The '90s were some of the greatest years for the automobile industry. The current crop of millennials approaching their 30s was born in this period. It was like a new renaissance, and car manufacturers were fiercely competitive. There were new and bolder designs with high performance to boot. You could find great cars in almost every vertical, including trucks.
The '90s saw the birth of some amazing car models that are still on the assembly line up to today. There were a couple of sports cars that were also produced during this era. They symbolized the highest form of engineering that a car manufacturer could showcase. There were those that were targeted for the average consumer, and these are the ones we'll be highlighting. Some sports cars didn't turn out so great and were an embarrassment to the owners and the producers. Such cars would always have mechanical vulnerabilities and weren't reliable by any means. The oddballs must always be there in any ecosystem, and the car industry is no exception. The '90s could easily be a top-three contender for the best decade for the automobile industry. Here are sports cars from the '90s that are worth every dollar and 7 that always broke down.
17 Always Broke Down: Porsche 911 (996)
The Porsche 911 has been in production since 1963, and there are still some amazing cars being produced to date. The 996 came out at a time when the company was struggling financially, and that could be seen in the vehicle.
It was hurriedly put on the assembly line without much engineering thought going into it.
The design looks like it was lifted from the Boxster, which was another sports car that's an embarrassment to Porsche. There was a big issue with the water-cooling tech with the first generations of the 966. The rear wing also wouldn't sometimes open. The front radiator was prone to leaking, which was unfortunate for a car with the Porsche badge.
16 Always Broke Down: Subaru SVX
The Subaru SVX had to be on this list. It's included in almost every list of the worst cars in the last 25 years. It first featured in the 1989 Tokyo Show, and the company thought there was enough interest for the car to hit mass production. The designer is the same person who came up with the Maserati Ghibli, which is nothing to write about, except for the windows that don't work. The SVX was to be the foundation upon which new Subaru sports cars would be built upon. It turned out to be a massive failure, even with the 3.3-liter, 230 hp. The SVX could only manage a paltry 0.29 drag coefficient. The sub-par tech features only made things worse for the SVX.
15 Always Broke Down: 1994 Ford Mustang
The 1994 Ford Mustang was the fourth generation of the car model. It was first launched in 1993, and it was the first car that featured a new design in 15 years. This could've been seen as a game-changer, but it wasn't to be the case. There were a number of reports of the cooling fan not working. This seems to be a problem up to today with some Mustang models. In Australia, the Mustang failed the highway-police test because of overheating.
The 1994 model was also prone to electrical faults.
There are a lot of such related queries on Mustang forums, and one needs to be careful when buying the 1994 model. This is unfortunate because Ford invested close to $700 million to improve on the Fox platform.
14 Always Broke Down: Cizeta V16T
The Cizeta V16T had all the necessary ingredients for a successful sports car, at least on paper. It had all the necessary indicators that later on made the Pagani an overwhelming success. You can have all the ideas right, but it doesn't necessarily mean the final output is going to be something worth being proud of.
The Cizeta V16T had a base price of $300,000 when it launched.
This was twice as much as the Lamborghini Diablo. The car wasn't street-legal in the US, which is one of the biggest markets for exotics. It couldn't meet the safety and emission regulation standards of the North American market. You can still buy a new Cizeta V16T, but you'll have to do away with $649,000.
13 Always Broke Down: Porsche Boxster
I've written about the Porsche Boxster before, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't something positive. The car first hit the assembly line in 1996 and was the first vehicle to be designed as a roadster by Porsche. There have been limited editions with outrageous price tags. The 1996 model was everything but impressive.
The 2.5-liter had several issues with the cylinder liner, and it might be disastrous to buy it as a second-hand car.
You can be sure that the oil seal will fail, and you have to check for leaks every now and then. The cylinder heads are also prone to cracking, and not a lot of owners were aware of this fact when they were buying the Porsche Boxster.
12 Always Broke Down: Jaguar XJ220
It may have achieved legendary status, but it came with a couple of problems that could classify the Jaguar XJ220 as disappointing. The whole vehicle, right from the unveiling, was based on deceit. The specs that were advertised weren't the ones that came with the actual vehicle. Instead of the much-hyped V12 engine, Jaguar chose to go with the 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6 engine. There were 1,500 early deposits expecting to get what the company advertised. Jaguar opted for the V6 engine because the V12 couldn't meet the emissions regulations, no matter how hard they tried. Some car enthusiasts were of the opinion that Jaguar decided to go with the V6 engine because it made things easy and cheaper on their part.
11 Always Broke Down: BMW Z3
The BMW Z3 is a nice-looking vehicle, even with the all negative reviews it's received ever since it was launched in 1997. Some people think it's underpowered, as it comes with a 1.9-liter engine that can produce 140 hp. One of the biggest problems reported on the BMW Z3 is the coolant leak, which may set you back about $500. This can be a huge cost, given the fact that you're driving a car that's over 20 years old. Another common problem is that the oil-gasket leaks, which tends to happen if the car has been driven for a long time. There's also the power-steering fluid leaks which are a common occurrence. There's no need to go through such trouble if you'll be buying a used BMW Z3.
10 Worth Every Dollar: Acura NSX
The Acura NSX first came into the scene in 1990, but its origins can be traced back to as early as 1984. The first concept car had a 3.6-liter V6 engine and was seen as revolutionary, given the price point and the reliability. The Acura NSX was the first car meant for mass production to rock an all-aluminum body. The car was initially priced at $60,000, but demand and time saw it balloon to $89,000. It could produce up to 270 horsepower and had a top speed of 168 mph. It could go from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds. A good number from the early '90s are still on the road today. The model is still on the assembly line up to today.
9 Worth Every Dollar: Nissan 240SX
The Nissan Nissan 240SX was first introduced in 1988 and was in production for a decade. It was the natural successor to the S12 model. You can't mention drifting, even today, without recognizing the Nissan 240SX long after production came to a halt in 1999. The first generations had the privilege of having the sporting engineering of rear-wheel drive as standard.
The 1990 variant was powered by a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, which could produce up to 140 hp.
There were a couple of updates in 1991, like the matte-black exterior finishing. 1992 saw the introduction of the convertible, which still looks good up to today and has definitely aged well. This is a car you can confidently buy, even if it's a second hand.
8 Worth Every Dollar: Dodge Viper GTS
The Viper GTS has to be one of the best-looking sports cars from the company. You can get a 1996 model for around $20,000, and the car is worth every dollar. There was a time Chrysler had considered discontinuing the vehicle because of financial problems. The main attraction for the first model was the engine. It was produced at a time when the Lamborghini franchise was still owned by Chrysler. This helped in coming up with the V10 engine, which borrowed heavily from the Chrysler LA engine. The engine was able to produce up to 400 hp. Every piece of engineering was all down to performance. It could go from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds and had a top speed of 165 mph.
7 Worth Every Dollar: BMW E39 M5
The BMW E39 could possibly be the best M5 ever produced. It was the fastest production Sedan sports car when it first launched in 1998. The M5 has been in production since 1985, but it's the '90s era that brings back all the nostalgia. The E39 saw a paradigm shift in terms of design and performance.
It featured a 4.9-liter V8 engine, which could produce up to 394 hp.
There haven't been a lot of changes in terms of design ever since, and the E39 could easily be mistaken for the latest model. The car had a top speed of 165 mph and could go from 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds. There are still a good number of BMW E39s M5 on the road that are drivable.
6 Worth Every Dollar: Chevrolet Corvette C4
The Chevrolet Corvette C4 was produced from 1984 to 1996. The car did set a couple of records in the '90s. In 1990, the ZR-1 set the record for being the highest 24 hr-5,000 mile land-speeding automobile by smashing 175 mph. The years that followed saw an increase in pricing, which led to low sales. There are some people who are of the opinion that the Chevrolet Corvette C4 is the most desirable indigenous American sports car from the '90s. It's hard to argue against the statement because the vehicle came with a V8 engine, which could produce up to 375 hp. It had a base price of $58,000. The Chevrolet Corvette C4 had a top speed of 180 mph and could go from 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds.
5 Worth Every Dollar: Saab 900 NG
Everyone seems to have forgotten about this vehicle, but it was one of the best to have come out of the '90s in terms of design and performance. The second generation, also referred to as the 'new' generation, was produced from 1994 to 1998.
It came with two engine options. You could either choose the 2.0-liter 130 hp or the 2.0-liter turbocharged 185 hp.
It used class-leading suspension and could handle just about anything that it was made to go through. The Automatic Performance Control system was what set the engine apart from other models. The system was made in such a way that it limited engine knocking, which reduces the lifespan of a vehicle. The high-performance models of the Saab 900 NG were popular in Europe and North America.
4 Worth Every Dollar: BMW M Coupe
The BMW M Coupe is a car that I've admired for a long time. The exterior design looks like that of a very expensive sports car. The vehicle was first introduced in 1992. The engineers involved were having a hard time convincing the board why the car was worth mass production. The board only allowed for the production because they were convinced it wouldn't cost a fortune to produce it. The BMW M Coupe borrows from the Roadster, which could be seen as a convertible version. The car has a 3.2-liter L6 engine, which could produce up to 240 hp at 6,000 rpm. There was an even more powerful version that could produce up to 321 hp at 7,400 rpm.
3 Worth Every Dollar: Jaguar XJR (X306)
The X306 was the sports variant of the Jaguar XJ line. It was first introduced for the mass market in 1994 and was the first-ever supercharged road car from the car manufacturer. It was also the second car from Jaguar to include forced induction. In terms of performance, the X306 was upgraded to 326 hp.
The car could go from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds.
It borrows from the turbocharged engine that was used in the XJ220, which isn't on the same level when it comes to performance. The car featured a larger exhaust with sporty alloy wheels, which differentiated it from the other models. There are still a couple of the Jaguar XJR (X306) that are still in good condition.
2 Worth Every Dollar: Lotus Esprit V8
This is another car that doesn't get the credit it deserves. It was in production from 1976 to 2004, which makes it one of the longest-running vehicles in the world. The '90s is when things took off for the UK-based car manufacturer. The designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, wanted to call it a 'Kiwi,' but that would've gone against the grain of their naming culture. 1994 saw changes made to the exterior. A rear spoiler was introduced with 5-spoke alloy wheels. Under the hood, there was a 2.2-liter, which could produce up to 300 hp. The car had a limited top speed of 168 mph and could go from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds. A used one currently costs around $25,000.
1 Worth Every Dollar: Toyota Supra A80
The 90s wouldn't have been complete without the mention of the Legendary Toyota Supra A80. You know reliability is covered when you see the Toyota badge, and the Supra is no exception. The A80 first launched in 1993, and Toyota had shifted its focus to a high-performance car with the Supra. The model was completely redesigned with speed and performance as the core values. It came with the option of two engines, one not having a turbo. The twin-turbo variant could produce up to 276 hp. The turbo model came standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. In terms of speed, the Toyota Supra A80 could go from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds. There's a 2019 version coming out, and car enthusiasts are more than excited about the prospects.
Sources: carophile.com; buzzdrives.com