LX-5.0 or just an LX none of those models were flying off the shelves in 93 because the people that didn't jump to GM were waiting for the all new under-powered over-priced 1994 mustang line-up...
Guess I'd have to say I'm surprised anyone could FIND 10 awesome cars from the 90's, unless they were just awesome compared to the 80's offerings. Slim pickings, for sure.
What about the super rare, all made BY HAND, in the same factory as the Benz AMG's, and long out of business, Karmen coach works in Germany. The Volkswagen Corrado. 1992 the first ever online v6 at a 15 degree slant (a.k.a. the VR). Ahead of it's time and made just to show the world what VW could do (or make a cheap Porsche). The spoiler was mechanical by speed and was listed as "The best front wheel drive car of all time" by car and driver magazine. Yes it was more expensive than an RX7, Toyota Supra or MR2 of the day, but it was incredible! Less than 90k were made in the 6 years of production and North America as a whole got less than 30k. This was a car that is still loved by many, and the ones that still love them are true collectors in every sense since they are not that reliable and parts are harder to find than Trumps tax reports! I love my Corrado SLC with its factory Recaro interior, cold weather package, automatic everything. Digital MPG gauge that also shows my trans temp and 1/4 mile times and not to mention a spoiler that lifts up at 35MPH and lowers at 15. Did I mention it is a 1992 and STOCK?