Smaller engines and big turbocharged power figures dominated the 90s, European carmakers in particular opting for lighter six-cylinder motors to deliver the biggest bang for your buck. One brand in particular could easily occupy all the spots on the top ten list of the fastest six-cylinder cars from the 90s. Porsche’s evergreen 911 series available in a dizzying array of turbocharged, lightweight specials, and even a track-to-road supercar for good measure. However, even Stuttgart’s finest has to play second fiddle to one of the most eagerly awaited and ultimately flawed supercars when it comes to the “fastest” title.
While most of the fastest here hail from European brands, there are a few Japanese interlopers, high-tech laden sports cars mixing up with the finest from Europe. The only omission from the 90s era six-cylinder sports cars is America, who was still very much in love with V8s.
9 Jaguar XJ220 (213 Mph)
White elephant or supercar hero? The XJ220s debut promised gearheads all-wheel-drive and a V12 race derived engine. What emerged was a cut down, simplified production car that left many buyers wanting their deposits back.
Regardless of the aggressive downsizing, Jaguar/TWR delivered a fully fledged supercar capable of 213 mph that briefly at least held the world record as the fastest car money could buy. In place of Jaguar’s V12 motor, a smaller 3.5-liter V6 twin turbo unit chucked out 542 hp, while a V6 might lack the glamour of a 12-cylinder motor, less weight meant better performance, the XJ220 remains to date the UK carmaker’s fastest road car.
8 Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion (193 Mph)
The 90s are littered with Porsche 911 models, to the extent even die hard fans struggle to tell them apart, or place in order of speed, power, and performance. The 911 GT1 Straßenversion takes Porsche insanity to another level. Despite its 911 moniker, the GT1 shares next to nothing with its namesake.
Under the skin, flat-six turbocharged 3.2-liter engines push out 592 hp, guaranteeing a top speed of 193 mph for the road, FIA GT1 spec examples topping out at 205 mph. This, then, is a race-car turned road car purely for homologation needs, the GT1 only marginally faster than a stock 911 turbo.
7 Maserati Barchetta (186 Mph)
Small, mighty, and potent perfectly describes Maserati’s track based Barcehetta, tipping the scales at just 1709 lbs with a claimed top speed of 186 mph. In total, just 17 examples were produced, all lacking the necessary safety features to pass federal road tests, seeing one on the road is definitely a no-go.
Created by Synthesis Design, the Barchetta loosely related to both the DeTomaso Guara and Maserati’s own beleaguered Bi-Turbo range, the Barchetta using a scaled down V6 displacing just 2-liters with twin-turbochargers boosting output to 315 hp.
6 Venturi 400 GT (180 Mph)
France’s answer to Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini, the little known Venturi brand existing since 1984, and continues in one form or another to this day. Throughout the 90s, Venturi produced several versions of their two-seater mid-engined supercar, model numbers referencing engine displacements.
In an attempt to increase brand awareness, the 400 GT was aimed at wealthy buyers craving a single make racing series, most examples were track specification, featuring 3-liter turbocharged PRV V6s rated at 408 hp. Out of a production run of 88 cars, just 15 were converted for road use, the 400 GT in road trim capable of 180 mph.
5 Alpina B10 Biturbo (180 Mph)
Stepping away from mid-engined exotic, Alpina’s B10 Biturbo delivers all the performance of a sports car in a four-door package bordering on the insane. Under the hood of this sleeper, 3.5 liters of BMWs finest stragiht-six, tweaked, fettled, and strengthened before receiving twin Garret T25 turbos boosting output to 355 hp.
Any gearhead at the time wanting to go faster needed a bona fide supercar, the was B10 capable of 180 mph flat out, rocketing off the line to 60 mph in 5.2-seconds. Production ended in 1994, at which point the B10 was still the fastest four-door production car money could buy.
4 Lotus Carlton (177 Mph)
The demise of Alpina’s B10 left the door open for General Motors and the recently acquired Lotus Engineering, the resulting Lotus Carlton captured the imagination of gearheads for its storming performance while UK officials looked to have the super sedan banned.
Based on the Vauxhall/Opel Carlton 3000GSi, itself no slouch boasting a 141 mph top speed, GM handing Lotus a blank sheet to produce the fastest production four-door, four-seater. Stretching the Carlton’s straight-six to 3.6 liters, Lotus further improved power figures with a brace of Garret T25 turbos to 377 hp, drive to the rear axle via a ZR-1 transmission netted a maximum speed of 177 mph.
3 Acura NSX (168 Mph)
Acura’s first bite of the supercar market, the technically proficient mid-engined NSX had all the making of a world beater, save for one thing, brand prestige. Acura/Honda really had pulled out all the stops, the NSX easier to drive on a daily basis, adding reliability that its rivals could only dream of.
Lightweight aluminum bodies and chassis, paired with a naturally aspirated V6 producing 270 hp delivered a credible top speed of 168 mph in a chassis developed by Ayrton Senna. While the NSX ultimately flopped, no one can deny its peerless performance and handling, in many regards the perfect supercar, some might argue too perfect.
2 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 V-Spec (165 Mph)
The Fast And Furious might be responsible for promoting the Skyline GT-R R34 to super stardom, but gearheads already knew of this fearsome techno-monster. Nissan’s engineers, when updating the Skyline, added a slew of clever gizmos that made the skyline go and handle better than before.
All-wheel steering, tick, all-wheel-drive, tick, the list is endless. However, ask any JDM-crazed gearhead what makes the Skyline so good, and the answer is always its engine. Overengineered to begin with, the RB26DETT in 2.6-liter guise pumps out a mere 276 hp, a figure bordering on the unbelievable considering the R34 can out drag supercars and still top 165 mph.
1 Toyota Supra Turbo A80 (155 Mph)
Only one other six-cylinder production engine comes close to Nissan’s monster, Toyota’s 2JZ twin turbo V6 powering the A80 Supra to 155 mph+ once shorn of its limiter. Launched amid a media frenzy, the Supra, with its space age styling, gave gearheads supercar performance on a budget, and still does to this day.
Fresh from the factory boasting 325 hp, gaining more performance requiring nothing more than a laptop and some nerdy gearhead to fine tune the 2JZs engine and boost levels, 600 hp easily achievable without replacing internals.
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