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By the 1990s, Japan's automakers had enough experience building great performance vehicles that they were able to use the decades of expertise to create real challengers to the best that Europe could offer. Suddenly, Ferrari drivers had to keep a nervous eye out for hardcore machines from Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Toyota.

These Japanese brands built sports cars that were just as attractive and technologically advanced as their European counterparts. Plus, they often came with a lower purchase price and even better reliability. Ferrari had to improve or get out of the way of its new rivals.

Luca di Montezemolo, president of Ferrari at the time, knew there was trouble, too. For example, the boss told Britain's Telegraph in 2011 about buying a Ferrari 348 a year before his return to the Prancing Horse. He hated the car. After taking a job, he told the engineers: "No, the 348 is not a Ferrari for me."

Today, the Ferrari has less to worry about from Japan, but check out this list to remember a more exciting time.

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