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These Are the 1990s Supercars You've Probably Forgotten

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author photo by Doug DeMuro April 2017

If you lived through the 1990s, you probably remember an interesting group of exotic cars: the Ferrari F50, for example, was a radical styling departure for Ferrari -- and its look is still being debated today. The McLaren F1 was a world-beater, and it's still discussed as being among the greatest cars ever made. The Lamborghini Diablo was gorgeous -- and an ergonomic disaster. It was a great time to be alive.

But while the "typical" 1990s exotics are remembered and celebrated by virtually everyone, the obscure ones don't have quite such a following. Here are five obscure 1990s exotic cars you may have forgotten about. Today, I've decided they deserve to be remembered.

Aston Martin Virage

Aston Martin Virage

Here's a name you haven't heard in a while: Aston Martin Virage. And I don't mean the DB9 lookalike Aston tried to release in the 2010s. I mean the boxy, blocky, front-engine, V8-powered exotic sports car they sold throughout the entire decade of the 1990s. Most people have probably never seen a Virage, and indeed, it's a rather unusual car: Just 1,050 were built over its 11-year lifespan, and sales in the U.S. ceased after just three model years due to safety regulations. Power came from a 5.3-liter V8 that initially made 335 horses, and later jumped to 550 horsepower thanks to a supercharger. Several years ago, I had a neighbor with one of these. He was clearly crazy.

Bugatti EB110

Bugatti EB110

If you're a waking, breathing human being, you probably know about the Bugatti Veyron -- and you probably also know about its successor, the Bugatti Chrion. But you might not remember the Bugatti from the 1990s. It was called the EB110, and it was built in Italy, after an Italian company acquired the rights to the famous Bugatti brand name. The EB110 featured a massive 550-hp quad-turbocharged V12, and it did zero to 60 in 3.6 seconds -- before an even higher-performance "Super Sport" model debuted with 600 hp and a 3.2-second 0-to-60 time. Unfortunately, Bugatti S.p.A (the Italian Bugatti) folded in 1995 after building just over 100 examples of the car during a five-year span. A German automaker, Dauer, bought the unused parts and created an even rarer 1990s car: the Dauer EB110.

Jaguar XJ220

Jaguar XJ220

The 1990s exotic car world was so unusual that Jaguar even got involved. They showed up with a vehicle called the XJ220, so named for its 220-mile per hour top speed -- a speed many observers claim it couldn't even reach. That speed number wasn't the only reason the XJ220 was a flop: It also debuted in a recession, and it was originally unveiled with a V12 engine -- which was replaced with a twin-turbocharged V6 when it reached production. Jaguar built fewer than 300 different XJ220 models throughout its production run, which lasted from 1992 to 1994.

Lotus Esprit V8

Lotus Esprit V8

OK, so you probably haven't forgotten about the Lotus Esprit -- but my guess is you don't think of it very much, either. Which is weird, when you really consider it, because the Lotus Esprit really had it all: It was a mid-engine European sports car with gorgeous, exotic, low-slung styling -- and, beginning in 1997, a turbocharged V8 engine. That's right: Beginning in the 1990s, Lotus added a turbocharged V8 engine to its wedge-shaped exotic, ditching the 4-cylinder it had used before -- and the result was 350 hp and zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds. Those are good numbers -- and the rest of the package is pretty cool, too. And yet, the Esprit seems to be primarily fading into obscurity.

Vector W8

Vector W8

The most interesting 1990s supercar of all was the Vector W8, which is perhaps the most exotic-looking car ever manufactured, at any period, from any car company. Created by the Vector Aeromotive Corporation, the car's appearance was exactly how you'd expect, given that company name: It was a ferocious-looking wedge shape with a near-flat windshield. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V8, the W8 made 625 hp and did zero to 60 in around 4 seconds on its way to a top speed of well above 200 mph, with Vector suggesting it could hit 240. Unfortunately, the W8 didn't last long: Vector produced just 22 examples before it was taken over by another company in 1993.

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These Are the 1990s Supercars You've Probably Forgotten - Autotrader