The ‘90s was a pretty weird decade. Some things were just surreal, both in the car world and the rest of the world. There are some things that would likely not happen in today’s time. For instance, 1997 was a time during which Apple was in huge trouble. On the verge of bankruptcy trouble. Apple was in such a deep hole that Steve Jobs had to call Bill Gates for financial help. And you know what ended up happening? Bill Gates decided to help the company—a direct competitor—by giving Apple $150M! While the greats understood each other, the general public thought Gates had lost his mind. Indeed the public had booed at Gates for his action (cnbc.com). I’m pretty sure there are millions of people now who can understand his reasoning—save a rising company to make the world a better place and make the likes of us a little happier with the new products. Try finding an action similar to that in today’s world.
While that was the real world, there were things happening in the car world too. One of the most notable things happened when Ford bought Jaguar in the early ‘90s. Back then, these small manufacturers couldn’t stand alone and needed a tycoon to help them out. Jaguar was barely breaking even, and Ford bought it because its own attempts at manufacturing luxury cars were unsuccessful.
With the global perspective in mind, let’s check out some ‘90s cars that are worth it, and some that aren’t.
25 EVERYONE LOVES: ACURA NSX
Here’s a beast to have from the ‘90s. Honda got tired of Ferrari’s tyranny and decided to do something for itself and help others. So it went ahead and equipped this beast with a 3L V6.
Now, unlike the Ferrari of its time, the NSX was priced at merely $60K, which is a lot but was cheaper than a Ferrari.
It helped people because they could obtain a supercar that was cheap and wasn’t ridiculously expensive to maintain. It was also the world’s first mass-produced car that sported an all aluminum body. Slice it however you want, it’s a good car.
24 EVERYONE LOVES: MCLAREN F1
Here’s a car that anyone would love, flat out. Only 106 of these were ever made, so they are very rare. Much like the Jaguar XJ220 that set a world record, the F1 set another world record. It was a legendary car, relying on pure power, lightweight and an extremely aerodynamically friendly body.
The whole thing looks like an intricate piece of work. There are so many panels and so many features that exploring this car will just blow your mind. Even the engine was plated gold to make sure the heat flow was efficient. It’s just one fancy car of that time.
23 EVERYONE LOVES: FORD MUSTANG
It certainly had the roundedness representative of the ‘90s, but even today, it looks pretty nice. Or maybe that’s just my penchant for cars from the ‘90s. Either way, the hood was simple; the sides had some curves and the rear looked good with a spoiler. While the exterior may have been simple, the powerplant was definitely not.
It was a 5L V8 that produced a respectable 215 HP.
It was a little slower than its competitor the Camaro, but it outsold the Camaro 2 to 1. If you’re wondering the reason for that, just look at Camaro from the ‘90s—it’s surreal.
22 EVERYONE LOVES: LEXUS LS
The current generation Lexus LS is one jubilant vehicle. Whether it’s the hot shot grille or the dashing cabin, it looks good through and through. All that started with the first generation of the LS back in ’89. It was one solid car.
Unlike the exterior of today’s car, the exterior back then was rather modest, although I find the simplicity to be tantalizing. If you ever wondered how something is perfected, take note. The car was driven 1.7M miles in testing, after 60 designers, 1400 engineers, 24 teams, 2.3K technician and 200+ support workers made this car. A lot of work, in other words.
21 EVERYONE LOVES: TOYOTA SUPRA
While the third generation didn’t experience the roundedness that a lot of other cars had experienced, it was the fourth and final generation that got the rounded car. And this is one of those cars that actually pulled off that look very nicely. I mean, just look at it. It’s not so rounded that it comes across as a bulbous car, but neither is the car as sharp as a Lambo.
It’s a perfect car from the ‘90s. The I6 was one magical engine. Consequently, the car ended up becoming very popular among customers. It even ended up featuring in Need For Speed and The Fast and the Furious.
20 EVERYONE LOVES: ASTON MARTIN DB7
These cars were produced by Aston Martin from 1994-2004. It has a bit of history with it. The car was designed to become a Jaguar, but because of the lack of interest, Ford decided it was better suited for Aston Martin. No, there was no typo there. Ford was the owner of both Jaguar and Aston Martin back then!
It was the entry-level Aston Martin, and the sales numbers would indicate that Ford’s and Aston Martin’s plan worked, as over 7K units were sold, with profits pocketed by the companies. The car also looks pretty decent, even some 20-30 years later.
19 EVERYONE LOVES: MAZDA MIATA
If you check out the ad for this one from the ‘90s, you’ll find it to be upbeat with the motto saying, “It just feels right.” When it had come out initially, it sold crazy well, with 400K units being sold in the first generation. When you come to think of it, there’s not much to the car.
There’s no fancy turbo/supercharger, there’s no movie gimmick and, there’s no crazy exterior.
And in fact, it doesn’t even have a solid roof. But it’s the ease of usage, go-kart-like handling and the easy maintenance that made it a fan among the enthusiasts.
18 EVERYONE LOVES: DODGE VIPER
Dodge really had its game back in the ‘90s, unlike now. The Corvette was an all time favorite vehicle with 250 HP offered on the base model and 400 HP on the ZR-1. But the Viper didn’t have any less power than the best of the Corvettes.
Chrysler owned Lamborghini during that time, and guess who helped Chrysler with the V10 monster of the Viper? Lamborghini.
Not only was the Viper a Corvette competitor, but it also was the sports car of that time and filled in the gap left by Shelby Cobra.
17 EVERYONE LOVES: ISUZU VEHICROSS
While this one might not look like your average car, you can be assured it’s one sturdy car. This was actually built by Isuzu, and was one of the first crossovers when it came out in 1997. The build was just like that, a distinct upper half and a distinct lower half.
Say what you will, but the car looks just durable and insane. There are fangs in the grille, if you wanted more evidence. It’s like the Hulk of cars. Like, there’s not much out there that could break this beast. It was a 4WD sporting a V6.
16 EVERYONE LOVES: BMW E30
If you didn’t like any of the cars placed here so far, well then, I salute you for your different taste. But here’s one car that not a lot of people can resist liking. It’s the perfect car of this era, although it was present in the ‘80s too. It was “The Ultimate Driving Machine” back in its time and was kind of prestigious. But now these cars have achieved a legendary status. Whether it’s the insane handling or the durable engine, this car had it all. It might look a little dated, but it won’t drive like that at all.
15 EVERYONE LOVES: PONTIAC FIREBIRD TRANS AM
Here’s a pony car that embraced the US from 1967-2002. The main rivals of this beast were the Mustang and Camaro, although it shared the platform with the latter. It’s an iconic car, whose name “Firebird” goes back to the ‘50s.
The one shown here is from the very last year of the past century.
It looks beautiful and stunning through and through. Just check out how aggressive that front fascia is. The sides are good looking, and the rear is fabulous. The one from 1999 received an update to be able to keep up with the fresh new Camaro.
14 EVERYONE LOVES: NISSAN SKYLINE GT-R
While we may have a car that has some connection with the Godzilla, the ‘90s was the time when the actual Godzilla was produced. When it appeared in the 1990 Australian Touring Car Championship, it completely obliterated the past winner Ford Sierra Cosworth.
The Australian motor industry began calling it “Godzilla,” and that’s how the name came about.
It was such a good car that it caused the classes to be redefined. It kept winning races after races, and others were just having difficulty keeping up with it. So, you can definitely drive around in this tire burning, gut-wrenching Godzilla.
13 EVERYONE LOVES: PORSCHE 993
Ah, the lovely 993. This one created a war, kind of. This was the last air-cooled Porsche, and people didn’t like the liquid cooled Porsche that was about to come. I think a part of that was that people were afraid to embrace the change. Laws were changing, and Porsche knew it had to change. But people couldn’t just let go of the 993.
It wasn’t the end of the world. There are people who love successor Porsche 996 to no end, and everything is still fine. But if you’re stuck in time, you can get the 993.
12 NO ONE LOVES: FORD ASPIRE
While this car may have been a decent car on its own, in its own world, when it got on the market, it wasn’t exactly a beast anymore. That’s the nature of the market. Either you come prepared to make it, or you go home—like the Aspire.
The exterior of the car wasn’t the best. Various people have called it egg-shaped, and that’s somewhat true. But that wasn’t the only issue people had with this. The 0-60 time was about 16 seconds. That’s just insane. Even by that time’s standard, it was a little hard to digest such a slow time.
11 NO ONE LOVES: 1996 FORD EXPLORER
I don’t know where things went wrong with this car. It was the classic soccer mom car. But one event led to another, and the rest was history. So, what happened? Well, the Explorers started rolling over due to tire malfunction. Occurrences started rolling in and, one by one, the number of incidents started piling up. Eventually the government got involved to check out the deal.
Everything was heavily scrutinized. Ford blamed Firestone, the tire manufacturing company, and Firestone reciprocated.
The end result was the loss of billions of dollars, severance of long-term relationships and loss of various innocent lives. It was a pretty bad car.
10 NO ONE LOVES: HUMMER H1
I’m not sure who likes these anymore. There was a time back in the day when these were very famous. The gas prices were low, the energy was high. But then the environment changed; gas prices increased, and people became more earth conscious. So these Hummers started coming off the roads.
You can clearly see what we like nowadays. We like high ground clearance vehicles with a high seating position—that’s what a crossover, the current dominant vehicle, is. But we also like car like interior and touch. We don’t want to sit in a vehicle and experience any of the truck like characteristics.
9 NO ONE LOVES: LAND ROVER DISCOVERY II
While the current Discovery II looks mind-boggling, the same couldn’t be said of those from the ‘90s. The Land Rover Discovery II was plagued with reliability issues back then, and unfortunately, that aspect hasn’t improved. But the sad part is—and this goes for any car or human being—until that aspect changes, it will keep happening again and again.
The reliability issues won’t disappear into thin air, folks. These cars were seriously unreliable, whether it was a simple part like a bolt or something as complex as the engine. We started associating the Discovery II with unreliability pretty quickly.
8 NO ONE LOVES: SUBARU SVX
The windows remind you of the DeLorean. It’s split into two, and you can sleep soundly knowing that not a lot of people like these types of windows anymore.
I mean, some supercars from the ‘70s and ‘80s were even more loud with the styling of the windows, but this one here is not that far behind.
After Giorgetto Guigiaro (Italian) made a concept car, Subaru decided it wanted to proceed. So Subaru did with its first luxury sports. The result? A car whose window was bound to give you trouble at drive-throughs and toll booths.
7 NO ONE LOVES: NISSAN NX
Here’s a two-door sports car from Nissan. It was kind of a replacement of the Nissan Pulsar. The engine choices were not many; you could have either a 1.6L I4 or a 2L I4. The problem with this car was the styling. The sides look okay and rear looks okay too. But when you get to the front portion, you’re kind of taken by surprise by what you see.
However, it should be noted that the car had one of the best handlings available in a front-wheel-drive car of that time. It was a tiny little car with a relatively lightweight.
6 NO ONE LOVES: ACURA VIGOR
The details are not clear on this one. Some sources say it was derived from the Honda Accord, while others say it was the interior of the Integra that had been utilized. Those who state it was Integra derived, mention that the Accord had a much larger interior.
Either way, the car didn’t look like its proportions were done properly.
The fenders look like they were stretched to accommodate a wider track, and the rear looks a bit odd too. Acura had created it to kind of fit in between the Integra and the Legend, but it just didn’t work out.
5 NO ONE LOVES: 1994 CHRYSLER LEBARON SEDAN
You know, this wasn’t the first time Chrysler was building this car. The same name was applied to classic luxury cars way back in the ‘30s.
Considering these cars continued to be in production until the early 2000s, the LeBaron was one of the longest-running nameplates in Chrysler history.
This was released around the same time as the Acclaim and Spirit were released from Chrysler. The Acclaim was supposed to be the flagship version, the Spirit the sporty version and the LeBaron a luxury version. And perhaps that’s why it carried that ‘80s look. It just looked so out of this world.
4 NO ONE LOVES: CHEVY LUMINA APV
The windshield is so steep here that if you removed the wipers and placed a ladder at the back, the little ones can start using it as a slide. No, for real. There’s no break between the hood and the screen, so the little minions would have a smooth ride.
Anyway, turns out Chevy wanted to become as aerodynamic friendly as possible, so they completely revamped the design of this minivan, with the end result being a sacrificed visibility. The windshield was so steep that drivers always had internal reflections blinding them. Chevy eventually went back to making it driver friendly.
3 NO ONE LOVES: FORD TAURUS
It’s kind of funny how things turn around so quickly. Taurus has to be one of the most influential designs in the car world. It has sold about 7.5M units since launch in 1986 and, from 1992-1996, it was the best selling car of our nation.
While the second generation (1923-1996) cars were good looking, Ford decided to take it to another level for the third generation. And that was it for Taurus.
Ford kind of overdid the whole ‘90s theme. It was way too bulbous. The front looked cartoonish and the rear was amorphous. Ford even managed to mess up the sides of this car—a pretty difficult thing to do.
2 NO ONE LOVES: MERCEDES-BENZ A-CLASS
You know, great people always say, “You learn from failures.” I think they are spot on with that. MB had to learn that lesson at various times in life, but here’s one specifically from the ‘90s. MB decided to produce these subcompacts back then, and they didn’t exactly do a good job. Part of that has to do with our association of MB with luxury.
You always see an MB logo on a car that’s beautiful and shining. Rarely do you see something that’s not pretty from MB, unless you drove this car, of course. MB decided to increase its size to compact after two years.
1 NO ONE LOVES: FORD EXCURSION
This is what’s called a gas guzzler monster. I mean, the whole thing weighed 7K pounds. And when it came to the length, it was 19 feet long. And when it came to height, 7 feet tall. And when it came to driving properly, it balked.
While you might be surprised to learn that the whole thing could tow 10K pounds, that’s proportionate to its weight, so nothing extraordinary happened there.
I wasn’t joking about the gas guzzling nature. Various print media have called it various names, one of the most famous being “Ford Valdez,” in reference to a nasty oil spill.
Sources: jalopnik.com, autowise.com