• 90s Sports Cars You Totally Forgot Existed

These cars were quite good in their time but the market soon moved on in light of better options

Nowadays, every brand has a performance flagship the market is aware of. These cars are heavily marketed, so a large percentage of the population considers them for purchase, but once in a while, automakers release a really good model that checks all of the boxes and does not impose them as much. Once in a while, they can be spotted on the street, and it elicits gasps of envy, but the moment passes, and you return to whatever it is you were doing. The following cars are worthy of such moments.

Porsche 968

90s Sports Cars You Totally Forgot Existed
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The 968 is a forgotten 90s coupe available in three trims; the 968, 968 sport, and the club sport. It was basically a successor to the 944 as it had the same front engine and rear-wheel-drive layout. The change illustrated by pop-up headlights also brought the car in line with the original 928 lineage. The 968 had a sophisticated, four-cylinder, 3.0-liter engine that produced 240 horsepower at 6200 RPM.

At the time of production, the engine had the highest displacement per cylinder of any car engine, which was quite a feat.
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The rear-mounted gearbox came in two versions as well; a six-speed manual or four-speed trip-tonic. It was the first-ever in a Porsche production car, so it may have been better to go with the six-speed manual than the trip-tonic boxes because they were a bit lazy during that era. The cabin had a sophisticated touch, though featuring Recaro bucket seating and advanced electronics.

Read our full review on the Porsche 968

Caterham 21

90s Sports Cars You Totally Forgot Existed
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The Caterham 21 has been described as the only truly comfortable car the automaker ever made. The production was initially set to 250 cars per year, between 1994 and 1999, though there were only 49 actually built. Two featured an aluminum body while the rest had a carbon fiber body. The two-seater roadster had the same four-cylinder engine from the Rover-k series, which was either a 1.6 or a 1.8-liter alternative rated at 138 and 151 horsepower, respectively.

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Its cabin was also appealing, with a narrow center console and a stacked trio of dials. The edges of the dash were body-colored, though, as was a lot of the inner door surfaces, which made the interior feel more contemporary.

Renault Sport Spider

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The Sport Spider was also a roadster developed between 1996 and 1999. It was made with a one-make series in mind, but Renault sport also produced a little over 1600 vehicles for the market. It featured a 148 horsepower Megane 2.0-liter engine, while the track option made 180 horsepower. The acceleration to 60 miles per hour within 6.9 seconds is not the most impressive with today’s standards, but it was sufficient for the 90s.

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The Sport Spider was unique and Spartan by all standards. Each was hand-built in Alpine’s Dieppe factory, much like the way AMG or Nismo does their performance models. It did not come with ABS or a heater even, so driver assistance or safety was not exactly a priority. You may have gotten a radio, but only after asking nicely.

Alfa Romeo SZ

90s Sports Cars You Totally Forgot Existed
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Alfa Romeo is known for producing beautiful but lackluster performance cars, but that was not the case with the Sprint Zagato or SZ. The design is the first thing to make an impression. The odd blend of curves and lines is intriguing for some, while for others, it is repulsing. Alfa Romeo actually relied on computer-generated design when computing was still in the Stone Age. It did manage to achieve a low curb weight of 1260 kilograms, but the door and side panels made a high beltline to inform the front and rear styling.

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The Sprint Zagato featured a 3.0-liter V6 engine linked to a five-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. The SZ is said to be very fun to drive as the combination of the balanced chassis, and the tuned suspension makes for an exciting drive.

TVR Tuscan

90s Sports Cars You Totally Forgot Existed
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The 90s and the early 2000s are considered the golden era of TVR. The Tuscan had interesting curves and imposing body lines, only broken by circles for the headlights and taillights. The car also had a Targa roof panel for open-air motoring. It had a 4.0-liter inline-six engine that made 350 horsepower and a five-speed manual transmission. That meant the Tuscan could accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds which is quite brisk.

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The TVR adopted a mostly engine approach for most of its models, so it’s no surprise that the Tuscan had a minimalist look. The material was high quality, and the curved aluminum top to the dash acted as one of the transverse strengthening beams for the car.

Read our full review on the TVR Tuscan

BMW Z1

90s Sports Cars You Totally Forgot Existed
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Initially seen in 186, the Z1 was the first futuristic-looking BMW since the two-seater 1959 507. The initial demand for the car was significant, and there was a plan to build 8000 of them, but the lack of right-hand drivers reduced overall appeal in the United Kingdom.

The Z1 was indeed futuristic, considering the body was made of advanced composites and had doors that rolled down into the high sills of the chassis.

It also had the same engine as in the E30, a 2.5-liter straight-six M20 that produced 170 horsepower.

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The driving experience is not aggressive but rather tidy and engaging. It does not give the same focused fun that you would get with an M-badged BMW, but there is a lot of rolling. As for reliability, the M20 engine is probably the weak link as the cam-belts need regular changes every three years.

Read our full review on the BMW Z1

Subaru SVX

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The SVX was offered as an odd alternative to the likes of the Mazda RX-7 and the Supra. As a JDM, it is one of the oddest-looking Subaru’s there ever was. The body shape looks more like a Honda Accord, and the headlights have the personality of a 90s Ford Taurus. Though it had a sleeper-like exterior, the Subaru featured a 3.3-liter 24-valve, flat-six engine which made 226 horsepower. The performance and handling have been generally compared to that of a quality Jaguar, so it’s no slouch. If driven hard, the SVX will deliver a fuel economy of 21 miles to the gallon. As for the interior, the Subaru offered Alcantara padding on the dashboard and doors, which is impressive.

Read our full review on the Subaru SVX

Nicholas Waithaka
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