The 90s was a pretty strange decade for the automotive industry, for the big Japanese manufacturers it was boom time and they were willing to throw money at pretty much any project.
European and American manufacturers were for the most part in a period of transition, or consolidation, as they sought to answer the call for improved quality above all else. What this means is there were significantly more Japanese sports cars on the market, with European and US carmakers even rebadging a couple of them (but that is another story).
From a time when technology was ever improving and everything looked soft and squishy, these are the worst sports cars you would just be wasting money on.
8 Mazda RX7
In terms of an engineering exercise, the RX7 was an absolute marvel, in terms of a real world sports car, the RX7 is an absolute nightmare.
It was without any doubt the pinnacle of rotary engine technology, which might seem like a good thing, but even these engines need regular rebuilds and a tremendous amount of maintenance. If they have been further modified to make more power, that will mean heavier wear and even higher running costs, even if you don’t intend to drive it on the limit ,they still cost a fortune to run.
7 Jaguar XK8
In truth, picking on just about anything made by Jaguar in the 90s is going to end in tears, they were dark times for the old British brand.
Forced to keep up with the contemporary sports cars of the time, they worked wonders with the dated V8 and actually got it making decent power. Unfortunately, it was let down by an awful electrical system and a pretty uninspiring chassis. If it were even remotely reliable, it could have been a reasonable GT car, but it wasn’t and will only ever be a waste of time and money.
6 Nissan 300ZX
The 300ZX is the perfect example of what happens when a company gets overconfident. With an already proven turbo inline-6 engine that could make pretty much as much power as they wanted, Nissan saw fit to develop another V6 turbo lump for no particular reason.
You could argue about space saving, but with several V8 and inline-6 conversions, that is a moot point, weight was more or less the same too but surely power… no, it made less power. The frail engine was the Achilles heel for what should have been a revolutionary sports car. Conversions (EV or otherwise) are an expensive and time consuming option, might as well go out and buy the Ferrari it was supposed to slay.
5 Mitsubishi 3000GT
Anyone who has ever played a racing game might well draw the false conclusion that the 3000GT was an underrated gem of a sports car. That would be wrong.
In an effort to one up their Japanese rivals, Mitsubishi packed everything they possibly could into this car from rear wheel steering to the most advanced electronics, on paper this car looked unstoppable. Sadly, in the real world it had an average chassis, was far too heavy and would break down pretty much all the time.
4 Ford Mustang LX
To even call this a sports car is a bit of a reach, but it is technically a Mustang. There is precious little love for the Fox-body Mustang of the 80s, so when it made it to the 90s, it left most enthusiasts far from enthused.
Essentially, the Probe was supposed to be replacing these cars, but that was met with such resistance (for good reason) that they were forced to make the Fox-body work for a few more years while they went back to the drawing board. Anyone getting the 2.3-liter entry level car would not be buying a sports car, but a steaming pile of underpowered sadness.
3 Alfa Romeo GTV
Back in the 90s everything was going front drive, case in point the aforementioned Mustang, so when the European equivalent actually did make it into production it was met with a lot of resistance, then admiration and finally frustration.
The GTV of the 90s was actually a great car and won several awards, most especially for its styling, but the entry level 1.8-liter inline-4 was not capable of moving the weight around and the glorious Busso V6 was heavy and ruined the handling. Neither car quite captures the essence of a GTV, but many Alfisti out there still love these cars for what they are. They are still Alfa Romeos, so expect trademark Alfa reliability (or lack thereof).
2 Subaru SVX
Usually Subaru are pretty innovative, more often than not doing their best to take the path less travelled.
In a sense they did that with the SVX, but then must have had second thoughts and tried really hard to reverse their strategy maybe halfway through the production process. So what we ended up with was an unusual looking wanna-be GT car that got a heavy, underpowered engine paired with an automatic transmission. Cue the head-scratching.
1 Mitsubishi Eclipse
Not much to say about the Eclipse from the 90s other than the fact that it was actually an econobox cleverly disguised as a sports car.
Only it wasn’t very economical, had no space to speak of and broke down more than the average Italian supercar. Thanks to the first Fast & Furious movie, these cars are becoming seriously overpriced these days.
These used Japanese Sports Cars offer a great alternative to the often viewed as overpriced and overrated 2020 Toyota Supra.
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