The 1990s was a stunning decade for cars. It was the decade of the McLaren F1, the Lamborghini Diablo and the Honda NSX and of course, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
There are many more all-time greats we could list (Dodge Viper, Toyota Supra and Jaguar XJ220, anyone?) but rather than do that, we thought we would celebrate the forgotten cars of the 90s – the cars that should have been a far greater success than they ever were, and the cars that were sold in such a limited numbers that they have gone largely unnoticed.
Lest we forget, the following cars of the 90s:
Bugatti EB110 The forgotten supercar
The Bugatti EB110 is perhaps the rarest of all 90s supercars. It was designed by Marcello Gandini and Giampaolo Benedini and produced from 1991-1995 in Modena, Italy. The car had a stunning 60-valve, quad-turbo V12 powering all four wheels. With 558bhp at its disposal, 0-62mph was dealt with in just 3.2 seconds and the GT would go on to a whopping 213mph. It was very much a competitor to the Jaguar XJ220, although it lagged behind the Jaguar in terms of top speed (231mph). As a result, it never got the praise it deserved.
However, the EB110 lives on as a classic. Its got a turbocharged power deliver to match the Ferrari F40 and the looks to match a McLaren F1. It is, in all ways, a truly incredible machine.
Volkswagen Golf Limited The forgotten Peoples Car
If youve never heard of this car, were not surprised. Only 71 were produced by Volkswagen Motorsport and only a handful still exist today, so they are exceedingly rare machines.
The Volkswagen Golf Limited was based on the Rallye Golf (pictured top). It had a 16-valve G60 engine and all-wheel-drive. The G60 engine was a special unit, in that it had a supercharger. In this application, it produced 207bhp and 186 lb/ft. of torque and accelerated from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds. For the most part, these cars were sold internally to Volkswagen executives with very few units reaching the regular motorist. The Golf Limited was the most powerful Golf ever produced until the MK4 R32 in 2003, and today its the rarest Golf in the world, so if you see one, chances are its a replica or you can count yourself very, very lucky indeed.
BMW Z3 M Coupe The forgotten shooting-brake
If you ever see one of these superb cars on the road, you wont forget the moment, for the BMW Z3 M Coupe is one of the most stunning cars BMW ever made.
Manufactured from 1998-2002, the Z3 M Coupe was a shooting-brake version of the Z3 sports car. In fact, everything from the A-pillar forward is interchangeable with the Z3 Roadster, but the Coupe had a character of its very own. It had a S50B32 3.2-litre inline-6 engine with a very healthy 316bhp and 258 lb/ft. of torque.
Sadly, the Z3 M Coupe was one of the slowest selling cars BMW ever made, in part due to its bold design, and as a result these cars are exceptionally rare and they hold their value better than any other BMW today, bar the E30 M3.
Audi S6 and S8 The forgotten performance saloons
The original Audi S6 was sold from 1994-1997, but it didnt enjoy the high sales of its modern counterpart. Today, around 120 are left taxed and tested while a further 40 are declared SORN. And thats a shame, as the original S6 was a good car.
There were two engines available – a 2.2-litre turbocharged inline-5 petrol engine with 227bhp and 240 lb/ft. and a 4.2-litre V8 with 286bhp. The V8 was an optional upgrade over the 2.2 and this had a meaty growl. All versions had Quattro all-wheel-drive.
The S8 had fewer sales than its smaller brethren. It was the first car to be launched on Audis then new D2 platform. It was powered by the same 4.2-litre engine found in the S6 however in this car it produced a healthy 333bhp. Only 139 are left taxed and tested today.
Nissan Sunny GTI-R The forgotten hot hatch
The Sunny GTI-R was way ahead of its time, and it was arguably one of the best hot hatches of the 90s. It had a whopping 227bhp and 210 lb/ft. of torque, courtesy of a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, as well as all-wheel-drive. And the results were astonishing; 0-62mph in 5 seconds flat and an electronically limited top speed of 144mph.
To put that into context, this car accelerates faster than todays MK7 Golf GTI and Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy heck, its only 0.2 seconds off a DSG-equipped Audi S3. It was also fast enough to see off the mighty Ford Escort RS Cosworth. Yet, only 12,000 of these wicked hot hatches were sold, and only a few thousand still exist today.
Alfa Romeo 164 Europa The forgotten charmer
The 164 came out in the 80s, but the best version came in the 90s. It was available with a 2.0i Twin Spark Engine, or a brisk 3.0i V6 or 2.5 turbo-diesel. The range became known as the 164 Super in 1993 and in the 90s it was bolstered by the stunning 3.0i V6 Quadrifoglio 4 (badged as the Q4), which was the fastest production 164 with all-wheel-drive.
It was a very handsome car, and the wooden steering wheel some models were optioned with just screams 90s awesomeness. You can pick up a well-loved model for £1,000 today.
TVR Griffith The forgotten sports car
Last but not least, we have the gorgeous and brutally-fast TVR Griffith.
Produced from 1991-2002, the original Griffith had a 4.0-litre Rover V8 engine with 240bhp or it could be had with a bored-out 4.3-litre version of the same engine, for 280bhp. The best version though came in 1993, after TVR developed their own 5.0-litre engine based on the Rover V8. This had a much more befitting 340bhp, and like all Griffiths the power was fed to the rear wheels through a snappy 5-speed manual gearbox.
This light weight, high-power sports car was extremely well balanced and it offered a pure driving experience with no driver aids or safety features to speak of. The only thing keeping you on the road were four rubber tyres and your own reactions. You dont get that today!
And there we have it
So there we have it the 90s cars that time forgot. Wed like to also give a special mention to the second-generation Toyota MR2, the Lotus Esprit, the Nissan Silvia S15 Spec R, the Leblanc Caroline GTR and the facelifted Renault Alpine. Whilst some, might have forgotten you, youll always have a special place in our hearts.
If youre looking for a car that youll never forget, why not browse from our selection of used cars.