In my close to 15 years of driving experience, I've changed plenty of cars. From a '88 Volvo 740 2.0L turbocharged beast that was so un-aerodynamic, you felt like you were driving a hearse, but oh Lordy me, once the turbo hit, you felt like the king of the road. To a '05 Subaru Legacy (actually, six deadbeat Subarus throughout the 15 years - from Imprezas to Foresters) - an irrational love of mine - most of them were made in the glorious '90s. Now, I might be prone to some irrational nostalgia considering cars from the period, but to me, nothing beats an old stripped-to-basics vehicle that's as predictable as your 10th re-run of The Office. 

And boy, did my cars and I go on some adventures! From abandoning my refrigerator-white Volvo v90 stuck to its arches in a bog and wading to the nearest homestead some 5 kilometers through uninhabited fields on an Easter evening to fixing my bugeye Impreza of its ailments by slamming the hood down as hard as I could (it always helped - except for a manifestation of a rusted-out hole in its floor), the '90s cars will always mean adventure to me. Although, in all honesty, I'm so old-school when it comes to cars that the first time I saw an SOS button inside a Volkswagen, I burst into a laughing fit - why would anybody want their vehicle to call for help? You either do it all yourself (yep, including the driving part), or woe is you. 

By now, you might be pretty confident of your narrator's stance toward '90s cars, but if my words aren't witness enough, I've prepared a whole list of the best '90s cars for you! From the Audi 100 (lovingly called a herring where I'm from) to such beauties as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and a Ford Sierra Rs500 sporting the rare as hen's teeth Cosworth engine, you'll find all of the winter-beaters, whale-sized town cars, rally beasts, and every notable vehicle that came from the '90s. And to make it even better, I talked to the creators and organizers of the Rat Race rally - the whole premise of which is to complete a 1000km race with a car that costs as little as possible (say 500 EUR), so '90s cars are the top choice for most of the contestants. And you don't even have to be a professional to compete! So scroll down below to see what the Rat Race crew has told me about the race, '90s cars, and their adventures! 


1990 Acura Legend Coupe

1990 Acura Legend Coupe , Thinkbiz1 Report

The thing I wanted to know is how Rat Race came to be in the first place. It turns out that the premise is an ingeniously simple one: "We've always loved to travel, loved cars, and thrived on adventures. We bought an old Audi 100 "herring" a couple of years ago and went on a trip exploring Lithuania - mainly using uncharted forest roads. Our whole family, including the dog, had so much fun on this adventure that we charted our route then and there and organized the first Rat Race just a couple months after." 

"Rat Race is a thoroughly unique event, mainly because the contestants use cheap old vehicles to complete the race," added the founders. "The contestants can examine their vehicle of choice by driving in plenty of different offroad situations - from meadows to forests, and from hills to fields; there aren't many tarmac roads in our routes!". Instead of tarmac and comfort, Rat Race promises "impressive offroad tracks and plenty of adventures." And by checking the photos on their official website - adventure is definitely just around the corner in the Rat Race.


1990 Audi 200 Station Wagon Quattro

1990 Audi 200 Station Wagon Quattro , jde824 Report

And though it might seem like a fight-for-survival kind of event, the Rat Race founders assure us that "we set up each rig with a GPS tracker monitoring their adherence to official speed limits and tracking their location if they ever need some assistance." So see, it's all about fun and a healthy dose of adrenaline!

Naturally, I wanted to know more about the routes and the tracks that the contestants have to maneuver through, and the Rat Race founders have kindly told me more about it. "The routes are never the same and are different for each race. We either do downloadable maps or set up a roadbook for our contestants to follow. So no Rat Race is ever the same!" For those worried about safety while participating in Rat Race, there are some crucial rules to guarantee that. "Since the contestants use public roads during the race, they have to stick to road traffic regulations and keep right at the speed limit. If a crew is driving faster than that - they get faults, so driving faster doesn't necessarily secure you a better place." Sounds like probably the only genuinely safe car race ever - kudos for that!

In the words of the Rat Race crew, the event isn't about speed; it's solely about finishing the race and testing your driving skills on varied terrains. And it isn't such an easy task when you're driving an old, beaten-down vehicle! Also, there's a fun prize for completing the race - "we buy the winning crew's car at the end of the event for a fixed sum - 1000 euro (around 861 US dollars)." So, the cheaper you purchase it, the more you win.


Buick Century Coupe

Buick Century Coupe , mirr827 Report

Since we're talking about cars, I wanted to know which makes are the top winners and losers. It turns out that "the most popular make among our contestants is definitely Audi, and the least loved - BMW. There has probably been just 2 or 3 BMW's throughout the Rat Race history; maybe it's because they're meant for tarmac and not our offroad tracks." One of the top contestants of the race is an unexpected one - "an old, re-built, raised VW Golf almost came out as the absolute winner of this year's races!" Unsurprisingly though, old Subarus tend to always do pretty well, even without any special preparations. "There's also one team with an ancient Mercedes-Benz vehicle. It's so huge and heavy that it sails like a freight ship through all the mud, bogs, and slough. But, of course, the Mercedes isn't as pretty after the race as it is starting it!"


Buick Century Station Wagon

Buick Century Station Wagon , DrBrainWillisto Report


Buick Electra Coupé

Buick Electra Coupé Report

As you might remember, your narrator has a soft spot for old ‘90s cars, so I wanted to know if it's just some irrational nostalgia or if they genuinely built cars better back then. "I would agree that cars used to be built to be longer-lasting and more durable than the new ones. The carmakers adhered to different philosophies back then - they wanted their cars to last for 20 years or so. So they used better materials, never compromising on the quality of the parts." And you can still find such specimens serving their owners in African or Far East countries, even after their odometers flipped back to zero again. "These days, cars aren't built to last - it's all because of the consumerist culture. And if the builders of a car can save on something, they will." Of course, today's cars have much less negative impact on our environment, but to assure that kind of efficiency, "you have to add in plenty of devices, and everything that works tends to break down sooner or later. Old cars are pretty basic with fewer parts to crash, and that makes them more reliable."


Buick Electra Sedan

Buick Electra Sedan Report


Buick Lesabre Coupe

Buick Lesabre Coupe Report

When asked about their own favorite ‘90s car, the Rat Race crew lovingly remember their Audi 100 - "we never had any problems driving it offroad, it looked amazing, and the repairs were indecently cheap." They also noted that if a car built in the ‘90s lives to see our days, it's not without reason. "We really think that the Audis were amazingly durable - close to zero electronics, sturdy chassis, and basic parts made. You could repair such a car with the info given on the owner's manual; that wouldn't be possible with new cars, though!" the Rat Race crew also added that "new cars just don't have any soul." And I agree with that wholeheartedly!


1990 Buick Lesabre Sedan

1990 Buick Lesabre Sedan , OHTHATnutjob Report


Buick Regal Coupe

Buick Regal Coupe Report

Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

HA! my mom had this car....the sport trim in red with blacked out windows

And lastly, I asked the Rat Race crew about their plans for the future. It turns out they have an exciting trip planned - “We're about to embark on a 5-month-long trip with an ancient VW T4 Caravelle, visiting the Balkans and the Middle East, hopefully celebrating New Year's Eve in Dubai." Not only is it a fascinating adventure, but also a 'work trip' as the Rat Race founders are planning to simultaneously chart new tracks for Rat Race followers spanning Ukraine and the Balkans. We wish them the very best of luck! 

So there you have it - ‘90s cars were truly better! Again, I say a huge thank you to the Rat Race crew for talking to us - be sure to check their official and Facebook pages, as well as their Instagram profile for more info, amazing action shots, and entertaining video material straight from the race. And as for you, dear reader - scroll down below to see more of our picks of notable vehicles of the era and vote for the ones you like the most.


1990 Buick Reatta Coupe

1990 Buick Reatta Coupe , 91_BRG_Miata Report


Buick Regal Sedan

Buick Regal Sedan Report


1990 Buick Skylark Coupé

1990 Buick Skylark Coupé Report


1990 Buick Skylark Sedan

1990 Buick Skylark Sedan Report


1990 Ford Aerostar Minivan

1990 Ford Aerostar Minivan , Gord88 Report


Ferrari F40 Now That's A Beauty

Ferrari F40 Now That's A Beauty , DaaraJ Report

Robert T
Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Followed one of these round Silverstone once. You could get high off the petrol fumes coming out of the exhaust it was running that rich! He had us down the straights, but couldn't get it round corners, so we kept catching up.


1 Of 2 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Supersports

1 Of 2 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Supersports , Dvdrummer360 Report


Volkswagen 1990 Golf

 Volkswagen 1990 Golf , Alexredmoz Report

Lord Mysticlaw
Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My first car was a white 1995 Golf (my mom's that was passed down to me in 2008). I sold her 5 years ago and I still miss her 🤍


Ayrton Senna's Mclaren F1

Ayrton Senna's Mclaren F1 , KKD97 Report


White R34 Skyline GTR

White R34 Skyline GTR , ToyGTone Report


Bmw M3 E30

Bmw M3 E30 , DrDrakenhoff Report

Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My first car! mine was white. I got it in 1998 with 40k miles on it. Drove it until 2008 and when i finally sold it it had 497k miles on it. Great car and I miss it


Bmw M5 E34

Bmw M5 E34 , deLarg3 Report

Steffen Rehm
Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Finally, there are way to much audi. I love the Old designs from Mercedes and BMW, this as example.


Lancia Delta Integrale EVO 2

Lancia Delta Integrale EVO 2 , 80s_90s_00s_cars Report


Lotus Elise S1

Lotus Elise S1 , Apple_Slipper Report

Robert T
Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Somehow the proportions of this look wrong - wrong aspect ratio? Looks like an MGB next to it and a TR7 behind.


Bmw Z3 M Coupe: Controversially Beautiful

Bmw Z3 M Coupe: Controversially Beautiful , haveagooddaystranger Report

Robert T
Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Also known as the Breadvan. I prefer the roadster.


Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 Nismo 400R

Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 Nismo 400R

Apple_Slipper , Apple_Slipper Report


Iconic Mitsubishi Eclipse

Iconic Mitsubishi Eclipse , jp_gsx97 Report


Lotus Elan Sprint Convertable

Lotus Elan Sprint Convertable , MoistShip Report

Hugh Cookson
Community Member
11 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Got a lift many years ago from a guy on the North circular in London, I was hitching home for Christmas, he'd bought one of these for himself as a birthday present (he was a city banker and spent a little bit of his twice yearly 'bonus' on it) and was off his tits on something. He was a complete c**t but is was an exhilerating and very fast lift to where I needed to be for my next hitching stop !! Still remember him pulling out into traffic without looking and accelerating so fast that I nearly went over the seat (no seatbelt rules in those days) !! Hey ho, happy days. How I made it to my 40's I'll never know ; I'm now 63 and I'm still astonished to be around ........


Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo

Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo , ggabe145 Report


Bmw Z1

Bmw Z1 , uluru Report

Robert T
Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Very cool car. The doors are awesome. I'd probably have bought one if they weren't LHD-only. I know some people have done an RHD conversion, but it is not factory.


1990 Nissan 240SX S13 Hatchback

1990 Nissan 240SX S13 Hatchback , grizzly8181 Report


Jaguar XJ6

Jaguar XJ6 , Fairy_ID Report

Robert T
Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You don't ever want to have to fill the tank on one of these!


Dakar Yellow M3 BMW

Dakar Yellow M3 BMW , avixing Report

Robert T
Community Member
1 year ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Dakar is not everyone's cup of tea, but they look great on a sunny day. E36 M3.


Mitsubishi Galant Super VR-4

Mitsubishi Galant Super VR-4 , jdm.tarmac.icons Report


Toyota Celica GT4 ST-185

Toyota Celica GT4 ST-185 , eh.automotive Report