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40 Affordable Sports Cars That Still Provide Thrills

Cameron EittreimOctober 15, 2019

The market for sports cars has changed a lot in the past 30 years. Cars have gotten more advanced and more powerful. The sports car used to be an elite group of vehicles reserved for the carefree young professional who wanted something a bit more fun. But the sports car has become more than just a weekend driver. In fact, many sports cars have developed a loyal following. From car clubs to dedicated discussion forums, there’s a whole world of cheap and affordable sports cars. The Mitsubishi Eclipse is one iconic, affordable sports car that comes to mind. Developed through a partnership with Chrysler and Mitsubishi, the Eclipse changed what defined a fun car.

Affordable sports cars have diminished somewhat in recent years. But there are still used variants that still offer a thrill to this day. Whether you want to drive up a twisty mountain road or you want to go to the race track, there’s an affordable sports car for you. Read on as we take a look at 40 of the most thrilling cheap sports cars that you can buy via Road And Track.

Saab 9-2X Aero
via: Saab

40: 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero

The Subaru Impreza was always a great compact car that was fun to drive. But during the mid-2000s, Saab teamed up with the Japanese automaker to dress things up a bit. The 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero is a fancier and more sporty version of the Subaru Impreza WRX. With the makings of a true Swedish road car, the 9-2X was available as a wagon or a sedan, intermingling everything that made the Impreza great. The styling is much more appealing as opposed to the bug-eyed design of the Subaru.

Saab 9-2X Aero
via: Saab

Because the Saab 9-2X Aero is a relatively unknown vehicle, resale prices have remained affordable. You can get a vehicle that is virtually identical to the Subaru counterpart, but often for a lot less money. The Saab 9-2X Aero is an often understated car that doesn’t have the reputation of the Impreza behind it, but if you can give up the Subaru mystique the 9-2X Aero can be a wonderful car.

Saab 9-3
via: Saab

39: Saab 9-3

We’re including another Saab on the list and here’s why. The Saab 9-3 was a breakout success for the company during its time on the market. The car was perhaps one of the best naturally aspirated sport sedans and convertibles on the market. There was also the turbocharged version of the car which offered an exceptional amount of performance. Saab has always been an elegant automaker and the 9-3 was an appealing sport sedan. The 9-3 was a stellar choice for a sport sedan with a rich leather interior and plenty of performance.

Saab 9-3
via: Saab

The reliability of the 9-3 is pretty good and the maintenance costs won’t be astronomical with this car. You can expect to spend a little bit more if you have the turbocharged version of the 9-3. The resale values on these cars have dripped dramatically which means that you can get a clean example for an affordable price. There have been quite a few fun compact sport sedans on the market, and the 9-3 is one of them.

Audi S4 B6
via: Audi

38: Audi S4 (Type B6/B7)

In addition to the Saab 9-3, the Audi S4 was another notable sport sedan of this generation. The car has an appealing exterior style that still looks great to this day. The car has a lot going for it. In addition to beautiful German styling, the car also has a stellar powerplant. Audi engineering is behind the S4 and the car drives like a dream. Even if you get the model produced from 2003-2005, the car is an exceptional value. As with any German performance car you are going to spend a fair amount of money keeping it healthy. But in the long run, the S4 provides a satisfying driving experience.

Audi S4 B6
via: Audi

If you are lucky enough to find a model that has the six-speed manual transmission coupled with the Quattro all-wheel-drive, you’ll be in for a treat. The Audi S4 is a car that needs no introduction, which provides a stellar amount of driving pleasure. Finding a fun sports car for a cheap price can seem daunting, but the Audi S4 is one of the best.

Toyota Corolla S
via: Car Domain

37: 2002 Corolla S

This is a car that you don’t see very often – the coveted 2002 Corolla S. Why is this car such a novelty in today’s world? Because the 2002 Corolla S was the last of the basic, stick-powered, peppy sedans. There’s nothing fancy about this car – no ground effects or spoilers here. But what you do get is a fun and lightweight ride that will take away the boredom from your commute. This generation of the Corolla was amazingly simple to work on and repair and the no-frills design keeps the cost low.

2002 Corolla S
via: Car Domain

The “S” models are becoming slightly harder to come by as time goes on. But unlike the Acura Integras and Civics of the world, these Corollas have been far less abused. The Corolla S in the first generation was a car that provided a good deal of value for the price. The resale value on these cars is still affordable and there is a vast array of aftermarket parts available that can enhance performance.

Omni GLHS
via: Car Domain

36: 1986 Dodge Omni GLHS

There’s no denying that Carroll Shelby had quite the influence on Chrysler corporation during the ’80s and ’90s. The Omni GLHS was evidence of that. The compact car on steroids was one of the first hot hatches to make its way onto the American market. When you looked at the average Dodge Omni, it was nothing more than a compact car. But the GLHS was a turbocharged beast that incorporated a lightweight design. The Shelby influenced exterior made for a stylish look at the time with factory alloy wheels.

Omni GLHS
via: Shelby

Because the Omni GLHS wasn’t produced in high numbers the car can be difficult to find. The performance of this compact car is much better then you’d expect. There was a fair amount of engineering that went into the design of the Omni GLHS, which made for a winning combination of performance and style. Other Shelby-influenced cars came later on down the road for Chrysler as well.

1984 Toyota Corolla SR5
via: Toyota

35: 1984 Toyota Corolla SR5

The 1980s gave way to some of the most fun to drive compact cars around. Dubbed the “son of Supra” the 1984 Toyota Corolla SR5 was a mixture of pleasant driving characteristics and value. The rear-wheel-drive layout propelled the 70-horsepower vehicle with authority and provided some exemplary handling. The 1.6-liter engine is synonymous with reliability, it has often been dubbed one of the best motors to come out of Japan. The styling was iconic for this period.

1984 Toyota Corolla SR5
via: Car Domain

The Corolla SR5 was the pinnacle of compact car design for the period. It was easy to maintain, cheap to own, and provided a level of driving that hadn’t been matched. To this day, the SR5 is still a highly sought-after compact car that you can get a lot of use out of. The Corolla name has evolved often and the SR5 is at the top of the food chain.

BMW 850CI
via: Car Domain

34: BMW 8-Series

If Beamers are your thing, then the BMW 8-Series is the perfect car for you. There was a point in time when this sports car was the top of the food chain. There was a V8 and V12 version of the car, both of which provided serious thrills. In addition to the performance of the car, you get a beautifully appointed interior with plenty of space. The sheer driving characteristics of the 8-Series made it a pleasurable car to drive on the road. BMW went all-out with the design of this big-bodied sports car.

BMW 850 CI
via: Car Domain

Although the fully loaded 8-Series with the V12 will set you back a pretty penny, it’ll cost far less for this classic beamer then it would for a modern-day supercar. If you are into saving money and want to enjoy a stellar driving experience you can’t go wrong with the BMW 8-Series. The car has a timeless design and a quality presence that make it a stellar choice for a sports car.

Toyota Celica Supra
via: Car Domain

33: 1983 Toyota Celica Supra GT-S

The Celica has always been one of the most popular sports cars on the market. But the 1980s were an especially unique time for the car as it was branded the “Supra.” The early 1983 Toyota Celica Supra GT-S is highly regarded in the tuner community for stellar handling and peppy engine. The car had a lot going for it and the design of the Celica Supra GT-S became iconic. This car still holds its value well today and the honest driving experience makes it highly desirable.

Toyota Supra
via: Car Domain

The performance of the Celica Supra GT-S makes this car very much worth considering. If you’re a fan of organic performance with a simple-to-drive design this is the sports car for you. Toyota did an excellent job of designing the Celica Supra GT-S with an appealing design that would withstand the test of time.

Hyundai Elantra GT
via: Car Domain

 

32: Hyundai Elantra GT

Hyundai has produced a few fun cars over the past few decades and the Elantra GT stands out from the pack. While the car is not as popular as the rival Honda Civic SI, it does offer some cool features. For starters, the 161 horsepower four-cylinder engine is powerful enough to make the driving experience fun. Fuel economy is still a strong suit fo the Elantra and if you spend a lot of time commuting the Elantra GT offers a great alternative. The design of the car is sporty and elegant, and the high-quality interior makes the Elantra GT an excellent choice.

Elantra
via Edmunds

Although a stick shift isn’t available, its six-speed automatic transmission does a great job of motivating the compact car. The standard Hyundai warranty is also an excellent feature of the car and one of the best warranties in the industry. Overall the Hyundai Elantra GT offers a stellar choice for a fun compact car. Hyundai quality has greatly improved over the past few decades, which makes this compact car even more appealing.

Buick Reatta
via: GM

31: Buick Reatta

This is a car that you don’t see very often. What made this car so unique besides the interesting exterior styling? Well, there were quite a few technological advances that made the Buick a unique sports car. The touchscreen navigation was one of the most unique advancements in a vehicle at this time. Aside from all of the new technology features, the car also has the bulletproof GM 3.8-liter V-6. In addition to the performance advancements of the car, there was also a very rare convertible version.

Buick Reatta
via: Buick

Because this car was produced in such small numbers finding one in great condition can be a real accomplishment. The car has all of the makings of a future classic and you’d be wise to snatch one of these up before the value skyrockets. The design of the Buick Reatta was pioneering at a time when GM was innovative. When you think about a unique compact sports car, the Buick Reatta is well worth consideration.

Chrysler Crossfire
via: Chrysler

30: Chrysler Crossfire

When you consider a unique sports car from the new millennium the Chrysler Crossfire was a unique option. The car had a lot of one-of-a-kind features that made it more unique than anything else on the market at the time. These ranged from the automated spoiler to the platform that was based on the Mercedes SLK. The Crossfire is a stellar sports car in more ways than one and if you can find one in clean condition you’ll be in for a bargain. There was also the limited SRT-6 edition of the car which was produced in very limited numbers.

Crossfire SRT-6
via: Chrysler

There were a lot of detractors toward the Chrysler Crossfire but the car also had a lot of exceptional features to it. The Crossfire has a unique style that still hasn’t been matched by a modern sports car. The unique styling of the Crossfire helps it to stand out from a crowded sea of similar sports cars. Chrysler worked to make the Crossfire a unique entry that was different than the previous Prowler.

Dodge Avenger
via: Car Domain

29: Dodge Avenger (1995-2000)

The often understated Dodge Avenger from the ’90s was one of the best sport sedans you could get. The wedge-shaped design was sharp and very forward-thinking at this transformational time in the automotive industry. The Avenger was built on the same platform as the Mitsubishi Eclipse, but it was stretched out for a much more comfortable design. The more powerful Chrysler based V6 engine also helped things out a bit and to differentiate the car from its Japanese cousin.

Dodge Avenger
via: Car Domain

The R/T version which was extremely rare was striking in the red Dodge color combination. The car has such a timeless design that it still looks good to this day. The Mitsubishi and Chrysler partnership at the time spurred some cool sets of wheels. The Avenger is one car that managed to etch itself into the fabric of the ’90s car culture. If you want an affordable used sport coupe that still provides a fun driving experience you can’t go wrong with the Avenger.

Shelby CSX
via: Car Domain

28: Shelby CSX

Another product of the Shelby/Chrysler partnership was the Shelby CSX. The car had a lot going for it at a time when the company was still branching out. At this point, the V8 muscle car market was a dying beast, and as such the company looked toward smaller displacement for exciting driving experiences. The Shelby CSX was based on the Dodge Shadow and the design was lightweight and fun to drive. Naturally, Carroll Shelby had to approve of the car and he did a lot to enhance the design.

Shelby CSX
via: Hagerty

Aside from the usual Shelby enhancements, the car also had a demeanor of fun to it. The Shelby CSX was every bit a better car then the Shadow in which it was based. The automotive media also had a field day with the Shelby CSX. The car was fun to drive and increasingly popular when you compared it to other vehicles on the market. Dodge did everything right with the Shelby CSX and this car is still a fun ride to this day.

Ford Escort EXP
via: Car Domain

27: Ford Escort EXP

Check out this rare relic of the 1980s. This sports coupe was based on the mundane Escort that we all remember our parents owning. The design was stretched out and the car provides a serious bit of excitement. In addition to the design theme that was behind the car, Ford also bolstered the factory performance. The 120-hp EXP Turbo Coupe is a rarity in today’s automotive world but if you can get your hands on one you are in for some fun. This general design was similar to that of the Mustang SVO. Ford managed to get its Turbo game going in the right direction at this period.

Ford Escort EXP
via: Car Domain

Although the Escort EXP didn’t live on past the 1988 model year, the car still has a lot of fun features to it. There is a good deal of impressive turbo-powered Ford from this period but the Escort EXP is among one of the best. The car has everything going for it and you can find these for a relatively affordable price tag. Nevermind the fact that the interior quality was lackluster during this generation of the Escort because an Escort EXP is a fun driving ride.

Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
via: Ford

26: Ford Thunderbird S/C

Few cars have incited as much consumer interest as the Ford Thunderbird S/C. The car was released at a time when Americans were looking for innovative and new driving experiences. The Thunderbird was not your average two-door in that it was much more comfortable than a Mustang or Camaro could ever hope of being. In addition to a powerful turbocharged engine, the Thunderbird S/C also had a massive trunk. The platform that the Ford Thunderbird S/C is based on makes for the perfect starter car. It’s a fun car and safe, not to mention the rarity factor.

Ford Thunderbird S/C
via: Ford

The Ford Thunderbird S/C is sure to be an instant classic as consumers shift to the next generation of collectible cars. The final years for the Ford Thunderbird S/C are among the rarest because you get to experience the updated exterior and interior design. The car is still an attractive choice to this day, and if you don’t want to go for the S/C the regular Thunderbirds also came with the optional Mustang V8 engine.

Mitsubishi 3000GT via Motor Junkie
Mitsubishi 3000GT via Motor Junkie

25. Mitsubishi 3000GT

This one should be a no brainer. The 3000GT is the Supra that nearly everyone can afford. A twin-turbo powered beast, the 3000GT offers an exhilarating driving experience. In terms of comfort and features, the 3000GT featured a plush leather interior with options such as heated seating. Opt for a later model and you can get the rare hardtop convertible version. The VR4 is the performance-minded version. Even in today’s day and age, you’ll pay a pretty penny for one. The 3000GT is special in that it looks like nothing else on the road.

The 3000GT never got the credit it deserved and is often overlooked for the Toyota Supra. But if you want affordable turbo power that’s fun to drive and reliable, the 3000GT is your car. The resale value on these vehicles has remained affordable, which means that you can find a low mileage model for under $5000. In a world where cars are fast becoming as expensive as a new home, that’s welcome news to driving enthusiasts.

Audi TT Coupe Via Motor Junkie
Audi TT Coupe via Motor Junkie

24. Audi TT

Volkswagen is a company that owns Porsche, Audi, and a bevy of other brands. The vehicle models often share components. The Audi TT is a marriage of Porsche technology and proven Volkswagen refinement. Just take a look at the TT and you’ll know that the car is special. It’s been in production for 20 years and it still looks great. The TT came in a coupe and convertible version, both of which have a fully functional backseat. The turbocharged engine provides all the power you need in a car this light.

Audi TT RS

Where the TT shines is the Quattro variation, which is the Audi all-wheel-drive system. The car grips the road like it was meant for it, and this is what drivers enjoy most. No matter if you get a current-generation TT or a used model, they all look the same. The timeless style has worked for the brand over the last 20 years, helping the TT to remain an icon of the new millennium. The styling is reminiscent of the Porsche Boxster, and that’s ok with us. You can still find a TT in reasonable shape for under $10,000.

Nissan 300ZX via Motor Junkie
Nissan 300ZX via Motor Junkie

23. Nissan 300ZX

Another legend of the 90s that’s often overlooked is the 300ZX. The coupe is turbocharged just like the 3000GT, and it’s also available in a 2+2 configuration. When it was new, the 300ZX competed with the Supra and the 3000GT for sports car dominance. This generation of the 300ZX is often overlooked and slept on. That’s just fine for buyers who are looking for cheap thrills because a turbo-charged 300ZX offers an unlimited amount of fun. The interior is still refined to this day, as Nissan used quality materials and comfortable seating. There’s also a convertible version of the 300ZX, which is quite rare.

Nissan 300ZX
via: Nissan

The 90s were a rough time for Nissan as a brand, but the 300ZX is still a diamond in the rough. Nissan has had a long storied history in the world of performance, and the 300ZX lives up to the hype. The understated car provides a fun driving experience all these years later, and the engine is one of the most reliable that Nissan has ever made. A reasonable 300ZX with low mileage can be had for less than $5000. For that price, you get an exceptional car. The values of the 300ZX are only going to rise as time goes on, so there’s never been a better time to get one.

Fiat 500 Abarth via Motor Junkie
Fiat 500 Abarth via Motor Junkie

22. Fiat 500 Abarth

Fiat came back to the US market with a bang, offering stylish city cars with spunk. You might not think of the tiny Fiat 500 as a sports car, but you’re in for a surprise. The Abarth edition was a car that never really got enough attention, partially because of the popularity of crossover vehicles at the time of its release. But for the price of admission, the Fiat 500 Abarth provides an exceptional Italian driving experience. The turbocharged engine provides quick response and acceleration, only amplified by the lightweight design of the vehicle. We have to admit that we were surprised by the Abarth, as even today the car remains fun to drive.

2020-fiat-500x
via: Fiat

Sure, the Abarth is tiny and cramped inside, but the driving experience is second to none. Not to mention the thing is a blast to drive even in an urban setting. Another benefit of the Fiat 500 Abarth is how easy it is to park. If you work in an urban setting this is a huge plus. The Abarth offers up some cheap thrills and a reasonably comfortable ride. If you have always wanted an affordable sports car with Italian styling, the Fiat 500 Abarth is a special car with a lot of value.

Pontiac Solstice via Motor Junkie
Pontiac Solstice via Motor Junkie

21. Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky

The Solstice/Sky combo doesn’t get the recognition these two affordable roadsters deserve. During the early 2000s, GM was hard at work on a new platform for their passenger cars, and the Solstice was one of the first recipients. The company was looking to take some of the steam from the popular Miata by offering an affordable alternative. The Solstice is a stylish and equally fun-to-drive convertible that can be had for thousands less than a new car. The interior was upmarket for a Pontiac in this period, which was a pleasant surprise to customers looking for something different.

Pontiac Solstice
via: Autoweek

Some of the unique features included a power convertible top as well as OnStar navigation. The Solstice also came available in a GXP package which included a chrome grille and alloy rims, giving the car an aggressive Pontiac look. These convertibles are often found on dealership lots for a very reasonable price, and many consumers were not even aware that this car existed. This exceptional roadster hit the market during the economic downturn. As such the appetite for a sporty roadster just wasn’t there. If you want a fun driving experience that still looks great on the cheap, the Solstice is a winner.

Acura Integra via Motor Junkie
Acura Integra via Motor Junkie

20. Acura Integra

During the 90s, there was a fun-to-drive a compact car that became an icon in the tuner community, and it wasn’t the Eclipse. The Integra was a compact sports car from Acura and it included one of the most functional interiors that you could get. In addition to the great interior and standard options, the Integra had a rev-happy engine that made the car fun to drive and offered a plethora of low-end torque. In the long run, the Integra still offers exceptional performance coupled with great gas mileage.

2001-Acura-Integra
via: Acura

Acura owners were treated to exceptional performance even in the later years of the Integra. The Type-R was a standout choice, available in bright yellow paint. Finding a Type-R with low mileage for a cheap price might be difficult. But finding a standard Integra for a cheap price is not as hard as you might think. The car still provides an intrinsic value on the used sports car market with an easy-to-drive design that still manages to look great to this day.

Pontiac GTO via GM
Pontiac GTO via GM

19. Pontiac GTO

During the early 2000s, GM was at a crossroads. The Camaro had ended production and the company needed a pony car. The Pontiac brand was given the GTO as a new contender against the Mustang. The GTO was universally panned for its exterior appearance and lackluster handling. Many automotive enthusiasts felt the GTO was too heavy and the styling was a bit too round for most shoppers. But the GTO had an LS-powered engine that gave it a serious amount of horsepower, and this was and is still a major selling point.

Pontiac GTO
via: GM

You can find a GTO on the used car market for a very reasonable price and it comes with Corvette power. The GTO went on with minimal updates for a few years. The later LS power plant featured increased horsepower, as well as an included Borla exhaust system. Most GTOs that are on the used car market has low mileage, and that makes for a stellar used muscle car. This generation of the GTO provides exceptional power and performance for a groundbreaking price point.

Ford Fiesta via Motor Trend
Ford Fiesta via Motor Trend

18. Ford Fiesta ST

Hot hatches have been in the automotive industry since the original Golf GTI hit the market during the 80s. In today’s car market, powerful hatchbacks are few and far in between, but the Fiesta is one of them. The Fiesta ST was released to provide Ford showrooms with an affordable entry into the SVT performance division. The Fiesta ST is a powerful little hatchback that comes with a turbocharged engine and a good deal of features.

Fiesta ST
via: Ford

The ST has likable performance but keeps the same economical gas mileage that you’d expect. In addition to stellar gas mileage, the ST also offered an upmarket interior from the standard Fiesta. If you don’t want to go for a used sports car from the 90s, the Fiesta is a winning combination of fun and fury. You get the benefit of a brand new car and the benefits a hatchback has to offer.

Mercedes SLK
via: Car Domain

17. Mercedes SLK-320

The Mercedes SLK-320 is perhaps one of the best midrange roadsters that you can get. The iconic design was lightweight and offered a lot of performance for the price. In addition to that, the Mercedes brand name has a level of quality to it that you’d expect out of a car like this. The performance of the SLK-320 gives it a stellar amount of road manners and driving etiquette. The interior was high quality and the retractable top provided an awesome experience that most cars in this price range couldn’t provide.

SLK
via: Car Domain

In the used car market the pricing for these vehicles has gone down dramatically. You can expect to get one for a bargain and it will come with a plethora of luxury features. In addition to that, there was a special supercharged edition that provided even better performance for the price. There are also some pretty unique exterior colors that came with the SLK which made it stand out from the crowd.

Subaru BRZ via Motor Junkie
Subaru BRZ via Motor Junkie

16. Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ

When Toyota left the sports car market, there was a void that was left with shoppers. Toyota had been a staple of cheap sports cars for decades. The Celica and Supra both had loyal followings. The Scion FR-S was developed in conjunction with Subaru and was designed to be sold alongside the TC sports coupe. The FR-S is a great car in many aspects including its rear-wheel-drive design. Coupled with a lightweight body and stellar handling, you get one of the best sport compacts on the market.

Subaru BRZ
via: Subaru

The Scion FR-S has seen a lot of road time since its debut, even participating in many professional drifting competitions. The car has become a hit with Toyota loyalists, becoming the unofficial next-generation Supra in a way. If you want an affordable sports car that drives like something that costs thousands more, the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ combo is an excellent choice.

BMW Z3 via Motor Junkie
BMW Z3 via Motor Junkie

15. BMW Z3 Coupe

The BMW brand of the 90s was a daring one, to say the least, and the cars that came out were excellent. We say this with the wonderful Z3 on our minds. The Z3 coupe is perhaps one of the rarest and fun to look at cars you’ve ever seen. The convertible was a notable seller for BMW, offering a quality roadster that would take twists and turns like a true tourer. Luxury car shoppers enjoyed the Z3 because of the bulletproof BMW reliability. Used car shoppers appreciate the intrinsic value the Z3 brings to the table.

Nissan Z32
via: Nissan

For just a few thousand, you can get a Z3 that’s in great condition and offers a superior ride quality to many new cars on the market. The base model that comes with the V6 engine offers silky-smooth performance and German driving characteristics that make the car a pleasure to drive and own. The Z3, for what it’s worth, is one of the most well put together roadsters on the market. If you are lucky enough to find a coupe version, you’re in for something special. We think the Z3 is hands down one of the best values in the affordable sports car world.

Corvette Z06 GT1 Via Motor Trend
Corvette Z06 GT1 Via Motor Trend

14. Chevrolet Corvette

When it comes to iconic sports cars, the Corvette name pops up first. The car was designed to take twists and turns with ease and provide enough horsepower to make your heart skip a beat. The Corvette is indeed America’s original sports car, so naturally, finding a used one is a treat. C4 Corvettes have gone down dramatically in price, and even a relatively good condition C5 will only cost you a couple thousand. For that small price, you get one of the most well-designed V8 engines on the planet and a car that commands attention no matter how old it is.

chevrolet_corvette_zr1_224
via: GM

The C4 Corvettes introduced the world to the infamous GM digital dashboard as well as the first fuel-injected LT1 engines. Another great thing about the C4 is that the interior is livable with comfortable leather seating. Corvette owners take pride in their vehicles, which means a used Corvette has generally been maintained very well. If you have to get a used sports car, the Corvette should be on the top of your list.

Ford Mustang GT via Motor Trend
Ford Mustang GT via Motor Trend

13. Ford Mustang

The Mustang is the car that’s responsible for starting the pony car revolution that we see today. You’re looking at the very first car that strapped a V8 engine onto a lightweight design and sold it to the masses. There’s a Mustang for just about every budget, and resale value on these cars remains fair. You can find a 90s Mustang GT for a very reasonable price, oftentimes with a clean interior and engine. If work is needed, the Mustang is one of the most affordable cars on the road to fix thanks to a huge catalog of parts available.

via: Ford

One of the things that you’ll want to look out for with the Mustang are ripped seats. This happens quite frequently in Mustangs with leather interiors. Generally speaking, Mustang owners maintain their cars pretty well. But every so often you’ll find that one Mustang that’s a diamond in the rough. Still, with the standard V8 engine and a little bit of work, the Mustang provides cheap thrills that offer boatloads of driving pleasure. The Mustang has a huge following and there are countless car shows and events that you’ll be able to attend.

WRX via Motor Trend
WRX via Motor Trend

12. Subaru WRX

There’s one obvious choice on this list that requires no introduction, and that’s the WRX. The Subaru has a fun-to-drive demeanor and a boxer engine that gives it some of the best performance in the category. You can find an early 2000s WRX for a very reasonable price. You get a car that can handle just about anything. The all-wheel-drive system means that you can have fun even in the snow, and the bulletproof engine is one of the best to come out of Japan. Opt for the WRX STI edition and you’ll get a huge spoiler with a boatload of personality that makes the car stand out.

Subaru Impreza WRX STI
via: Subaru

The WRX is much like the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO. In fact, the two cars compete with each other for sports car dominance. If you want a cheap sports car that’s practical, the WRX is it. You get a functional backseat wrapped in a two-door design coupled with the safety of knowing you have an all-wheel-drive system at your disposal. There’s also quite a large catalog of aftermarket parts for this car as well, making it a suitable option for most driving enthusiasts.

Honda S2000 via Motor Junkie
Honda S2000 via Motor Junkie

11. Honda S2000

Honda is not known for throwing their hat into sports car racing very often. The brand has dominance on the F1 racing circuit as well as in moto-racing. But on the consumer side, Honda is known as a sensible carmaker that specializes in building reliable vehicles that will last for a long time and hold their value. So when the brand introduced the S2000, the automotive press was arguably excited. The S2000 was a step in a new direction for Honda. They had some success with the Prelude and the Civic Si, but the S2000 was their first dedicated roadster to hit the market.

honda_s2000
via: Honda

The S2000 is a great deal as a used sports car. You get one of the best engines and drivetrains in a modern Honda vehicle. Another cool thing about the S2000 was the paint scheme, there were a plethora of different colors to choose from. When you talk about a Japanese sports coupe that has the personality the S2000 has it. You can get your hands on a used S2000 for a very reasonable price, and these cars were generally well taken care of.

Mazda Miata via Motor Junkie
Mazda Miata via Motor Junkie

10. Mazda Miata

The Miata is a bit of an iconic vehicle. We’re sure you’ve seen one on a road near you at some point in time. Mazda was in a bad position during the 90s. Their cars weren’t selling and the brand was plagued by quality issues. Somehow the Miata came onto the scene and changed all that. It was the first lightweight Japanese convertible that was fun to drive. The Miata has sold like hotcakes over the three decades it has been on the market. The beauty of the Miata is the simplicity of the car. The no-frills design makes the car a lightweight companion you can take just about anywhere.

via: Mazda

Miata owners are quick to point out all of the positives that come with owning one of these gems. In addition to a lightweight design, you get a functional interior, and there are a plethora of accessories for the Miata. Add a little bit of spunk to the Miata engine and you’ll have a subtle sports car that can handle its own on the road or the track. The resale value on the Miata is excellent and the car is very affordable. You can get a fairly new Miata for a great price and you’ll get to experience all that the unique car has to offer.

BMW M3 via Motor Junkie
BMW M3 via Motor Junkie

9. BMW E36 M3

The mid-90s BMWs don’t get enough love in our eyes. The decade was defined by new hip-hop music and a new president who got in a bit of trouble. But the cars were also becoming much more advanced, and the E36 generation of the 3-Series is worth noting. The M3 of this generation is perhaps the most affordable model on the market. Older M3s are rising in value and newer models are still expensive. But this go-between model is just affordable enough that even the casual owner can get their hands on one. The E36 M3 has a rev-happy motor and a gear banging transmission that feels more like a racecar than anything.

via: Sports Car Market

The resale value on the BMW E36 M3 is still very reasonable, but you can be assured that the value of these things is going to go up. The M3 is a winner in most aspects in terms of acceleration and overall design. The E36 M3 was only available in a sedan configuration, much like the C-Class AMG that was also a popular choice during the nineties. For the features and the price tag, the E36 M3 is an exceptional deal in a sports sedan.

Bmw M3 via Motor Junkie
Bmw M3 via Motor Junkie

8. BMW M3 (E46)

The middle generation BMWs are still highly sought-after and yet oddly affordable. Thus, choosing an E46 M3 can also be a very rewarding experience if you’re looking for performance on a budget. The straight-six engine is one of the best in a modern car. It’s known for having stellar reliability as well as outstanding performance, which is why the price for these M3 models has remained stagnant. The E46 has one of the most refined interiors in terms of quality and driver comfort, and the ride quality isn’t bad either.

e36 M3
via: BMW

M3 models come with the optional alloy rims in addition to a supercharged motor. The entire package is very appealing to anyone who wants a sports car on a budget. Optional features include a navigation system. If you’re looking for a stellar sports car that drives like a dream, it might be worth it to seek out an E46 BMW. For the price, you get one of the most well-built sports sedans on the market, as well as the prestige of owning an M3.

Mazda RX8 via Motor Junkie
Mazda RX8 via Motor Junkie

7. Mazda RX-8

When the RX-8 was introduced to the world, the automotive press felt like it was the successor to the RX-7 of the 90s. The car blended some pretty cool functionality that made it stand out from other vehicles on the market. The coupe has two hidden passenger doors which allow access to the backseat, meaning the RX-8 is the most functional sports car on the market. If that’s not enough to sell you on it, the RX-8 was also the last vehicle in America to be sold with a rotary engine. So in addition to being a practical coupe, the RX-8 also has a very rare engine that gives it an exceptional amount of power.

Rx-8
via: Mazda

In terms refinement and quality, the RX-8 is a stellar vehicle that offers a lot to be desired. When you think of signature Japanese sport coupes, the RX-8 is a rare blend of functionality and exceptional design. You can still find an RX-8 on the used market for a very reasonable price and with low mileage. The final years of the RX-8 were the rarest because production was slimming down. But if you’re lucky enough to find one of the final few you’ll have a stellar sports car for a great price.

Mazda RX7 via Motor Junkie
Mazda RX7 via Motor Junkie

6. Mazda RX-7

When it comes to groundbreaking design, the original Mazda RX-7 pushed the envelope of what an import sports car could be. The first-generation RX-7 was lightweight and featured a rotary engine with a stylish design. The car was an instant hit with shoppers who wanted fuel-efficient fun. The gas crisis was among us and large V8-powered sports cars were coming out of favor, so the RX-7 became an instant hit. The rotary engine is among one the most reliable in the automotive industry. There is no timing chain or pistons to rotate, which means that the engine needs very minimal work.

Mazda RX-7
via: Mazda

The RX-7 was very simplistic in terms of interior design, but the car’s lightweight attributes more than made up for this. Mazda was sure to add lots of innovative features such as a removable top and there was even a rare convertible version of the original RX-7. The car overall has an eighties design, but it still works for it to this day. From the pop-up headlights to the signature rotary exhaust note the RX-7 is still a car that’s fun to drive to this day. If you don’t mind something a bit older, the RX-7 is a winning combination of style and design.

Eclipse via Motor Junkie
Eclipse via Motor Junkie

5. Mitsubishi Eclipse

There was a car that was made during the 90s and 2000s that was a blast to drive and cheap to own. This car was known as the Eclipse. Built in conjunction with Chrysler, the Eclipse featured a standard turbocharged engine and an optional all-wheel-drive system. When it comes to fun sports cars, the Eclipse provides an astronomical amount of value for the money. These cars have a livable interior, often with leather seating. The Spyder model has an electric convertible top, and there was also an option for a sunroof.

Mitsubishi Eclipse
via: Mitsubishi

The Eclipse will go down as one of the most iconic sports cars to hit the market. It introduced the world to affordable power wrapped in a stylish package. Used car shoppers who are looking for a fun and cheap sports car will find solace in the Eclipse. You can find one for a great price too, which is what most shoppers are looking for.

Nissan 350Z via Motor Junkie
Nissan 350Z via Motor Junkie

4. Nissan 350Z

The 350Z is an iconic sports car that returned to the Nissan lineup in 2002. What made the car unique was the fastback styling and the signature exhaust note. The car also shares its platform with the Infiniti G35, and both cars offer a unique sports car style. The coupe was only available in a two-seat configuration, but it more than made up for in terms of style and functionality. Later years introduced the world to the Nismo package, which included upgraded wheels and a supercharged engine.

350Z
via: Nissan

It should also be noted that the 350Z came in a roadster package as well. The roadster was known for its unique style and higher price tag. If you’ve been looking for a cheap sports car that’s equally fun to drive, the 350Z is it. You can find one for well under $5000. For that price, you’re getting one of the best sports cars of the last decade.

Toyota MR2 via Motor Junkie
Toyota MR2 via Motor Junkie

3. Toyota MR2

While Toyota has never had what’s deemed as a supercar, there is one mid-engined car that’s pretty close. The MR2 was a compact mid-engined car that was sold by Toyota in one form or another for decades. The unique design made the MR2 a blast to drive in just about any setting. MR2s were only available in a two-seat configuration. The final generation of the MR2 was only sold in a convertible format. The final result was a car that drives extremely well on twisty roads and has a wonderful amount of standard features.

Toyota_mr2_spyder
via: Toyota

If you’ve been looking for a sports car that’s fun to drive and cheap, the MR2 is worth seeking out. You can still find an MR2 for a great price, especially if you’re looking to get a modern variation such as the 2000-to-2008 models. The MR2 is fun and affordable, which makes it our number three pick for a cheap sports car.

Dodge Neon SRT-4 via Motor Junkie
Dodge Neon SRT-4 via Motor Junkie

2. Dodge Neon SRT-4

The 2000s were a good decade for affordable sports cars, and the Neon was a surprise entrant into the fray. The SRT-4 was a turbocharged variation of the standard Dodge Neon model. The car came in two color combinations and had one of the fastest acceleration times of its generation. The SRT-4 is a fun compact car. It offers some of the best performance you can get for the price. The interior is an upgrade over the standard Neon, incorporating racing seats as well as a navigation system.

via: Mopar

When it comes to finding an affordable sports car that will give you jaw-dropping performance, the SRT-4 is it. You can still find these on the market with very low mileage and the SRT-4 still commands respect on the race track. When it comes to an iconic car that defined a generation, the SRT-4 was it.

Eagle Talon via Motor Junkie
Eagle Talon via Motor Junkie

1. Eagle Talon

Perhaps the most fun to drive the compact car to come out of the nineties is the Eagle Talon. The Talon had a Turbo-charged engine and an all-wheel-drive design that made it exceptionally effective on the race track. Notable features in the Talon included leather-appointed seating and a disc-changer. The model didn’t come in a Spyder version like the Eclipse. The Talon was only made until the 1998 model year, at which point the Eagle brand was dissolved. But still, for the price, the Talon is one of the most fun sports cars you could buy.

Eagle Talon
via: Car and Driver

Talon buyers are greeted by a plethora of options. These options include an upmarket interior and one of the best performance engines on the market. Talon prices have remained steady over the last decade. These cars still have a loyal following, and it remains a popular choice for a used sports car. If you want an affordable option for a cheap sports car, the Talon is one of the best choices.

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