8 Real Cars You Wanted In The '90s, Because Getting Your Driver's License Was The Ultimate Sign Of Independence
When it comes to monumental milestones in a young person's life, getting a driver's license has to be up there near the top of the list. And if you're a '90s kid like me, you spent a large portion of your youth getting all googly-eyed just thinking about the cars you wanted in the '90s. I couldn't wait for the day I could cruise around town — besties in tow, natch — behind the wheel of a vehicular teenage dream. Fortunately, there was no shortage of super-cool whips during that time to fuel my adolescent obsession.
Some were made popular by movies, TV, and even video games 'cause, c'mon, who didn't want to be just like their favorite characters IRL? Others were elevated to cult status by being featured on posters or the covers of car mags. Alas, despite our wildest desires, most '90s kids knew the car they would wind up behind the wheel of would decidedly not be one of these dream cars. In reality, many of us drove Ford Tauruses and Geo Trackers, and that's OK, too. I drove a purple Ford Aspire everyone dubbed "the Egg" for its distinctive shape and chirpy color, and it provided countless miles worth of memories. Plus, it got like 78 miles to the gallon, so there's that.
Still, it sure would have been something to have pulled into the school parking lot the day after getting my driver's license in one of the cars every '90s kid coveted. Oh, and hey, stay tuned — I've also been thinking about all the fictional cars every '90s kid wanted to drive, so be on the lookout for that roundup coming soon.
1. Ford Mustang SVT Cobra
I dated a guy who drove a Ford Mustang in the '90s, and I can't tell you how cool it made me feel to sit in the passenger seat. This Mustang wasn't the classic muscle car our parents grew up with — the body had been redesigned and the engine pumped up to make it more "modern" and, well, fast as hell. Yes, please!
2. VW Bug
The original VW "Bug" obviously predates our formative years, but this bohemian car experienced a resurgence of epic proportions during the decade. This was due of course to the redesign the Beetle — which had previously halted production in the mid-'70s — received in the '90s. It was safer, got better gas mileage and, more to the point, had an adorable built-in dashboard vase '90s hippies like myself couldn't wait to stash a cluster of daisies in.
3. Jeep Wrangler
I'm going to go ahead and blame my single-minded pursuit of a Jeep Wrangler on Cher Horowitz a la Clueless. In my mind, 'twas the only car in existence. And while my parents most definitely did not cave to my constant pleas for one during the '90s, I'm happy to report I bought myself one my freshman year of college. She was white with tan leather interior, and her name was (what else?) Cher.
4. Dodge Viper
You couldn't shake a stick during the '90s without hitting a poster of a Dodge Viper adorning some teenage boy's wall. A car with a truck engine, it was the best of both worlds — styling and power.
Everyone remembers this reference, right? In Pretty Woman, Richard Gere borrows a Lotus from his slimy attorney and ends up taking a detour on Holly Boulevard. There, he runs into the stunning-and-surprisingly mechanically-minded prostitute played by Julia Roberts. She gets behind the wheel and, from that point on, everyone wanted the car that "corners like it's on rails."
6. Nissan 300ZX
When this sporty little sucker made its debut, it landed the title of Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year. Fun fact? It was one of the very first cars to be created using a CAD program, so it came equipped with all kinds of computer-controlled features that made it seem like the car of the future.
7. McLaren F1
In the grand spectrum of '90s cars, the McLaren F1 may just have been the pinnacle of unrequited desire. This car was nearly mythic in its folklore, with everyone and their sister gushing about how it handled perfectly and was a true testament to innovation. To this day, I dream of revving a McLaren just once.
8. Acura Integra GSR
This car may not have been as flashy as a Lotus or McLaren, but perhaps that was part of its appeal. It was super-stylish, super-fast, and super-trendy, all rolled into one relatively affordable package. All the cool kids seemed to drive them, which made everyone else want one. Bad.
Images: Paramount Pictures; Getty Images; Giphy (7)