The Germans are no pushovers in the automobile world, with established powerhouses like Mercedes Benz, BMW, and the Volkswagen Group. The cars they churn out are not only well regarded for their build quality but they also have an established reputation for performance. There are no shortages of high-performance machines; cars that pack a serious punch when it comes to speed and acceleration.
The ‘90s era sports cars that emerged from Germany still possess the ability to impress even by today’s standards. Some of the cars featured here are no strangers, but there are a few others that will prove quite a revelation.
This M3 is widely regarded as one of the best BMW ‘M’ cars. In 1997, it was even voted the best-handling car by Car and Driver. That handling was down to a superbly balanced chassis and suspension setup.
The BMW M3 was not all about the handling and a 155mph top speed served up proof that the car could move very briskly indeed if given a long enough road-stretch. That performance came courtesy of an inline-6 engine that put out as much as 321hp.
Porsche’s reputation for building epic sports cars took a hit after the lack-lustre Porsche 968. It took some drastic action on the part of the German carmaker to restore that reputation. That action was in form of the Porsche 968 Club Sport, a stripped-down version of the original 968.
It was 100kg lighter and earned praise for its significantly better handling and driving experience. It was quick off the line too, with a 4.7-second sprint time to 60mph and a claimed 156mph top speed.
The little-known Isdera Imperator was based on an equally obscure Mercedes Benz CW311 concept. The wedge-shaped car was designed, complete with a tubular space-frame chassis and gull-wing doors. Power was supplied by a Mercedes-sourced engine that generated as much as 420hp.
That power, mated to a 5-speed manual, was enough to send the sports-car oddity to a 176mph top speed. The car had a production run of 30 units before the designers moved on to the next project – the Isdera Commendatore. Unfortunately, that project never emerged from the concept stage.
This was the most extreme production 911 when it launched, with a potent flat-6 that delivered all of 424hp in the driver’s control. That power was fed to all four wheels via a standard 6-speed manual transmission.
Acceleration in this car is brutal and you can expect a 0 to 100mph sprint in less than 10 seconds. There’s also that 183mph top speed which made the 911 Turbo S the perfect weapon to assault the famous German Autobahn.
During the first-generation run of the BMW 8-Series, there was never formally an M8 but that did not stop Alpina from making a high-performance variant of their own; and what a car it turned out to be. It was based on the existing 850CSi.
Various mechanical tweaks under the hood boosted the engine output to 416bhp, 41 extra horses over the stock car’s 375bhp. It was a limited-edition vehicle, limited to less than 60 units. However, the lucky owners got to experience the car’s sublime performance and blistering top speed.
This is one of the rarest AMG models ever built with a production run that ended well short of 100 units. AMG engineers created this monster by taking 6.0-litre V12 from the SL600 and bumping the displacement up to 7.3 litres; the largest displacement V12 ever fitted on any road-going Mercedes Benz.
The SL73 AMG could whip up 525hp and 553 pound-feet of torque. The SL73 AMG is big and ungainly to look at but that power meant it could hit an astounding 186mph top speed.
RUF is a German auto company that’s legally regarded as an independent manufacturer, a recognition that was secured in 1981. Their products are usually based on Porsche cars but then they literally take everything apart and rebuild it, making it significantly more potent.
The RUF Turbo R is based on the Porsche Type 993 Turbo. The power output is a remarkable 620bhp at 6,800rpm, compared to ‘just’ 408bhp for the Type 993. The Turbo R can sprint to 60mph in 3.5 seconds and continue to accelerate until it maxes out at around 190mph.
The 911 GT1 race car was developed by Porsche to compete in the GT1 class of sports car racing. For this reason, they had to build street-legal versions as part of homologation requirements. That road-going version was dubbed the 911 GT1 Straßenversion simply translated to mean ‘Street version’.
The car was capable of hitting 60mph, from a standing start, in 3.6 seconds and then power on to a top speed in excess of 190mph. Porsche built less than 30 units of this beast and today, it is not uncommon for them to change hands at a price well north of a million dollars.
This sports car was one of the highlights of Mercedes Benz in the ‘90s; a thoroughbred race car that somehow managed to be road-legal, albeit with a few modifications. The car drew its power from a naturally aspirated V12 monster that cranked out 612bhp at 6,800rpm and 568 pound-feet of torque at 5,250rpm.
The road-legal version of the car weighed all of 3,400 pounds, thanks to creature comforts like air-conditioning and elaborate sound proofing. However, it could still power on to 60mph in 3.2 seconds and in race trim, had a top speed that exceeded 200mph.
A 2.7-second 0 to 60mph sprint time meant this extreme machine had very few challengers in the automotive space. It also ranked among the fastest with a top speed in excess of 250mph.
This was essentially a road-legal variant of the Porsche 962, one of the most successful Porsche racing cars ever made. This incredible car weighed just over 1,000kg and a 730bhp power output meant it had a better power-to-weight ratio than even the legendary McLaren F1.