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90’s Japanese Supercar Revival

rx-7Blame it on Gran Turismo, The Fast & The Furious, or Best Motoring videos, but the 90’s Japanese supercars offered some of the best styling and performance money can buy at the time. Add to the equation Japanese reliability and you have a clear winner for both track days and weekdays. Forced induction or naturally aspirated, you had your choice, and you weren’t going to be disappointed. Every single manufacturer provided you with an option: RX-7, Skyline GT-R, 300Z, Supra, Evolution, Impreza, NSX… how can anyone forget the NSX…

Ok, so maybe they weren’t the cheapest options out there. The USD-Yen exchange rate wasn’t the most favorable of ratios making these cars a bit out of reach for most. When people did have the money, they mostly likely opted for more luxurious European brands, or those American cars bent on a displacement binge. These factors made the Japanese sports cars all the more rare and beautiful. I would stare longingly every time I see these beauties ride down the road, even until this day. I would perform neck-snapping double takes and ogle at these moving works of art, wishing they would stay in my field of view, fearing that if they disappear they will blip out of existence and out of my memories.1990 Honda NSXAs the years passed by the USDM Japanese sports car became a thing of the past.  Models died off from a steady diet of market studies and Americans’ increasing appetite for SUVs. People were just not interested in these highly reliable, fuel efficient, powerful, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous cars. What was wrong with these people?!

Fortunately, the cars that managed to hold on to the USDM were still magnificent. The two seater S2000 with its lipstick-red “Engine Start” button and its perfect driving position is seared into my memory. The 350Z bullfrog-like stance harkens back to the days of the 300Z and other elder Z’s. The WRX STi and EVO barroom brawl made every automotive enthusiasts and their moms take sides in an all-out AWD civil-war. Let’s not forget that these cars were also more within financial reach for most, compared to the previous decade.  Nonetheless, all of these fabulous cars have failed to generate real interest outside of their own little niches.

Then Godzilla happened and the automotive world was turned shiny side down.

2008-Nissan-GT-RHow dare this Japanese sports car challenge the likes of 911 GT3, M3, R8, you name it. On their own turf, nonetheless! This “bargain-bin” supercar was able to beat cars way out of its price range and it did so with pure twin turbo brawn and an alphabet soup for an all-wheel drive system (ATTESA-E-TS, look it up, it’s fascinating) This thing has won so many awards it made other envious car companies add on more letters to the end of their models to try and dethrone it (I’m looking at you ZR1…) All of this bragging going around on is a very good thing, competition breeds all kinds of good stuff. It’s so good, other Japanese car companies have thrown their hats in the ring.Toyota-Supra-Concept

Which brings me to my point. In the next few years we are going to see some really exciting things come out of the Land of the Rising Sun. There will be a revival of the 90’s Japanese supercar. The GT-R has been sitting on this lonely pedestal for quite a while with no serious challengers in the horizon. However, familiar names are beginning to surface like the Supra and the NSX. Much like the GT-R these new concepts will most likely feature a bevy of black magic transmissions and torque-vectoring systems, and perhaps also possess an electric hybrid motor? Sacrilege!

Whatever wizardry they bring to this Godzilla-Mothra-Battra fight, one thing is for certain, it will be an epic battle and the rest of the automotive world will grow envious.

And one more thing, who would have thought Jerry Seinfeld is the man to bring back the NSX?

Written by Hansen

The engineer amongst the crew, Hansen once built a mini baja car with his bare hands. Hansen had the opportunity to join Honda’s R&D team in Ohio but chose the life of the east coast and the defense industry instead. A die hard auto enthusiast he religiously follows the auto industry and loves long walks in the auto shows.

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  1. Japanese cars of the 90s also had another effect. Those cars in addition to the aforementioned Fast and the Furious also lead to a revival of the “Hot Rodder” or tuner as it is more commonly know these days. I think this was their best contribution to the car world. Yes it led to an annoying amount of Civics buzzing around the roads. However it did lead me into working on cars so much so that it affected my purchasing priorities when I bought my Lexus. As strange as that sounds, part of the appeal of the IS300 to me was the N/A straight six lifted from the Supra.

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