The Coolest ’90s Supercars You’ve Never Heard Of

Chances are you’ve heard of the Lamborghini Diablo and the Ferrari F50, but what about the Venturi 400GT? Maybe the Lister Storm? They might look familiar from Gran Turismo 2 or that old poster hanging in your bedroom, but we bet you haven’t heard of or seen the cars on this list…and for good reason.

The 1990s are considered by many to be the heyday of the automobile. Businesses were finally recovering from the gas crisis, the economy was strong, and buyers had money to spend on impractical vehicles. So many companies felt it was time to take on the automotive industry and launch their own supercars. Many failed to get tracked or so few were sold that only the owners could remember them. So we’re here to dust off a not-so-distant story.

Find your PS1 CD and Korn, here are ten 90s supercars you’ve never heard of!

9 Callaway C12

You may not have heard of the Callaway C12, but chances are you’ve heard of the car it’s based on. The C12 is actually based on a C5 Corvette, sharing the same chassis and engine block. Callaway boosted the 5.7L V8 and fine-tuned the suspension and aerodynamics, bringing the top speed to 200 mph.

Callaway only produced 20 C12s, so consider yourself blessed if you saw one in the flesh. Callaway, however, entered the C12 at Le Mans without much success (a common theme with many cars on this list). The 20 produced are actually just road-going versions of the cars used at Le Mans, the same design strategy of the next entry on this list.

8 Venturi 400GT

OK, Gran Turismo 2 fans take it easy, the rest of us might not even know what Venturi is. The France-based Supercar designers launched the 400GT to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Venturi was quite successful, winning several races in the European GT series, but never winning a trophy at Le Mans.

Of the 100 cars produced, only 15 are road-legal cars. The others were either prototypes or GT racing cars. Venturi was inspired by an iconic Ferrari from the 80s… some have dubbed it the “French F40”. Interestingly, the 400GT used a Peugeot V6. It wouldn’t be fair to say it’s anything close to stock…but still…a Peugeot V6.

Related: The Venturi Atlantique 300 Biturbo is a timeless French sports car

seven Yamaha OX9-11

You might know Yamaha for making the Ford Taurus SHO V6, Volvo Inline 5s or even their wide range of acoustic guitars…but we doubt you know them for that. Yamaha built the OX9-11 with the aim of bringing its Formula 1 prowess to sports car racing. The concept started in 1992 and Yamaha only had 6 months to complete it before the idea was canned.

Only three prototypes were developed…making the OX99-11 the rarest car on the list (who would have thought that the company that makes dirt bikes would have European shop-level production figures? ). A Yamaha-built 3.5L V12 would have been mated to a 6-speed manual. The cockpit is laid out in tandem like a motorcycle, not side-by-side like normal two-seaters would be. Yamaha did this to make designers more comfortable…used to designing motorcycles.

6 listening storm

A front-mounted 7.0L V12…because that makes sense…right? Lister has crammed a Jaguar V12 into the front of their lightweight body capable of seating four, looks more like a grand tourer than a Le Mans supercar, doesn’t it? The huge V12 could produce 546 horsepower, pushing the 3,600-pound body with ease.

Only four road models were produced before Lister ended road car production due to slower than expected sales. The racing team however continued for another decade. Lister found little success in motorsport, winning no hardware throughout the European Le Mans Series of the 1990s. The Storm faced a host of reliability issues, the most notable being a shaky transmission. Finally, in 2001, he won the FIA ​​GT Championship after longtime rival Oreca and the wildly successful Viper pulled out of the series.

Related: Lister Shares New Storm-Based EV Hypercar Design

5 By Tomaso Guara

Yes, De Tomaso did something other than the Pantera. The Guara replaced the iconic Pantera in 1994. A 4.0L BMW V8 or a Ford Modular V8 was mated to a 6-speed Getrag depending on the model year. The bodywork was lightweight Kevlar and used state-of-the-art F-1 suspension technology. Another notable aspect of this car’s design is that it was the last found car that Alejandro de Tamaso gave the blessing before it went into production.

De Tomaso opted for a power steering system and power brakes in an effort to save weight. The car hit 2,400 pounds, so their efforts proved successful. Only 52 cars were built and most of them never left the Eastern Hemisphere. We doubt it will pass US safety standards anyway…the car was so dangerous that you had to wear a helmet to drive the convertible version.

4 Cizeta-Moroder V16T

The V12 of the Lamborghini Diablo is not enough for you? Well, look no further. Small Italian automakers Cizeta and Moroder teamed up to put together two V8s from the Lamborghini Urraco, call it a V16, and chuck it into a highly modified Diablo. Several former Lamborghini designers also helped change the body panels and the front fascia, to avoid looking too much like a Diablo.

The 6.0L V16 had 64 valves, 8 camshafts and of course 16 spark plugs. Fortunately, the only people who can afford this type of maintenance are the only ones who can afford to buy a V16T. Only 12 were made and cost $400,000 new in 1991. Also note that one of the pioneers and designers of the car is a musician and actor, not an engineer or manufacturer. One can only wonder how one of them would hold up in an endurance race.

Related: Why the 1989 Cizeta V16T Failed to Storm America as Promised

3 MTX Tatra V8

This Czech beast was a legend in the making until tragic circumstances prevented it from taking off. Tatra is one of the few car manufacturers in Eastern Europe, based in the Czech Republic. In an effort to bring more esteem to the brand and the Czech automotive industry as a whole, MTX and Tatra teamed up and started working on their own supercar. The car was built from the ground up, with bodywork handcrafted in unison with MTX and a Tatra 3.5-liter V8. At the time of production, the Tatra V8 was the fastest Czech-made car… peaking at 165 mph. 0-60 was 5.6 seconds, producing just 302 horsepower from the 3.5 V8.

Plans were to produce 200 cars, with 200 customers pre-ordering them after an appearance at the Prague Auto Show. Only four were made when a fire destroyed the MTX Tatra factory. Tatra could not afford to rebuild the factory for such a limited time, so plans for the MTX Tatra V8 were cancelled. Although the performance and production numbers are disappointing, the MTX Tatra is admirable for its mission and lays the foundation for cars like the Croatian-built Rimac Nevera and the Bulgarian SIN R1.

2 Jaguar XJR-15

Wait, Jaguar? Yes, despite being a major player in the automotive industry, one of their greatest creations has been overlooked. The XJR-15 sits in the shadow of its little brother, the XJ220. So what makes the XJR-15 so great? Jaguar used their proven 6.0L V12 (as opposed to the XJ220’s V6) and full carbon fiber bodywork. Many design elements from this car were later used on the more famous XJ220 and even the McLaren F1. The V12 would move the car very well, reaching a maximum of 191 mph.

Like many cars on this list, the XJR-15 was based on a Le Mans race car. Unlike the others however, the car met with success at Le Mans. The XJR-9 and XJR-12 on which the XJR-15 is based won the 1988 and 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans with respect. It would, however, be the last time the British automaker would experience success in La Sarthe. Only 53 cars were produced, and all were right-hand drive. Related: Here’s Why The Forgotten Jaguar XJR-15 Supercar Is Underrated

1 Vector M12

Still haven’t found a Diablo Exotic enough? Perhaps the answer is a bit more local. The American brand Vector used the Diablo chassis and the V12 as the basis for its new supercar: the M12. Vector made changes to the front and rear fascias and aerodynamics to differentiate their car from the car it was based on. Small changes were made to the mechanics in addition to moving the engine a few feet to provide better weight distribution. The Diablo Copier could hit 60 in 4.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 188 mph.

Vector attempted to start a motorsport program using the M12 after Lamborghini began competing in GT racing with some success. Unfortunately, the program never took off and the car was plagued with reliability issues. In 1999 the M12 was canceled after only 54 models when Vector couldn’t pay Lamborghini for parts, but hey… at least it has Miata turn signals.

About Carrie Scheer

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