What Are the Best Motors of the 90s?
The 70s and 80s were far from motoring’s golden age. Although they had a certain contemporary charm, designs tended to be overly boxy, poorly proportioned and lacking in performance. Despite Ferrari and Lamborghini managing to make quick cars, nothing was truly fast.
Come 1990, all of that changed. Trends shifted, with manufacturers beginning to favour curves, exchanging the straight edge and T-square for softer, more aero-dynamic lines. If the 60s was the golden age of motoring and motorsport, then the 90s marked the dawn of a new one.
To celebrate its success, here’s a quick rundown of the best cars of the 90s.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1
The best thing to come out of GM’s ill-fated purchase of Lotus was the Chevrolet Corvette, one of the premier all round sports cars of the era. Beginning production in 1990, it boasted a 5.7L V8 engine and 375 hp. The Bowling Green plant lacked the capacity to build such high-tech engines, which meant that they had to be produced elsewhere, but the result was one of the fastest productions cars of the decade.
Ford Escort RS Cosworth
1992’s Ford Escort RS Cosworth was the first road car that produced downforce both in front and at the back. A homologated rally car, it boasted a turbocharged 2.0L Cosworth l4 engine and 225 hp. The Cosworth was a true race car on the outside, with all the benefits of a road car’s interior.
In 1992, the XJ200 hit the road. Originally outfitted with a V12, the powerhouse engine failed to pass emissions tests, so the final 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine was lifted from a race car to take its place. Although Jaguar had devoted most of its production history to building grand tourers and luxury sedans, the XJ200 was a dramatic departure from the norm, claiming the record for the fastest production car ever (at the time). With 542 hp, it boasted not only incredible speed, but also a dazzling amount of stability and predictability even when it was running flat-out.
Also rolling off the production line in 1992 was the Dodge Viper. After the UAW complained about the Japanese-built Dodge Stealth, the Viper was forced to make an unplanned debut as the Indy 500 pace car. Formulated from equal measures of brilliance and idiocy, the Viper was fast, precise and capable of tearing up any race track in the world.
However, as a road car it was also twitchy and seemingly intent on endangering anyone who dared to drive it. Whether you inadvertently crashed it into a tree or not, you were guaranteed to get out of the car with a big smile on your face and a desire to get back behind the wheel as soon as humanly possible.
The F50, released in 1995, was Ferrari’s 50th anniversary ode to its own brilliance. Although it’s barely talked about today, the car featured an impressive 513 hp and a brilliant Tipo 040 4.7L V12 engine. Today, it is largely overshadowed by the memory of the raw brilliance of its predecessor, the F40, and the sheer excess and world-beating technology of its successor, the Enzo, but now is the time to give it its due as, arguably, every car enthusiast’s dream.
Don’t believe us? Then imagine a V12 lifted from a race car, a stick and three pedals, exquisite Italian bodywork and a response unfettered by today’s electronics – yes, we like the sound of it too.
Which classics would you add to the list?
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