These ’90s supercars are cheap … but you probably shouldn’t be buying one

Cheap gets a lot of twirling around for a reason, but when it comes to ’90s supercars and the inevitable higher running costs, cheap should serve as a warning that something bad is about to happen – or possibly has already happened.

As with anything, there are exceptions to the rule, some of the best supercars of the ’90s, either due to oversupply or cooler reception than expected, fail to hold their stats, creating an even greater temptation to lay out hard-earned money. Tries? Do not do it! Most often, similar benefits can be obtained from a more practical sports sedan for less money and much less stress.

It doesn’t hurt to look, does it? If you have come to this statement, you are already on the slippery slope to cheap Supercar Territory from which it is difficult to escape.

Ferrari F355 – Fast and Fragile

Ferrari F355 - Front QuarterAbout autopixel

Stunning looks and a tingling cacophony of engine and exhaust noises, the F355 more than made up for the generally disappointing Ferrari 348. Ferrari desperately needed the F355 to be successful, and tossed every F1-inspired piece of gear on the baby Ferrari.

Ferrari F355 - Rear QuarterAbout autopixel

Multi-valve heads, 9,000 rpm Red-Line and an F1-style manual transmission are all evidence of how seriously Ferrari took the importance of the entry-level car. Hit the F355 hard and often and large bills are never far away, headjoints in particular are a common substitute, budget is at least $ 25,000.

Lotus Esprit GT3 – same car, less engine

Lotus Esprit GT3 - Front QuarterAbout UK Sports Cars

In 1996, Lotus finally gave its wedge-shaped supercar the engine it deserved from the start. At the same time, concerns about higher sales costs encouraged the introduction of a smaller version with a 2-liter turbo four-pot with 240 hp. The same car with a smaller, slightly underperforming engine meant more stress and the potential for expensive repair bills.

Lotus Esprit GT3 - Rear QuarterAbout UK Sports Cars

Oddly enough, many claimed that the smaller engine in the GT3 turned an already great driver’s car into one of the world’s best, kudos for a car that struggled to get 8 cylinders only to be better and cheaper with just four. The GT3 is a great bargain and tempting too, but Esprits have never been the most reliable cars.

RELATED: That’s Why We Love the Lotus Esprit

Porsche 964 Carrera 4 – DMF problems

Porsche 964 Carrera 4 - Fornt QuarterVia Elfesport

Porsche’s evergreen 911 series, for many transmissions the most practical and user-friendly of all super sports cars. There is no fancy, floor-level chin spoiler to scratch, and no worries, even the smallest humps in speed will tear chunks out of the floor pan. Evolutionary rather revolutionary, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Porsche 964 Carrera 4 - Rear QuarterAbout Elfersport

The 964 engine closely follows this ethos, Porsche’s six-cylinder boxer engine with 247 hp from 3.6 liters, certainly one of the most reliable super sports car engines of all time. If there is a hidden void in the astonishing performance spectrum of the Porsche 964, it would be the dual mass flywheel. Excessive powertrain shunting on previous cars often resulted in failures.

Maserati 3200GT – Suspicion of build quality

Maserati 3200GT - Front QuarterVia

As a first attempt, after years of producing slightly warmed-up, bi-turbo-based coupes, the 1998 3200GT was a strong reminder of how bad things had got for the Italian automaker. A new line-up promised a better and brighter future, Maserati was back with a bang.

Maserati 3200GT - Rear QuarterVia

Two indeed, a 3.2-liter, twin-turbo V8, beats 365 rampant Italian horses that can get the 3200GT to 60 mph in 5 seconds and promised a top speed north of 170 mph. Just before you reach for the classifieds, be warned, slide bearing movement results in costly engine overhauls, throttle bodies are a known design flaw, and the gearbox is awful.

Acura NSX Service Requirement

Honda NSX - Front QuarterVia mecum auctions

Acura’s NSX has to be one of the most technologically advanced and least popular supercars of the 90s. Despite Honda’s best engineers and designers with a small chassis setup from F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna, the NSX has never reached the size it deserves.

Honda NSX - side viewVia mecum auctions

A center-mounted 3-liter aluminum V6 developed 276 horsepower, with the NSX sprinting to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. A great used supercar without question, but it has its quirks. High tech engineering requires serious maintenance that is mandatory rather than optional. Inexpensive to buy, expensive to maintain.

RELATED: 10 Things Everyone Forgot About The Acura NSX

Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 – Faulty sensors

Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 - Fornt QuarterVia mecum auctions

The 1990 launch of Chevrolet’s Lotus-engineered ZR-1 turned the Applecart supercar upside down in pretty much every way. A heavily modified and tuned GM LT5 engine developed 375 hp and promised super sports car performance at affordable prices. Nail and hold the accelerator pedal into one of these and you’ll see a top speed of 275 mph.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 - Rear QuarterVia mecum auctions

The ZR-1 is by no means perfect and suffers from a few undocumented breakdowns, accidental and sudden engine stops are frustrating, while several almost constantly glowing warning lights are annoying.

Dodge Viper RT / 10 – Early cars are very simple

Dodge Viper RT10 - Front QuarterAbout Bring A Trailer

Back to the basics of engineering and the massive great engine, the very American approach to supercar design. V10 engines built by Lamborghini with a breathtaking 8-liter displacement and an output of over 400 hp.

Dodge Viper RT10 - Rear QUARTERAbout Bring A Trailer

If we’re being completely honest, it worked a little too well. The Viper is known to be a small handful for even the most experienced rider. We’d love to recommend one to you, but only if you have scalded cat reactions and muscles to hold onto for life when things get tricky.

TVR Tuscan Speed ​​6 – doubts about the electrics

TVR Tuscan Speed ​​Six - Fornt QuarterAbout Shmoo Automotive

Britain’s quirky answer to American muscle strength, TVR never obeyed the same rules as other supercar makers, preferring to go it alone, with often hair-raising results. The Tuscan is a perfect example, with a look any girl could court at 100 yards and a growling, angry soundtrack to make other suitors clear.

TVR Tuscan back quarterAbout Shmoo Automotive

Old school, simple straight six engines in a tubular fiberglass-clad chassis and an interior decked out with crazy switches and instruments. Even getting started is difficult, let alone fathom the limited amount of standard equipment. Reliance on self-designed, self-built technology is the downfall of Tuscany. Sure, the 4 liter 345 hp engine is reliable enough, it’s all the TVR wiring that lets it down.

RELATED: That’s What We Love About TVR Tuscan

Aston Martin DB7 V12 Vantage – older than it looks

Aston Martin DB7 V12 - Fornt QuarterAbout Bring A Trailer

If looks could win races, the Aston would have been miles ahead of the competition, a new breed of sexier, curvier Astons for a new breed of owners. Aside from that stunning look, the DB7 had a few skeletons in its closet, although the chassis was tweaked by TWR, it was still largely unchanged from the 1970s Jaguar XJS.

Aston Martin DB7 V12 - side viewAbout Bring A Trailer

After five years of production, Aston Martin added a 5.9-liter V12 to the lineup, which with a peak output of 414 horsepower brought the DB7 to a top speed of 184 mph. Which begged the question, was the XJ-S really that good, or was Aston just content with what was readily available?

Ferrari 456 GT – year of manufacture makes the difference

Ferrari 456 GT - front About Dylan Miles

Front-engined grand tourers and supercar performance are a Ferrari specialty from the 1960s, so the introduction of the 456 GT in 1992 and 1997 is not surprising. But read that again, 1992 & 1997? In fact, an astonishing number of warranty issues forced Ferrari to relaunch the powerful GT.

Ferrari 456 GT - Rear QuarterAbout Dylan Miles

Worn valve guides, weak engine bearings, and disintegrating fuel tank rubbers forced Ferrari to stop production for 1996. Later cars, however, were much better put together and therefore also more expensive.


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About the author

Jason Garbutt
(390 articles published)

Growing up in a car-obsessed environment from an early age generated a keen interest in everything to do with cars. primarily an F1 fan, but also an avid fan of other motorsports. Professional background who has worked closely with an established UK supercar manufacturer over the past few years.

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