The Best (and Most Affordable) Sports Cars of the ‘90s

We see a Dodge Viper in your future

By Michael C. Brown

The Best (and Most Affordable) Sports Cars of the '90s
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02 June 2016

I don’t know where your priorities were as a kid, but pinned next to my life-size poster of Michael Jordan was an equally domineering poster of a Ferrari F50.

Well, that and another poster — of the Plymouth Prowler (oops).

The ‘90s were a time of landmark design in all fronts, from fashion to architecture to automobiles. The latter seem to particularly hold us in the thrall of nostalgia, with their sleek, rounded lines and often neon colorways.

But have you noticed how much some of these cars sell for in 2016? You might be surprised.

While the F50 commands sky-high collectors’ premiums (the Prowler, less so), you’ll be shocked to find how many of the cars you lusted over as a kid are now tantalizingly within reach.

Below are a few ‘90s dream machines — some exotic, others more commonplace — worth looking into.

Mazda RX-7
Long a staple of the tuner scene, the RX-7 — along with such notables as the Toyota Supra Turbo — is still one helluva car, with a lot of vroom for your buck. Its twin-turbo rotary engine is the stuff of legend, along with its aggressive-yet-understated sports styling. And while it may be hard to find an exemplar that hasn’t been Fast-and-Furious’d to death, the RX-7 is nevertheless an excellent candidate for a daily driver that manages to press all our nostalgic buttons. ($15-$25,000)

BMW E39 M5
While this generation was introduced toward the end of the decade, the M5 definitely deserves inclusion here. Along with the E36 M3, these cars are still coveted by BMW devotees for their drivability and cost-to-performance balance. The M5 is basically a family sedan with a V8 that pushes 400 horses, and daily drivers can be had for less than a new Camry. So, if you’re looking to shift your commute into high gear (without dropping $50k+ on a brand new Bimmer), definitely test drive one of these off your local Craigslist.  ($15-$30,000)

Lotus Esprit
With wedge-shaped styling, the Lotus Esprit screams ‘90s. Tight and quick, the V8 model does 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, with a top speed of 175 MPH. And while it might be more of a gentlemanly weekend tourer than commuter, the Esprit is a solid pick for the Everyman’s exotic retro racer. ($20-$40,000)

Dodge Viper GTS
A Viper = affordable? Yep, the ultimate expression of fin-de-siécle American automotive bravado is within your grasp. One look at those lines and it all comes flooding back: Hot Wheels racers shot off makeshift ramps onto the dining room table and beyond. And while the pit crew isn’t included, you’ll still feel like you’re starring in a Jerry Bruckheimer action flick as you blast nü-metal and rev that 8.0-liter V10 while being chased by police helicopters. ($25-$50,000)

Acura NSX
Like the Ferrari F50, the Acura NSX has F1 DNA (Ayrton Senna aided its development), just without the rich guy pricetag. The NSX really proved that a true supercar could be delivered to enthusiasts at an attainable price. Trackable and yet at home on the road, the NSX has commanded a following that has continued for the last 25 years since its unveiling in 1989. This is why a lot of the NSXs on the market right now are so well maintained, and why they often command a slight premium. ($35-$50,000)

Porsche 911
If we were to pick, this is where we’d park our automotive investment — or rather drive it blisteringly off into the sunset. The 993 generation of the Porsche 911 is slowly becoming the ultimate iteration of that storied marque. The last of the air-cooled 911s, the 993 is the perfect blend of modern design and tech with old-school engineering. Depending on the model, 993s can actually reach well north of$ 100k. Jump on a RWD model now (the 911 snob’s only choice) and watch the value slowly rise. Und tschüss! ($40-$80,000+)

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