The Japanese sports cars of the 90’s were some of the most innovative cars of their time. Vehicles like the Toyota AE86, Nissan 240sx, and the Mazda RX-7 are just some of the most influential, but some 90’s beasts now have modern day counterparts: the Toyota Supra Mark IV, the Acura/Honda NSX, and the Nissan Skyline GTR. These cars defied the stereotypes set by other manufacturers, being both reliable and fast, while also getting fairly decent gas mileage. The American Muscle of the time would break often, were difficult to work on, and were substantially worse on gas with bigger V8 engines. A mechanic I spoke to stated, “You can even feel it in the door bearings, the Japanese car doors open a lot smoother, even after 20 years.” These Japanese sports cars of the 90s also were a lot cheaper than the Italian exotics, and were faster in some scenarios. These cars have changed dramatically and the modern versions have a lot to live up to.
The authentic 90’s tuner, the Toyota Supra Mark IV came stock with a 3.0 litre, twin-turbo, inline 6 cylinder engine, producing 320 horsepower, which was very respectable for the time. The engine is the 2JZ-GTE, which is possibly the most famous engine among the car tuning community. It is practically bulletproof, which means with some internal engine modifications can easily push 1000 horsepower. For comparison, modern supercars are around 700 horsepower, while also costing five times the price of the Supra (which adjusted for inflation is around $70,000 Cdn brand new). Some Supra’s can still be found driving around, and are known as a “supercar killer” with the insane amount of power they have. On the used market, this price was dramatically lower although now, they are costing more and more money; some over $100,000. The Mark IV was built from 1993 until 2002. With Toyota recently noticing the hype around these cars, the Japanese manufacturer brought it back for a “new and improved” 2019 model.
This is where the Supra Mark V comes into play: but first, a little backstory. Toyota has been using the help of other car companies for their newer sports cars. For example, the Toyota 86/Scion FRS/Subaru BRZ was a partnership between Toyota and Subaru. Toyota conducted the same type of cooperation for the new Supra, but the partnership was with BMW instead. Now I know what you’re thinking — BMW is a greatly famed car manufacturer, which is true, so what could go wrong? There is one thing BMW definitely isn’t famous car among the car community: reliability. Toyota builds arguably the most reliable cars, but when a company like BMW is making the engine (producing only 15 horsepower more than the previous Supra, at 335) and other important parts to a car, that reliability which Toyota once held is lost for the 2019 Supra, and this has caused many fans to be upset with the new car. Despite this, some are starting to realise that the new Supra does still have some tuning possibilities, but we will have to wait to find out the true capabilities of this car. The price of the new Supra is about $63,000 Cdn for the high-end model, which is lower than the other 90’s comebacks and seems reasonable.
Another 2019 rendition of a Japanese sports car, is the Acura/Honda NSX. I say Acura/Honda because Acura is the daughter company of Honda, as Honda wanted a luxury brand that would appeal more to the American market. The 1990 NSX was made in attempts to compete with Ferraris and other exotic supercars, which it did so very easily with the 3.2L V6 engine installed, producing 290 horsepower. The cars the NSX were competing with may have had more horsepower, but the NSX was more stable with its mid-engine layout, alongside the stiff suspension with front-biased weight transfer when cornering which gave it a lot more traction. The price in 1997 was approximately $88,000 but they now go used for about $100,000. Now, the new NSX is here and is still shocking fans. Instead of only a gasoline engine, Honda put in 3 electric motors along with a twin-turbo V6, producing a combined total of 573 horsepower. This new car lives up to the expectations of the NSX fans with a massive gain in horsepower and other improvements, making it an all around better sports car. The new model comes at a price though, with the car costing upwards of $165,000.
Saving possibly the best for last: the Nissan Skyline GTR, which was the phenom that inspired many to gain an interest in cars. With many appearances in The Fast and the Furious, this car changed the world. One of the highest end models ever composed was the Skyline R34 GTR. The GTR, otherwise known as “Godzilla” is powered by a twin-turbo, 2.6L inline 6 cylinder engine — a very similar piece to the previously mentioned, Toyota Supra Mark IV. This legendary engine is the RB26DETT. This brought the car to 276 horsepower, but also similar to the Supra, it was easily modifiable to make upwards of 1000 horsepower. However, while the supra is front-engine based with a rear wheel drive, the Skyline R34 is front-engine, all-wheel drive vehicle. This gives it a substantial boost in traction and makes it an all around better car for going fast around corners and turns. In the late 90’s, this car went for around $60,000. Now, these models are rare as can be. It isn’t often you would see them ever, even if they were used but on the one listing that I have seen on Craigslist, it was going for $130,000.
The modern version is the Nissan GTR. It is normally rated at 573 horsepower but the Nismo (Nissan’s racing division) is tuned to 600 horsepower. It is powered by a 3.8L, twin-turbo V6 engine. This car lived up to the expectations given to it by its predecessor, as it’s still holding the title of Godzilla. To the surprise of many, the 2018 GTR is “reasonably” priced at just under $100,000, considering it is more powerful than the new NSX yet over $50,000 cheaper.
At the end of the day, all these cars are fast and will no doubt give you a rush when the pedal is to the floor. They are all well built sports cars with millions of dollars put into engineering them, and will receive both praise and denunciation nevertheless. The new models are based off legends and may become legends themselves as well, but it’s hard to tell with the opinions placed upon them by the automobile society. These cars are still great options if you want something fast, for a fraction of the amount you’d pay for an Italian exotic, while being able to hold their wheel.
Image Credit: mlech.com
Nice article, really learned a lot about the new cars and how they stack up against their old mates. I am not too sure about the american muscle cars being hard to work on as they tend to be more simple (replacing engineering with displacement) and have large engine bays making it easy to reach the yes, very unreliable parts.
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