If you get the
feeling that time is passing you by, consider this: The new year
brings with it a fresh batch of car models that are now 25 years old
— and considered antique by many states’ motor vehicle
departments and auto insurance companies. (If you’re not good at
math, they debuted in 1994.)
Feeling old yet?
Here are the notable
vehicles that you probably remember that were redesigned or debuted
This is the car the ILX is trying to be, but isn’t. Still beloved
by Honda fanboys, the 1994 Integra was changed in appearance but not
in overall dimensions. Still available as a three-door hatchback or
four-door sedan, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine generated 142
horsepower on most models. The hot version was the sporty GS-R, with
170 horses and a five-speed manual transmission.
Audi was still trying to win back customers after being shamelessly
smeared by CBS’s “60 Minutes” when the automaker offered its
first convertible, the Cabriolet. Based on the smaller 90 Series, a
predecessor to the modern day A4, the front-wheel drive Cabriolet
was powered by 172-horsepower V-6 and four-speed automatic
—BMW 3 Series.
Easily one of the best cars of the 1990s, and among the most
collectible, the fifth generation of BMW’s compact sports sedan is
among the best of the breed. Known internally as the E36, it was
initially offered in 318 and 325 trim, joined later by the 335
arrived and its 300-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-6 that provided
the performance needed to maintain its preeminence.
Overlooked when new, the Concours is forgotten today. This
generation of De Ville provided a first hint of things to come from
GM’s luxury brand, mostly due to the performance-oriented Concours
model with a new 290-horsepower Northstar V-8 and electronic Road
Sensing Suspension that delivered far better performance than the
old 200-horsepower 4.9-liter V-8.
Yorker/LHS. Five inches longer than the Chrysler Concorde and
possessing far more presence, this stylish duo restored Chrysler’s
reputation before the automaker was shanghaied in an erroneous
merger with Daimler. A 214-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 powered these
large front-wheel drive sedans, which also offered rear seat
accommodations rivaling those of most limousines.
—Dodge Ram. This is
the truck that changed Dodge’s fortunes in the pickup market. No
longer following the designs of Ford and General Motors, the Ram
1500 was not only larger than its competitors, but it wore bold
styling inspired by big rigs. Loaded with attitude, it proved that
style mattered as much as capability with pickup buyers.
—Ford Mustang. This
car almost didn’t appear, as Ford executives considered replacing
its iconic rear-wheel drive muscle car with bland, unremarkable
Mazda-engineered Ford Probe, a front-wheel drive sport coupe.
Thankfully, the Mustang survived, wearing its first redesign in 15
years and riding atop an aging platform. A 145-horsepower V-6 or
215-horsepower V-8 were offered, along with anti-lock brakes.
Given modern-day consumers’ preference for SUVs over cars, it’s
easy to forget that sedans like the Accord were once king of the
American highway. Available as a front-wheel drive sedan, coupe or
wagon, the Accord debuted with fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines,
nimble handling, not to mention a roomy cabin and handsomely
conservative styling. Consider it a Japanese BMW.
C-Class. Longer and wider than the Lilliputian 190 Series it
replaced, the new C-Class was sold as the 147-horsepower 220C and
194-horsepower 280C. While leisurely off the line, performance
picked up noticeably. Handling was flawless. Nevertheless, it would
take the Mercedes-Benz C-Class many years to dethrone the BMW 3
Series in its segment.
—Saab 900. Although
few realized it at the time, this was the beginning of a long, slow
decline for Saab. Amazingly, the 900 retained its characteristic
quirkiness despite GM’s interference. Still sold as a three- or
five-door hatchback, in addition to a convertible, the
front-wheel-drive 900 was powered by a 150-horsepower turbocharged
four-cylinder engine or a 170-horsepower V-6.
Coupe. While somewhat stodgy in appearance, the addition of the
Coupe in 1994 added a sporting flair to what is arguably the most
over-engineered generation of Camry ever built. Powered by a
130-horsepower four or 188-horsepower V-6, its refinement far
outweighed its price thanks to a development team that had
previously engineered the first Lexus LS sedan.
Whatever performance credibility the Celica gained with such
high-performance models as the GT-S and All-Trac Turbo vanished when
the redesigned model appeared, powered solely by a mundane 2.2-liter
four-cylinder engine producing 110 or 135 horsepower depending on
model. Now very much a secretary’s sports coupe, it looked good;
it just wasn’t fast.
Other notable auto
news: In an era when any Japanese automaker could be assured of good
sales, even Mitsubishi found success with a new version of its
fairly unremarkable front-wheel drive Galant midsize sedan, which
was new for 1994. Volkswagen also introduced a new Golf and Jetta,
but the new models were modestly upgraded from previous versions.
Other updates seemed more noteworthy, such as the addition of the
Corvette’s 260-horsepower LT1 V-8 to the Cadillac Fleetwood, or
the arrival of the BMW 540i, with a 282-horsepower V-8 from the BMW
7 Series. Ford also offered a new V-8. The new overhead-cam engine
produced 205 horsepower on the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar,
190 horsepower on the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis,
and 210 horsepower on the Lincoln Town Car. And Infiniti’s
flagship sedan, the Q45, was restyled with a grille for the first
time; sales remained lackluster. Finally, most cars gained standard
driver’s side airbags and anti-lock brakes for the first time.