Buy/Drive/Burn: Japanese Sports Cars From 1995

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today we decide which of three legendary and sporty Japanese coupe gets the flamethrower. Will it be the Toyota, the Mazda, or the Nissan? All of these vehicles are the last in their line, so this one might be a bit difficult.

Rear-drive, serious performance, twin-turbo motors, and sweet styling are the hallmarks of today’s trio — the short-lived pinnacle of the ’90s Japanese sports car.

Toyota Supra

The fourth generation Supra model began production in early 1993, as Toyota aimed to take its sports car in a more serious direction. Performance and handling were at the forefront of this new A80; previously those two had taken a back seat to luxury appointments and more brougham styling.

All Supras had the same 2ZJ inline-six engine, either with or without a turbocharger. Naturally aspirated versions had 220 horsepower, while turbo versions upped that figure to an impressive 320. Today’s selection is a turbo with six-speed manual — the best one. A four-speed automatic was also available, and was forced upon consumers starting with the ’96 model because of OBD-II requirements. 0-60 mph is yours in 4.6 seconds. Declining sports coupe sales would see Supra exit Canada after 1996, and the U.S. after 1998, with all ’98 models being of the naturally aspirated persuasion.

Mazda RX-7

Mazda’s RX-7 is the only rotary on offer today, not that it’s any surprise. In its third generation for the 1993 model year in the United States, Mazda nerds call it the FD. Like the Toyota, Mazda intended to tighten up the RX-7 and give it more serious credentials. While the 1.3-liter rotary engine carried over from the prior (FC) generation, the power figures did not. The previous model in turbo variation made between 202 and 215 horsepower; this time the figure was 276. A four-speed automatic or five-speed manual greeted customers, and obviously we’ve chosen the manual for today’s purposes. Though down on power over the Supra, it’s also between 600 and 800 pounds lighter, and that makes a difference. Short-lived, 1995 was the last year of the FC in North America, and RX-7 availability in other places ended after 2002.

Nissan 300ZX

Though the 300ZX was only the second version of its particular model name, the Z-car family stretches back to 1969, three generations prior to this Z32. For 1990, the Z32 300ZX replaced the predecessor Z31’s boxy shape and upright lines with smooth curves and a wide profile. The same VG30 3.0-liter V6 engine carried over from the prior model, but power increased like the others in our trio. A Z31 turbo managed 205 horsepower; the Z32 twin-turbo upped this figure to an even 300. Available in short (2-seat) and long wheelbase formats (2+2), today’s selection is a 2-seat hardtop version (no t-top) and punches in about the same weight as the Supra. Though the 300ZX would continue on in other markets through 2000, Nissan pulled it from the North American lineup after the ’96 model year.

Three great cars, six combined turbos. Will burning one Make You Cry?

[Images: Toyota, Wikipedia, Nissan]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Aug 07, 2018

    Drive the RX7, burn the other 2, collect the insurance and buy an SC300

  • Erikstrawn Erikstrawn on Aug 08, 2018

    Buy the RX-7 and take it out on track days. Remove the silly sequential turbo setup and install a single big turbo. So what if you pop the motor? LSxFTW. Drive the Supra because it's Toyota-reliable. Burn the 300ZX because every repair takes at least twelve hours. I once watched another technician spend about fifteen hours removing and reinstalling the engine on a naturally-aspirated 300ZX to replace a $15 knock sensor.

  • John The answer is to wipe it off? I don't recall ever having to "wife off rust" in any car I've ever owned. Well... once a year claybar for rail dust maybe.
  • Scott What people want is the Jetson Car sound.This has come up before.
  • Joerg I just bought a Corolla Cross Hybrid SE a few weeks ago, and I regret it. But not for any of the reasons stated so far. It drives well enough for me, gas mileage is great for a car like that, the interior is fine, nothing to complain about for normal daily use. I bought this relatively small SUV thinking it is basically just a smaller version of the RAV4 (the RAV4 felt too big for me, drives like a tank, so I never really considered it). I also considered the AWD Prius, but storage capacity is just too small (my dog would not fit in the small and low cargo space).But there are a few things that I consider critical for me, and that I thought would be a given for any SUV (and therefore did not do my due diligence before the purchase): It can’t use snow chains per the manual, nor any other snow traction devices. Even with AWD, snow chains are sometimes required where I go, or just needed to get out of a stuck situation.The roof rack capacity is only a miniscule 75 lbs, so I can’t really load my roof top box with stuff for bigger trips.Ironically, the European version allows snow chains and roof rack capacity is 165 lbs. Same for the US Prius version. What was Toyota thinking?Lastly, I don’t like that there is no spare tire, but I knew that before the purchase. But it is ridiculous that this space is just filled up with a block of foam. At least it should be made available for additional storage. In hindsight, I should have bought a RAV4. The basic LE Hybrid version would have been just about 1k more.
  • MaintenanceCosts Looks like the best combination of capability, interior comfort, and subtle appearance can be achieved by taking a Laramie (crew cab, short bed, 4x4 of course) and equipping it with the Sport Appearance, Towing Technology, and Level 2 packages as well as a few standalone options. That's my pick.Rebel is too CRUSH THAT CAN BRO and Limited and up are too cowboy Cadillac.
  • Xidex easier to buy a mustang that already sounds like that. love the coyote growl
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