1990s Cars – Supercars, Sports Cars & the Icons of the Golden Era of Performance Cars
After the extraordinary supercars of the eighties, many supercar manufacturers entering the nineties asked “how on earth do we follow that?” At the same time, manufacturers of everyday cars said “how do we go after the enthusiast market?”. Both groups said “let’s go racing”. The result was the golden era of the performance and sports car markets globally.
It all started with design, with car design improving a lot in the 1990s. Flashy futurism actually gave way to practicality. The boxy designs, poor fit and finish and horribly ergonomic interiors disappeared. From a technology perspective the 1990s led to a lot of advancements that made cars more efficient, faster and more fun to drive. It was also an era before advanced electronic chassis controls and electric steering meaning many of the great 90s sports cars had wonderful feel on the road and a great mechanical connection between your hands and wheels.
Absolute performance also took a huge leap forward in the 1990s. At the top end you had McLaren F1, easily the greatest car of the 90s and probably the best supercar ever made. Perhaps the second most important car of the decade was the Honda NSX, a car that showed that supercars could be tremendous performers and not break down. It single handedly drove Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini to improve quality and make cars that weren’t shit. It is impossible to mention the iconic 90s cars and not mention homologation specials. Racing homologation rules inspired automakers to produce some of the wildest street cars of the 90s (and maybe ever). These included the Porsche GT1, Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR and the insane Dauer 962 LM.
The 1990s are also the decade that Japanese car manufacturers decided to build sports cars for everyday drivers and bring an entirely new generation into the world of performance cars. We talked about the NSX, but the 1990s also gave the GT-R (R32, R33 and R34), the Twin Turbo Supra and Nissan 300ZX. The Japanese also developed the WRX and EVO, cars that battled for supremacy in rally racing and on the street amongst enthusiasts. Speaking of rivalries, the 1990s also gave us Holden and Ford wars in the Australian muscle car market, each trying to outdo each other every year for the benefit of car buyers in the local market.
This page is designed to help you get to all our content about 1990s cars. We have our in depth, no nonsense 1990s car lists, curated by experts, these are our favorite 90s cars. Given we host hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, our popular 1990s cars are the posts that get the most traffic and give you a sense of what is trending in the world of 90s cars.
Finally, if you really want to dig under the hood, you can find every iconic car made in the 1990s by simply scrolling to the bottom of the page where we have our full list of 90s cars. Remember the site is called supercars.net so don’t expect to see a Toyota Camry in our list.
Higher Quality Than Ever Before
The 1990s cars in America were experiencing mixed results, especially during the earlier part of the decade. In 1991, GM lost $4.45 billion which resulted in closure of 21 factories and thousands of jobs lost. But the company slowly recuperated. Starting with the Saturn division which showed good results due to its customer-friendly approach to customers, the strengthening of the GM’s European division – Opel in particular and a partnership with Toyota whereby GM would produce a line of its new J-cars for Japan, by 1994, the transformation under CEO Jack Smith was nearly complete. For the first time since 1989, GM reported an annual profit.
Chrysler in the meantime, had its troubles started soon after the crash of 1987. The decision to diversify caused a money drain. It lost $600 million in the fourth quarter of 1989 alone. Iacocca was ousted in late 1992, replaced by Bob Eaton. Soon, strong minivan and Jeep sales sustained the company through those tough times.
The new line of “LH” cars – the Dodge, Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde, and Eagle Vision was getting very good reviews. The LH introduced streamlined, cab-forward styling to the automotive market, maximizing interior room. World-class products were now getting manufactured based from lessons learned from how Honda cars were made.
The subcompact Neon, which cost several thousand dollars less than a Toyota Corolla, fared well compared to Japanese cars with its peppy engine, smart design, and dual airbags. Neon Cars acquired the reputation for being good, cheap and fast. Autos of the nineties which were bestsellers. Introduced in 1993, these quality 1990s cars were unveiled under the Dodge marque.
Ford stumbled during the recession of 1991, losing $3.2 billion. The Mustang line of cars saved the company though, beloved by customers the world over. The muscular Mustang of the 1990s was a far cry from those made during the previous two decades. These muscular 1990s cars were brought to market quickly, efficiently and a comparatively low cost. It was a hit with both motorists and the automotive press. Motor Trend named it Car of the Year in 1994.
With the recovery of the big three in the 1990s, the fortunes of the Japanese went south. Honda Accord, which ruled from 1989 to 1992, was outsold by Ford Taurus. The devaluation of the yen meanwhile, didn’t help, driving the price of Japanese cars skyward. Honda and Toyota were closing factories and laying off workers while Detroit was producing some of the best cars in its history. American automobiles of the 90s ruled the decade.
1995 Dodge Intrepid is a highly regarded new breed of mid-size sedan. It is a large four-door, full-size, front-wheel drive sedan car model that was produced for model years 1993 to 2004. J. D. Power & Associates rated four GM cars in its top ten in May 1995: 1995 flagship Cadillac line: Seville, de Ville Concours and Eldorado
1995 Mustang won numerous awards and became the vehicle by which many baby boomers revisited their youth. The Jeep Cherokee has become enormously popular with a full spectrum of car buyers, including the luxury car market, and has spawned a plethora of imitators. Great 1990s cars.