10 pioneering cars that revolutionized the automotive art.
Like the overused example of sliced bread having revolutionized the food industry, there will always be certain products that write a new chapter in their respective history books, or at least that rewrite an existing chapter. This applies to the auto industry as well, with landmark vehicles coming along every few years to keep things fresh and interesting. Practically every automotive trend or technology can ultimately be traced back to a single pioneering vehicle. In recognition of this, we have compiled a list of 10 of our favorite game changers from the past 25 years. Selected for various reasons, these examples range from quirky econoboxes to lustworthy supercars.
1987 BMW M3
For decades now, BMW has been lauded for its ability to create sport sedans and sport coupes. They combine the fun of a sports car with the comfort and convenience of a luxury tourer. No model typified this better than the original M3, which hit the pavement in 1987. It was BMW Motorsports' take on the popular 3-Series coupe, which was heavily modified in-house and featured a wide-body design and a screaming 192-horsepower 4-cylinder race engine with four individual throttle bodies — a technology practically unheard of in production cars, even today — for maximum response and power. The M3 paved the way for all sport coupes to follow.
1988 Honda Civic CRX Si
The 1988-to-1991 CRX Si was an amazing car, a driver's delight. But that's not why it's on this list. The CRX Si started the import tuner movement. This little 1-ton titan and its 1.6-liter 108-horsepower engine oozed simplicity and entertainment, inspiring countless gearheads to park their muscle cars and see what they could muster out of tiny 4-bangers instead. Now, years later, it's nearly impossible to find a Honda — let alone a CRX — that hasn't been "customized."
1990 Lexus LS 400
While Honda was rethinking the supercar with its NSX, Toyota was busy doing the same for the luxury car with its flagship LS 400, the first vehicle produced by its all-new Lexus division. Developed from the ground up and intended to prove that Japan could top the best vehicles Europe could muster, the 1990 LS 400 shocked the world by actually pulling it off in many significant aspects. The resulting car was a quiet, refined, reliable and economical sedan packing a 250-horsepower V8 engine and more standard gadgets than the competition could hope to offer.
1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The classic British roadster was simultaneously cherished and despised by vintage-car enthusiasts. Those tiny, lightweight drop-tops were a hoot to drive, but a nightmare to own — so much so that the entire category fell into obscurity in the 1980s. When Mazda claimed it was possible to re-create the roadster's good aspects and avoid the bad, the response was skeptical excitement. The resulting 1990 Miata, with its $14,000 price tag and responsive 115-horsepower engine, blew away even the most optimistic predictions. It was immediately adored by car lovers and commuters alike. It has since become the best-selling sports car in history.
1991 Ford Explorer
The next time you're on the road, take a look at the vehicles in front of, beside and behind you. See anything in common? Well, the reason they're all SUVs is largely because of the 1991 Ford Explorer. While it was far from the first sport-ute on the market, it was the first to invade suburbia in a big way, deliberately catering to soccer moms and salarymen instead of rugged off-roaders. Although it could still handle things quite well when the going got rough, the Explorer was truly the first sport family vehicle.
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Another steaming pile of rubbage perfumed over to smell something like intelligent journalism. The Ford Explorer over the Jeep Cherokee? Where is the the Grandfather of man vans, the Dodge Caravan? It was Lee Iacocca that put the first and still finest minivans on the road. Those vehicles are game changers!!! The Honda CRX Si as the start of tuners? I believe Carrol Shelby started the tuner market with his 1700 lbs of fury called the GLH in 1984!!! It set the bar for 4 banger performance and truly started the revolution!!!