Don’t look now, but the Class of 1991 is antique
If you’re still mistakenly writing 2015 when dating your checks, wrap your head around this one: a fresh batch of vehicles just turned 25 years old, which makes them antique cars according to state legislatures, the Antique Automobile Club of America and a number of automotive mavens.
And that year? 1991.
It’s an annual event, but one that’s not always welcome. But the calendar has flipped the page on another year, so it’s worth considering the Class of ‘91’s notable cars and trucks.
Get ready – you’re about to feel a bit older.
Now that a new NSX is set to arrive, let’s not forget Acura’s first mid-engine sports car that debuted with much fanfare 25 years ago. Some described it as a reliable Ferrari 348. A 270-horsepower aluminum 3.0-liter V-6 and five-speed manual transmission allowed it to reach 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. Opting for the automatic transmission reduced output to 252 horsepower. It also boasted details that were production car firsts, such as an all-aluminum semi-monocoque unibody and titanium con rods, which allowed for continuous high-RPM use. Additionally, Formula One drivers, including Ayrton Senna, guided its chassis development.
Boasting the 1991 BMW line’s highest prices, this successor to the 635CSi coupe was a luxurious 2+2 coupe powered by the 5.0-liter V-12 engine shared with the 750iL sedan. Mated to a four-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission, the 850i was rated at 296-horsepower. Interestingly, this was the first BMW to mount seatbelts onto the front seats (rather than door pillars). It also has its share of microchips, thanks to standard antilock brakes and an optional electronically controlled suspension with sport or comfort settings.
Buick Park Avenue/Oldsmobile Ninety Eight
GM’s full-size, front-wheel-drive C-Body line was fully revised for 1991 and unlike the models they replaced, the ‘91s were tailored to look different from each other. Despite a 9.5-inch lengthening, the platform was unchanged and differences between models were minimal. A 170-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 and four-speed automatic transmission composed the sole driveline. Anti-lock brakes, a driver-side airbag, and an automatic load-leveling suspension were standard.
Buick Roadmaster/Chevrolet Caprice /Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser
Fourteen years after their last redesign, these full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedans and wagons gained fresh, organic styling. Each model boasted a distinct cabin and front fascia, while the Oldsmobile and Buick wagons revived the much-adored rear seat Vista Roof. Like the crossover SUVs that Americans now swoon over, the wagons can swallow a 4×8-foot sheet of plywood or eight people. Chevrolet’s 170-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 and four-speed automatic were standard.
Dodge Spirit R/T
Don’t laugh. This 224-horsepower K-Car derivative may look dull, but it could run with contemporary Ford Mustang GTs or Ford Taurus SHOs. Yup, the limited edition Spirit R/T is a sleeper, thanks to its vigorous turbocharged 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with a Lotus-designed head, a Getrag five-sped manual transmission, bigger four-wheel disc brakes and color-keyed wheels. Crude yet affective, it is clearly the Charger Hellcat of its day; a grocery getter with an attitude.
Ford Explorer/Mazda Navajo
Designed to take the place of the Bronco II, this is among the most important vehicles of the 1990s. And, in case you’ve forgotten, the Explorer was available in either two-door and four-door models and rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. A 155-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 was the sole engine, matched with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Strangely, although the Explorer had rear antilock brakes, they worked only in rear-wheel-drive mode. Mazda sold a short-lived two-door version through 1994.
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4/Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo
Opt for a hot ride these days, and no doubt you’ll find that the car has twin turbochargers and all-wheel drive. In that regard, the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 and the Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo proved prescient, as they had both. And let’s not forget they boasted four-wheel steering, a 24-valve dual-overhead-cam V6 that generated 300 horsepower, an electronically adjustable suspension, a limited-slip differential and spoilers that extend at 50 mph. Ignore the tamer variants; these are the ones to have.
Redesigned for its second generation, Toyota’s mid-engine, rear-drive sports car may have resembled a small Ferrari, except under the hood. There you’ll find two engines from the Toyota Celica: a 130-horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine or a 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with a five-speed manual or, on the smaller engine, a four-speed automatic transmission. Although it gained 9.3 inches in length, trunk space is still only big enough to hold a family-size bag of chips and a clean pair of underwear, which you might need as the MR2 tends to snap oversteer.
Best of 1991
- “Beauty and the Beast”
- “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”
- “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”
- “The Silence of the Lambs”
- “City Slickers”
Top TV shows
- “60 Minutes”
- “A Different World”
- “The Cosby Show”
- “Gonna Make You Sweat” – C + C Music Factory
- “Out of Time” – R.E.M.
- “Mariah Carey” – Mariah Carey
- “Shake Your Money Maker” – The Black Crowes
- “Unforgettable With Love” – Natalie Cole
Super Bowl: New York Giants (1990 season champs)
Winston Cup: Dale Earnhardt
World Series: Minnesota Twins
Stanley Cup: Pittsburgh Penguins
NBA: Chicago Bulls