There aren’t many car fans who couldn’t name at least one sports car they’d love to own. The problem is for most people, these machines are way out of budget, at least when buying new. Opting for a used example gives buyers a lot more choice, but also a lot more pitfalls. There’s maintenance to think about, and there’s the concern that an old sports car just won’t be powerful enough to feel sporty anymore.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of options out there that, although they’re in their teens in age, feel just as exciting to drive as a new car. These cars provide that golden combination of power and handling mixed with a surprisingly low price that could tempt even the most sensible of buyers. For those who feel the need for speed but not the urge to splurge, these 2000s sports cars might just be the answer to their car-buying desires.
10 Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG – 354 HP
A speedy but classy barge, the Mercedes S Class is one of the best-selling luxury sports sedans out there. Those brave enough to opt for an AMG version will enjoy 354hp, coupled with the best technology available for the era.
Obviously, it won’t be able to compete with a new car on the tech front, but in driving dynamics, the car still manages to feel remarkably capable even at nearly 20 years old. The most affordable versions of the S55 AMG are the 2001 model years, although ultra-high mileage cars can be found within budget at a few years newer.
9 Porsche Boxster – 258 HP
Early 2000s Boxsters are the most readily available cheap Porsches on the market, which some might take to mean that they’re no good. In fact the opposite is true, as the Boxster offers one of the best driving experiences of any sports car in its price range.
Maintenance is also relatively affordable for a Porsche, so owners shouldn’t have to worry too much about breaking the bank trying to keep their Boxster running. Those looking for a fixed-roof Porsche could try and find a Cayman, but even the worst examples of Caymans usually sell for way over a $10,000 budget.
8 BMW M3 E46 Convertible – 333 HP
Who doesn’t love an M3? It’s the model most Beemer fans would love to drive, but many think they haven’t got the budget for. Well, for those shopping for a bargain, E46 M3 convertibles are currently available with a four-digit price tag.
Granted, there aren’t many of them available, so buyers might have to search across the state to find one. Even then, it’s worth checking the car’s history where possible to make sure it hasn’t been abused too much.
7 Nissan 350Z – 287 HP
The precursor to the current-gen 370Z, 350Zs are a real bargain right now, and are sure to appreciate in value as their status changes from “old” to “classic”. A favorite among tuners, getting a stock 350Z might be a challenge in some states, but it’s a much better option.
Cars that have been previously modified can have all sorts of issues, from poor mod installation to the weakening of other parts of the mod that were installed improperly. That said, a stock example is an underappreciated JDM gem, so it’s worth investing in one if the opportunity arises.
6 Audi S5 4.2 – 354 HP
The Audi S5 is a car that’s arguably aged very well in looks and even better in horses-per-buck. The 4.2L V8 version offers 354hp, giving the car a 0-60 time in just under five seconds. That’s not a supercar-beating figure but it’s enough to beat most other sub-$10k cars.
Audi’s V8s can be modified to sound glorious too if the owner wants to make their car a little more brash than business. Most S5s will retail for over budget but the cheapest examples are listed for a few hundred dollars under.
5 BMW 650i Convertible – 360 HP
BMW’s 6 Series cars combine the best of the luxury and the sports worlds into one comfortable but fast machine. They’re also very badly affected by depreciation, making them a great choice for a cheap sports car.
Drop-top versions are usually cheapest, with hard-tops selling for a thousand dollars or so more. Currently, the market sweet spot seems to be around the 2006 model year, with many examples within a ten-thousand-dollar budget.
4 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG – 362 HP
AMG cars are always a solid choice for big horsepower numbers. Even though most examples of the CLK55 AMG are from the earliest half of the decade, they still produce some of the biggest power figures within budget.
The most affordable 2003 model year cars can be found well under $10,000, although anyone buying these examples should get the car professionally examined first. Old AMGs have a reputation for falling apart internally, so it’s a high-risk but high-reward option for the buyer on a budget.
3 Nissan 370Z – 332 HP
Nissan’s 370Z is still on sale today, although many owners complain that its’ outdated interior and handling can’t compete in the new market. That’s largely because the car has remained almost exactly the same since it first went on sale in 2009.
While that’s bad news for new buyers, it’s great news for sports car fans on a budget as buying a 2009 example offers most of the features of a brand-new 370Z. It’s a squeeze to get one for under budget, but the most well-used examples can be found in the high $9,000 range.
2 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 – 382 HP
The first-generation CLS class is a powerful sports sedan that’s both practical and fast. With a 382hp V8, it’s sure to be enough for any driver to quench their thirst for speed, but also sensible enough to still haul a family in.
The cheapest CLS550s all sport a mileage over 150,000, so it’s definitely a good idea to check the service history of the car before buying it. A well-maintained example may cost a few thousand extra but can potentially save tens of thousands in future maintenance.
1 Maserati Quattroporte – 394 HP
Maserati’s Quattroporte, or “four-door” as it literally translates, is one of the longest-running nameplates of any European manufacturer. The first example rolled out the factory in 1963 and the car has been in constant production since then.
Examples around the 2008 model year are currently the cheapest on the market, with high-mileage cars sitting just under $10,000. It’s one of the most powerful cheap sports cars, with the Ferrari-developed engine pumping out 394hp. Be sure to leave some extra cash for maintenance though, as Maseratis have a reputation for frequently going wrong.
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