Your childhood icon might finally be within affordable reach.
The 1990s was a glorious era for the world, but for no sector more than the motoring world. Speed records were being broken, manufacturers were producing new technology at breakneck speeds, the Japanese were invading the rest of the world with a raft of performance vehicles, and pop-up headlights were all the rage. The problem with the 1990s is that there were so many damn good cars that we actually couldn’t fit them all on here if we’d tried; so instead, we’ve selected just ten of the 1990’s most iconic models to show you what they cost now. Maybe, nearly 30 years on, you might finally get behind the wheel of the car you idolized growing up.
Though born in the late 1980s, the 1990s was when the first generation (NA) Mazda Miata gained popularity. Based on the spirit of horse and rider as one, or ‘Jinba Ittai’, as the Japanese would say, the compact roadster featured a manually operable soft-top roof, a compact 4-cylinder engine up front, rear-wheel drive, and a manual gearbox in the middle. The result was one of pure bliss, and one of the purest driving experiences the world has ever seen. They weren’t chasing power, just joy. Now, you can pick up a first-generation Mazda Miata for around $5,000 on average, just a third of the price they sold for when new. Bargain!
Ah, the Supra! The imminent unveiling of the 5th generation Supra is likely going to come with a big price tag, and along with it numerous comparisons to the 4th generation A80 Supra of the 1990s. The A80 was magical, punching way above its weight as a true athlete, no doubt thanks to the incredible 2JZ-GTE, the turbo inline-6 engine that has been cemented in the halls of engine greatness by its stock strength and ability to handle 1000 horsepower+ on stock internals. Clean Mk IV Supras are hard to find these days, and they’re highly sought after, so be prepared to pay in the ballpark of $35,000 or more for one, just a shade less than the 1994 price of $42,800.
Though the Countach and F40 were poster children of the 1980s, the Diablo dominated the bedroom walls of children growing up in the ‘90s. When it launched in 1990, it featured a 5.7-liter naturally aspirated V12 mounted behind the cockpit, with power outputs starting at 485 hp. 0-62 mph took 4.5 seconds, and the top speed was 202 mph, and it looked so typically Lamborghini, replete with those doors, you know the ones. The Diablo was $223,000 when new in 1990, but due to its cult classic status, prices have stayed high, with clean examples fetching anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000 for later year models.
Dodge went balls to the wall with the Viper, essentially producing a concept with no roof, no side windows, and a behemoth of a V10 engine – all 8.0-liters and 400 horsepower. Launched in 1992, they were incredibly alluring but equally deadly without nannies like traction control and ABS brakes. While super low mileage examples are fetching $75,000 – though we did find a 1992 model for an exorbitant $245,000 – prices have plummeted on the whole with several low mileage examples on the market for under $40,000, and higher mileage models fetching as low as $26,000.
The Acura NSX redefined an era of supercars. Not only did it have developmental inputs from the legendary Ayrton Senna, but it gifted the world monumental performance paired with ease of use. The supercar was no longer daunting and cumbersome to drive – something that has only recently been mimicked in the 2000s by the Audi R8, Porsche 911, and Ferrari 458. The original NSX was lightweight and featured a mid-mounted 3.0-liter V6 worth 270 horsepower sending outputs to the rear wheels. The formula was simple and the results were magical, and for an average price of $75,000 you can get yourself one of these legendary machines, with prices dropping as low as $50,000 if you’re willing to hunt for a bargain.
The 1990s were the golden age for Japanese performance, and Mitsubishi wanted a piece of the pie for themselves. They brought us the 3000GT, a 2+2 sports coupe with a 3.0-liter V6, driving all wheels if you got yourself the right model. The VR-4 was the one you wanted, also sold as the Dodge Stealth R/T twin-turbo, and it featured all-wheel drive and, you guessed it, two turbos, to drive outputs to 296 horsepower in the early years and 320 hp from 1994 onwards. Back in 1991, the 3000GT-VR4 cost $31,400 brand new, but if you do some searching you can pick one up for around $14,000 – less than half the original price.
While Japanese supercars and sports coupes waged war with Italians in the 1990s, Subaru was waging war with German performance sedans. Embroiled in the thick of things with the World Rally Championship, in 1998 Subaru unleashed the devastating Impreza 22B-STI. Based on the bones of a humble compact sedan, the 22B coupe wore flared arches, a giant wing on the rear deck, gold alloy wheels, and an obnoxious scoop on the hood. To those who didn’t know better, it was showing off, but to those who understood what it was, the 22B was hallowed metal.
The turbocharged EJ22 flat-four Boxer motor officially developed 280 hp, sent to all four corners. However, the real outputs were higher, as the 22B was capable of a 0-60 mph sprint of 3.9 seconds, rivaling hypercars of the era. It’s not the kind of car that comes up for sale often, but when one did go on auction in 2016 it fetched more than $100,000.
The BMW M5 is a legend amongst executive sports sedans – the big brother to the M3 that dominated the world and inspired rivalries from all across the globe. Many generations have come and gone, with many special edition models along the way, but the greatest generation of them all may well have been the E34 of the 1990s.
It was the last 6-cylinder M5 ever sold, featuring a 3.6-liter inline 6 in the US with 311 horsepower sent to the rear wheels exclusively. 0-60 mph took just 6.1 seconds (see why the Subaru 22B above is so insane?), but it was the driver involvement of the M5 that made it so incredible. Priced at $58,450 in 1991 (equivalent to $106,000 today), you can now get an E34 M5 for $20,000, though most have high mileage.
The three-seater hypercar finally has a successor in the McLaren Speedtail, but it doesn’t make the original McLaren F1 any less special. Just 106 McLaren F1s were ever built, all with three seats, a gold-lined engine bay, and a mega 6.1-liter BMW V12 engine developing 618 hp. It drove the rear wheels with no nannies to look after you and cemented its place in the history books by becoming the fastest production car in the world, reaching 240.1 mph in 1998, surpassing the Jaguar XJ220 in the process.
That feat secured it a place on our bedroom walls and in our hearts, but with such limited numbers and cult status, finding one nowadays is near impossible. Earlier in 2018, however, one appeared on the market for an astonishing $24,000,000, while last year one sold for $15,600,000 in the US.
From the insane to the somewhat more grounded, the BMW 850CSi was more attainable than much of the 90’s hot metal. The BMW 850CSi took the place of the prototype M8 and boasted a 5.6-liter V12 that sent 375 horsepower to the rear end. It was a special machine for BMW, both in style and performance, and it was sought after by many, particularly for the manual-only transmission. They are pricey though, and if you manage to find one for sale in 2018, expect to pay in the vicinity of $80,000.