Sports cars can be quite the delight for anyone with a need for speed running down their veins. Of course, we mean the good sports cars here; the ones with power, comfort, reliability and all the right tech of their time. Sometimes though, sports cars can be more of disasters, and the 90s is one decade known to have mass-produced bad sedans and sports cars by the dozen.
It could be because, in the 90s, consumer interest was leaning more towards SUVs and trucks. Or it could be that there are bad cars made in every decade and co-incidentally, the 90s made a lot of really awful sports cars. Whatever be the case, these are the ten sports cars of the 90s everyone regretted buying.
10 Ford Probe: Badly Marketed
This is the car Ford was considering replacing the Mustang with, for some bizarre reason. A liftback coupe, it was made in collaboration with Mazda to take on the successful front-wheel sporty cars of the day. While the Fox Body Mustang featured powerful V8s, the engine of the Probe merely spat out 145 horses with its front-wheel drive.
As if the medical-nightmare-inducing name wasn’t enough, the Probe was trying to take on the successful Japanese imports of the time. Frankly, experts say the car wasn’t all the bad – but when it tried to take on the Mustang and other muscle cars because of shoddy marketing, sales plummeted and the Probe was discontinued.
9 Ferrari Testarossa: Unlike A Ferrari
For some people, the Testarossa is one of the coolest Ferraris ever – and the reason for that is simple. The Testarossa was a street-legal car made for road usage only. Since it was never a track car, its performance and curb weight was closer to what a road car has, rather than what people had come to expect from a Ferrari.
Then again, many preferred the 1987 Testarossa over the 90s model, considering the former was far more beautiful than the latter. The flat-12 engine of the Testarossa, which used to be mounted pretty high gave out 380 horses, for a car weighing more than 3,700 pounds. It took a while to get this one going, but once it went, it zoomed.
8 Eagle Talon: Awful Styling
Not many would remember this sports compact car from the Eagle marque of Chrysler because not many of these were made. When Chrysler acquired AMC in 1987, the AMC Eagle was an existing car. So they took the Eagle nameplate and turned it into a marque, and introduced the Talon as a 1990 model.
Initially, the model sounded promising even though the styling was a bit off. Sadly, it also had a considerable turbo lag, which was very off-putting for what was being marketed as a sports car. Its rebadged sibling, the Mitsubishi Eclipse fared better, though the Plymouth Laser did not.
7 Mitsubishi 3000GT: Overcomplicated Like Hell
Someone called this a “space odyssey with a Mitsubishi badge” and they were right. For the 90s, Mitsubishi made a sports car and fit every possible feature into it. The resulting car became so heavy, it was more GT than sport.
Many would not deem the car as performance-oriented though the power mill was a hefty twin-turbocharged V6 that produced 394 horses and 414 ft-lb of torque. Positioned more European than Japanese, the 3000GT proved too over-mechanized for many. Repairing a problem meant far too many man-hours, so the 3000GT proved to be a damp squib in sales.
6 Suzuki X-90: An Identity Crisis
So the Suzuki X-90 was supposed to be a cross between a roadster, an SUV and god only knows what, with a T-type roof and a design that did not know its front from its back. It replaced the Samurai in the US – yet another Suzuki car with a chequered past.
The Samurai, though prone to flips at highspeed turns, was an otherwise good car. The X-90 was not. It had poor performance and handling and sparse interiors with no space to speak of. It was also not a fun drive and for some reason was rather expensive. Needless to say, it did not sell. And it shouldn’t have.
5 Cadillac Catera: Another Caddy Dud
When the Cimarron nearly brought Cadillac to its knees, Caddy launched the Catera. More sporty, and designed to appeal to the younger masses, the Catera promised better performance. And they did put in a 3.0-liter V6 that jetted out 200 horses in the Catera, but they forgot about the astounding 3,900-pound curb weight of the car.
The result was that the Catera was a snoozefest with no styling, a bland interior and an engine that would huff and puff and blow the car down. Add to it the strange marketing concept they had with a young and overhyped Cindy Crawford and Ziggy the duck; and the Catera fast went nowhere except out of mind, sight and finally the world.
4 Mercedes 300SL: A Relative Disappointment
To be honest, the 300SL did set the way for Mercedes-Benz to launch bigger and stronger models like the 600SL. However, coming back to the 300SL – it was a confusing time for Merc fans. Here was a car that was a rather boxy coupe and none of those signature gullwing doors the 1957 300SL so proudly used.
The six-cylinder engine tried its best but could give no greater than 230 horses, which was yet again lesser than its almost 40-year-old predecessor. And the 90s 300SL looked far more staid, placid and boring than the 1957 beauty. Clearly, not a very put-together effort by Mercedes-Benz.
3 Oldsmobile Aurora: Good But Unsporting
Had they removed the “sporty” tag from the Aurora, it would have been an excellent car. When being tested for crash safety, it broke GM’s machine with the strength of its unibody construction. And the hefty 4.0-liter V8 did pulses out 250 horses, which when coupled with the low-drag coefficient of the car should have turned the Aurora into a racing thoroughbred.
But like with every 90s car, the Aurora had a fatal flaw about speed and performance – and that was its heavy 4,000-pound curb weight. The car was strong and sold well. But calling it a sports car was a bit of an overkill. And then in 1999, they upped it to the Buick Riviera platform for the 2000 model and killed off any remaining interest.
2 Infiniti M30: Gone And Forgotten
There are bad cars which were so bad, they are memorable. Some, strangely, like the DMC DeLorean, also become quite the collectors find. And then there are bad cars that are gone and also forgotten. Enter the Infiniti M30. For those who didn’t know, or remember, the Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury marque and for a while, it sold a rebadged Nissan Leopard as the M30 convertible.
The problem with the car? For a sports car, it had a weak suspension, a boring drivetrain and a structure prone to rusting, cracking, and leaking in the rain. Need more? The V6 was good for 162 horsepower, but if you tried to run it to its fullest power and speed, it tended to oversteer like a grandma on mimosas.
1 Subaru SVX: A Costly Failure
To give them credit, Subaru attempted to create the perfect blend between a luxury tourer and a sports car. To their discredit, they failed. The Subaru SVX was the mother of all bad sports cars of the 90s, with a turbo-less engine and a style reminiscent of the 80s. The 3.3-liter flat-six power mill tried valiantly, but could not handle the 3,500-pound curb weight with any power.
And then there was that strange window-within-a-window a concept that still has us scratching our heads. The four-speed automatic drivetrain was dull and avuncular. The wildly positive estimates Subaru had of selling 10,000 units a year proved to be a pipedream. From selling some 5,000 units the first year, only 640 SVX sold in the last year of sales.