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Priced Out of the Market? Maybe Not: Five Great Affordable '90s Era Japanese Enthusiast Cars

If you have even the slightest interest in Japanese imports, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the massive price spike for 1990s-era Japanese enthusiast cars in recent years.

Acura Integra vs Honda S2000

High-end models like the Acura NSX or Toyota Supra that were once “pricey” but still realistically attainable have gone into the stratosphere, and even lower-end cars like the Mazda Miata, Nissan 240SX or Honda Civic Si are now out of the price range of many buyers.

Toyota Supra on Nitto Invo

This can be discouraging, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Whether you're an older enthusiast looking to relive the ‘90s or a newcomer wanting to experience the cars of this era for the first time, there's still a decent amount of affordable alternatives available.

Nissan S13 240SX on Nitto NT01

And here are five of our favorites.

Honda Prelude (Fourth and Fifth Gen)

Hondas have become quite hot among collectors in recent years, with models like the S2000 and Civic Si being some of the big favorites. But the Honda Prelude has remained rather affordable.

Honda Prelude VTEC 5th Gen

And that’s interesting because the Prelude was always one of the best-performing cars in Honda’s lineup, and was more of a dedicated “sports coupe” rather than a basic compact that was hotted up a bit.

Honda Prelude VTEC Fourth Gen

Look for a fourth of fifth generation model equipped with the H22A VTEC engine and a manual transmission—either of which can still be found in decent, un-abused condition for less than $10,000.

Mazda MX-6 (second generation)

Here’s one of the more obscure models on this list, but one we think is worthy of your attention: the second-generation 1992-1997 Mazda MX-6 Coupe.

Mazda MX-6 Coupe Second Gen Front View

Sitting apart from the popular MX-5 Miata and flagship RX-7 the MX-6 was a platform mate of the Ford Probe and competed in the coupe class alongside the Honda Prelude mentioned above. It could be had with a silky DOHC 2.5 liter V6 and a manual transmission.

Mazda MX-6 Second Gen Side View

While the MX-6 might not be the legendary performer or cult icon that other ‘90s Japanese imports are, it’s an attractive, fun machine that will surely stand out from the crowd.

Nissan 300ZX Z32

Compared to the Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7, the Z32 generation Nissan 300ZX has always been the more affordable option. And while values have risen, the Z32 is still one of the cheapest high-end Japanese sports cars of the ‘90s.

Nissan 300ZX Z32 White

And the real value choice of the Z32 lineup are the naturally aspirated and 2+2 models. No, the naturally aspirated Z32 might not have the power of the twin-turbo, but it’s not underpowered or boring, especially when equipped with a manual.

Nissan 300ZX Z32 Green

And unlike earlier Zs where the 2+2 model always had an awkward look compared to the two-seater, the Z32 doesn’t. Today you can still find a decent non-turbo Z32 for under $10,000, which is a fraction of what you’d pay for a comparable Supra.

Infiniti G20

This is the most affordable of these five picks and a car that has always been a perennial underdog of the Japanese enthusiast car market.

First Gen G20 Side View

Sold between 1990 and 2002, the G20 was an Infiniti-badged version of the Nissan Primera, which was known as a legendary touring car racer overseas. Both the P10 (first generation) and P11 (second generation) G20s are powered by Nissan’s famous SR20DE engine, and the “T” versions even had limited slip differentials.

Infiniti G20 P11

If you are priced out of an Integra or want a fun Nissan without the hype tax, look into a G20. They can still easily be found in good running shape for under $5,000.

Lexus SC300 & SC400

For as many parts as the Lexus SC shares with the Toyota Supra, it’s shocking that they’re still so cheap. Known as the Toyota Soarer in Japan, the Lexus SC didn’t get twin-turbo 1JZ available in the JDM version, but it’s still a fantastic platform.

Lexus SC400 Red Front 3/4

SC buyers can choose between the naturally aspirated 2JZ inline-six (SC300) or the 1UZ V8 (SC400). A small percentage of SC300s even left the showroom with a five-speed manual.

red Lexus SC Rear 3/4 View

Whether you are looking for something to keep primarily original or a platform to build a serious performer, the Lexus SC remains one of the most under-appreciated platforms out there. And it’s still a fantastic-looking car to boot.

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