The first thing most people will think of when it comes to sports cars is reliability, or more specifically, their lack thereof. The next is practicality, but if you are willing to set that to one side and embrace a sports car as your second vehicle, all that remains is fun, driver engagement and horsepower, lots of horsepower. So what if it was possible to own, and run, a sports car on a budget you would usually allocate to a dull city car or the anti-sports car, otherwise known as the crossover.
Technically it is possible, but you will have to choose wisely, even if you do get one of the cars on this list that isn’t a sure thing, you need to make sure it has a maintenance record, or you might just end up with a project car which you may or may not want.
10 Chevrolet Corvette C4
Although when it came out it had ultra-modern styling, it actually also came with a very simple V8 engine.
Like anything out of the 80s the electronics that are there likely no longer work, but that V8 won’t let you down and even if you are not mechanically inclined, almost anyone will work on these engines.
9 Datsun 240Z, 260Z, 280Z
Prices have gone through the roof for these Japanese sports cars, but that is mostly just a nod to their incredible longevity. Note that the numbers in the car’s name simply indicates the engine size, which grew to meet emissions standards while still making respectable power.
One thing you do have to accept is the fact that all Japanese cars make use of thinner sheet metal, and these were made in a time before rust proofing was any good, so if you see rust then it might not be so indestructible.
8 Toyota Celica GT Four
So many people are getting excited about the Supra these days, the old Celica is largely forgotten, and that is a crying shame.
This was actually their sports car, the Supra was far more luxury oriented while this was a high performance all-wheel drive race machine. It is also, shock, horror, a Toyota, so no matter how much you abuse the thing it won’t let you down.
7 Ford Mustang 5.0
Nobody gives the fox body Mustang the time of day, but the fox body with the 5.0 liter V8 was actually a huge return to form after the dismal malaise era Mustang II.
It is also pretty easy to maintain and as long as you get a hold of one that hasn’t been in an accident or raced, you will have a fun, affordable car that has few rivals in terms of pure horsepower per dollar.
6 Porsche 911
After decades of refinement, Porsche had created the perfect everyday sports car by the mid- 1990s.
This “993” generation was the last to feature the iconic air-cooled engine, appealing to the purists for their durability and sound. But because of their desirability, they are indeed unreasonably expensive.
5 Honda/Acura NSX
Somehow Honda was able to transfer their bulletproof reliability into a sports car, the NSX. Marketed under the Acura brand in the U.S., the NSX used to be one of the most underrated sports cars, but that is no longer the case.
After decades of use, these sports cars have proven themselves by putting on hundreds of thousands of trouble free miles over the past couple decades.
4 Nissan Skyline R32 GTR
While its purported supercar slayer sibling, the 300ZX, was failing to deliver any form of mechanical or electrical reliability, the R32 just went about its business and dominated pretty much everything on road and track.
The RB26 inline-6 delivered incredible power and even though it looked more or less like any other coupe in Japan, it really could keep up with contemporary supercars. In the hands of tuners, they can make north of 1,000 horsepower.
3 Toyota Corolla AE86
A lot of noise is made about the Miata and how capable it is, in the real world the Miata is just a small car with a good power to weight ratio, and not much else really.
Toyota on the other hand took their front drive Corolla, gave it a rear drive layout, 50/50 weight distribution and one of the best DOHC engines to come from Japan. It is now recognized as the drift godfather and even if you punish these cars they remain perfect daily drivers.
2 Mercedes-Benz SLK 32 AMG
Although the 55 AMG has become pretty popular, that is basically just a German muscle car, not really a sports car at all.
The 32 is a far better overall package and actually punches well above its weight, it is also substantially more reliable and comparatively affordable.
1 Porsche Boxster
After enduring a horrible start to life in its first couple years with engine casting issues causing premature failures, Porsche had indeed worked out all the kinks by the mid-00s.
This second generation Boxster offers incredible value on the used market, both the 2.7 liter and 3.2 liter naturally aspirated engine options are pure flat-six joy.
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