The 1990s saw the supercar evolve into an even more technologically advanced form of high-speed transportation. Here are ten of the best
Who doesn’t love a good supercar? The 1990s were a strange time for the super high performance market however, with the demand for top-end supercars seemingly bottoming thanks to the recession early on in the decade. This didn’t stop manufacturers enduring with and refining the formula, laying the groundwork for the modern mega-expensive supercars, and the ultra fast hypercars of today. McLaren F1
When McLaren set out to build the F1, it had one mission: to build the best driver's car on the planet. Gordon Murray’s savage attention-to-detail ensured that the car was as lightweight as possible, while Peter Stevens designed an extremely streamlined body. A central driving position gave the car a unique three-seat layout too.
With a 6.1-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine from BMW’s Motorsport division, producing 627bhp, the F1 managed to hit a top speed of 231mph, overshadowing all previous records. Without the rev limiter in place, the F1 actually recorded a top speed of 243mph.
Production of the F1 commenced in 1992, and finally came to a stop in 1998, after selling 106 cars in total. The GTR models were built for racing, and without major modification went on to win the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Jaguar XJ220
Although it made its motor show debut in 1988, the Jaguar XJ220 was well and truly a child of the 1990s. Having been developed for Jaguar by Tom Walkinshaw Racing, the XJ220 ended up with twin-turbo V6 power – not the V12 that potential buyers were expecting. It did briefly hold the production car top speed record as well – hitting 213mph in 1992.
Following up the Iconic F40 is never going to be an easy task. When the F50 came out, it boasted a naturally aspirated V12 engine – derived from the 1990 F1 car – and a convertible roof. The styling was bold, and divided opinion, with some loving it and others hating it. Ferrari managed to create something almost completely different in character to the F40 though, and as the years have passed, collectors consider the F50 to be just as valuable. Lamborghini Diablo
Another hard act to follow was the Lamborghini Countach – the car that probably defines the term supercar better than any other. Lamborghini, which was at the time owned by Chrysler, launched the Diablo in January 1990. The original Gandini styling concept was rejected, and a slightly less aggressive design was finalised for production.
Lamborghini’s fantastic V12 engine was retained, with a new engine management system, but the biggest shock to the system was perhaps the introduction of a new four-wheel drive system for the 1993 VT model. As the model evolved, power continued to increase as the Diablo. When Audi bough the company in 1999, the cars became far better built. Bugatti EB110
As a forerunner to the mighty Veyron, the Bugatti EB110 was also an exercise in over engineering. The powertrain is particularly special, featuring a 60-valve 3.5-litre V12 engine, with a total of four turbochargers adding up to 552bhp. Despite the fact it was built around a carbon fibre chassis, manufactured by a French aeronautical company, the EB110 managed to weigh in at 1618kg. In 1992, a lightweight EB110 SS was launched, which reduced it to 1418kg, while also increasing power to 592bhp. Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR
While the McLaren F1 was a road car that worked incredibly well on the track, Mercedes came up with the CLK GTR, a specifically developed endurance racer that was homologated for the road. A total of 26 road-going cars were sold, featuring a 6.0-litre V12 engine. Honda NSX
Whether or not the Honda NSX should be considered a supercar or not has constantly been up for debate. It makes this list because it revolutionised the concept of being able to own and use an exotic car without the unreliability and impracticality people had come to expect of Ferraris and Lamborghinis. The fact that Ayrton Senna played a part in the car’s final development also helps boost its credibility as a very special car. Lister Storm
Using a 7.0-litre V12 engine, this Jaguar-based racing car was homologated for road use, much like the CLK GTR, to allow racing at Le Mans. One of the largest V12 engines ever fitted to production car, the V12 pushed out 546bhp and a tarmac pummeling 582lb ft of torque. Just four road cars were ever built however. Nissan R390 GT1
Just two of these were ever produced for road use, one of which remains in Nissan’s possession. Mechanically unchanged from the racing car, the R390 road car could do 0-60mph in 3.2secs, and 0-100mph in 6.5secs. Top speed was a verified 220mph. TWR also played a key role in this car’s development, while Nismo developed a new engine based on an old V8 design from the Group C era. A true engineering masterpiece. Aston Martin V8 Vantage Le Mans
At the end of the V8 Vantage’s life, Aston Martin gave the hand-built model a suitable swansong with the ultra-special Le Mans. The heart of the transformation included a 604bhp incarnation of the supercharged V8 powerhouse, with over 600lb ft of torque. Remaining a world of pure luxury inside, the exterior bodywork was also suitably beefed-up, with Dymag magnesium wheels, unique front grille and side vents mimicking the Le Mans-winning DBR-1. Images: evo