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Appreciating 1990s classic cars: Top 10

Here are ten up-and-coming classics from the 1990s. With values on the up, you might not want to wait too long...

For many, the 1990s represents the start of the modern era. While many of the cars are still seen regularly on the roads today, it’s important to remember that these are now the up and coming classics, with the earliest already celebrating their 25th anniversary last year. Perhaps it’s because they’re all generally very usable, or the styling is still pretty modern, but some find the term ‘classic’ doesn’t quite sit appropriately with these modern icons. 
With increasing safety and emission regulations, cars of the 1990s had a much harder time raising the excitement stakes from the wild and high-boosted 1980s, but improving technology and an increasing grasp of turbocharging helped to level the playing field. 
As values of the iconic 1970s and 1980s classic cars are moving out of reach for many, they are looking to the next generation of up and coming classics. Our advise? You’d better be quick! Most of these cars have already seen significant movement, and will most likely continue to see further price rises in the coming years. 
Here are ten of the most exciting cars built in the 1990s: 

Renault Clio Williams

Renault Clio Williams 1

While 1980s hot hatches continue to climb in value, the choice of pocket rockets in the 1990s was somewhat slimmer. That’s why Clio Williams prices have been steadily rising, with the earliest limited edition Williams 1 worth upwards of £7500 today if in good condition. Later Williams 2 and 3 models are just as much fun, and can be picked up for a little less. Once a popular choice for cheap track day toys (with a few turned into rally cars), numbers of good condition cars has thinned right out, making those survivors significantly more sought after. A 205 GTI for the 1990s? We’d say so!

Porsche 996

Porsche 911 (996)

While the Porsche 993 might be the last air-cooled 911, prices are already out of reach for many. Clever money is currently on the 996 models. Some will always moan about those headlights, but it’s a small price to pay for a truly great driving Porsche. Concerns over the weak engines have also kept values low, with many fearing the worst, but in reality most have now been sorted. Prices are already moving quickly, but these great cars still offer the best value choice for a 911 buyer. Buy a nice example with the right spec and mileage, and enjoy. 

> Read the Porsche 996 buying guide, and browse the cars for sale in the classifieds

Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise S1

It was a classic the moment it was launched, but the series 1 Lotus Elise has been steadily rising in value for a few years now. It’s largely down to supply and demand, with many enthusiasts from overseas looking to get in on the action. Early original cars can still be picked up for around £8000, but the more interesting special editions (such as the 111S) and the very best examples of the more powerful versions are now pushing £20,000. 
It might be a bit of a cliche to say it, but we can’t help but love the the fact that the great F1 driver Ayrton Senna had a hand in developing the NSX. The story goes that Senna drove an early prototype, and fed back the general lack of body rigidity, while later going on to help fine-tune the suspension set-up. He also got stopped for speeding in his own NSX on the way to the British Grand Prix. While the NSX was never a huge seller, especially in the UK, it has become increasingly desirable driving up prices to more than £50,000 for prime examples, although some of the less desirable examples (generally in automatic form) can still be found for less than £20k.
Alternative choice: Seek out a DC2 Honda Integra Type-R. Much of the engineering that made the NSX so special was funnelled into this front-wheel drive performance legend. 
Alfa Romeo GTV

Alfa Romeo GTV 3.0 V6

Great engine, fantastic chassis and gorgeous looks, it’s no surprise that the GTV is highly coveted by Alfa Romeo fans. Although fundamentally reliable, they’re expensive to run, which means many were scrapped when values were low. Today, a good example can command up to £6000 (up to £10,000 for the limited edition Cup model), although you can still pick up a bargain if you are prepared to spend some money on repairs. The 2.0-litre models also offer great value, handle even better and are more sensible to run, but in the long run it’s the V6 that everybody wants…

> Find Alfa Romeo GTVs for sale in the classifieds

BMW Z3 M Coupe

BMW Z3M Coupe

This just scrapes into the 1990s, but like many other BMW M cars, the Z3 M has been rapidly rising in value recently. Shoehorning the BMW M3’s fantastic engine into the Z3 roadster was a stroke of genius – in effect producing a modern day German muscle car. Fitting this drivetrain into the shooting brake-style coupe gave the car a character all of its own, and it has always been considered one of the most fun modern M cars. Low-mileage examples are being snapped up for upwards of £25,000, with the later S54-engined models pushing almost double that figure in perfect condition. 

Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

Thanks to the rise in values in Japan, and increasing interest from around the world, a nice and (reasonably) unmodified GT-R will set you back at least £14,000 today. That’s still fantastic value, but due to the number of cars ruined by bad modifications, you’ll pay a significant premium for any car that is standard. Tweaked cars (putting out more than 400bhp with ease) could potentially still be picked up from around £7000, but tread with caution. 

Subaru Impreza Turbo 2000

Subaru Impreza Turbo

Rallying icons don’t come any cheaper than the Impreza Turbo, at least for now. Values of early Turbo 2000 models have doubled over the last four years, as the nicest examples are being swept up. Rough examples are aplenty, so it’s best to search for the best you can find. UK-spec cars are in good supply, so there’s no reason to opt for an import unless you’re after one of the more extreme special edition models. 
Alternative option: Want to go for the ultimate Impreza? Few would argue that the extremely limited edition Impreza 22B is perhaps the most iconic, and it’s surely the most expensive. Prices for this lightweight, wide-arched monster have done the same as it’s much cheaper sibling, almost doubling to the current £40-£50k value in just a few years. Just 400 were built.

VW Corrado VR6

VW Corrado VR6

The Volkswagen scene is thriving, and values of cult classics like the Corrado can only go one way. Finding a tidy and original VR6 is a difficult task, but they are out there. You shouldn’t instantly dismiss the G60 either. It might not have the multi-cylinder sound, but a bit of supercharger fiddling can do wonders for the more readily-available model. Still, most agree that the larger engine up front (along with a slightly wider track) makes the VR6 the most special Corrado of the bunch. Budget around £4000-£6000 for a nice example. 

Ferrari F355

Ferrari F355

As one of the prettiest Ferraris of all time, the F355 has always had a strong following. Anywhere from £60,000-£80,000 will buy you one, but the best are now fetching in excess of £100k. This was also the first Ferrari that learned from the lessons of the Honda NSX, adding some much needed (relative) reliability into the mix. It’s brilliant to drive and also relatively easy to live with, meaning prices are likely to continue rising steadily.

Meanwhile, at the top of the market…

McLaren F1

McLaren F1 

It held the title of the world’s fastest production car for years, and was built to be the best car in the world. Engineered by Gordon Murray, this 240mph supercar was an astounding £540,000 to buy when new, which probably seems like great value if you’re looking at one today. You’ll need somewhere between £7m-£10m to buy an F1 today, setting the benchmark for all modern supercar values. 

Read more about the McLaren F1, and see if there are any for sale here

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