Back in late May of this year, I inquired which modern automaker was the most daring. While I posited it could be Nissan or Volvo, many of you replied it was actually Dodge, followed by Kia and Mazda.
This week, let’sÂ turn back the clock a couple of decades and see if all our answers require a bit of reworking. We’re off to everyone’s favorite car decade, the 1990s. Which automaker was most daring in the era of the neon and teal fanny pack?Â I’ll give you two specific model examples, much like I did before.
A strong case for many daring 1990s vehicles can be made here for various reasons, but let’s talk daring Asia first. Between 1986 and 1991 Japan experienced a valuation bubble on real estate and business assets, and companies found themselves with lots of extra money. Of course, the car companies threw some of that cash into the development of expensively engineered new models. By the time the resulting vehicles were released, the bubble had burstÂ and Japan was in big trouble. North America benefitted from many of these special full-fat Golden Age (TM) Japanese vehicles. Case in point:
The Mark IV Toyota Supra. Shaped like soap, priced (as new and now) like a block of gold, it had great handling and performance, an optional twin-turbo inline-six and “This is a sports car!” looks to back it up. It hit the market at full-charge in 1993. This new Supra was a sporty and engaging replacement for the aged Mark III version, which was rather unexciting and often found in fully loaded, automatic brougham guise. The Mark IV Supra was a hit â€” try and find an affordable one for sale today.
At home in North America the Big Three were having their own daring phase in the 1990s, but perhaps not by choice like yen-soaked Japan.Â The middle-America SUV craze was starting up, and domestic automakers were confronted with the fact that big,Â lazy brougham sedans sold by the poundÂ couldn’t compete with more athletic offerings from elsewhere. Sports sedans, Euro handling, and edgy styling â€” that was the place to be! Enter the following:
Now before you all make your typing fingers bleed, hear me out. Obviously this is a Cadillac SevilleÂ Touring Sedan, which in a couple years’ time became known as the Seville STS, and then just STS until the end in 2011.
At the time, in the early 1990s, Cadillac wasÂ Daring Greatly, or at leastÂ mostly. The new for ’92 Seville was an entirely new styling direction for the Cadillac brand. As their flagship sedan, the angular, sharp styling left the vertical lamps and vestigial fins of the Fleetwood Brougham and Sedan DeVille in the rear-view mirror. Under the hood (for ’93) was the brand new Northstar V8 engine which, despite future woes, was a very advanced and engineering-intensive design. On the inside, the stately stalks, digital gauges and switches of ye olde Cadillac were replaced with a real instrument panel which actually provided information to the driver.
Daring by force is still daring.
Tell me your pick for the single most daring automaker of the 1990s.
[Images: Ford; Toyota; YouTube]