Forgotten Supercars of the ‘90S

Today, we will review 15 rarest supercars hailing from the golden era of the world’s car industry - the 1990s. Bold ideas, ambitious engineering solutions, outstanding design and very powerful cars. Some of the cars were produced in a single copy and many of them you have not even heard of.

Needles to say, the ‘90s is the very time in the world’s car production, when a completely unrealistic number of outstanding supercars were designed. The reason for this is simple: there were not yet adopted strict regulations for both safety and emissions, and the level of engineering allowed automakers to manufacture powerful powertrains, produce advanced running gear and assemble almost unique bodies.

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There is another factor that obviously contributed to the design of many interesting, original and so high performance supercars. The wave of overall globalization, total unification and absorption surged only after 2000, before that there had been a huge number of small independent industries in the world. Thanks to them we saw the birth of these sports and design masterpieces. After all, there were not enough «conventional» Ferraris and Lamborghinis for everyone. It is a pity that time has irrevocably sunk into oblivion.

Cizeta V16T Moroder

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Production – 1989-1995
Engine – 6.0 L V16
Power output – 560 hp
Top speed –328 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 4.4 sec
Only 8 examples were released.

If you ask any car enthusiast about the known sixteen-cylinder engines, he will probably remember the Bugatti Veyron equipped with a W16. But there was a car powered by a different V16 configuration. Yes, and… installed transversely! This fact explains the more than 2-meter width of the Cizeta 16T. Moreover, this 6.0-liter engine, designed by Lamborghini’s former engineer Oliviero Pedrazzi, was completely unique (although assembled from Lamborghini’s two V8s) and produced up to 8000 rpm. Another outstanding feature of this car is the enchanting design by Marcello Gandini: it was originally intended for the Lamborghini Diablo, but the company's management rejected it. Then the maestro passed the sketches to the founders of Cizeta — Claudio Zampolli and Giorgio Moroder. Aluminum panels were mounted on a three-dimensional tubular steel frame.

Jaguar XJR-15

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Production – 1990-1992
Engine – 6.0 L V12
Power output – 450 hp
Top speed –307 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 3.2 sec
Only 53 examples were released.

This magnificent Jaguar represents a joint effort with TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing). In fact, the car was a road variant of the racing XJR-9, the winner of the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unlike the Jaguar XJ220, which eventually got «just» a six-cylinder bi-turbo engine, the XJR-15 had a real natural aspirated V12, aggregated with a six-speed sequential manual transmission (a five-speed manual gearbox as an option). It is believed that this Jaguar was the world's first car with a carbon fiber monocoque body. Another interesting feature of the car was electronic throttle control (ETC) — in the early ‘90s!

MTX Tatra V8

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Production – 1990-1993
Engine – 3.9 L V8
Power output – 218 (302) hp
Top speed –246 (265) km/h
0-100 km/h time – 6.2 (5.6) sec
Only 3 examples were released.

Almost immediately after the fall of the Iron Curtain in Europe in 1990, the company Metalex (MTX) together with Tatra decided to build the first Czech supercar, later known as the MTX Tatra V8. The design for the sports car was created by Bertone himself. The powertrain consisted of a 3.9-liter engine with two Jikov carburetors (218 hp). The more powerful injector version gave out 302 hp. The car was officially presented at the 1991 Autoshow Praha. The company immediately received about 200 orders for two years of production, but the cost was off the scale — about 3 million Czech korunas (which is now more than $100.000). As a result, only three prototypes were created until 1993; two of them were sold and one is still kept in the Sports Car Museum in Lány.

Schuppan 962CR

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Production – 1992-1994
Engine – 3.3 L Twin-Turbocharged H6
Power output – 600 hp
Top speed – 370 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 3.5 sec
Only 6 examples were released.

Australian racecar driver Vern Schuppan won the 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of a Porsche 956. In honor of this event, he decided to create a mid-engined supercar based on that racing car 9 years later. It is not surprising that the Schuppan supercar’s power unit was a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged H6 from the standard Porsche 962 used in the North American IMSA GT Championship. In fact, the prototype designed by Schuppan was just a road variant of the 962 (hence the name, where CR means «City Racing»). It was planned to build as many as 50 cars. However, it was not an easy task at a price of about $1 million. As a result, Schuppan managed to produce only 6 cars, which at that time were among the fastest vehicles in the world.

Montecarlo GTB Centenaire (Mega Monte Carlo)

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Production – 1990-1993
Engine – 5.2 L V6
Power output – 455 hp
Top speed – 320 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 4.5 sec
Only 5 examples were released.

Perhaps you have heard of the Mega Monte Carlo hypercar. So, our current reviewee, the MCA Centenaire, was just the forerunner of the Mega. Monte Carlo Automobile was founded by Fulvio Maria Ballabio in 1990. The car being born Monegasque, it was decided to name it the Centenaire for the 100 year anniversary of the Automobile Club of Monaco. The model received a V12 from Lamborghini and a design from Castagna. It is claimed that five prototypes were still built. The company even tried — unsuccessfully- to qualify for the 1993 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the cars were never released on the market. The project was sold to Aixam-Mega, which changed the engine to a V12 from Mercedes-Benz and even brought the Mega to the 1996 Geneva International Motor Show. However, the Mega Monte Carlo has never been able to legally drive on public roads.

Spiess TC 522

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Production – 1992
Engine – 5.7 L V8
Power output – 500 hp
Top speed – 330 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 4.0 sec
Only 1 example was released.

If you have been manufacturing industrial torque converters all your life, why would you go into the most complex car business and even try to build a real supercar? However, in 1992, Spiess made a different decision and presented the TC 522, the company’s very nice project, to the world. It was equipped with a 5.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The estimated maximum speed was 330 km/h. But, as in many cases of single car production, the Spiess TC 522 had a crazy price tag of almost $1.5 million. Thus, the Spiess has remained the only prototype of its kind.

Yamaha OX99-11 1992

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Production – 1994
Engine – 3.5 L V12
Power output – 420 hp
Top speed – more than 300 km/h
0-100 km/h time – N/A
Only 3 examples were released.

How did this car get such a strange name? It's simple: the supercar from Yamaha (!) is named after the V12 that Zakspeed ordered for the Japanese company in 1989. Subsequently, this powertrain was used by Formula One teams such as Jordan, Brabham and Tyrell. This engine was equipped with a dry-sump system and 60 (!) valves. The unit was attached directly to the monocoque behind the seats of the Yamaha OX99-11. Can you imagine how it sounded when it spun up to the maximum of 10.500 rpm? Like a song! Another interesting feature is a pull-rod suspension, as in Formula One cars. Mass production was planned to begin in 1994, but Japan faced the crisis. It was not so easy to find a buyer for a hypercar worth $1 million. As a result, only three such Yamaha models were released: red, yellow and blue.

Isdera Commendatore 112i (Silver Arrow)

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Production – 1993-1999, 2017
Engine – 6.0 L V12
Power output – 414 hp
Top speed – 342 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 4.1 sec
Only 1 example was released.

Eberhard Schultz is the founder of the German company Isdera (Ingenieurbüro für Styling, Design und Racing), who previously worked for Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. He began working on the Commendatore 112i in 1989. The car was presented to the public at the 1993 International Motor Show Germany. Then it disappeared until 1999, when the company made an attempt to revive the car under the name “Silver Arrow C112i”. The supercar was built on a spaceframe chassis with carbon fiber body panels. The V12 engine from Mercedes-Benz was used for the car’s powertrain. At the time of its debut, the Isdera was the only car in the world with an electronically controlled airbrake. When braking, the airbrake raised in an upright position by 19° acting as a wind deflector to help slow the car down (similar to a parachute). In 2017, the Commendatore 112i came into the spotlight at one of the European Concours d'Elegance and… disappeared again!

Lister Storm

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Production – 1993-1994
Engine – 7.0 L V12
Power output – 546 hp
Top speed – 335 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 4.2 sec
Only 4 examples were released.

This supercar is certainly well known to those who followed the GT racing news. However, only four Listers were produced for public roads. The Lister was equipped with a 7.0-liter Jaguar V12, which developed 546 hp and 790 Nm. The engine was used in the famous heroes of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the XJR-9 and XJR-12. What do you think about the interior? The finish is of the highest quality, like in a real GT coupe. Not bad even today.

Venturi 400 GT

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Production – 1994-1996
Engine – 6.0 L V6 bi-turbo
Power output – 407 hp
Top speed – 293 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 4.7 sec
Only 15 examples were released.

Few people know about the French company MVS, which produced a fairly successful by the standards of this segment (several hundred cars were sold) model Ventury until 1989. In 1985, the car was renamed Venturi by analogy with Ferrari. In 1988, the company even demonstrated a convertible modification. In fact, MVS released homologation versions of the 400 GT for participation at the 24 Hours of Le Mans under the Venturi brand and the patronage of a new investor, Didier Primat. The brand’s team competed at Le Mans from 1992 to 1995. Only 15 such cars were produced.

Jiminez Novia

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Production – 1995
Engine – 4.1 L W16 bi-turbo
Power output – 567 hp
Top speed – 380 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 3.2 sec
Only 1 example was released.

In 1995, the little-known French company Jimenez took on the development of a supercar with a W16 engine of a completely outlandish configuration — four rows of four cylinders and 80 valves. Where did it come from? Ramon Jimenez, the founder of the company, was a motorcycle racer, so he did not come up with anything «easier» than to put together four engines from the Yamaha FZR-1000 motorcycle and even add a bi-turbo to them! The production of the Novia cost $855.000. Jimenez wanted to roll out the car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (GT1) and sell it for $ 300.000, but he failed. The French government demanded to make another chassis for crash tests, but there was no money for it anyway.

Lotec Mercedes-Benz C1000

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Production – 1995
Engine – 5.6 L V8 bi-turbo
Power output – 1000 hp
Top speed – 431 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 2.8 sec
Only 1 example was released.

Drum roll, please. The most powerful car in our review today is the 1000-hp Lotec Mercedes-Benz. In 1995, when this hypercar was built, it was the fastest car on the planet that could accelerate to outstanding 431 km/h. The Bugatti Veyron was still ten years away! Even now the specifications of this incredible car are impressive. Where did this monster come from? The story goes that it was ordered by an anonymous sheikh from the United Arab Emirates. With two Garrett turbines, the power output of the 5.6-liter V8 from Mercedes-Benz increased to 1.000 hp. By the way, the Lotec cost $3.4 million at that time!

TVR Speed 12

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Production – 1996-1998
Engine – 7.7 L V12
Power output – 960 hp
Top speed – 486 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 3.0 sec
Only 1 example was released.

In 1996, TVR conceived the idea of creating the world's fastest road car. The Project 7/12 was first shown at the expo in Birmingham in the same year. It was equipped with a gigantic 7.7-liter V12 engine that gave out crazy 880 hp. In 1998, the project was renamed Speed 12. It was supposed to appear in the GT1 racing series, but the regulations of the championship changed. The then owner of TVR Peter Wheeler decided that a 1000-kg car would be too dangerous for public roads. It is a pity, but this is the end of the story of the promising and ambitious TVR Speed 12. It was an original project that featured its own engine, chassis, body and interior.

Nissan R390 GT1

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Production – 1997
Engine – 3.5 L V8 bi-turbo
Power output – 549 hp
Top speed – 330 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 3.9 sec
Only 2 examples were released.

Do you still think that the coolest supercar from Nissan is the GT-R? You are wrong. During the ‘90s, Nissan was haunted by the only but so significant victory of the Mazda 787B prototype (with a rotary engine, by the way) at the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1995 and 1996, Nissan, however, with its GT-R LM did not rise above fifth place in the class. So it was decided to create a car specially designed for racing. Nismo built the R390 together with TVR. A carbon fiber body and chassis, headlights from the 300ZX, a sequential gearbox, an RWD drivetrain and an upgraded 641-hp eight-cylinder VRH35L engine from racing Nissans of the ‘80s — this is a formula for creating the R390. Unfortunately, Nissan's results at the 24 Hours of Le Mans were not improved much after that. But, in order to pass the homologation, the company released two million-dollar road cars.

De Tomaso Bigua (Mangusta) Qvale Mangusta

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Production – 1996-2002
Engine – 3.5 L V8
Power output – 320 hp
Top speed – 260 km/h
0-100 km/h time – 5.5 sec
Only 284 examples were released.

It is difficult to remember a time when the Italian company De Tomaso was doing really well. All the time, the company was plagued by quality and sale problems, not to mention the health issues of Alejandro De Tomaso, unsuccessful purchases (e.g., Maserati in 1976) and the unwillingness of the Ford Corporation to supply 4.6-liter natural aspirated Modular engines for the Bigua supercar. Nevertheless, Ford changed its mind. Thus, the Bigua was shown at the 1996 Geneva International Motor Show, what did not protect the company from another financial problem. De Tomaso was saved from another collapse by the rich Qvale family with the condition of renaming the model to Mangusta. In 1997, a new company called Qvale Modena SpA was established in Modena, Italy. Since then, this model was produced mainly for North America. Later, the Quel family, having completely quarreled with De Tomaso, renamed the car to Qvale Mangusta. The main feature of the model was a roto-top roof, which allowed turning the Mangusta into a coupe, a targa or even a convertible.

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