10 Japanese Sports Cars Most People Forgot About

Every gasoline enthusiast on the planet knows the Nissan Skyline R34 GTR, the Mazda RX-7 FD3S and the Toyota Supra A80. Considered one of the finest sports cars to ever come out of Japan until today, these JDM the cars have reached the status of legends. These icons have completely eclipsed other outstanding Japanese sports cars.


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A good number of exceptional Japanese sports cars have passed under the radar of enthusiasts. Whether not marketed in the United States or poorly marketed, these cars are admired only by true connoisseurs. Several of them are underrated Japanese sports cars that gearheads should buy before it’s too late. While most gearheads have forgotten about them, they are still quite attractive.

ten Honda Legend 1991

Car enthusiasts who like big bores and grunts will automatically ignore anything Honda does. While it’s true to concede that Honda has never tried to compete with some of America’s baddest muscle, the Japanese automaker has released several vehicles that pack a punch. In fact, Honda was already showing its teeth in the early 90s.

The Legend is one of those Honda cars made to be modified. Equipped as standard with a 3.2-liter C32A V6 that develops 205 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 216 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, the Legend goes from zero to 100 km/h in 6, 9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 140 mph. This is not the average V6-powered Japanese car of the early 90s.

9 Infiniti M30 1991

Infiniti debuted 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 at all levels forgot about early Infiniti cars. Hardcore Japanese car fans know that the Infiniti M30 is worth looking into.

The Infiniti M30 is a vastly underrated Japanese car. Nissan fitted the M30 with the same engine found in the 300ZX. The 3.0L VG30E V6 found on the M30 develops 162 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 180 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. By comparison, the 1991 Chevrolet Camaro V6 produces 140 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. The Infiniti M30 may be unknown, but it’s an interesting car.

8 Mazda 323 GTR 1992

Mazda is best known for two cars: the RX-7 FD3S and the MX-5 Miata. With Japan being one of the world’s hot spots for hatchbacks, several hot hatchbacks failed to show their worth and more popular vehicles hogged the limelight. At Mazda, a sedan can really worry the Nissan Pulsar GTI-R.

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

seven 1992Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4

Mitsubishi is the only Japanese automaker known worldwide for its HVAC systems as well as its legendary Lancer Evolution. Although Mitsubishi stalled with the Lancer Evolution X, the company made great sports cars. In the 90s, Mitsubishi had a lineup that included machines capable of wiping out high-end German sports cars.

The 3000GT VR-4 is one of the finest Mitsubishi sports cars ever made. Although the 3000GT was never seen as something respectable by the vast majority of motorists, its current value is around $17,000 in concours condition. The 30-year-old Japanese car has retained its value thanks to the 3.0L 6G72 twin-turbo V6. Capable of producing 320 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 314 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm, the engine of the 3000GT VR-4 is pure marvel.

6 Honda Civic Del Sol 1994

The Honda Civic seemed to have sealed Honda’s fate. Being grossly underpowered and underequipped, the Civic quickly became the butt of the joke. As a result, gearheads examining Japanese cars would quickly ignore most Honda cars. Honda has made some amazing vehicles though, including the Del Sol.

The Honda Del Sol is one of those affordable Japanese cars that has a huge selection of aftermarket parts. In fact, the Del Sol needs a lot of spares before it becomes an Impreza-STi killing machine. That said, the 1.6L B16A3 inline-four engine still produces 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 automaker par excellence. Thanks to the Supra, which has evolved beautifully over the years, Toyota has been able to secure a place at the table of legitimate sports car manufacturers. Branching off from the Celica, the Supra became inaccessible to the average car enthusiast. The Celica remained 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 to Japanese car fans. After wreaking havoc in the WRC, the Celica GT-4 earned a reputation as a brute. The turbocharged 2.0-liter 3S-GTE inline-four develops 239 horsepower 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 virtually unknown. The reason behind this is that Toyota marketed the Soarer under the Lexus SC300 and 400 in North America. Introduced in the early 90s, the SC400 had to compete with more established nameplates. The SC400 has risen in value in recent years.

The Lexus SC400 is the monster that didn’t catch the eye. Under the hood is a naturally aspirated 4.0L 1UZ-FE V8 capable of producing 250 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. By comparison, the same year’s Mustang GT featured a 5.0-liter V8 that produced 215 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque.

3 1995 Eunos Cosmo

Premium Japanese car brands have reshaped the market since their introduction. Lexus, Infiniti and Acura have secured their place in the United States with some success. When it came to Mazda’s luxury subsidiary, Eunos, things were far from stellar. While the brand was unknown in the United States, it was a hit 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 amazing sports coupe. Marketed under Eunos, the Cosmo comes with a 2.0L 20B tri-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’s fair to assume that the Eunos Cosmo will increase in value in the future.

2 1997 Mitsubishi Legnum VR-4

The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 is a formidable sedan that has never received the love and attention it deserves. Overshadowed by the Lancer Evolution, Mitsubishi’s first sports sedan found itself on the back burner. The eighth-generation Galant VR-4 is by far the most attractive of them all for a variety of reasons. The four-door sedan remained, but an aggressive station wagon debuted.

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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-turbo 2.5-liter 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. Like the Dodge Magnum SRT-8 and Volvo V70 R, the Legnum never fails to turn heads at automotive encounters.

1 2008 Acura TL-Type S

When the name Acura appears, the first car that comes to mind is logically the NSX. While it’s fair to admit that the NSX is amazing, it’s not the kind of sports car a gearhead can afford. Acura has mass-produced several sedans with engines that produce enough power to unleash 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 few thirst traps attached to it. The truth is, the TL Type S talks and goes. Powered by a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter 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 even the most educated gasoline heads.

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