In the 1990s, cars were just starting to pull themselves from the deadly grasp of emission regulations, as manufacturers were coming up with creative electronics that allowed them to increase output while still playing by the rules. As mainstream automobiles started seeing output increases, so did the supercars of the 1990s.
The great thing about the supercars of this era is that they were, for the most part, all motor. Unlike today when supercars are posh luxury rigs with powerful engines, most supercars of the 1990s were pretty simple machines with low curb weight, sleek and functional bodies, and insanely powerful engines.
Like all cars, some supercars were better than others, so we put together a list of our 10 favorites from the 1990s. Let us know if we left of your favorite in the comments below.
Ranking The Top 10 Supercars Of The 1990s
McLaren manufactured the F1 between 1992 and 1998, and it remains today as one of the best supercars ever to grace our roadways. So, of course it belongs on this list. Thanks to a 6.1-liter V-12 that produced 627 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque in its road-going variant, the F1 accelerated to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds and at one time held the world record for the fastest production car with a top speed of 231 mph.
Though Ferrari was already on the map by the time the F40 debuted in 1987, the legendary supercar is responsible for boldfacing the name and putting a massive star next to it on said map. The F40 rolled in boasting a temperamental 472-horsepower 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-8 that would go from timid to bonkers with the flutter of your right foot.
What’s more, this was a proper supercar, as it had exposed seams with visible adhesive and limited sound deadening. Though it debuted in the 1980s, the F40 qualifies for our list because its final year on the market was 1992.
No one wants to follow the best, as the expectations are set so high that failure is a near certainty. The F50 was in this predicament, as it followed the legendary F40. This led buyers and enthusiasts to believe that Ferrari had lost its edge. In today’s world, however, we can see that this wasn’t Ferrari losing its edge; rather, it was the brand massaging its image to better cater to its upscale clientele with higher-quality machines, though the F50 was still relatively simple by today’s standards.
The under-hood bits were less temperamental than the F40, as its 4.7-liter V-12 produced 514 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. This resulted in a 3.7-second sprint to 60 mph and a top speed of 194 mph.
Mercedes CLK GTR
In 1998 and 1999, Mercedes built one of the best supercars ever, the CLK GTR. This model was the result of Mercedes entering the FIA GT1 class, which required the automaker to build road-going units to be eligible for competition. This powerful Benz came equipped with a 6.9-liter V-12 engine that cranked out 604 horsepower and 572 pound-feet of torque. This allowed it to hit 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and it topped out at 199 mph.
When it was new, the CLK GTR was the most expensive production car ever at $1,547,620.
If there was one supercar that symbolized the 1990s, it was the Lamborghini Diablo. Bedroom walls of teenagers in the era were often slathered in posters of this supercar, and for damn good reason too. The standard Diablo came with a 5.7-liter V-12 that produced 492 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque, which allowed it to hit 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds and top out at 202 mph. In 1993, Lambo added in the Diablo VT, which included all-wheel drive to handle its power more effectively.
The best of the Diablos came in 1994 and 1995, which marked the introduction of the SE30 and its 523-horsepower engine, and the Diablo SV with 510 horsepower, extra handling bits, and a reduced curb weight.
An oft-forgotten member of the best supercars in the 1990s is the Bugatti EB110. It was funky looking, it was expensive, and it was super-fast, so it certainly fit the 1990s like a well-tailored suit.
Under its hood was a 3.5-liter quad-turbo (yes, four turbos) V-12 engine that had 552 raging horses daring you to push that accelerator a little further. Things got even more insane with the release of the EB110 SS, which was lighter and cranked out 603 horsepower. This hotter EB110 hit 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds and topped out at 216 mph.
The general automotive enthusiast may not know it, but any Jaguar fan remembers the XJ220 that the British manufacturer built from 1992 through 1994. Though Jag limited it to just 275 units, its impact was massive, as no one really expected this sort of machine from the brand.
Powering this beast was a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 that produced an incredible-for-its-size 540 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of twist. This power headed through a five-speed manual transmission and out to the rear wheels.
The result was a supercar that could hit 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds and top out at 213 mph, all while getting 27 mpg highway.
Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion
The homologation requirements for manufacturers to enter various racing series have resulted in some of the most awesome supercars. One of the best of these in the 1990s was the Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion (Street Version).
The 911 GT1 Straßenversion arrived with a 3.2-liter flat-six twin-turbo that produced 537 horsepower. This huge amount of power paired with a svelte 2,535-pound curb weight to deliver insane performance numbers, as the 911 GT1 Straßenversion hit 62 mph in just 3.9 seconds and topped out at 191 mph.
The GT1 Straßenversion is a unicorn of sorts for Porsche enthusiasts, as the German automaker manufacture just 25 of them.
Supercars of the 1990s were often looked upon as space ships, but the Vector W8 took that to a completely new level. Its angular design and wild interior left mouths agape, but its 6.0-liter V-8 engine that produced 625 horsepower was there to help close your jaw from the G-force it created at launch.
The incredibly powerful V-8 engine and the specially developed three-speed transmission were capable of launching the W8 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and on to a top speed in excess of 220 mph.
Nissan R390 GT1
Ah, another product of homologation rules, the Nissan R390 GT1. Unlike other GT1 competitors, which typically saw 25, or so, production units, Nissan built only two road-ready versions of its racecar. One of the production models sold at auction and the other is sitting in Nissan’s Zama facility.
Nissan equipped the road-going R390 GT1 with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 that produced 550 horsepower and 470 pond-feet of torque. This resulted in a 0-to-60 time of 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 220 mph, which made it the fastest Japanese production car ever.
9 More 90s Supercars That You’ve Probably Forgotten!
emain with us for this countdown and figure out how many of these you do remember and how many of them you have heard of for the very first time. Oh, and one more thing. All supercars had to be road-legal in order to be eligible for this list – even if there was only one of them produced.
Early nineties supercar with mad pop-up headlight design is a description that can be attributed to many nameplates back in the day, but none is more deserving than the Cizeta-Moroder V16T. Available between 1991 and 1995, Cizeta was initially produced in 19 units. Subsequently, the company made three more models in 1999 and 2003, and here’s the thing. Cizeta is actually still available on a made to order basis which would cost you at least $649,000 for the regular or $849,000 for the Spyder TTJ model. That’s without taxes and shipping, mind you. Cizeta is powered by two Lamborghini Urraco 90-degree flat plane V8s in one block. That’s basically a V16 mill which was enough for 4-second 0 to 60 and top speed of 204 mph.
While the Jaguar XJ220 certainly deserved more acclaim, its predecessor which was only built in 53 copies between 1990 and 1992 (5 times less than the XJ220) is the one which we have picked here. Powered by Jaguar 6.0L V12 powerplant, XJR-15 was able to produce 450 horses and 420 lb-ft of torque. There were supposedly 5 limited LM versions of the XJR-15, all sold in Japan. They were fitted with 7.4L V12s similar to XJR-9 race car’s engine, and were capable of making 700 horses.
Lister Storm used Jaguar’s 7.0L V12 mill previously mentioned together with the XJR-9. Here the engine made 546 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque which was enough for 0 to 60 acceleration time of 4.1 seconds. That made it the fastest accelerating 4-seater saloon in the world until Brabus Rocket toppled it from that spot in 2006. Lister Storm was only built in four units, three of which survive today. High $350,000 price tag back in 1993 probably didn’t help it pave its way to more buyers.
TVR Cerbera Speed 12
There can be only one is the catchphrase that suits this supercar perfectly. Its name, especially the speed part is another thing that fits right at home with this one. TVR Cerbera Speed 12 never moved on from the prototype phase, although the prototype car itself is road-legal, hence its appearance on this list. That’s because 2,425 pound car with 900 horsepower was simply way too fast for the general population back in 1997. Furthermore, in-house 7.7L V12 engine was highly underrated and probably produced north of 1,000 horsepower. It was intended for 24 Hours of Le Mans, but never made it to France. It did, however, compete in the GT1 class of the FIA GT Championship where it was restricted to more fashionable 660 horses.
Don’t let its look fool you. This isn’t a Porsche 911, although it’s based upon it or type 993 to be more precise. Ruf isn’t your typical German automaker and tuner known for their high-performance Porsche knockoffs. CTR2 is probably the most famous of their cars, but still obscure enough for most people to think it’s a Porsche. Produced between 1995 and 1997, CTR2 came in limited series and costed $315,000. Its 3.6L twin-turbo straight-six generated 520 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque. Later in the production cycle, CTR2’s version Porsche’s engine managed to produce 580 horses. That was enough for top speed of 217 mph and 0 to 60 time of 3.6 seconds. Ruf didn’t stop there, however. Two wide-body CTR2 Yellowbird models produced in 1997 for Pikes Peak Hillclimb developed no less than 702 ponies.
Dauer 962 Le Mans
Another rare German car and another Porsche-derived one. Dauer 962 was based on Porsche 962 sports car. As its name suggests, it was specially designed for 24 Hours of Le Mans, and it did its job in thoroughly professional fashion – winning the competition in 1994. Dauer 962 was in production between 1993 and 1997, but road-legal cars only came after the mentioned Le Mans podium. Only a dozen or so were produced and they were fitted with Porsche’s well-known flat-six mill capable of putting up 730 horsepower. Needless to say, these supercars were hellishly fast. 251 mph fast, and 2.8 seconds for 0 to 60 fast, to be more precise.
Vectors were always underrated and while we have given the W8 some justice recently, We haven’t done the same with the M12. Vector M12 was neither that expensive nor flashy, really. Rebadged Lamborghini Diablo “only” stood $184,000, but you can get it for much less these days. If you manage to find one, that is. After all, only 18 were made between 1995 and 1999, and 14 were production models. 5.7L Lambo V12 produced 492 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque which wasn’t enough for more than 189 mph top speed and 4.8 seconds 0 to 60. Maybe it was the fact that it wasn’t one of the better supercars or it was the hostile takeover and mismanagement of the company, but Vector M12 never achieved success and the company would soon go under.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage Le Mans
When you read through this, you’ll know why no one remembers this one. There was a time when Aston Martin built Virage instead of its predecessor and successor (at the same time) the Vantage. However, they did make close to 300 Vantages during the mid-nineties. They were supposed to be cutting edge, but ended up being beefed up, cumbersome supercharged V8 4-seat coupes. Proudly named Le Mans, V8 Vantages came in 40-model limited run back in 1999. They were made for two reasons: to commemorate Aston Martin’s Le Mans victory from 40 years ago and to kill off then current generation of Virage/Vantage which would never have passed the new regulations. Unlike regular 550 hp Vantages, Le Mans models were capable of producing 600 ponies and 600 lb-ft of torque. 5.3L V8 with dual superchargers was behind that and quoted 200 mph top speed, and 4-second 0 to 60 time. Only, Aston Martin V8 Vantage Le Mans was never actually able to achieve that figures. That’s what happens when you try to make extremely heavy, mahogany-stuffed supercar. You lose in performance department. And then there’s that ugly-ass blocked-off grille. No matter it was the fastest car in the world.
Isdera Commendatore 112i
Do you remember this one? Of course you don’t. Heck, who remembers any Isdera model? Still, Commendatore 112i takes the cake. It was introduced in 1993 and came with 6.0L Mercedes-Benz V12 mill which made slightly north of 400 horsepower. That was good enough for the top speed of 213 mph and 0 to 60 time of 4.7 seconds. Solid figures for 3,200 pounder. It was supposed to be a limited $450,000 affair, but that idea never came to pass. Things didn’t move far from the prototype, but at least it’s road-legal prototype we’re talking about here. Come to think of it, Commendatore 112i actually did become one limited supercar affair.