The 90s was a great decade for cars as they got to see a little bit of everything. Considering how saturated the market is these days with SUVs, the 90s were more about the cars, as SUVs didn’t really start to take off in the market until after the millennium. The 90s were more about the small imports and muscle cars.
A lot of sports cars out of Japan, in particular, were imported in the 90s, probably due to the fact that that the US didn’t have restrictions like Japan did back then. According to Car and Driver, car manufactures out of Japan had an agreement among themselves to not produce cars that could make more than 287 hp, in hopes of not creating a civil war on who could make the most powerful engine. We now there is no way that this can actually be possible, due to the fact that the Nissan Skyline easily made over 300 hp. The unofficial ban wasn’t technically broken until 2005 when Honda released the version of the Legend, known as the Acura RL in the US.
While the 90s was a decade full of some really amazing vehicles, unfortunately, a lot of really great vehicles were also discontinued in the 90s. Here are 20 examples of great cars from the 90s that we wish would make a return.
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20 Toyota Supra
It’s safe to assume that after the Supra was featured in the Fast and The Furious, everyone and their mother wanted one, as they should because they are awesome.
According to Car and Driver, the turbocharged inline 3.0-liter was good for 325 hp at 5,600 rpm and 315 lb/ft of torque at 4000 rpm, making it capable of getting a quarter mile done in 13.1 seconds over two decades ago. Sadly, the Supra was discontinued back in 1998, but lucky for us it will be making a return next year and rumor has it that it might return with the same awesome engine!
19 Dodge Stealth
Before the Challenger and Charger came back into production, there was another Dodge sports car that some of you may have forgotten about by the name of the Dodge Stealth.
According to Car and Driver, the Stealth back in 1991 was capable of making 300 hp and 307 lb/ft of torque, thanks to a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter engine. The Stealth R/T Turbo also came standard with a full-time four-wheel drive suspension - it was capable of getting a quarter mile done in 14 seconds flat, getting to 60 in just 5.2 all the way back in 1991!
18 GMC Syclone
The GMC Syclone was unfortunately only produced for one short year in 1991, making it hard to come by. Some even predict it will be considered a collector’s item real soon. The Syclone was so impressive that it actually outperformed a Ferrari in many aspects in a test conducted by Car and Driver.
The Syclone’s turbocharged 4.3-liter V6 engine was good for 280 hp at 4400 rpm and 350 lb/ft of torque at just 3,600 rpm. Theall-wheel-drive Syclone was capable of running a quarter mile in 14.1 seconds, getting to 60 in 5.3, both times faster than the Ferrari 348TS.
17 Mitsubishi 3000 GT
The Mitsubishi 3000 GT made its debut back in 1991 and sadly for us it was discontinued in 1999. If there is one thing that Mitsubishi likes to do it is ending off with a bang, and that they did.
According to Jalponik, only 274 of these unicorns were imported to the US back in 1999. The 3000 GT came packed with twin turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that was good for 320 hp and 315 lb/ft of torque, but what set it apart from its competition was the fact that it had both an all-wheel drive suspension paired with all-wheel steering.
16 Nissan 300ZX
The Nissan 300ZX made its debut to the world back in 1989, and hit the ground running quickly earning its spot on Car and Drivers 10-Best Cars in just its first two years of production. The rear-wheel drive 300ZX came stocked with a turbocharged inline 3.0-liter engine that was good for 300 hp at 6,000 rpm and 283 lb/ft of torque at 3,600 rpm, making it capable of getting a quarter mile done in 13.7 seconds, needing just 5 to get to 60.
While the 300zx came with essentially the same engine as the Stealth, which also makes the list, the 300zx outperformed the Stealth in every test except for the 0-30.
15 Nissan 240SX
The 240SX is still wildly popular to this day in both the drift and tuner community, and like a few other cars mentioned on this list, can thank the Fast and the Furious for some of that.
According to Motor Trend, despite the model they all came with the same 2.4-liter engine that was only good for 155 hp at 5,600 rpm and 160 lb/ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, but it was its rear wheel drive suspension that makes the 240SX still so sought after - making it hard to find a reasonably priced version that hasn’t been destroyed by some fellow in their backyard.
14 Mazda RX-7
The Mazda RX-7 was one of those cars that was just way too ahead of its time, and sadly was only available in the US for a few short years. In the few shorts years it was available it managed to make it on to Car and Drivers 10-Best car list, and rightfully so.
Known for their rotary engines, the RX-7 came with a 1.3-liter 2-rotor Wankel that was good for 255 hp at 6500 rpm and 217 lb/ft of torque. The RX-7 was capable of getting a quarter mile done in 14.5 seconds, getting to 60 in 6.2, which was even more impressive 23 years ago.
13 Acura Legend
According to Car and Driver, the Acura Legend at the time was the most expensive car from Japan that was imported into the US and it was something completely out of their wheel house; a luxury sedan.
Up until then the imports were anything but luxurious, so Acura decided they wanted to try and compete with Mercedes Benz and BMW, and the Legend was born. The cream of the crop trim model was called the GS that had a 3.2-liter V6 that was good for 230 hp at 6,200 rpm and 206 lb/ft of torque at 5000 rpm.
12 Acura Integra Type R
The Acura Integra Type R was one of those cars that was just done really well. It wasn’t overly flashy, or ridiculously fast, but it was special enough to be recently sold for almost $64,000 at Barrett Jackson, as worn down examples are hard to come by.
According to Car and Driver, the Type R came standard with a B18 1.8-liter VTECH that was good for 195 hp and 130 lb/ft of torque, an impressive number out of a tiny naturally aspirated engine, and the reason why it was considered one of the best front-wheel drive cars of its era.
11 Dodge Viper GTP
Back in 1996, the Viper had already been out for a few years after making its debut in 1992, but after extensive changes all around the 96’ was the model to have. According to Motor Trend, less than 500 Dodge Vipers were produced in 1996 making it even more sought after, some even predict it will be a collector’s item down the road.
Changes to the 96’ included a weight reduction of roughly 200 lbs., due to upgrading to aluminum components. Most importantly, the Viper added some power to the equation, with the 8.0-liter V10 increasing its numbers to 420 hp and 480 lb/ft of torque.
10 Acura NSX
Another Acura to make the list next, is the infamous Acura NSX. According to Motor Trend, the fastest NSX came packed with a naturally aspirated 3.2-liter V6 engine that was good for 290 hp at 7100 rpm and 224 lb/ft of torque at 5500 rpm, which made it capable of getting to 60 in just 4.7 seconds.
The NSX was pricey for its time, with the top of the line model costing well over $80,000 in the late 90s but for good reasons. Both the NSX engine and chassis is constructed from aluminum, helping to bring the NSX under 3,500 lbs.
9 BMW CSL
The BMW M3 has been around for over three decades, continuing to improve with every generation. According to Motor Trend, 1995 offered a limited edition by the name of the Coupe Sport Lightweight, or the CSL, that came significantly lighter.
The weight reduction was due to the use of aluminum and carbon fiber components and ditching its luxury items that normally comes standard in a BMW. This included things like leather seats, air conditioning and it didn’t even have a radio if you can believe.
8 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI
The Evo VI is one of those great cars that the US will have to wait until they turn 25 to start importing. According to Car and Driver, the Evo VI came standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter that was good for 276 hp at 6500 rpm and 274 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm, making it capable of getting to 60 in just 4.3 seconds and getting a quarter mile done in 13 seconds flat.
If these numbers don’t seem to add up it is because they probably don’t, as in the 90s Japan didn’t manufacturer cars that made more than 280 hp, despite the fact that most did as mentioned earlier.
7 Honda Del Sol
The Honda Del Sol was a short lived little coupe that was around for a few years in the 90s and was released to replace the Honda CRX. According to Consumer Guide, the Sol was a two seater that was produced from 1992-1997, it was considered a semi-convertible as the best way to describe it - the ride came with a removable roof.
In 1994 the Del Sol got so many needed upgrades to its engine, now with the top of the line model receiving a 1.6-liter VTECH engine that only came as a manual option, it now makes 160 hp and 111 lb/ft of torque.
6 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo
A fun fact about the Celica is that it was actually once named the Celica Supra and according to Motor Trend, didn’t make its name as its own until 1982. While the Celica came in a plethora of trim styles, there was one that stood out in particular, the All-Trac Turbo.
According to Hemmings, the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine was capable of churning out 200 hp at 6,000 rpm and 200 lb/ft of torque at 3,200 rpm. Good luck finding one of these gems as only 1,605 of them were imported in the US, making them a unicorn among car enthusiasts.
5 Toyota MR2 Turbo
The Toyota MR2 Turbo screams early 90s with its pop up lights and the option to have T-tops. According to Car and Driver, the MR2 came stocked with a 2.0-liter engine that was good for 200 in both the horsepower and torque department, making it capable of running a quarter mile in 14.8 seconds, getting to 60 in 6.3.
If you’re looking to pick one of these bad boys up for yourself, make sure you look into the 1993-1995 models, as the previous models had issues with the suspension while cornering.
4 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX
If you turned 16 in the late 90s, chances are that the Mitsubishi Eclipse was one of your dream cars. The Fast and The Furious ride is responsible for keeping the love for the Eclipse alive, long after it was discontinued in 1999.
According to Motor Trend, the Eclipse came in many trim styles including a convertible version, with the GSX being the cream of the crop model, that came standard with an all-wheel drive suspension and a turbocharged engine. The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine was good for 210 hp at 6,000 rpm and 214 lb/ft of torque at 3,000 rpm
3 Volvo 850R
The 850R was particularly awesome for a number of reasons. According to Car and Driver, the Volvo 850 was the first front-wheel drive Volvo that was available to the US. Volvo being another one of those rare companies to produce a five-cylinder engine and unique due to the fact that it was inline.
According to Motor Trend, the turbocharged ride was good for 240 hp at 5,600 rpm and 221 lb/ft of torque at 2,100 rpm - to ensure the kids get to practice in no time.
2 Audi Avant
The Audi RS 2 Avant is another one of those car’s that the US didn’t have the pleasure of experiencing first hand, but it’s safe to assume that there are some die hard Audi enthusiasts that are counting down the days until it is eligible for import, if someone is willing to part with one that is.
Released all the way back in 1994, the Avant RS 2 was a collaboration between Porsche and Audi when this unicorn made its debut. According to Motor Trend, the RS 2’s turbocharged 2.2-liter inline-five was capable of producing 311 hp and 302 lb/ft of torque.
1 Subaru 22B
The infamous Subaru 22B is a legend among Subaru enthusiasts and for good reasons as well. According to Motor 1, the 22B was released in 1998, with only 424 of them produced selling out in less than 24-hours, none of which made it to the United States of course.
The turbocharged 2.2-liter engine was advertised to make a suspicious number of 280 hp, as that was all that was allowed on paper in Japan at the time. According to Bonhams auction site, the prototype, which was actually a 1997 model was sold at an auction price that is equivalent to $145,757!
Sources: Caranddriver.com, Motor1.com & Roadandtrack.com