I’m going back in time to remember some of my favourite lightweight sporty convertibles that debuted for the first time in the 1990s. It was the decade of grunge, the Spice Girls and some very, very desirable 2-door sports cars!
1. Mazda MX-5 (1990)
Fondly remembered today for its pop-up headlamps and perfect 50:50 weight balance, the first generation of the Mazda MX-5 achieved cult status as an affordable, fun-to-drive, rear wheel drive, lightweight roadster. The second generation arrived in 1997, but the pop-up lights had to be ditched for safety regulations! You can pick up a first generation MX-5 today with a 1.6-litre (114bhp) engine for less than €3,000.
2. MGF (1995)
If there was any car that could throw the gauntlet down to the MX-5, it was the MGF. This was the car that brought the MG brand to a new generation. It was light, mid-engined and rear wheel drive, and looked fast and purposeful (check out those side air intakes). Pick up a used one of these with a 1.8-litre (143bhp) engine for less than €3,000.
3. Alfa Romeo Spider (1995)
Styled by Pininfarina, the new Spider (and GTV coupé it was based on) were a dramatic change in styling for Alfa’s diminutive two-seater. The new look was modern, edgy (check out that diagonal slash running from front to back!), but still pretty, with the Alfa V-shaped grilled flanked by two circular headlights on each side. Though sharing a platform with some less glamourous Fiat cousins, the GTV and Spider had a stiff chassis and sporty rear suspension set-up, and the option of a feisty V6 from 1997. You can pick up an early example of one of these today with a 2.0-litre (155bhp) Twin Spark engine for less than €3,000.
4. Porsche Boxster (1996)
The Boxster was a more affordable entry into the Porsche brand. Think of it as Porsche-lite, with the similar big eyed look of the 911 and curvaceous rump. Power came from a mid-engined flat six boxer engine. A first generation Boxster with a 2.5-litre (201bhp) engine can be yours for less than €5000 but set aside another €1000 for the road tax.
5) Lotus Elise (1996)
There is a rawness about the Elise that endears it to fans. Weighing just 725kg, with a mid-mounted 1.8-litre (118bhp) engine and rear wheel drive layout, the first generation Elise had race car performance figures and agility.
6) Audi TT Roadster (1999)
Not quite the driving sensation it should have been, but jaw-droppingly gorgeous, the Audi TT Roadster is a design icon. You can pick up a first generation model with a 1.8-litre (180bhp) engine for less than €4,000.
7) Honda S2000 (1999)
Built to celebrate 50 years of Honda cars, the S2000 was widely acclaimed for its powerful, innovative 2.0-litre (247bhp) engine, exciting rear wheel drive handling and rock-solid build quality. This is my personal favourite 1990’s roadster and I’ve lusted after this car since I first saw it on the cover of Top Gear magazine! Maybe it’s time I snapped one up. Early cars sell for between €7,000-€8,000.