There's still a whole bunch of people searching for 90s domestic cars. They are available. But their numbers decrease with every passing year. And while the 90s may feel like they were just yesterday, do the math and you’ll realize that if you registered your ride in 1990, you have been riding it for 28 years now.
Here we have compiled a list of domestic cars from the 90s that have managed to stand the test of time. Unlike the cars from the 70s and 80s, many of which have been declared non-road worthy, the percentage that has been declared SORN from the 90s is relatively low, and many of its autos are actively riding on highways. Only 10% or less of them are rotting in countryside garages or driveways. This 10% also contains those 90s cars that are used only during dry summers.
Besides these incredibly desirable, and still worth your money 1990 domestic cars, we also have a bunch of them that were utterly worthless, even during their time of release. Most of these no longer exist. The problem could be poor engineering, bad-looking designs, and also pricing.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled the following list of 9 domestic cars built between 1990 and 1999 that are still strong for the road, and worth buying. Most of them you can find on eBay. We’ve also put together the top 10 hideous cars of this decade that were not worth buying then, let alone almost 28 years later.
19 Skip it: Chrysler Neon
With its power coming from a 2.0L single overhead camshaft producing 98 horsepower, the Chrysler Neon is one of the 1990s cars that I would strongly recommend that you don’t come close to.
The engine was fuel injected, making it economical, but that didn't change a thing about its substandard performance.
For old age pensioners, the Chrysler Neon was quite a choice because of its good value, and the optional auto box which was very cheap. This brought the OAPs to Neon showrooms in thousands. The 4-speed auto transmission was quite sluggish, and noisy compared to vehicles of its class.
18 Skip it: 1996 GM EV1
The GM EV1 was the first modern electric vehicle, a marvel of engineering, and the best EV ever seen on US roads. GM built this vehicle to comply with California's zero-emission mandate. It was quick and fun to drive, and also reliable. It was quite a promising engineering work, which brought the hope of replacing the smelly internal combustion cars with green ones.
The problem was living up to the promise. First of all, the battery technology was way too far from being able to power this tiny two-seater car leave alone the consumer-preferred big vehicles. It was quite expensive for GM to build the EV1, and costly to consumers too. And that was the primary cause of its demise.
17 Skip it: 1997 Plymouth Prowler
This car was born in the mid-1990s when the computer technology arrived at automaker desks, allowing designers to pursue high-end projects that in the 70s and 80s were all but dreams. With the new tech, car designers believed that the projects would not be as costly as before. One of their creations is this Plymouth Prowler.
It looked like a dry lake supercar from the future, with open front end wheel. The Prowler was pushed forward by a 3.5L v6 engine stuck under the hood producing 250 horsepower.
This car did not have a manual transmission, which was yet another terrible failure. This made it very hard, almost impossible for the prowler to lay down the necessary stripes of hot rubber. We can simply say that this car was overly hyped but failed terribly to deliver.
16 Skip it: 1996 Pontiac Grand Am
I don’t know what outweighs the other, because it's the Grand Am that put Pontiac in the spotlight, and remained the top-selling car from the company for many years. The car was good on highways, with excellent handling, and a luxurious interior. The 1996 facelift gave it a beautiful look with a new grille, and headlights.
However, even though the styling was attractive, it seems that Pontiac was obsessed with plastics during the creation of the Grand Am. And the obsession continued on every other design intelligence from the automaker. The Pontiac Grand Am was powered by a weak 4-cylinder engine that barely produced 150 horsepower.
15 Skip it: 1993 Ford Aspire
Despite the inspiring brand name, the 1993 Aspire is one of Ford’s creations that nobody aspired to own, ever. And not just in the domestic market; no one wanted this orb shaped mold in their driveways all over the universe.
Coming at a time when the world had not seen great cars like today, this boxed body Ford Aspire seasoned the 1990s car market with pepper, probably because it had all the hallmarks of a powerful car.
The combination of everything on this car created all the problems. How can a 4-cylinder engine that can hardly produce 60 horsepower be combined with a 5-speed manual transmission? With cheap and dubious plastic surrounding the manual transmission?
14 Skip it: 1992 Ford Probe
Another Ford in this long list of useless and worthless cars of the 1990s. Ford and Mazda came together in a joint venture to create this shoe-shaped automobile. It’d be better if they didn't. The creation was a total waste of time and resources. The probe suffered the lowest global sales in the history of both Mazda and Ford.
It was built with a weak 6-cylinder 5-speed engine and a front wheel drive (an unfortunate combination that brought the Ford Probe to its knees). Ford would have at least built this as a family car; even it failed in every other area; t could barely carry many passengers. And this misguided collaboration between two automaker giants could not even last more than eight years.
13 Skip it: 1995 Chevy Monte Carlo
The Monte Carlo was known to be a beautiful car in the 1970s, and since then, Chevrolet has ruined this automobile more and more with each generation.
The 1990s spaceship style model was the final nail in this car’s coffin.
Being from one of the biggest car makers in the world, the Chevy Monte Carlo proved that no one wanted anything to do with a lame-looking car with a front wheel drive and a 4-speed automatic transmission, and powered by a poorly performing v6 engine.
12 Skip it: 1990 Chrysler Imperial
The Chrysler Imperial was supposed to be a modernized, elegant and luxurious saloon car. On the roof of its back, a half vinyl landau was meant to be reminiscent of the 1930s saloons and tycoons. But instead, it just conjured up images of old men who want pillow-like seats in their homes, and just as soft rides in their cars.
It had a four-speed automatic and a front wheel drive, and a v6 engine that could only spit out 147 horsepower. With the above features, the Chrysler Imperial doesn't deserve any star, in fact, it'd rather remain forgotten for good than resurface anytime in the future.
11 Skip It: 1990 Chevrolet Lumina APV
I would say that you’ll love it or hate it, but I already know that you’ll hate it. Who loves a minivan anyway, unless it has the 1989 turbo with a five-speed dodge caravan? And this one doesn’t have any of those.
The 1990 Chevy Lumina was terrible both inside and outside. It looks like a nose, and the sharp slanting towards the bumper makes it hard for you to see where exactly you’re parking it.
The plastic Chevy Lumina APV minivan was powered by 3.1L v6 120 horsepower engine, with a three-speed automatic transmission. Its 3 feet long wipers turn your van into a nightmare when it starts raining, and you turn them on.
10 Skip it: 1995 Ford Explorer
This is one of the best selling cars in US history, holding 14 years in a row best passenger vehicle seller. So, you are wondering how it ends up on this side of the list? Even with this impressive success, the Ford Explorer is blamed for getting drivers, especially women, addicted to sitting high while driving. It is the explorer’s design that got them to realize that this posture was actually fun and comfortable.
Is that a problem? Yes, it is. The explorer is blamed for setting the country on rising cases of vehicular obesity that the country is still contending with to date.
9 Worth it: Ford F-Series
Maintaining a bestselling record of over 37 years is not easy, and neither does it happen in one day. The F-Series is a reminder of the era when the US market cared less about complicated trucks. They preferred just a simple truck that could perform the task perfectly. The Ford F150 sealed the car as the most preferred truck and the bestselling in the whole world. And the fact that you can still find it in a used car showroom, still intact, as the US loves it, and just as strong as those days is a proof that this record was not forged.
It is a multipurpose truck that you can use it to pull, haul or use it for family transportation.
8 Worth It: 1995 Buick Roadmaster
Buick Roadmaster, a great name, and behind it, a great car that has been faithful to serve on the road since 1995. The wagon looks like a battle vehicle, and not just that; it's physically powerful.
It can literally go through a wall and get on the other side with few or no scratches.
The Buick Roadmaster is powered by an LT1 v8 engine, the same engine that pushes the 9C1 Police Interceptor and Chevy Corvette. It’s not among the fasted used cars you can purchase today, but it sure is a very reliable vehicle for both family and other car needs.
7 Worth it: 1999 Pontiac Firebird
How else would you define fun other than having a relatively cheap car with a massive v8 engine? The Pontiac Firebird also has a manual gearbox and rear wheel drive. The vehicle has an iconic design (body), it is easy to mold into what you want it to be, and the cheapest in its class of used cars today.
Even if this is not a family car, meaning it cannot carry more than two people, it is a high-performance vehicle that will take you to the office, to a party, and everywhere else you want to go without issues. Its good built will make you feel like a king on the road, especially when you shine it real good.
6 Worth it: Ford Mustang
The Mustang is a Ford brand icon, from the boxy-body designs of the 60s all the way to the 80s, to the 1993 redesign that improved everything; from the engine to less-boxier body design.
The new Ford Mustang worked magic for this car as it increased its sales by 40,000 vehicles in that year. Double of the previous year sales.
Since then the Mustang has been a public's favorite, with over 200,000 sales by the year 2000. It is powered by a 5.0L 8-cylinder engine, with 5-speed manual transmission. It has excellent handling, which makes it fun to drive.
5 Worth It: 1990 Chevrolet Corvette
The older versions of the Chevrolet Corvette, from the 60s and 70s, were genuinely classic. The 1990s models didn't come with this. But it did bring along all the other features of a real Corvette, plus one new strength, improved sporting capabilities. It was a car that you'd proudly roll out with during the weekend, and park it beside any other big car in the area.
With a 5.0L LT5 v8 engine, the Chevrolet Corvette is still for the 2018 roads, and if you understand this, you can confidently walk into a used car showroom right now and drive one home. It’s worth every dime.
4 Worth it: Ford Escort
With over 500,000 cars being registered in the ‘90s, the Ford Escort is one of the best cars of that era that you can confidently walk into a used car showroom today and get one.
There is just a limited number of them in the market today, and maybe, just maybe, in the next five years, you won't find any in the showroom.
It is a perfect family car, especially if you're not driving a long distance. If you buy it in good shape, you will not spend a dime on it for repairs. And even if it happens to break down, it's cheap to repair and to maintain. Its fuel efficient and fun to drive.
3 Worth it: Dodge Viper
If you want one of this, you better get it right now before its price shoots, if it hasn't already. You would wonder how many Vipers you'd get with a $40,000 budget. The answer is one (high-end), or four (be ready to spend a fortune on repairs). Some of the early roadsters and GTS models are becoming collectors’ favorites, which comes with increased prices, but if you open your eyes wide enough you might be lucky to get one at $30,000. There are also others that are going at $10k, but at that price, do you expect anything good?
It is built with an 8.0L v8 engine, with Lamborghini working on the crankshaft, weight reduction, the cooling system, and also the fine-tuning to make it as attractive as it looks today. Go for it.
2 Worth it: Chevy Camaro
The Chevy Camaro is a demonstration of how the updated version of the F-Body platform could be. Its compact body is also excellent, with a perfect seal on its side windows at speed. Although Chevrolet maintained a lot of features from the first generation Camaro, the 1990s model is quite good with the feel of quality from the absence of squeaks and creaks from the doors.
With a 6-speed manual gearbox, this rear wheel drive completes a quarter mile drive in 14 seconds, cruising at 100mph. For a car of its weight (3452-pounds), this is quite a performance that many cars of its age and class cannot manage.
1 Worth it: Lincoln Navigator
This one rolled out at the peak of the SUVs craze. Being Lincolns last hit, the 1998 Navigator came with a 5.0L v8 engine producing 300hp power. It was also the first and the best SUV production by Lincolns.
The Lincoln Navigator stood out from the crowd not just because of its power, but also because it was built with luxury in mind.
It also comes with an exceedingly stunning design that has never been seen in any of Lincoln’s other car models. It is a great car, and an ideal choice if you’re looking for a used but reliable SUV.
Sources: classics.honestjohn.co.uk, jalopnik.com, thestreet.com, roadandtrack.com, complex.com, time.com