10 Japanese Sports Cars Most People Have Forgotten About – HotCars

Every petrol head on the planet knows about the Nissan Skyline R34 GTR, Mazda RX-7 FD3S, and Toyota Supra A80. Perceived as some of the best sports cars to ever come out of Japan until today, these JDM cars attained the status of legends. These icons completely overshadowed other outstanding Japanese sports cars.

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A fair number of outstanding Japanese sports cars slid under enthusiasts’ radars. Whether they were not made available in the United States or poorly marketed, these cars were only admired by true connoisseurs. Several of them are underrated Japanese sports cars gearheads should buy before it is too late. While most gearheads forgot about them, they remain quite attractive.

10 1991 Honda Legend

Car enthusiasts with a love for big displacement and growling sounds will automatically disregard anything made by Honda. Although it is true to concede that Honda was never trying to rival some of the meanest American muscles, the Japanese automaker released several vehicles that pack a mean punch. In fact, Honda was already showing its teeth back in the early ’90s.

The Legend is among the Honda cars that are made to be modified. Coming stock with a 3.2L C32A V6 that develops 205 hp at 5,500 rpm and 216 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, the Legend goes from zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 140 mph. It is not the average V6-powered Japanese car of the early ’90s.

9 1991 Infiniti M30

Infiniti made its debut in the North American market in 1989. Just like Lexus and Acura, Infiniti offered more powerful and attractive vehicles that were slightly cheaper than their German counterparts. Surprisingly, gearheads across the board forgot about early Infiniti cars. Hardcore Japanese car fans know that the Infiniti M30 is worth looking into.

The Infiniti M30 is a grossly underrated Japanese car. Nissan equipped the M30 with the same engine found in the 300ZX. The 3.0L VG30E V6 found on the M30 pumps out 162 hp at 6,000 rpm and 180 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. In comparison, the 1991 Chevy Camaro V6 produces 140 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. The Infiniti M30 might be unknown, but it sure is an interesting car.

8 1992 Mazda 323 GTR

Mazda is mostly known for two cars: The RX-7 FD3S and the MX-5 Miata. Japan being one of the world’s hatchback hotspots, several hot hatches failed to show their worth, and more popular vehicles hogged the spotlight. At Mazda, one hatchback can really give the Nissan Pulsar GTI-R something to worry about.

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Whenever hatchbacks end up in a conversation, the Volkswagen Golf and the Honda Civic are the first cars that come to mind. However, it would be a mistake to disregard the plethora of outstanding hot hatches that fell under the radar. The Mazda 323 GTR is a beast powered by a turbocharged 1.8L inline-four developing 182 hp at 6,000 rpm and 173 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.

7 1992 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4

Mitsubishi is the only Japanese automaker known globally for its HVAC systems as well as its legendary Lancer Evolution. Though Mitsubishi stalled with the Lancer Evolution X, the company used to manufacture great sports cars. Back in the ’90s, Mitsubishi had a line-up that included machines capable of annihilating top-line German sports cars.

The 3000GT VR-4 is one of the best Mitsubishi sports cars ever made. Though the 3000GT was never perceived as anything respectable by the vast majority of motorists, its current value is at around $17,000 in concours condition. The 30-year-old Japanese car maintained its value thanks to the twin-turbocharged 3.0L 6G72 V6. Capable of churning out 320 hp at 6,000 rpm and 314 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm, the engine found in the 3000GT VR-4 is an absolute marvel.

6 1994 Honda Civic Del Sol

The Honda Civic seemed to have sealed Honda’s fate. Being grossly underpowered and under-equipped, the Civic rapidly became the butt of the joke. As a result, gearheads looking into Japanese cars would rapidly disregard most Honda cars. Honda did however manufacture a couple of amazing vehicles including the Del Sol.

The Honda Del Sol is one of these affordable Japanese cars that have a massive selection of aftermarket parts. In fact, the Del Sol needs a lot of aftermarket parts before becoming an Impreza-STi-killing machine. With that said, the 1.6L B16A3 inline-four engine still cranks out 160 hp at 7,600 rpm and 118 lb-ft of torque at 111 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm.

5 1994 Toyota Celica GT-4 ST205

Toyota is by definition Japan’s ultimate car company. Thanks to the Supra that beautifully evolved over the years, Toyota was able to secure a seat at the legitimate sports carmaker table. Branching off the Celica, the Supra became inaccessible to the average car aficionado. The Celica stayed in production alongside the Supra and did not fail to attract JDM fans.

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The Toyota Celica GT-4 ST205 is well-known among Japanese car fans. Having wreaked havoc in WRC, the Celica GT-4 earned the reputation of being a bully. The turbocharged 2.0L 3S-GTE inline-four makes 239 hp at 6,000 rpm and 223 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The Celica GT-4 ST205 is one of the last great Celicas to ever hit the tarmac.

4 1995 Lexus SC400

In Japan, the Toyota Soarer is a legend. In the United States, the Soarer is practically unknown. The reason behind this is Toyota marketed the Soarer under the Lexus SC300 and 400 in North America. Introduced during the early ’90s, the SC400 had to compete against more well-established nameplates. The SC400 did appreciate in value in recent years.

The Lexus SC400 is the monster that failed to garner attention. Underneath the hood sits a naturally-aspirated 4.0L 1UZ-FE V8 capable of churning out 250 hp at 5,300 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. In comparison, the Mustang GT of the same year came with a 5.0L V8 rated at 215 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque.

3 1995 Eunos Cosmo

High-end Japanese car brands reshaped the market since their introduction. Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura secured their spots in the American rather successfully. When it comes to Mazda’s luxury subsidiary, Eunos, things were far from stellar. While the brand was unknown in the United States, it was a success in Japan. Eunos came out with one of the coolest Japanese sports coupes of that era.

The Cosmos was first released in the ’60s. Over time, the roadster turned into an incredible sports coupe. Marketed under Eunos, the Cosmo came stock with a 2.0L 20B three-rotor engine producing 280 hp at 6,500 rpm and 297 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. With only 9,000 units, it is fair to assume that the Eunos Cosmo will appreciate in value in the future.

2 1997 Mitsubishi Legnum VR-4

The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 is a terrific sedan that never received the love and attention it deserves. Eclipsed by the Lancer Evolution, the Mitsubishi’s initial sports sedan ended up on the back burner. The eighth generation Galant VR-4 is by far the most attractive of all for various reasons. The four-door sedan remained, but an aggressive station wagon made its debut.

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The Mitsubishi Legnum VR-4 is essentially the station wagon version of the Galant VR-4. Both cars share the same twin-turbocharged 2.5L 6A13 V6. Rated at 280 hp at 5,500 rpm and 272 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, the Legnum is an unsuspecting station wagon that deserves more attention. Similarly to the Dodge Magnum SRT-8 and the Volvo V70 R, the Legnum never fails to turn heads at car meets.

1 2008 Acura TL Type S

When the name Acura comes up, the first car that comes to mind is logically the NSX. While it is fair to admit the NSX is amazing, it is not the sort of sports car any gearhead can afford. Acura mass-produced several sedans fitted with powerplants that produce enough power to trigger a healthy adrenaline rush. The Acura TL Type S is one of them.

At first glance, the Acura TL Type S is just another Japanese sedan with a couple of thirst traps attached to it. The truth is, the TL Type S talks the talk and walks the walk. Fitted with a naturally-aspirated 3.5L J32A3 V6 producing 286 hp at 6,200 rpm and 256 lb-ft of torque, the TL Type S is a sleeper that will surprise the most educated petrol head.


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