QOTD: Stunning Nineties Sports Car Design From Europe?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

In last Wednesday’s QOTD post, we began our discussions on the finer examples of sports car design from the 1990s. Our first stop along the route was America. This week, we take a trip across the ocean and consider sports cars from Europe.

Let’s have a look at our Euro-centric sports car rules:

  1. All selections must be model years 1990 to 1999.
  2. Picks must be from a European manufacturer, even if sourced from an import.
  3. Any body style is eligible as long as it’s sporty.

Our sample sports car today is perhaps a bit obvious, but still such a great design example that it’s worth spilling some digital ink.

BMW started its own unique chapter of the sport sedan segment when it introduced the M5 in 1984. Using the popular 5 Series as a starting point, BMW’s M division honed the midsize sedan for greater performance, turning it into a sports sedan that flew under the radar.

The second-generation M5 followed up for 1988, and BMW turned up the wick. Larger than its predecessor, the new version was also more aggressive looking. The M5 was assembled by hand in the BMW M factory in Garching, Germany. Visual changes over the standard model included different bumpers and aerodynamic side skirts that contributed to an improved drag coefficient. In North American examples, the second-generation M5 used a revised version of the same engine found in the first generation: a 3.5-liter S38 inline-six. The engine produced a considerable 311 horsepower, good for a 0-to-60 time of 6.3 seconds. Power was routed through a five-speed manual (later replaced by a six-speed).

The E34 M5 lasted through the 1995 model year and not replaced by the E39 version until 1998. The third album was a bit different, as it was the first M5 to offer 8 cylinders. Today the E34 M5 is a design classic, instantly recognizable as a pinnacle of modern BMW styling.

Let’s hear your sporty Euro selections from the Nineties.

[Images: Sotheby’s, BMW]

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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3 of 24 comments
  • SilverCoupe SilverCoupe on Sep 04, 2019

    The best choices have already been posted, but I will throw in the 1999 Audi TT; it was not the most attractive, but it was influential.

    • Cognoscenti Cognoscenti on Sep 05, 2019

      I second the selection of the first-gen Audi TT. I was working at a dot-com during the boom then, and remember drooling as I passed the only local one I knew of in the garage every day. It just looked so fresh at the time.

  • Theflyersfan Theflyersfan on Sep 04, 2019

    It dates back to the 1970s, but I still think the Lotus Esprit Turbo/V8 is still one nice looking car, even after all of these years. I think the Z8 was still a showcar at that point, so not sure if that counts. If not, consider this an early nomination for the 2000's. I even like the clean lines of a Porsche 944 Turbo with the subtle rear lip spoiler, all of the glass, and it looked like speed.

  • Urlik Multi level parking garages are going to be issues as well.
  • Dartman Nice job Healy! A genuine “truth about cars” instead of troll bait.
  • Charlie Oh by the way the steering is so rusted that it actually is loose, and the transmission makes strange whirring and scraping sounds. The car is falling apart from rust.
  • Charlie 78 for my ‘09 Mercury mariner. It has 850k miles on it and leaks oil. It has 9 scratches, deformed bodywork, and severely rusted frame and suspension. When you stand on the duct taped rear bumper, the suspension creaks loudly. Also it has a loud vibration and rod knock, and the driver rear window is falling out. Ps. Don’t they normally have a roof rack and display screen? Cause mine doesn’t.
  • Honda1 More disposable junk from Hyundai.