Top 10 Supercars of the 1990s
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.
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.
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