When it comes to imported JDM cars, Nissan and Toyota products get most of the attention. While there’s plenty to love about Skylines, Silvias, and Land Cruisers, some very interesting machinery was being produced by other Japanese manufacturers.
Here are a few notable 1990s gems that are worthy of your attention.
The Lancer Evolution III won the 1996 World Rally Championship
The first Mitsibishi Evo models were simple and light weight, with a turbocharged 4G63 engine and all-wheel drive providing plenty of traction. Picking up where the Galant VR-4 left off, they helped Mitsubishi rise to the top ranks of stage rally competition. In 1996, Tommi Mäkinen drove an Evo III to the World Rally Championship title, winning five of the nine events in the process.
The Evo III was the last of the original body style, which were known for their tossable handling and pure analog fun. With limited production numbers to begin with, and prices for JDM cars on the rise in general, values for well-kept early Evos will likely follow.
The Eunos Cosmo was a JDM tech showcase
While the RX-7 has been the most popular Mazda rotary car, the Eunos Cosmo is definitely the most advanced. When it came out in 1990, it was not only the most powerful vehicle in Japan, but the first production car with a three-rotor engine and the first with twin sequential turbos. Per MotorTrend, the Cosmo was the potential flagship model for a proposed Mazda luxury brand called Amati.
When those plans never materialized, Mazda continued selling the Cosmo under its JDM-only Eunos sub-brand.. In addition to the groundbreaking powerplant, the car boasts a lavish and high-tech interior. With just under 9000 units ever produced, the Eunos Cosmo is a rare but impressive piece of Japanese engineering.
The Subaru Legacy GT-B was a fast Japanese wagon
The 1996-1999 Subaru Legacy GT-B was an oddity for Subaru, given that it had twin-turbochargers instead of a single. Called the EJ20R, the engine made 276 hp, which was the same as a WRX STi of the time. GT-B models were also notable for their sport-tuned suspension made by Bilstein.
Though not as popular as the heavyweights from Nissan, Toyota, or Honda, these JDM vehicles were each impressive in their own right.