10 Best Used Performance Cars For Budget-Minded Car Enthusiasts

10 Best Used Performance Cars For Budget-Minded Car Enthusiasts

For car enthusiasts, cars are everything, and regardless of which ones they like – whether it be JDM, muscle, European or off-roading, to name a few – they all have an ongoing interest to build their collections.

However, most enthusiasts are not multi-millionaires who can buy any car they want (looking at you Shmee150) – and when they do have the money to spend on a car, they will have to be conscious of their budget. This is especially true when choosing sports cars, which tend to cost an arm and a leg new, and many used sports cars won’t be on the reliable side. Examples of these types of cars include Alfa Romeos, BMWs, and some Japanese sports cars.

So, while sports cars are great, they will probably remain on most enthusiasts’ ‘one-day’ list. As an alternative, here is a list of sports cars that won’t break the bank but are still exciting enough to quell the unending thirst every motoring enthusiast feels.

10 2010 Ford Mustang GT

The fifth-generation Ford Mustang was one of the most popular versions of the legendary pony car to date. In production between 2005 and 2014, the S-197 Mustang sold nearly 850,000 units during its production run. The S-197 was updated to the S-197-II in 2010 as part of the mid-cycle refresh.

The Mustang was available with V6 and V8 engine choices, ranging from a 3.7-liter V6 in the base model to a supercharged 5.8-liter in the GT500. The most popular option was the GT, which, in 2010, was fitted with a 4.6-liter V8 with 315 hp. The Mustang GT is a great option and a brilliant entry into the muscle car world.

Related: These Are 10 Of The Sickest Ford Mustangs We’ve Ever Seen

9 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Like the current Mustang, the Camaro has morphed more into a sports car than a proper muscle car. This was not the case with the previous generations of Camaro. The fifth-gen Camaro was a popular car within the North American market and was reintroduced as a completely new car in 2009 after a 6-year hiatus.

The popularity of the Camaro has increased thanks to the first Transformers movie, in which Bumblebee took on the disguise of a yellow Camaro SS. The 2011 Camaro was available with a V6 or, in the SS, a 6.2-liter V8 with 426 hp. The Camaro SS was the go-to choice for many and as such is the more readily available model on the used market.

8 2010 Nissan 370Z

The Nissan 370Z was produced between 2009 and 2020. It was fitted with a brilliant 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V6, which produced around 330 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The 370Z was available with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic transmission.

The 370Z was essentially an upgraded and updated version of the previous generation 350Z – just with better styling, handling, and interior. The 370Z has massive tuning potential, with the engine easily being able to handle forced induction in the form of superchargers and turbos. It is a great way to get into the magnificent world of Japanese cars.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Every Gearhead Should Drive A Nissan 370Z

7 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T

The Dodge Challenger is the only member of the US muscle cars club to still be a proper muscle car. While the current lineup includes a V6 and could be optioned with all-wheel drive, the slightly older Challengers had a more old-school feel to them.

The range back then is much the same as it is currently, bar the Hellcat. The best value for money model is the Challenger R/T, which is fitted with a 375 hp 5.7-liter HEMI V8. The R/T was available with a choice of a 5-speed automatic, or 6-speed manual transmission, with the V8 featuring cylinder deactivation technology for improved fuel economy.

6 2002 BMW 330Ci

While this is not a sports car design-wise, the BMW E46 330Ci coupe is one of the best ways to have sports-car fun in a luxury sport coupe. The top-spec M3 is a bit on the expensive side, but the 330Ci offers all the luxuries one would need. The 330Ci was fitted with a 3.0-liter straight-6 which produced 225 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque. The engine was mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic.

For the North American market (the US and Canada), the 330i sedan and 330Ci coupe could be optioned with the ZHP package, which added sportier camshafts, better-tuned suspension, a heavy-duty steering rack, and a lowered ride height. These modifications boosted power to 235 hp and resulted in a 0-60 mph time of just 5.6 seconds.

Related: Here’s How The BMW E46 Compares To Other Generations

5 2019 Toyota GT86

Toyota collaborated with Subaru to create a small, sporty, and exciting coupe that was not expensive to buy, run or maintain. The result was the Toyota GT86 (Scion FR-S in the US market) and Subaru BRZ. The FR-S was discontinued along with the entire Scion brand in 2016 but continued as the Toyota 86 in the US.

The GT86 was fitted with a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated boxer-4, which produced 200 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque, going to the rear wheels only via either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. The engine was borrowed from Subaru, while Toyota did most of the engineering to make it work in the car. It is a fantastic car which can give much more expensive cars a run for their money in terms of enjoyment.

4 2013 Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Golf GTI is the king of the hot hatch segment. Since its introduction in 1976 (in Europe), the Golf GTI has set the standard for all other hot hatches to follow. While many hot hatches are faster than the GTI, it still has the perfect blend of sportiness, practicality, and everyday usability – a combination that many rivals lack.

The Mk6 Golf GTI took the success of the Mk5 and built upon it to make another great hot hatch. The Mk6 GTI was fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, which produced 205 hp going to the front wheels only via either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed DSG automatic. The Mk6 Golf celebrated its 35th anniversary, so VW created the GTI Edition 35, which had power boosted to 235 hp.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Every Gearhead Should Drive A Volkswagen Golf GTI

3 2002 Honda S2000

The Honda S2000 is one of the best compact roadsters ever made. It was fitted with a 2.0-liter inline-4 – later a 2.2-liter – which produced 240 hp and 157 lb-ft of torque. The engine was designed for high rpm running, so the pre-refreshed S2000 could rev to an astonishing 8,800 rpm. This was reduced to 8,000 rpm in the refreshed version due to the larger displacement.

Today, the Honda S2000 is a sought-after Japanese sports car, and it has become increasingly difficult to find ones that are not modified. Still, most owners limit their modifications to the cosmetics or suspension and exhaust, which largely results in a better car anyway.

2 2011 Audi S4

The Audi A4 B8 is one of the best generations of A4 to come out of Stuttgart. The only big blemish on the A4 B8’s report card was the Multitronic transmission – which caused many, many problems. Luckily Audi replaced it with their much better S-Tronic 8-speed in 2014. The best A4 in the range was without a doubt the RS4 Avant, which had a glorious 4.2-liter V8, but that car may be a bit outside many enthusiasts’ budgets.

A cheaper alternative would be the S4, which was fitted with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6. It produced 100 hp less than the RS4, but many speculated that the engine could easily produce upwards of 400 hp without any hardware modifications – just a simple remap of the ECU. This modification resulted in an S4 which is only around a 10th of a second slower to 60 mph than an RS4. Not bad performance for a relatively cheap car.

1 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP

The Pontiac Solstice was a sporty convertible roadster built by GM before they discontinued the whole brand. It was fitted with a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated inline-4 and was a fun car. Still, GM decided to spice things up it up a bit with the addition of a higher-performance version so they added in the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four from the Chevrolet Cobalt SS and called the new car the GXP.

This meant an impressive power output of 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, but as with the Cobalt SS, a dealership power upgrade was available, which boosted power to 290 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque. The Solstice could be specified with either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Solstice GXP is a great sports car with enough power to satisfy the thirst of any motoring enthusiast on a budget.

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