The automotive marketplace is known for fluctuating prices and values that go up and down depending on buyer trends. This creates a marketplace where vehicles can be sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars only to be valued at a few thousand countless years later, unlike a home or other large purchases, which gain equity over time. There are car models out there such as the original first-generation Camaro that have skyrocketed in value, but for the most part, purchasing a vehicle can be a lackluster investment and oftentimes a waste of hard-earned money. This seesaw of pricing has made the used-car market an excellent place to find your dream car for half of the original price, and sometimes, this can be quite the steal.
The 1990s were a magical time, as the Internet was just blossoming and the tech world was beginning to explode, and with all of this prosperity, the economy also brought cheap fuel prices and a boatload of new car models, which made their way to the market. The next generation of entrepreneurs weren't Harvard graduates; instead, they were rap moguls and nerds who founded online bookstores and search engines from their garages. These people were hungry to flaunt their hard-earned money, and with that brought some outrageously priced vehicles that were released during the nineties. Many of these vehicles are still excellent buys today as used cars, and they cost a fraction of what they were once priced at.
25 Audi A8: Original MSRP $57,400
The 1999 Audi A8 and previous models are the big-body luxury sedans that were sold by Audi during the nineties. If you wanted a high level of luxury and a powerful German motor, the Audi A8 was the quintessential mix of performance and refinement. The Audi A8 was, at one time, one of the most expensive luxury sedans of the nineties, and like many expensive cars of that era, has taken a huge hit in terms of resale value. A clean example of the 1999 Audi A8 can be found for around $3,300. (NADA)
24 Bentley Arnage: Original MSRP $203,800
The Bentley Arnage, having been seen in countless rap videos and movies, is one of the most luxurious cars to come out of the nineties. This large luxury car defined the decade and showed off the prosperity that had come across the economy at a time when buyers were discovering more luxurious car models. The Bentley Arnage is one of the fanciest luxury sedans to come out of the nineties, and a clean example can be found for around $26,900, which is a far cry from the original asking price. (NADA)
23 BMW 7-Series: Original MSRP $92,100
The BMW 7-Series is one of the most popular large luxury sedans to ever hit the market, and with good reason.
With an original MSRP of almost 100k, this was one of the most expensive cars that you could buy.
And with the performance to match, the BMW lived up to its reputation as the ultimate driving machine. This car, like many other luxury models, has suffered tremendously from devaluation, and a clean example can be found for under 9k, which is a far cry from the original price. (NADA)
22 Cadillac Escalade: Original MSRP $46,225
The original Cadillac Escalade was a luxurious SUV and was actually the first truck to ever be sold by the Cadillac division. This SUV featured many notable features that the traditional GM SUVs at the time didn’t, such as a rear entertainment center and the advent of OnStar, which was a turn-by-turn navigation system.
The original Escalade had a high price tag, which made it out of reach for most consumers.
But nowadays, a clean example can be found for under 4K, and these are some of the most reliable GM SUVs with the powerful Vortec V8. (NADA)
21 GMC Yukon Denali: Original MSRP $43,075
The original Yukon Denali was also a one-of-a-kind luxury SUV that was released by GM at a time when they needed something to compete with the Lincoln Navigator. The Yukon Denali had many notable features, including a very luxurious interior and a one-of-a-kind exterior that looked a lot different than the generic Yukon models at the time. Although the original price was quite high up there, a clean example can be found for under 3K on the used-car market. (NADA)
20 Infiniti J30: Original MSRP $33,500
The Infiniti J30 was a nice entry-level luxury car that never really sold well at the time but can make for an excellent pre-owned vehicle.
The J30 is based on the stellar Nissan Altima and features all of the notable features that you'd expect out of a luxury sedan.
It features the stellar Nissan V6 engine that's known for reliability. The Infiniti J30 was considered a lot smaller than its competition at the time, which accounts for it being a lesser-known model. A clean example of the Infiniti J30 can be found for under 2k. (NADA)
19 Porsche 968: Original MSRP $39,950
The Porsche 968 is one of the most popular and functional models to be released on the Porsche lineup. It featured notable exceptions for a sports car, such as a full back seat, which was quite useful if you happened to have children but wanted a nice sports car.
The Porsche 968 is also one of the most powerful models, with an intense German-designed V8 engine.
Although production stopped in the early nineties, a clean example of the car can be found for around 6k, and this is a stellar price for one of the most classic Porsche models. (NADA)
18 Mercedes-Benz 500E: Original MSRP $79,200
The Mercedes-Benz 500E is a very rare and very expensive example of one of the best-built sports sedans around. What makes the 500E special is not just the large V8 engine that is inside of it but also the fact that Porsche helped to design and build this sedan. Many of these models are extremely rare and actually pretty fast for their age, which makes them a rarity nonetheless. Thus, if you've been looking for a 500E, you’ll be quite pleased with the current pricing on these sedans, which will allow you to get a clean example for around 19k. (NADA)
17 1990 Lexus LS400: Original MSRP $51,200
The Lexus LS400, sold alongside the smaller ES300 and the SC400, was the big flagship sedan of the Japanese brand for most of the nineties.
This sedan was the very first Japanese luxury sedan sold in the US to feature a full V8 motor, and these big sedans are renowned for their reliability, oftentimes running far over 200k miles before the engine goes.
Finding one of these big sedans is pretty easy, as they're fairly common used cars now, and despite the high original retail price, you can now find a clean example of the LS400 for around 3k, which is a steal. (NADA)
16 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 (C4): Original MSRP $64,138
The Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 is a winning combination of speed and heritage in a classic sports car that's otherwise unknown to the masses. What makes the ZR-1 an interesting combination is a factory V8 motor that it comes with, and there's also the available Targa top. Nevertheless, if you've been yearning for a Corvette, a ZR-1 won't disappoint you in most aspects. With the high original MSRP, these were one of the priciest sports cars that you could buy at the time, but nowadays, you can find an extremely clean example for around $18,400. (NADA)
15 Toyota MR2 Turbo: Original MSRP $14,898
The Toyota MR2 Turbo is a very fun little car to drive that was a lot different from the other sports cars that Toyota was pushing at the time. What made the MR2 different was the fact that it was a mid-engine car, which gave it considerable performance advantages over its predecessors and competition.
The Toyota MR2 Turbo was the ultimate driving machine.
With its lightweight design and driver-focused controls, you couldn’t go wrong driving this little car around, and the legendary Toyota reliability only adds to the value as a clean example can be found for around $1,800. (NADA)
14 Aston Martin DB7: Original MSRP $125,000
With an astonishing design and a powerful engine, it's no wonder that the DB7 was the choice of James Bond and other movie stars during the height of the nineties. With an extremely high price tag, this is one of the most entertaining-to-drive sports cars that has ever been created, and you can’t go wrong with the one-of-a-kind styling either. The Aston Martin DB7 also has a notable interior, which puts an emphasis on luxury instead of just performance. Finding a used DB7 isn't always easy due to this car's original high price tag, but you can find a clean example for around 28k, which is a bargain compared to the original price. (NADA)
13 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo: Original MSRP $33,500
The Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo is an often-overlooked car in contrast to the other twin-turbo sports cars of its heyday, including the Supra Turbo. But the 300ZX has remained one of the most affordable sports cars of its day, making it more than comfortable enough for most people to buy and have fun with. The 300ZX is a practical sports car with a luxurious interior for its time that makes the car comfortable to drive. The exterior design is also quite timeless, including in the signature Nissan red. Although the original price was up there, nowadays, you can find a clean example for around 3k. (NADA)
12 Chevrolet Corvette (C5): Original MSRP $37,495
The Chevrolet Corvette C5 is another stellar sports car that was released in the nineties and introduced the world to the wonderful LS1 engine.
The Chevrolet Corvette C5 is one of the most mainstream and popular Corvettes to date, having been spotlighted in thousands of television shows and magazine features.
The C5 variation is very lightweight and was the first model to introduce the world to the LS1 Aluminum motor, which was renowned for its reliability and stellar performance. A clean example of a C5 Corvette can be found for well under 6k, which is a steal, depending on the condition. (NADA)
11 Lotus Esprit: Original MSRP $71,850
The Lotus Esprit was a one-of-a-kind sports car that defined the ingenuity and interesting design attributes of the nineties. While the Lotus Esprit wasn't as successful or well known as its Lamborghini or Ferrari competition, the Esprit managed to be a solid performer in every test that the automotive press put it through.
The Lotus Esprit is also one of the most stylish exotic sports cars, with a look that screams success and speed.
Finding a Lotus Esprit from the nineties isn’t an easy task, but you can find a clean one in decent shape for under 20k, which is a far cry from the original asking price. (NADA)
10 Mercedes-Benz SL600: Original MSRP $122,700
The nineties Mercedes-Benz SL600 was the cream of the crop when it came to an expensive and luxurious sports car. The SL600 has all of the luxury features of the larger S500 sedan, including the powerful V12 engine that's known for its performance and reliability. The SL600 also features a hardtop convertible model, which is much easier to care for and will last longer than a traditional soft top. The great thing about the SL600 is that like with most high-end luxury cars, the value has depreciated quite well, which means that you can find a decent SL600 in great shape for less than 8k. (NADA)
9 BMW M3 (E36): Original MSRP $41,390
The BMW M3, known for its lightweight design and high revving aluminum engine, is one of the most popular luxury sports cars that you can buy. The entire design of the BMW M3 is stellar, and as a used car, this is one of the most fun models that you can find. The M3 was sold in two different configurations: a convertible and a coupe model, both of which are excellent to drive, although the convertible model is the more stylish of the two. Choosing an M3 isn't an easy task, as the nineties models were quite rare. Finding a clean used M3 will run you about 5k, which is very affordable. (NADA)
8 Porsche Boxster (986): Original MSRP $41,000
The Porsche Boxster was a car that changed the game for Porsche during the nineties, as it introduced the world to a modern and affordable convertible roadster that anyone could afford. The Boxster combined a lightweight design and a nice modern interior that featured all of the latest driver comforts.
Coupled with the powerful V6 engine, this Porsche was nothing to mess with, and you’ll find that these models were much more reliable than their predecessors.
The Porsche Boxster is an excellent used-car model that'll make for years of fun road trips, and a used model can be had for less than 5k. (NADA)
7 Mitsubishi 3000GT: Original MSRP $46,240
The Mitsubishi 3000GT was a stellar twin-turbo sports car that was sold during the nineties alongside the much smaller Eclipse models. What made the 3000GT a unique addition was the one-of-a-kind styling and the powerful twin-turbo engine, that made the car comparable to a Toyota Supra at the time. The 3000GT also had a comfortable interior, which made for a stellar choice in a sports car, and the addition of a back seat made the car a lot more livable. A clean example of the 3000GT can be found for under 4k, which is a steal. (NADA)
6 Lexus SC400: Original MSRP $45,570
The Lexus brand was introduced into the US market to give Toyota a shot at competing against the German luxury brands just like Acura did for Honda. One of the most popular models from the Lexus brand was the SC400 coupe, which took a powerful and refined V8 engine and threw it into a very stylish package. The SC400 has a timeless design that makes it look good even twenty years upon being released, and the SC400 featured many interesting features such as a built-in phone and a roomy backseat. A clean SC400 can be found for under 3k, and that's a great price for this car. (NADA)
5 Cadillac Allante: Original MSRP $52,400
The Cadillac Allante was a stellar convertible that never really got the recognition that it deserved and was the precursor to the XLR convertible.
What makes the Cadillac Allante an interesting convertible is the powerful rear-wheel-drive design and the smooth, large V8 that powered this one-of-a-kind convertible.
The Allante also had a good deal of luxury features that were new at the time, which made it a unique choice in the luxury car market. Unfortunately, the Allante never really took off and was discontinued in 1993, but you can find a generally good-condition example with low mileage for around 6k. (NADA)
4 Chrysler TC by Maserati: Original MSRP $35,000
The Chrysler TC By Maserati was a unique Italian sports car that was designed by Chrysler and sold from 1989 to 1991, and the model featured a lot of notable features, the first of which was a much more luxurious interior from the standard Lebaron and that was only the tip of the iceberg for this exclusive little sports car. The Chrysler TC also featured a turbocharged engine that was derived from Maserati, making this one of the more exclusive Chrysler models to drive around. These were quite rare, and they didn’t really live up to the company's sales expectations. Thus, you can find a very decent Chrysler TC for around 2k. (NADA)
3 Lincoln Continental Mark VII LSC: Original MSRP $30,000
The Lincoln Mark VII LSC is a rare personal luxury coupe that took on the appearance of the average Mark line of cars and threw a supercharged motor under the hood. This same engine is found in the Mustangs of the same time period, and it gave the Mark VII stellar performance in an otherwise unassuming car.
The Mark VII LSC is one of the highly sought-after models that you can find, and if you're lucky, you’ll be able to find one in clean condition.
This is an ideal collector's car for anyone who wants something that's a blast to drive and not as expensive to purchase. (NADA)
2 Buick Electra Park Avenue Ultra: Original MSRP $35,000
Buick is a brand that's long been equated with quality cars and as the lesser-known luxury counterpart to Cadillac. There were quite a few Buick models in the nineties that are worth noting, and one of the most notable is the Buick Electra Park Avenue.
This ultra-luxurious model threw in a supercharged V6 motor and a whole lot of luxury that hadn’t been seen before.
As with most Buick models, there was plenty of interior room that made this land yacht much more livable than you might assume. You can find one of these models on the used-car market pretty cheaply, and you’ll be impressed by the quality. (NADA)
1 Cadillac Brougham: Original MSRP $38,000
The Cadillac Brougham needs no introduction. As the flagship model of the nineties, this is one Cadillac model that's often overlooked. The Brougham combined many of the luxury features that you might not often see on a lesser Cadillac model, and coupled with the interior enhancements and the much larger design, you can’t go wrong with this model. The Brougham also incorporated a much larger engine, which made it a stellar choice for long trips or any vacation where you want to drive a long distance in style. A used Brougham can be found for around 2k, but note that transmission failure was common on these big cars. (NADA)
Sources: Nada Guides