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40 Long-Lost Sports Cars That Can Still Provide Thrills

Cameron EittreimJune 30, 2020

Nissan 300ZX
via: Motor Trend

22: Nissan 300ZX

For those of us who want a Toyota Supra but can’t afford it, there’s the 300ZX. This grand tourer uses the same 2+2 layout coupled with a twin-turbo powered engine. But you end up paying thousands less for the comparable 300ZX. The car is still beautiful to look at to this day, and there was a rare convertible version. In the more generic trim level, the 300ZX was also available with T-Tops, which made for a nice open-air feeling. The leather-appointed interior is still comfortable to this day.

300zx
via: Motor Trend

The 300ZX was released at a time when Nissan was in financial trouble. The car was the pinnacle of design at a period when consumers tended to overlook it. You can find these cars in wonderful shape for a little bit of nothing. With a great catalog of accessories, you can make the 300ZX a pretty twin-turbo powered sweet ride.

2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP. (X08PN_ST006) (United States)
via: Motor Trend

21: Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky

Released on the heels of one of the worst recessions in US history, the Solstice/Sky never really stood a chance. But if you’ve always liked the idea of an open-air roadster, this car is perfect for you. The design was ahead of its time for GM with smooth sloping lines and unique features. The interior was and still is one of the more upmarket designs to come out of a domestic-powered roadster. The factory power plant was easy to work on, coupled with a manual transmission.

Pontiac Solstice
via: Autowise

Owning a roadster might not seem practical for most, but if you want a fun-to-drive weekend car, you can’t go wrong with either. The resale value of these two roadsters is almost nonexistent, which means that you can snatch them up for cheap. Repair costs are low and replacement parts are extremely easy to come by thanks to GM part sharing.

Porsche 944
via: Motor Trend

20: Porsche 944

Released at a time when Porsche was in a transitional phase, the 944 is in a league of its own. This Porsche is not like the usual variations with rear-engined design. Instead, the 944 was a front-engined Porsche with a hatchback and a backseat. It was everything you wanted and pretty much nothing you needed. Still, the 944 has been developing a loyal following in the afterlife with a ton of aftermarket accessories available.

Porsche 944
via: Motor Trend

The V8 version is fun to modify and make into a road car, while the turbocharged four-cylinder variation is also popular. The 944 is cheap to maintain and parts are easy to come by because these were sold for decades. You could find a variant of the 944 into the 1990s, which gives buyers a wide spectrum of model years to play around with.

Pontiac GTO
via: Motor Trend

19: Pontiac GTO

Released shortly on the heels of the F-Body’s demise during the early 2000s, the GTO was a departure for the Pontiac brand in a lot of ways. This car might have been ahead of its time because during release it was panned for its size. But nowadays sports cars like the Dodge Challenger are equally as large and selling well. While the design might have been a bit bland at the time, you can’t go wrong with LS2 and LS3 power. Standard features like the factory Borla exhaust were welcome additions.

Pontiac GTO
via: Motor Trend

The Pontiac GTO had a relatively short run when you compare it to other sports cars on the market. But, for the features and the price tag you can’t go wrong. The GTO is one of the last real V8 powered Pontiac models to be on the market. The design of the car was critically panned but the performance was something that still stands strong to this day.

Chrysler Crossfire SRT6
via: Motor Trend

18: Chrysler Crossfire

The Crossfire was more of a Frankenstein experiment than an actual production sports car, which might be why very few people realize that it exists. It was and still is a great overall sports car. The Crossfire was a much better attempt at a sports car then the Prowler that came before it. The car had unique features such as a retractable spoiler and a coveted SRT model.

Crossfire
via: Motor Trend

If you can get over the fact that the car has a rather round design, you’ll be in for a great sports car. The Crossfire didn’t sell very well, and as such these vehicles are rare. But the value also hasn’t held up well which means you can get a Crossfire for next to nothing.

Z3
via: Motor Trend

17: BMW Z3

The Z3 is one of the smallest BMWs to hit the road, and the Z3 coupe is even more unique-looking. Intelligent design coupled with a naturally aspirated motor makes the Z3 a lethal combination of fun and practicality. Drivers have options like the Mazda Miata but the Z3 is a whole different level of fun. BMW prides itself on creating the ultimate driving machine, and the Z3 could be construed as just that.

Z3
via: Motor Trend

When you think of what a sports car should be, the Z3 is the epiphany of that. The stellar driving characteristics give the car a hands-on feeling. Whereas many other sports cars in this price range disappoint, the Z3 absolutely does not. With the prices on these cars remaining fairly reasonable, you can find an excellent Z3 that will be easy to modify.

Corvette ZR-1 Via Motor Trend
Corvette ZR-1 Via Motor Trend

16: Chevrolet Corvette

The Corvette is one of the most iconic sports cars ever made and also one of the fastest. While a new Corvette can be quite expensive, a used model is affordable. The C5 is one of the best-used sports cars drivers can get. The modern design still looks beautiful to this day. The LS1 engine is perhaps the top-performing V8 engine in the last decade.

2004 Z06 Via Car And Driver
via: Motor Trend

The performance of the C5 isn’t the only thing that makes it great with the plethora of accessories available. There were various models of the C5 including the Z06 and ZR1 models. If you’re lucky enough you can even get your hands on a special Pace Car edition. If you want a cheap sports car that performs just as good as a new one, the C5 Corvette is worth looking into.

3000GT
via: Mitsubishi

15: Mitsubishi 3000GT

The Mitsubishi 3000GT is one of the most underrated sports cars on the market. Its twin-turbo power and optional AWD setup are exceptional. The 3000GT was never sold in high volumes, but there is a loyal following for this car. There was a rare convertible version which is also very hard to come by. The performance of this car is exceptional and parts are not expensive to replace.

3000GT VR4
via: Mitsubishi

The 3000GT does not disappoint in terms of performance or resale value. There’s a strong community of enthusiasts behind this car. The Mitsubishi 3000GT was a more racing-inspired offering than the Dodge Stealth it shares sheet metal with, which is why many collectors tend to go for the 3000GT. If you’re very lucky you can get your hands on the coveted VR-4 model.

Ford Focus SVT

14: Ford Focus SVT

The Focus was, at one point in time, one of the best-selling compact cars. Although consumer interest has shifted toward crossovers, the Focus SVT is still a great deal. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to get your hands on a Focus SVT, then you know. Long before the SRT-4 and other hot hatches, there was the Focus, and this special-edition car was featured in magazines and video games.

Ford Focus SVT

The Focus SVT featured a factory turbocharged engine. The compact was available in a four-door hatchback as well as a two-door model. The SVT is perhaps one of the rarest Fords on the road today, and clean examples are becoming hard to come by. For the features and the price, the Focus SVT is a stellar choice.

Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4
via: Edmunds

13: Volkswagen Golf GTI MK4

The GTI MK4 is one of the most fun-to-drive vehicles you can find. A turbocharged engine coupled with a luxurious interior for a compact car makes for a winning combination of comfort. The GTI is known to grip the road like you’d expect from a German sports car. A lot of the engineering you’ll find under the hood of the GTI is also used on Audi models. This means you are getting a sports car that is comparable to a TT for a lot less money.

Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4
via: Edmunds

Reliability on the GTI isn’t bad either and it’s pretty easy to work on and repair. As the car was updated through the generation, repairs became more tedious. But the MK4 is perhaps one of the most well-rounded generations of the car you can get. A lot of the underpinnings are also shared with the New Beetle and the Jetta.

Subaru Impreza WRX STI
via: Motor Trend

12: Subaru WRX

Similar to the Saab the Subaru shares its sheet metal with, the WRX is the more popular of the two cars and the go-to car for tuners. The WRX has a famous boxer engine coupled with an intercooled turbocharger. The overall design of the WRX has remained very similar for decades. The winning formula is its lightweight design. Interior-wise, you get a barebones basic car, but the performance more then makes up for the shortcomings.

WRX
via: Edmunds

Nowadays, it can seem difficult to find a truly clean example of a WRX. Part of the reason for this is that most of these cars have been heavily modified and driven hard. But if you’re lucky enough to find a gently-used WRX, you’ll be in for a winning driving experience. The car has some of the best driving characteristics of any car on the road, and that’s partly why it’s a popular choice.

S2000
via: Motor Trend

11: Honda S2000

Honda isn’t the first name you think of when it comes to sports cars. But the brand has quite the presence on the F1 circuit. The S2000 was a “halo” car designed to offer Honda buyers something truly unique. Think of the S2000 as a Honda version of the Mazda Miata. A lot of the car’s characteristics are the same as the Mazda variant.

S2000
via: Motor Trend

The S2000 was sold in some bright color choices and the car had a lot to offer. Its quick acceleration and acceptable performance made the S2000 a solid choice. Prices on these cars have remained steady and you can generally find one that hasn’t been abused. The overall look and feel of the car are unlike anything else you’ll drive.

Mazda Protege 3
via: Car Gurus

10: 2003 MazdaSpeed Protege

Another limited-edition car that made its way onto the market was the 2003 MazdaSpeed Protege. You might think of the Protege as the cheap compact sold by Mazda for a decade, but there was also a performance version. The 2003 MazdaSpeed Protege was released at the peak of compact performance. Its competition was the Neon SRT-4 and the Focus SVT. What this car brought to the table was a fun performance, attractive looks, and a cheap price tag.

Mazda Protege
via: Car Gurus

With Mazda engineering behind it, you knew you were in for a fun time, and the 2003 MazdaSpeed Protege delivered. There was a wagon version of this car that’s also good looking and performs nicely. The Protege is an often overlooked model which means you can usually find a reasonable deal on one.

2003 Toyota Celica GT-S.
via: Edmunds

9: Toyota Celica

The final generation of the Celica was released at the onset of the new millennium. The car had a radical new design for Toyota, who was trying to attract younger buyers. The performance of the Celica is not anything to be excited about. But the overall design of the car makes it an appealing choice for anyone who wants an attractive sports car. Although Toyota didn’t put a lot of effort into the performance of the Celica, the design is still very handsome.

Celica
via: Edmunds

You could say that the Celica was a bit ahead of its time. The Celica is one of the most underrated sports cars that you can get. It was always sold by Toyota, but during the later years, it never garnered much attention. Still, for a stylish, modern-looking sports car that you can get for a little bit of nothing. The Celica is a great choice for an inexpensive sports car with plenty of room to build upon.

edmunds
via: Edmunds

8: Mazda Miata

The Mazda Miata is one of the best-selling roadsters of all-time. And with good reason, as it’s fun to drive and cheap to own. The Miata is not a powerhouse by any means, but what it offers is a lightweight design with a short wheelbase. This is the reason that Mazda has stuck to the same formula for over 30 years now. You can find a Miata in just about every price range, and parts are fairly affordable.

Mazda Miata
via: Mazda

The Miata is a car that’s cheap to own and thrilling to drive. Some later models incorporated a good deal of luxury features. It’s the earliest models that were known for providing cheap thrills to anyone on a budget.

Monte Carlo
via: Edmunds

7: Monte Carlo SS

This variation of the Monte Carlo hit the market right on the heels of one of the worst recessions in history. So naturally, buyers were too thrilled about buying a V8-powered luxury coupe. But you can find this generation of the Monte Carlo for almost nothing. It has a potent small block V8 under the hood. A lot of people don’t realize this was quite the performance vehicle for a short period that it was produced.

Monte Carlo
via: Edmunds

The Monte Carlo has always been more of a sleeper than you’d expect. The interior was upgraded dramatically for this redesign and the engine is reliable. If you love the sound of a chunky V8 engine, the Monte Carlo SS might be the perfect choice for a weekend sports car.

CTS-V
via: GM

6: Cadillac CTS-V

GM decided to cram a Corvette engine and a six-speed manual transmission into this otherwise calm sedan. What you got was a fire-breathing car. The CTS-V in the first generation has gone down in price quite a bit. You can find one in decent condition for a low price tag. Yet you still get Corvette power and a decent array of luxury features.

CTS
via: Edmunds

The CTS-V was only offered in a few color combinations, and you’ll want to find one that hasn’t been modified. Of course, tastfullyy-done modifications are fine, but you just don’t want to get one that has been raced and beaten up.

2009 Pontiac G8 GXP. X09PN_G8023 (United States)
via: GM

5: Pontiac G8

This was the final hurrah for the Pontiac brand before GM pulled the plug. We had a lot of good things to say about the G8, and there’s a good reason for that. The Pontiac G8 was one of the best rear-wheel-drive sports sedans. And it’s a shame the car didn’t get to live for that long. With a powerful LS series V8 and a ton of horsepower, the Pontiac G8 will tear up just about any pavement you want it to.

Pontiac G8
via: Edmunds

If you’re looking for a sports sedan that’s a departure from the ordinary, this is it. The Pontiac G8 is a stellar mixture of performance and power. Plus this was the last Pontiac model ever made. This means that at some point, these G8s are going to be worth a lot of money.

Chevy SS Sedan
via: GM authority

4: Chevy SS

The successor to the Pontiac G8 was another short-lived performance sedan. While the Chevy SS was almost a clone of the Pontiac G8, it had a lot going for it as well. For one, the bowtie boys got a true successor to the Impala SS of the 1990s. With a good amount of power under the hood, the Chevy SS is a winner in more ways than one.

Chevy SS
via: Edmunds

The Chevy SS looks a lot like many other Chevy sedans that have hit the market as of late. But if you can get past the rather bland looks, the Chevy SS is a winner in more ways than one. The sedan had the perfect blend of performance and features, not to mention clearance prices toward the end of production.

Chevy SSR
via: Edmunds

3: Chevy SSR

The Chevy SSR was one of the most unique sports cars of the last two decades. The look was designed to be a modern rendition of the classic El Camino. The performance of the SSR was top-notch when you compared it to other halo cars at the time such as the Prowler. The SSR has a functional truck bed and the SSR was also a convertible, which made it even cooler.

Chevy SSR
via: Wikipedia

The prices for these cars have remained somewhat steady, and this is partly due to its unique look. The SSR is going to be a collector’s item for many years to come. The car just has so much style that you can’t go wrong.

SC400
via: Club Lexus

2: Lexus SC400

When Lexus hit the market in 1989, it introduced some of the best-designed luxury vehicles on the market. To this date, the Lexus brand has been the only Japanese competitor to give German luxury car makers a run for their money. The SC400 is a great car with a silky smooth V8 engine.

SC400
via: Lexus

The rear-wheel-drive design is not lacking power at all, and you’ll notice the car has a wonderful interior design as well. Even with high mileage, these cars are extremely reliable, which is a great thing for anyone who’s looking for a reasonably-priced sports coupe. There was also a V6 variant of the SC known as the SC300, which is a Toyota Supra.

Acura Legend
via: Car Domain

1: Acura Legend

The Acura Legend is another underrated sports car that needs no introduction. The luxurious design and large interior volume of the two-door model make it a great choice. The V6 engine is more than powerful enough for most. The Legend had a lot of innovative features like vacuum-sealed doors, which made it a great choice.

Acura Legend
via: Autophllac

The Legend was discontinued in favor of the CL, but you can still find great deals on these cars. The Legend is fairly reliable and parts are pretty cheap to get replaced. If you want a fun car that’s also comfortable you can’t go wrong with the Legend. The car has a lot going for it and there’s a substantial network of enthusiasts around.

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