The 1990s. The era of the Spice Girls, Mr Blobby and the Tamagotchi, plus a lot of great cars were also produced in this decade.
If you want to rewind the clock 20 years, check out some of these 90s greats we found on Auto Trader.
More retro cars on Motoring Research
- Retro Road Test
- We took a pair of Japanese sports cars to the hills and it was ace
- The 20 greatest hot hatches of the 1980s
Honda Integra Type R
Reputed to be one of the best handling front-wheel-drive cars ever sold, the Honda Integra Type R was a raspy, stripped-out coupe adored by 1990s boy racers. As such, finding a tidy one might be a challenge, but there are plenty to choose from. We’d budget around £10,000 for one that hasn’t been abused.
You wouldn’t want to buy an S1 Elise to use every day, but there’s little that beats it as a weekend toy. Launched in 1996, early examples can be picked up for less than £10,000 – and they’re unlikely to depreciate. Most will have low miles, but make sure they’ve been serviced regularly and look out for poorly-repaired crash damage.
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Introduced in 1978, the 928 was more than showing a few grey hairs by the 90s. But a late GTS variant is still a desirable purchase, with its 5.4-litre V8 engine producing 350hp, and available from around £30,000 on Auto Trader.
Subaru Impreza Turbo
It’s the car every rally fan lusted after throughout the 90s: the Subaru Impreza. You can pick up a Turbo (well, you wouldn’t want a naturally-aspirated version, would you?) for as little as £2,000 on Auto Trader.
Launched in 1989, the Lexus LS400 was genuinely a car good enough to take on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Bulletproof mechanicals mean, despite not selling in huge numbers when new, there are still plenty on the road – and they’re often overlooked on the secondhand market. Buy one cheap, but don’t expect it to sip fuel.
The Mazda MX-5 went on sale in the UK in 1990, and very quickly became a huge hit for the manufacturer. It’s the best selling sports car ever, and Japanese reliability means they still make for a sensible (but fun) used car purchase today. We’d opt for the first-generation model for its simplicity (and pop-up lights), but watch out for rust. It’s worth paying more for a rust-free example.
Based on the same platform as the Griffith, the TVR Chimaera was one of the more successful models to come out of Blackpool during the 90s. Despite being slightly softer than the Griffith – which used the same Rover V8 engines – it could still prove to be a handful, so be sure to do a history check if you’re thinking about buying one.
Ford Escort RS Cosworth
A genuine 90s pin-up to rival ‘tennis girl’, the Escort RS Cossie featured a whale-tail rear spoiler and a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 220hp. A 6.1-second 0-62mph time and 140mph top speed meant it was much faster than hot hatches at the time, and still proves to be competitive today.
BMW 8 Series
We contemplated excluding the BMW 8 Series from this feature. When it was new, some looked down on the 8 Series, comparing it to the 6 Series that went before it and complaining about its rather 90s appearance – as well as slow automatic transmission that meant it wasn’t that fun to drive. But it’s aged well, in our opinion, and who doesn’t love a coupe with a range of engines kicking off with a 4.0-litre V8?
‘Scene tax’ means the Volkswagen Corrado will never be cheap, but you can buy a range-topping VR6 for around £5,000 – or £7,000 for a really tidy one. Based on the Mk2 Golf, the 2.9-litre VR6 could hit 62mph in 6.9 seconds.
The 1990 NSX was a bold move for Honda. It wanted to offer Ferrari levels of performance, with Honda reliability (and a Honda price tag). The result was the 2.0-litre V6 NSX, producing 274hp and capable of hitting 62mph in 6.0 seconds flat. Not only was it quick, it looked like a Ferrari, too – and, despite having a strong following, it still offers good value for money today. Pick up a used one for around £35,000.
Fiat Coupe Turbo
You’ll love or hate the Fiat Coupe’s Chris Bangle-designed exterior, but there’s no denying the Fiat Coupe Turbo is one of the fastest front-wheel-drive cars to come out of the 90s. Based on the Fiat Tipo, the Vauxhall Calibra rival produced 220hp in Turbo form, and could hit 62mph in 6.5 seconds. Sure, reliability wasn’t its strong point, but they make for a cool used car purchase today.
Aston Martin DB7
The Ian Callum-penned DB7 is one of the most attractive Astons ever, as well as one of the most successful. Its popularity means they’re actually very affordable today – with good examples starting as low as £21,000.
Porsche 911 996
Porsche 911 prices are always interesting to watch – dropping down to a certain level before soaring beyond all expectations. The 996 shape 911 has bottomed out and is now on its way back up, but you can still get one for around £10,000. Just because it’s a cheap Porsche doesn’t mean it’s a bad one – just as long as you don’t mind it being of the water-cooled variety.
BMW Z3 M Coupe
The BMW Z3 M Coupe could be the very definition of ‘modern classic’, despite being launched as recently as 1998. Don’t expect to get any change from £30,000 for a good one, and its lairy rear-wheel-drive handling means there are a few category D write-offs in the classifieds.
Launched in 1996, the stunning XK8 was available as a coupe or convertible with a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre V8 engine. Not everyone will be a fan of its slightly geriatric interior, but it offers exceptional value for money, with prices starting below £4,000.
Launched in 1989, the ‘R129’ Mercedes-Benz SL was way ahead of its time. It featured a nifty electro-hydraulic folding soft-top as well as a hidden roll-over bar that would extend in the case of a crash. Its design has aged exceptionally well, in our opinion – and a tidy one could be yours for around £5,000.
Yes, the Ferrari F40 was launched in 1987 (ahead of Enzo’s death in 1988), but production continued as late as 1992 (and even later for the LM and GTE). The turbocharged F40 was a controversial car when it was new, but time has seen it become one of the most iconic supercars Ferrari’s ever produced. You’ll be looking at around £800,000 for one of the F40s currently advertised on Auto Trader.
Again, the Lotus Esprit is another car that was around long before the 90s. But production actually lasted for 28 years – finally ending in 2004, after 10,675 were sold. One of the most desirable versions, the Esprit V8, powered by a twin-turbo V8, was introduced in 1996. You can buy one of these for £30,000.
Ford Racing Puma
Launched in 1999, just 500 Ford Racing Pumas were produced – with only half of them actually finding homes when new with private customers. The rest were flogged through the firm’s management scheme after demand failed to live up to expectations. That means prices are high today – you might struggle to find one, but if you do, expect to pay in excess of £7,000.
Production of the controversial Lotus Carlton began in 1990, making it a 90s hero. Capable of hitting 176mph, the Lotus-tuned family saloon proved to be a hit with criminals, who used them to carry out ram-raids and outrun police. Their iconic status means you’ll have to shell out if you want one – with one on Auto Trader currently advertised for an incredible (and perhaps slightly optimistic) £69,995.
Ah, who doesn’t love the original Mini? Amazingly, it was still in production throughout the 90s, with late examples being particularly desirable to collectors. Prices range from around £3,000 for a well-used model, to more than £15,000 for a potential museum piece.
Bentley Turbo R
Introduced in 1985, but on sale as late as 1997, the Turbo R was powered by a 6.75-litre V8 attached to a huge turbocharger that increased power by as much as 50%. Its running costs could make your eyes water, but you can buy a 90s Bentley Turbo R for as little as £10,000. You’ll look the business.
The first Lamborghini capable of exceeding 200mph, the Diablo was sold between 1990 and 2001 before being replaced by the Murcielago. Criticised for looking a bit bland when it was new (compared to its Countach predecessor), the V12 Diablo was well-specced, with electric windows, power steering and an Alpine stereo system.
Toyota Celica GT-Four
A true 90s homologation hero, the four-wheel-drive Celica GT-Four was powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and went on sale as the ST165 in 1986. We’re interested in the later ST185 (pictured here) and its 1994 successor, the ST205. These can be picked up from as little as £5,000 – the biggest difficulty will be finding an unmodified and unabused example.
Only sold in left-hand-drive, the front-wheel-drive Punto-based Barchetta was launched in 1995 as a successor to the X1/9 and rival to the ever-popular Mazda MX-5. Despite its front-drive layout, the Barchetta was a lot of fun to drive, and makes for an unusual used purchase today. They cost a little more than the equivalent MX-5, however, with prices starting at £2,000.
For the Gran Turismo generation, there are few cars more desirable than a Nissan Skyline. They were never officially sold in the UK, so buy carefully, but many were imported from Japan by specialist companies. Spend at least £7,000, and be wary of any signs of crash damage – it might not show up on history checks if it happened pre-import.
Lancia Delta Integrale
Another homologation special, the Lancia Delta is arguably the ultimate hot hatch. It doesn’t come cheap, however, with prices from specialist dealers starting at around £30,000 – that’s bordering on new Focus RS territory.
Alfa Romeo GTV
The 1993 Alfa Romeo GTV is one of the firm’s most attractive models of recent years, as well as the best handling front-wheel-drive cars money can buy. It might not prove to be the most bulletproof of secondhand car purchases, but at least the Pininfarina-designed GTV looks great on the hard shoulder.