Everyone loves 1990s Japanese sports cars. From the curves of the FD Mazda RX-7 to the taillight design of the MKIV Toyota Supra to the long wedge shape of the Acura NSX, seeing one of these legendary vehicles on the road is always a cause for excitement. To determine just how special each one is relative to the others, I decided it was time to finally outline U.S. sales figures for each of the six most popular Japanese sports cars of the 1990s, just so that we all know exactly how excited we should be anytime we encounter one on the street.
As it’s been over 20 years since most of these vehicles were last in production, exact numbers are difficult to dig up, so I’ve done my best using a combination of forums, spreadsheets, and Wikipedia. The list is organized by production volume, from highest to lowest.
1991-1999 Mitsubishi 3000GT
The 3000GT came out for the 1991 model year and sales lasted all the way through 1999. Unlike competitors like the 300ZX, the Supra and the RX-7, the 3000GT was built on a front wheel drive platform, and base and SL models were powered by the front wheels, while VR-4 models offered all-wheel drive. Early VR-4s also came with active aerodynamics, electronically controlled suspension and 4-wheel steering, among other high-tech items. The 3000GT was powered by a transverse-mounted 3.0-liter V6. Lesser base and SL models put out between 160 and 222 horsepower, while twin-turbocharged VR-4 models put out between 296 and 320 hp, depending on model year.
According to 3SGTO.com, 83,727 3000GTs were sold over the vehicle’s nine model years on sale. It looks like 16,126 — or about 20% — were VR-4 models, while 1,617, or under 2%, were the obscure folding hardtop Spyder models.
By far the rarest of all the 3000GTs is the 1999 VR-4 model. Identifiable by their massive rear wing, only 287 examples of the 1999 3000GT VR-4 were sold in the U.S.
1990-1996 Nissan 300ZX
The 300ZX was offered over two generations, but for the purposes of this analysis, we’ll focus on the Z32 model, sold over seven model years in the U.S. — from 1990 through 1996. The 300ZX was offered with a 3.0-liter V6 available in both naturally-aspirated or twin-turbo form. Non-turbo 300ZXs made 222 hp, while twin-turbo models put out 300 hp. The engine was paired with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic.
Four variants were offered in total: a standard 2-seater, a convertible 2-seater, a twin-turbocharged 2-seater, and a long-wheelbase model with room for four people. While most non-convertibles were sold with T-tops, a fixed roof was available as well.
According to Nissan Z enthusiast site, ZHome.com, a total of 89,156 300ZXs were sold over the 1990 to 1996 model years. Just over 18,000 — or about 20% — were twin-turbo models (available with rear-wheel steering), while around 30,000 — or 34% — were long-wheelbase models with the 2+2 seating configuration. The convertible, introduced for 1993, is by far the rarest body style, with only 3,846 sold, accounting for only about 4% of overall sales. Find a Nissan 300ZX for sale
1992-1997 Subaru SVX
The Giugiaro-designed SVX was low-tech and under-powered compared to the other Japanese sports cars from this era, but I’ll still include it on this list — as, despite its flaws, it still had performance car aspirations. The SVX was powered by a 3.3-liter horizontally opposed 6-cylinder making 231 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque, paired exclusively with a 4-speed automatic. The SVX offered neither a turbocharged option nor a manual transmission. While most examples came with AWD, the SVX was built on a FWD platform, and an entry-level FWD model was offered in the U.S. in 1994 and 1995, but didn’t find much success.
According to SubaruSVX.com, 14,357 SVXs were sold in the U.S. from the 1992 to 1997 model years, with the majority of sales coming in 1992 and 1993, before taking a steep dive for 1994. Find a Subaru SVX for sale
1993-1995 Mazda RX-7
According to a thread on RX7Club.com, 13,879 examples of the third-generation (or "FD") RX-7 was sold in the U.S. over three years from 1993 to 1995, and this figure gets thrown around on a few other sites, as well. The 1993 model year is the most common year for the RX-7, with just under 10,000 sold, while 1995 examples are the least common, with only 500 sold. Every single FD RX-7 was powered by a Wankel rotary engine with two turbochargers, good for 252 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque and paired with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. A total of 1,976 examples of the RX-7, or around 14% of U.S. models, were sold with the automatic transmission, while the remainder came with the manual. Find a Mazda RX-7 for sale
1993-1998 Toyota Supra
The fourth-generation Toyota Supra was powered by the legendary "2JZ" inline 6-cylinder. Non-turbo versions made 220 hp, while twin-turbo models made 321 hp. Transmission options were a 6-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. One of the Supra’s most notable features was its available removable roof panel.
According to MKIV.com, 11,239 MKIV Supras were sold over the vehicle’s six model years on sale. Of these, over 60% were turbocharged, while about 36% were turbocharged models that included a 6-speed manual. Find a Toyota Supra for sale
1991-2005 Acura NSX
Of all of the Japanese sports cars to come out of the 1990s, the NSX was in a league of its own. Sold over a total of 15 model years, the NSX had the longest lifespan of all of the vehicles on this list, but is also the rarest, with fewer than 9,000 sold. From 1991 to 1996, the NSX made use of a mid-mounted 3.0-liter V6 making 270 hp, but only 210 lb-ft of torque. It was paired with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. In 1997, displacement was increased to 3.2-liters and output to 290 hp and 224 lb-ft of torque. The 5-speed manual was also dropped in 1997 in favor of a 6-speed. The NSX received a drastic face-lift for 2002, ditching its popup headlights in favor of fixed lights.
According to the website NSXPrime.com, 8,949 NSXs were sold in the U.S. in total. A total of 8,182 — or around 91% — came with a manual transmission, while 767 — or about 9% — had the automatic. An "NSX-T" model was introduced for 1995 with a removable roof panel — and by 2002, the removable roof panel was standard. In total, 3,328 — or about 37% — of NSXs sold in the U.S. have the removable panel. Find an Acura NSX for sale