Throughout the decades, sports cars have gone through numerous events and technological advances. These changes, while progressive, have come with major design trends. New technologies have enabled more sophisticated forms and compound curves of sports cars to be created much faster, with more particular tolerances meaning a curvaceous design doesn’t necessarily need hundreds of labor hours from a skilled craftsman. During the early part of the ’90s, many eighties design traits were carried over to the new decade. Once this was forgotten, many more interesting shapes showed up.
Take a look our picks for the top 10 sports cars of the 1990s.
1991 Nissan 240SX
We start our list with one of the finest Japanese sports cars in the ’90s: the Nissan 240SX. This car featured a powerful 2.4-L four cylinder engine that could generate 155hp of power output. For a rear wheel drive compact coupe, this was quite impressive, considering that most compact cars in the ’90s could not achieve that much power. The 240SX was also relatively cheap, even though it offered excellent handling and flawless steering feel. Even now, the car is still sought after for its small, light, rear-wheel drive body shell that makes it perfect for drifting.
1998 Acura NSX
For anyone who considers themselves a sports car enthusiast, the Acura NSX does not need an introduction. The 1998 Acura NSX was a revolutionary car, proving that super-cars could be purchased for livable, everyday life. The original car came with a stable 3-liter V-6 engine that could manage 270HP, which was later replaced with a 3.2-liter V6 engine that topped the output to 290 horsepower. Evidently, power was not the greatest aspect of the NSX; rather, it was the amazing chassis response that came with the car combined with near perfect steering and comparatively rare human-machine interaction.
1994 Mitsubishi 3000GT
When the Mitsubishi 3000GT was introduced for the 1994 models, it was a technological marvel. In particular, the car was packed with an electronically controlled suspension, active aerodynamics, a two-mode exhaust system, four-wheel steering, and all-wheel drive. Although the car retained its basic shape design, it would pass through three revisions in the course of the decade. At first, the most powerful model was equipped with a 3-liter turbocharged V-6 engine that spat 296 horsepowers and 306 lb ft. of torque. To compete with its Japanese counterparts, the power was boosted to 320 HP and the torque 315 lb ft. The only quandary with the 3000GT was its weight, which reached a stupefying 3,800lbs.
1997 Mclaren F1
The legendary McLaren F1 was (and still is) a technological masterpiece. Synonymous with pace, power, and peerless quality, the 1997 McLaren F1 was the quickest production car of its time and the finest sports car of its generation. No wings on struts; no spoilers; ultimate stability at high speed. To enable traction-enhancing load without topping up mass, the car employed the latest ground force techniques. The car came with three seats including the driver’s, which was situated in the middle, and boasted 237 mph limited speed. The integrated computer controlled air-brake balanced load throughout the car and ensured the F1 maintained poise when braking hard.
1996 Ferrari F50
Like the boisterous McLaren F1, the 1996 Ferrari F50 was a force to be reckoned with. Why? Try a 4,698cc V12 engine that could spawn 520 HP, combined with 6-speed manual transmission, Bosch Motronic 2.7 engine management, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes, and 4-wheel independent suspension with unequal length wishbones and coil springs. Not surprisingly, the idea was to create a sports car that was as reminiscent to a Formula One car as possible while staying within the framework of a road-legal platform. The car was powered by a 4.7-L naturally aspirated V12 engine with 5 valves per cylinder, which was unheard of in a road-going V-12 Ferrari.
1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Roadster
At the end of the 1996 season, Mercedes Benz suddenly decided to take a break from touring cars and venture into sports cars in a bid to compete in the new FIA GT Championship. There was no time to waste. To enter the competition, participating cars had to be production-based. The task was given to AMG, Mercedes-Benz’s official performance division. Astonishingly, the team took a mere 128 days to come up with the first CLK GTR, putting it to the test at the Jarama track on April 1997. The CLK GTR was mid-engined and propelled by a 6.9-liter SL600-based V12 engine generating 600hp. Although the road version could not be homologated in time, the car was allowed to race anyway (much to its rivals’ dismay). In June 1997, the car bagged its first victory at Nurburgring and went on to win 5 more races of the eleven rounds to scoop the GT Championship.
1991 Vector W8
The W8 delivered jaw-dropping numbers during the early ’90s, outperforming the fastest Lamborghinis and Ferraris of that era. In fact, it was the world’s fastest production car in 1992 before the arrival of the McLaren F1 in 1993. Although its success was short-lived, the Vector W8 holds the honor of being the first American-built super-car. The front fascia of the vehicle is highlighted by the slender nose integrated with a pair of gigantic, retractable headlights. Most of the bumper below is occupied by the daytime running lights and the turn signals.
1993 Jaguar XJ220
Jaguar did not make a lot of noise in the ’90s, but when it did… it was a roar! Probably one of its finest sports cars ever is the 1993 Jaguar XJ220. Below the hood, the car featured a 3,498cc DOHC V6 engine with two turbochargers that could deliver 542 bhp. Other exceptional features included four-wheel disc brakes, independent front & back double-wishbone suspension with coil springs, 5-speed manual transmission and, of course, the Zytek fuel injection. Only 281 pieces were ever built.
1993 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport
After almost forty five years of silence, Bugatti made a celebrity comeback with a sports car that would be remembered forever: the Bugatti EB110 Super Sport. With owners such as Michael Schumacher, the car received the attention it deserved. The aluminum body was done by Marcello Gandini, and the horseshoe grille looked like an actual horseshoe. In terms of class, the EB110 Super Sport was a four-wheel-drive car with a 3.5-liter mid-mounted V12 engine featuring 4 turbochargers. The SS model from 1992 was a stripped down version of the Super Sport. Its power output was revved up from 550 HP to 615 HP.
1998 Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion
Designed to homologate the brand’s Le Mans twenty four-hour campaign between 1996 and 1998, the Porsche GT1 Evo Strassenversion ran a twin turbo 3.2-liter flat-6 engine that drove the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox with a paddle clutch. The resultant power out was an impressive 536 bhp and 443 lb ft. of torque. The car was also relatively light, weighing only 1120kg. This made performance extremely fast, with a top speed of 192mph and an acceleration of 3.7 seconds from zero to 60. The exterior resembled a canary yellow racing car while the interior was fitted with some elegant green leather and a radio cassette player.