RM Sotheby’s annual Amelia Island auction takes place over two nights this year, March 8 and 9, and the selection of vehicles spans prewar antiques to more contemporary classics. Especially significant is the sheer volume of 1990s sports and racing cars, showing that the auction house is trying to appeal to younger buyers in a shifting market. Who would have guessed 10 years ago that we’d be seeing third-generation RX-7s or fourth-gen Supras at a world-class collector-car auction? Here are nine of our favorite 1990s cars that will be featured at the sale with their auction-house-supplied pre-sale estimates. And don’t forget to come back after the auction next month to see how they did.
1993 Mazda RX-7 (estimate: $40,000–$45,000)
The third-generation RX-7 (pictured at the top) is to most enthusiasts the ultimate iteration of the rotary-powered sports car. After the success of the second-generation car, Mazda went back to the drawing board with a clean-sheet, weight-cutting, power-boosting redesign of its flagship sports car and created a 252-hp, twin-turbo machine that took the fight to rivals at Toyota and Nissan. It’s tough to find stock examples these days as many owners couldn’t resist custom street-racer touches. With less than 14,000 miles on the clock and just two owners, this is a collector-grade car.
1996 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo ($30,000–$40,000)
After decades of lost focus, the Z32-series 300ZX was a return to form for the Nissan Z car. Offered here in Twin Turbo guise, the six-cylinder engine produces some 300 horsepower, though it’s not a particularly lightweight sports car, with curb weight that rivals a period Corvette. This one has 2,800 miles on the odometer, so it’s seen far more sitting than driving—some recommissioning may be in order. While 300ZXs haven’t quite reached the desirability of period Supras or RX-7s, they can often be had at a lesser price.
1994 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo ($100,000–$120,000)
Fourth-generation Supras have emerged as the strongest-valued cars of all the 1990s Japanese sports cars, and this 11,000-mile example is just waiting to be mothballed in a museum or private collection. That’s a shame, because these 320-hp cars are brilliant to drive and are still quick today. Expect bidding on this one to be fierce with all the hype surrounding the Supra’s return.
1994 BMW 850 CSi ($150,000–$200,000)
BMW’s first-generation 8 Series is another car that’s had renewed interest since the release of a long-awaited all-new car. This 850 CSi is probably the most desirable of all the early 8 Series models, with a six-speed manual transmission mated to a 5.6-liter V-12 engine. With some 375 horsepower, this CSi will get down the road just fine, though with under 11,000 miles on the odometer, it probably won’t be doing a ton of that under new ownership. Just 1,510 850 CSis were made and they were custom-order-only when new. Talk about exclusive.
1991 Lamborghini Diablo ($150,000–$175,000)
For a time, Diablos were just yesterday’s supercar. When the Murciélago launched in the early 2000s, it was so advanced compared to the Diablo that the older car was essentially forgotten. Today, Diablos are a look back at a more “analog” Lamborghini, with few driver nannies and an honest-to-goodness six-speed manual gearbox. Oh yeah, and this one was first owned by none other than Mario Andretti. With 22,000 miles on the odometer, there’s little worry about damaging the value by actually driving this 485-hp, 5.7-liter, V-12-powered Lamborghini—especially as it’s just had a fresh servicing. However, a repaint may ding the final result a bit.
1995 Lotus Esprit S4 ($65,000–$75,000)
The last hurrah for the turbocharged four-cylinder Esprit, the S4 debuted in 1992 after decades of revision from its 1970’s launch. With new bumpers, rear spoiler, and side skirts, it was hard to believe the Esprit had been in production so long. Now rated at 264 horsepower from just 2.2 liters, the new Esprit was a 165-mph car and still competitive with contemporary Corvettes, Porsche 911s, and Ferrari’s new 348. This S4 is about as close as you’ll find to new, with under 1,000 miles, a garage queen to be sure.
1992 Ferrari F40 ($900,000–$1,100,000)
The F40 actually debuted in 1987 to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary, but this is a 1990 example so we feel justified in including it here. Regarded as the last model that Enzo Ferrari had developmental input on, the F40 was more race car than road car, with a twin-tubocharged V-8 engine good for a sub-four-second zero-to-60-mph time and a top speed of more than 200 mph. Carbon fiber and Kevlar make up most of the bodywork and chassis (the curb weight is around 2,400 pounds) and this example is a European-spec model with upgraded suspension and brakes. With nearly 17,000 miles, the new owner shouldn’t be afraid to use this one.
1991 RUF CR4 “Black Devil” ($220,000–$260,000)
Custom-ordered by a Japanese enthusiast, the so-named “Black Devil” is a 964-based RUF-built 911 with a RUF styling kit and an uprated 290-hp 3.6-liter flat-six engine. Inside, a RUF-trimmed interior includes the tuner’s customary period three-spoke steering wheel, a set of sport seats, and RUF gauges, along with an uprated stereo system. Dubbed “Diablo Negro” by company founder Alois Ruf, the man himself signed the car under the front trunk lid. RUFs are hot in the marketplace currently as Porsche enthusiasts look for “the next big thing.” The estimate could well be light on this one.
1990 Toyota AAR-Toyota Eagle HF89 ($900,000–$1,200,000)
Anyone who followed IMSA in the late ’80s to early ’90s will know all about this car. Developed by Dan Gurney’s All American Racers shop with collaboration from Toyota, this GTP-class car had a rocky start in the race series, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio II, before going on to utter dominance. With a 2.1-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it produces some 680 horsepower and has been fully restored and accepted for entry at the 2019 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. This specific car gave the team its first win in IMSA GTP.