In this blog instalment we will explore an era very close to my heart. A simpler time inevitably before Twitter and Instagram. A time when if you so wanted you could work on your car without requiring a laptop. I look back fondly on the 90’s and now I will endeavour to explain why.
Now obviously we look at what the motoring industry was doing at the time. There were some heroic creations around this time! I am sure you are all listing them off in your head but how’s about a few examples. Lotus Carlton, Escort Cosworth, Honda NSX, Toyota Supra and so on and so on. The cars of the 90’s were so delightfully simple and therefore light the driving experience exceeded cars that followed for a long time! All these luxuries and toys we pile our cars with these days just make them heavy which numbs the reason you buy a sports car in the first place. Granted I will absolutely agree there is a healthy middle ground and I believe the point in time where we achieved this was the 90’s. You had a stereo, you had ABS, cruise control, traction control because let’s face it you need music, and nobody wants to die. Would the Honda NSX be a better vehicle if it had an app for Facebook? NO! Omit all the nonsense and clutter from your driving and focus on the deed itself. 90’s cars did this for us, they gave us enough on the creature comforts front but more importantly whilst the resulting lack of weight was a plus the pace at which the mechanical engineering was accelerating during this time was insane! Remember those V10 F1 cars? Remember that howl they made? F1 lacks that now currently for me but that’s another chat altogether.
Turbo charging really started to come through into road cars thanks to rallying and we saw cars like the iconic Subaru Impreza come to life on our roads. The recipe of four-wheel drive again thanks to rallying and smaller turbo charged engines really birthed by Audi and resulted in Rally domination through Quattro. Many moons ago I owned a homologated rally car. It was my third car ever and rare due to being frightfully ugly! It is called a Nissan Pulsar GTi-R. Imported from Japan to behold it nearly made you sick in your mouth but to drive…. well that was another story. Bang for the buck was the appeal and 90’s sports cars were my budget. So, the short list was a Mazda RX7 twin turbo, the 300ZX and the GTi-R. The RX7 enquiry came to an abrupt halt when I realised I was too tall to get behind the wheel and the 300ZX just didn’t do it for me. I think in truth it intimidated me a little at the time. I was only 22 by the way! The appeal of all of the cars and what I am trying to get across here is simplicity with enough engineering progression to be able to obtain high levels of power, combine that with low curb weights, phenomenal styling from this era and there you have it! Take the NSX or the Supra for example, they have not dated! The cars have aged of course but the styling stands up today. Interior sadly the same cannot be said but you sit a well looked after NSX next to an F430, get yourself someone who knows nothing about cars, I bet you they would guess the cars were of similar value.
These gems are out there and the rewards of owning vehicles like these is significant. Anyone benefitting from the funds can go out and buy something that requires no imagination but if you own a Lancia Stratos or a classic Porsche turbo the connoisseur nods will come your way in droves.
For those of you who love your Bluetooth connectivity and reversing cameras I totally get it, who doesn’t! All I am saying is a that in the small window of time we achieved something we never will again. We had progressed enough with our engines to have 400BHP on tap in a road car, but we hadn’t got to the point where engines themselves were a no-go area covered in plastic and you needed a degree from NASA to operate the Sat Nav. I remember after about 2 years of owning the GTi-R it had no back seats, no carpets, no roof lining, no boot or interior plastics at all it was literally a roll cage, some gauges, the dash, a CD player and me. Four-wheel drive, 400BHP under my foot without a catalytic converter insight and I adored it. I didn’t care one iota that the car was ugly because it weighed as much as a box of tissues and it flew! Flames would lick up the tail gate that would flash in your mirror on a night and driving was pure. I drove for the fun of driving and those memories are very fond ones indeed.
I don’t argue some of cars today would leave it for dead, of course they would. I think because of my age at the time when these cars were around, they will always be on a pedestal for me. Youngsters in their early twenties wouldn’t look twice if a Renault 5 turbo drove past, but I would giggle excitedly. I spent about twenty minutes looking round a Lancia Delta Integrale in Tesco car park only last month. I could see nobody had a clue what it was and perhaps there is also the appeal.
Its no fun if everyone likes it. If they did, I don’t think I would!
Do me a favour, just cast your mind back to this time for a minute. Oasis are huge, Michael Johnson is cleaning up at the Olympics, Gazza is crying and literally everyone is obsessed with “Absolutely Fabulous”. What were you driving then? I bet whatever it was has a place in your heart and not because it was the best but because for a reason you might not be able to explain…. you loved that car.
This is why I love cars and this is the holy grail of any purchase!
Not perfection…… adoration!