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The Best-Looking Cars of the 1990s


Jaguar XJ220

Jaguar XJ220

The Jaguar XJ220 was so named because it could reach speeds of 220 mph. At the time, it was the fastest production car in the world designed for public roads. The XJ220 project was originally conceived back in 1985 as a concept for a Group B road race. The initiator of the project was Jim Randle, who later became the technical director of the innovative project.

Randle worked with a team of 12 people who called themselves "The Saturday Club", a name they took because they had to work on their own time, including Saturdays. This project was not official at first, and was not properly considered. That's why Jim gathered 12 enthusiasts who set about developing an innovative car, sacrificing their personal time and a small sponsorship budget.

They pondered on creating a four-wheel drive vehicle that would lead the new lineup to success. These thoughts came after the new Porsche 959 all-wheel drive supercar was released. And so began thoughts and further discussions about creating a 4×4 jaguar XJ220.

The Jaguar XJ220 was first exhibited for display and publicity in Birmingham in 1988 as the Concept car XJ220 with a V12 engine and all-wheel drive installed. Although company officials claimed at the time that it was only a show car, it eventually became a production road car.

Initially, Jim Randall made a cardboard mockup of the supercar's chassis, and enlisted designer Keith Halfett to work on the car's body design. Some of the car's design ideas were borrowed from the XJ13's spiritual successor, including an exposed engine that can be seen through the glass.

During the development process, the team, led by Randle, pondered installing the proven V12 engine that had led to the XJR-9LM as well as the XJR-12's success in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. According to the design documents, the engine was to be located in the middle of the aluminum-alloy chassis. After the events in Birmingham, the car attracted a wide audience of sportscar enthusiasts and many reporters.

The design of the car caught the attention of everyone who was there. After the resounding success, there were a lot of people who wanted to buy such a car, even without looking at the fact that the first advance deposit for the purchase of the future car was £50,000 (pounds sterling). It is worth noting that among the customers were famous personalities singer Elton John and the Sultan of Brunei, which are famous for their fondness for expensive and unusual cars.

Then the specialists of the company discussed the viability of the project, because the aroused interest in the car could not be ignored. Thus, the management instructed the Jaguar Sport team to produce a limited series of cars in the number of 220 copies with the possibility of increasing up to 350 pieces. Before the production version of the car was released in 1990, the Jaguar XJ220 Experimental Prototype was ready for further testing and crash tests, which were necessary to obtain certification for series production.

Officially, the production version of the Jaguar XJ220 went into production in 1991. As already mentioned, it was the first supercar that was built for use on public roads. The maximum speed that the car could reach was stated at 220 miles per hour, or 354 kilometers per hour. The car is one of Jaguar's most expensive models, with its cost reaching £413,000.

In the end, the production version of the car did not get the 6.2 liter V12 engine. Also, the all-wheel drive of the car was supposed to allow to curb the 520 horsepower of the supercar taking into account the climatic conditions of the UK, where it rains constantly, but the car eventually became rear-wheel drive, and the engine was installed V6 at 3.5 liters. Such an engine was on the Group C race car, the Jaguar XJR-11.

This caused a lot of disappointment and discussion, but the turbocharged engine system produced 550 hp. Critics felt that a car of this class should not carry such a modest engine, which is put on simple sedans. But there are pluses of new improvements, because the car became lighter by 200 kilograms with a total weight of 1372 kg, and the sports car itself could reach a speed of 100 km.h in just 3.6 seconds.

It's also worth noting that the vertical opening doors have been replaced with regular doors, which makes it inconvenient to access the car as the doors don't open wide enough. Out of 1500 advance deposits, only 350 remained in the work and the rest had to be returned. Some dissatisfied customers even filed a lawsuit in court, but as a result they were never able to win the case.

To somehow distract from financial and legal problems, the TWR team starts preparing events for participation in FIA GT races. Then began the development of a racing version of the model, which was called XJ220C with a body made of carbon fiber and aluminum. The developers worked hard to improve the performance of the car. In 1993, three such cars participated in the Le Mans 24 Hours race.

The drivers could lead the team to victory, but fate was not on Jaguar's side this time. One of the three cars did not reach the finish line due to engine overheating, the other two cars showed good results, but after the race the controlling authorities recorded violations in the technical inspection of the car, and as a result the team was disqualified.

At the same time, the ball was realized another idea, which was hatched by Terry Lingner - producer of ESPN. The idea was to bring legendary retired racers together at a small track in Indianapolis. It was a television series called Fast Masters, which was sponsored by Havoline. By then the Jaguars were on their way out of IMSA, but the racing contract with TWR was still in place, so the project was successfully brought to fruition.

Despite the professionalism of the participants, the race was not without incidents and many cars were seriously damaged and some of them were completely destroyed. In total, a series of 6 rounds were held, in which not a single XJ220 survived. According to the participants, the cars were poorly tuned, leading to large-scale derby-like crashes.

Bobby Unser, a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, emerged victorious and claimed the $100,000 top prize. Despite much public interest in this project, it was a very unsuccessful but spectacular event. Since then, similar events have not been held. Eventually, due to decreasing demand for the sports car, Jaguar had to reduce production to 280 cars.

In the future, TWR designers modernized the road car by making the Jaguar XJ220S based on the racing Jaguar XJ220C. The last car was built in 1994. It is worth noting that the body of the new road Jaguar is made of aluminum and carbon fiber, like the racing version, and they also left the anti-wing and improved engine with 680 hp.

Despite the innovative design and modern equipment, the car never gained much popularity. This was due not only to changes in the specifications of the production sportscar, but also to the financial difficulties of the 90s. During this period, the car only increased in price, while the world crisis spread to almost everyone.

Despite this, years later, the XJ220 has become one of the most famous and expensive Jaguar cars, which is now of great interest to collectors and sportscar enthusiasts around the world.


McLaren F1

McLaren F1

McLaren F1 - was the fastest production car for twelve years - from 1993 to 2005.It is a three-seater coupe. The idea of the interior layout was quite new and original for the time. The driver's seat was located in the cabin in the middle at the front, and passengers sat on the sides at the back. The car was presented to the general public before the race "Grand Prix of Monaco" in 92. It was won by the famous racer A. Senna, who acted just for McLaren.

Pedantic Germans from the company "BMW" have developed specially for this car twelve-cylinder 6.1-liter engine with the power of a whole herd of horses - 627 hp. Germans slightly overdid it, as initially McLaren ordered a power unit of 550 horses. As a result, the customer was very satisfied, given that the Bavarians have made a miracle without the use of turbocharging. The latter would have affected the weight of the car, and McLaren aimed to make the car as light as possible.

The supercar was equipped with a six-speed gearbox with front-wheel drive. Lever suspension both front and rear. Disk brakes. Up to one hundred kilometers per hour McLaren accelerated in 3.2 seconds. Top speed reached 391 kilometers per hour.

In the process of production and further modernizations, the machine continued to try to make it lighter. Carbon fiber, magnesium and even gold were used, which protected the parts from temperature differences. It is worth paying attention to the fact that the body of the McLaren F1 consisted entirely of carbon fiber. In this supercar there were never automatics, protection systems like ABC, power steering, car stereo and other similar joys. The reason for this is that the car was originally made as light and dynamic as possible.

In addition to the technical stuffing, the appearance was original. The body was distinguished by its streamlined forms with excellent aerodynamics. Engineers did not use an antifender on the trunk, replacing it with propellers on the bottom. They pressed the car well against the road at speed, so aerodynamics did not suffer at all.

The cost of the car already at the very start of production was impressive. It started from 530 thousand English pounds. Today it has long since passed over a million and a half dollars. McLaren F1 was originally planned not as a racing car, but its racing version was popular. The car took part in races of GT and GT1 classes.


Ferrari F50

Ferrari F50

The Ferrari F50 was to be a commemorative supercar created to mark the brand's 50th anniversary. Ferrari engineers had set the bar high with the F40, but their new design was to be a real firework, bringing Formula 1 capability to a passenger car. The Ferrari F50 is considered the ultimate "Formula 1 street car" along with the McLaren F1.

Production of the Ferrari F50 began in 1995. It was then that the car premiered at the Geneva International Motor Show. From 1995 to 1997, 349 cars were built. Later, the production of the Ferrari F50 was discontinued.

Ferrari engineers took the ambitious plan to install a Formula 1 powertrain very seriously. The engine in the Ferrari F50 is taken directly from the 1992 F92A car. Of course, the unit has been adapted to handle more kilometers than the F1 race. Among other things, the engine displacement and compression ratio have been changed. The red field of the tachometer has also been lowered much lower. However, the technology remained unchanged, which meant that the Ferrari F50 received an engine that no other could match.

The V12 F92A was slightly enlarged in the Ferrari F50. As a result, the displacement was increased to 4.7 liters instead of 3.5 liters, which significantly affected the weight of the car. In addition, the Ferrari F50 engine uses more square-shaped cylinders, positioned at a 65-degree angle to each other. Each cylinder has two exhaust valves and three intake valves.

The compression ratio of the F1 engine has been reduced from 12.5 to 11.3. After these modifications, the Ferrari F50 engine developed 520 horsepower. A Bosch Motronic 2.7 system was used to control the boat. The creators of the Ferrari F50 also emphasized the maximum use of light alloys, so, for example, the connecting rods were made of an alloy of vanadium, titanium and aluminum.

The gearbox housing of the Ferrari F50 is also made of alloy. Thanks to the use of magnesium, its weight has been reduced. The gearbox is designed to provide quick engagement and crank travel. This was meant to give Ferrari F50 drivers an extreme driving experience.

It is true that the exterior of the Ferrari F50 is very often judged negatively, but this does not change the fact that the shape of the exterior of the car is impressive. Ferrari F50 engineers, not stylists, worked on the design. Their goal was to get as close to Formula 1 cars as possible, so you could say that the Ferrari F50 was created in a wind tunnel.

The combination of automotive design and maximum aerodynamics resulted in a very distinctive, striking body design that is perfect for the big posters. The Ferrari F50 has an integrated giant spoiler that seems to extend out of the car in front of the rear wheel. Also worth noting is the understated nose, air intakes on the sides and distinctive recesses in the hood. All this makes the Ferrari F50 design unique, it resembles toys for little boys rather than a real car, but the character of the supercar cannot be denied.

However, looks are not everything. The body type of the Ferrari F50 is an equally interesting question, and at the same time somewhat controversial. Initially, the brand's engineers planned to create the Ferrari F50 in two variants: with a closed body (berlinetta) and an open body (barchetta). However, in the end, the Ferrari F50 received a targa type body with a removable roof.

It is this element of the Ferrari F50 that is controversial. In principle, removing the roof from cars with targa bodywork should be easy and quick. The Ferrari F50 is not. Removing the roof of a Ferrari F50 requires the use of an entire toolbox and two pairs of hands. The components needed to convert a Ferrari F50 from a closed to an open version were added to each model in separate boxes. This took over an hour to do, so most Ferrari drivers did it in workshops.

Removing the roof on the Ferrari F50 was so difficult because it required the installation of a transverse arch. By converting the Ferrari F50 to an open version, it is possible to put on a fabric roof (most often stored in the duffel compartment behind the seats), but this too is a tricky business.

Of course, a fast car has to be red. The creators of the Ferrari F50 didn't think otherwise. The car was only sold in five colors, two of which were red:

Rosso Corsa (Red): 302

Giallo Modena (Yellow): 31

Rosso Barchetta (Dark Red): 8

Argento Nurburgring (Silver): 4

Nero Daytona (Black): 4

The removal of the roof on the Ferrari F50 was not an odd design element of the car. The basis of the Ferrari F50 was an open monocoque on which the engine and gearbox were attached. The latter two elements of the car's design formed the basis of the rear body assembly. This is a rather unobvious solution. However, it allowed to achieve a low weight of Ferrari F50 and good rigidity of the structure. The decisive disadvantage of this idea is the transmission of vibrations from the drive system to the body of the Ferrari F50.

The instrument panel of the Ferrari F50 had to be as simple as possible. It consists of a carbon fiber panel with the air vents, the necessary buttons and the steering wheel on the left side. There was no radio planned for the Ferrari F50, and neither were airbags. The only element that attracts attention with its non-obvious shape is the mirror. The mirror in the Ferrari F50 had to fulfill its function both with the roof removed and installed.

The speed of the Ferrari F50 did not live up to the racers' expectations. During testing, it was found that the previous version of the F40 was faster on a straight road than the Ferrari F50, and in a quarter-mile race, the F40 was 0.5 seconds better.

In the fight on the track, things were getting better. The engineers of the Ferrari F50 got a lot from Formula 1, which made the car drive well. 58% of the car's weight was at the rear (although the engine was centered), and because of this, the Ferrari F50 had better grip at the rear. It also had a slightly wider front wheel track, which resulted in oversteer.

Each of the 349 Ferrari F50s ended up in the hands of the brand's chosen buyers: collectors, experts and racing enthusiasts. Some of them can still be found at auctions, mostly in the United States. For example, in February 2017, Mike Tyson was selling his supercar. The price of Ferrari F50 was 2.3 million dollars at that time.


Aston Martin DB7

Aston Martin DB7

This car belongs to the Gran Turismo class. Aston Martin DB7 was produced from the fall of 1994 to the winter of 2004. It is presented in two body versions - convertible and coupe. For all time of production more than six thousand cars of this modification were realized, then DB9 production began.

As it is known the firm Aston Martin in those years was owned by Ford concern, besides the DB7 model was financed by Jaguar funds. And it is not surprising, as the DB7 was based on the platform from Jaguar XJS. However, the car was still subjected to some design treatments to match the features of its brand.

Also in the design took part in the company TWR, which cooperated with companies that produced cars for Formula 1. Such cooperation contributed to the fact that the Aston Martin DB7 received a six-cylinder 3.2-liter engine with 330 horses. That stimulated an increase in good power even at low revs. The car accelerated up to 250 km/h, hundredth squeezed out in 6 sec.

Aston Martin like many English cars is considered to be still more rare and limited model, than the same Germans with their Audis and Mercedes or Japanese - Mazda, Toyota. For this reason, initially in 1991 was produced only 60 exclusive copies of Aston Martin DB7, these were so-called collectible expensive cars. It was planned to stop production, but at that time just at that time the company has just changed the director Walter Hayes, who decided to put this model on the stream. For this reason, the car was significantly simplified externally and technically, and then put on the conveyor.

The cost of the car was reduced from 113 thousand British pounds (1 pound = about 1.5 dollars) to 80 thousand. This price was also considered quite expensive. But nevertheless, the car became cheaper by 30 thousand and it added to its popularity. Some original parts were replaced by Jaguar parts, in particular, Jaguar AJ6 power unit was used.

The most powerful Aston Martin DB7 was presented to the general public in 1999. It had a 5.9-liter engine with a capacity of 420 horses. To it it was possible to choose two variants of gearbox - five-speed automatic transmission and six-speed manual transmission. The car accelerated up to 299 km/h with a manual and up to 266 with automatic. It accelerated to a hundred in 4.9 seconds.


Maserati 3200 GT

Maserati 3200 GT

Despite such models as the Ghibli Cup and Quattroporte, Maserati company did not present super cars for almost 15 years, being bogged down in Biturbo-based variants and financial crises. It was only with the support of Ferrari that it managed to create a new "3200GT" coupe. Having named the car Mistral at first, the company discovered that this name already belonged to another manufacturer and changed it to "3200GT" by analogy with the "3500GT" model of 1957.

After Ferrari took control of Maserati, 35 million pounds sterling was invested in its Modena plant specifically for the production of the 3200GT, although bodywork was painted in Maranello. The body design was entrusted to ItalDesign company, which created a masterpiece with smooth rounded contours, block headlights under transparent hoods flush with the surface of the fenders and rounded shape of the radiator shell, reminiscent of classic sports cars. The unusual rear lights echoed the curve of the rear of the body. The load-bearing steel body was supplemented by tubular subframes for mounting the engine and suspension. Wind tunnel tests showed that the streamline coefficient Cd was 0.34 and the Cz distribution was constant under various loads and driving conditions.

The "3200GT" has the engine up front, with the drive wheels at the rear. Maserati's new 3.2-liter V8 engine has a 90° cylinder block camber angle, two turbochargers and four camshafts. It develops 370 hp at 6,750 rpm and provides the car with a top speed of 281 km/h, acceleration from a standing start to 100 km/h - in 5.1 seconds and passing a quarter mile (just over 400 meters) also when starting from a standing start - in 13 seconds.

The front and rear suspension is based on double wishbones with forged aluminum hub struts and stabilizer bars. The rear suspension also has a steering effect. Shock absorbers with adjustable characteristics. Power steering "3200GT" changes the degree of amplification depending on the speed of movement. Traction control system by Bosch has two modes of operation - normal and sport. In normal mode slipping is reduced to a minimum, and in sport mode 15 percent slippage in the contact zone of the wheel with the road is allowed. This system works in conjunction with the electric drive accelerator pedal Magneti Marelli and 4-channel antilock system for disc brakes Brembo  with brake force distributor, providing a reduction of torque transmitted to the rear wheels and braking slipping wheel. The shock absorbers are monitored by electronic sensors that can support 14 different modes.

Tastefully designed full-fledged 4-seater interior looks more modest than on previous cars, where natural leather and wood were abundant. The number of devices is minimized (even the famous clock is absent), and standard equipment includes Becker stereo system and air conditioner. Ergonomics of the driver's workplace is successful, however, it will be more comfortable for northern Europeans than for Italians. It should be noted a rather capacious trunk.

The model "3200GT" has become a serious competitor to all leading representatives of the market of superautomobiles. It competes in characteristics and interior space with Porsche 911, as well as with Jaguar XKR and more expensive Aston Martin DB7.


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