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Go Fast on a Budget: 20 of the Best Cars with 300 HP or More for Under $10K

Vukasin HerbezMarch 10, 2019

What should you do if you have an irresistible need for speed but you can’t afford one of those new, expensive machines with high horsepower ratings? The answer is to look for an alternative on the used-car market. If you don’t check the classified ads every now and then, you will be amazed by how much car you can get for $10,000.

With just a simple search, you will see it is possible to find some interesting machines with 300 HP or more on tap for around 10 grand. Read on to learn about the 20 best cars with 300 HP you can find for $10,000. The reason for the 300 HP rating is that it will provide you with plenty of driving excitement and performance in any car.

From executive sedans and muscle cars to GT coupes, you will find them all. Of course, if 300 HP is not enough for you, these cars could be the perfect platform for building the ultimate street rod of your choice.

  1. Audi S4 B6

Audi fans have always considered the Audi S4 a special car in the compact performance sedan class. Not only did it feature powerful engines and elegant styling, but it also had the famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system as standard. Introduced in 2003 and sold through 2005, the B6 generation of the S4 was a highly praised and quite accomplished car.

Under the hood was the 4.2-liter V8 with 340 HP which sounded great and revved all the way up to 7,000 rpm. The performance was equally impressive with 0 to 60 mph in just five seconds. Although they electronically limited it, its top speed was 155 mph.

  1. Mercedes S600

You probably didn’t know this, but you can own a V12, 6.0-liter, top of the line Mercedes S-Class for around $10,000. And if that sounds tempting, you bet it is. The Mercedes S600 in question was the W220 model, which they produced from 1999 to 2005. Interestingly, it was the biggest and most powerful factory-offered model.

Under the hood is a 6.0-liter V12 engine that delivers 391 HP. It is capable of propelling this big and heavy sedan to a 5.5 second 0 to 60 mph time. Even though it is electronically limited, it has a top speed of 155 mph. But, if you remove the limiter, it could reach 190 mph, which is insane for a car this big and luxurious.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro Z28

The third generation F-Body was a GM favorite muscle car offering from the early ‘90s. And it remained popular until 2003 when they discontinued the Camaro and its twin brother, the Pontiac Firebird. Chevy presented the Z28 Camaro in 1996. It featured a powerful 5.7-liter V8 producing 325 HP. And that was enough to launch it from 0 to 60 mph in just over five seconds, propelling it to 160 mph top speeds.

The third generation Camaro was a fairly simple car that was easy to maintain and work on. It featured a live rear axle, strong gearbox, and tough chassis. Basically, this was the perfect modern muscle car since it is tough and durable. Yet, it is reasonably fast with a big aftermarket offering of spare parts and go-fast components.

  1. Cadillac CTS-V

All CTS-V models are factory hot rods Cadillac offers with lots of power and brutal performances. However, only one generation is available for around 10 grand, and that is the first one they produced from 2004 until 2007.

The power comes from the LS V8 engine that pumps out 400 HP. Better still, they mated it to a six-speed manual transmission. And that combo is good enough for a sub-five second 0 to 60 mph time, which is more than enough for any speed freak.

  1. Chrysler 300C SRT-8

The Chrysler 300 C is an interesting car. It is one of the last, if not the last true American, boxy looking sedans with big V8 power and a chrome grille. Also, it’s a successful model that’s been on the market for over 15 years. A competitor to the BMW M5 or Mercedes E-Class AMG, the SRT-8 was a performance version of the 300C sedan.

Chrysler equipped the SRT-8 with a 6.1-liter V8 Hemi engine pumping out 425 HP. With a glorious soundtrack through the twin tailpipes, the SRT-8 was a fast, capable sedan. In fact, a 0 to 60 mph sprint took around 4.9 seconds and the top speed was over 170 mph.

  1. Chevrolet Corvette C5

The fifth generation of Chevrolet`s sports car, the Corvette was introduced in 1996 and stayed on the market until 2005, selling in big numbers and becoming a popular choice of sports car fans all over the world. The layout of this car is very competent and you will get a 350 HP 5.7-liter V8 in the front, gearbox and rear suspension together (transaxle system), which gives the C5 perfect weight distribution for sharp handling and all of that topped with the lightweight and aerodynamically efficient body.

  1. Ford Mustang GT

The word was stunned when Ford revealed the fifth generation Mustang in late 2004 as a 2005 model. The retro-futuristic design was perfect for the times. Not only did it capture the essence of the legendary first generation, but it also presented an elegant, sporty shape which is still modern, even 15 years after the unveiling.

With a 4.6-liter 300 HP V8 engine at first and a 5.0-liter 425HP V8 engine from the 2011 to 2014 model years, the GT was a capable car with exceptionally good road manners.

  1. Mercedes E55 AMG

In 1998, AMG released the ultimate version of a standard E-Class in the form of the E55 AMG. From the outside, the E55 AMG looked like any other E-Class with just minimal changes. But underneath the body, there was a 5.4-liter supercharged beast just waiting to be released.

With 349 HP and 391 lb-ft of torque, the E55 AMG could accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 5.4 seconds. And that was late ‘90s Porsche Turbo territory.

  1. Jaguar XJR

If you are a sucker for the everlasting Jaguar XJR style and looks, you will be pleased to know you can pick up one of those beautiful but problematic machines for under $10,000. Jaguar presented the XJR in 1998 and discontinued it in 2002.

This generation of the Jaguar XJR featured a supercharged version of their venerable 4.0-liter V8 engine. It powered the rear wheels through an automatic transmission, delivering 375 HP.

  1. Pontiac GTO

Produced for just three model years, from 2004 to 2006, the last GTO is a true performance bargain. Under the hood is an LS1 5.7-liter V8 that provides 350 HP. The GTO provides enough performance to be one of the hottest American cars for the 2004 model year.

The 2005 model year saw the introduction of the 400 HP 6.2-liter engine and even better performance of 0 to 60 mph times of just 4.6 seconds. But even that didn’t help, so by late 2006, Pontiac discontinued the GTO.

  1. Audi RS6

The first RS model that came to the U.S. was the 2003 Audi RS6 Sedan. It introduced the RS performance and philosophy to the American market in a perfect manner. The RS6 was 450 HP strong with a twin turbo.

A super sedan with unmistakable style, it provides a brutal performance and unbelievable handling thanks to its signature Quattro all-wheel drive train. The Audi RS6 cost around $85,000 when they first released it. But today, you can find it for exactly 10 percent of the original price.

  1. Dodge Charger R/T

The new Charger R/T sedan debuted in 2005 as a true American four-door with a rear wheel drive platform and optional AWD. Dodge provided a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine as the top engine choice. It had an aggressive muscular design that reminded the buyers of the Charger heritage and history.

And immediately, it was a fantastic success since it combined modern technology with retro styling and Hemi power. With 360 HP under the hood and the R/T package, this car is an affordable muscle sedan that delivers a respectable performance with easy maintenance.

  1. Hyundai Genesis Coupe

When Hyundai debuted it in 2010, the Genesis Coupe was a stylish and powerful entry-level sports car. Hyundai designed it to battle the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. It had a cool design and a rear-wheel-drive layout. Its top of the line engine choice was a 3.8-liter V6, which you could get with a 306 or 346 HP rating.

Despite its power and good looks, the Genesis Coupe couldn’t match the appeal of the Mustang or Camaro, so it wasn’t a big sales success. But this makes it an affordable and interesting proposition if you want 300 HP for an affordable price.

  1. Pontiac Grand Prix GXP

Despite the name, most people don’t consider the Pontiac Grand Prix to be a performance car. In fact, by the early 2000s, it was just an ordinary GM sedan. However, when Pontiac unveiled their GXP package, suddenly the front wheel drive Grand Prix was a hot performance car.

The GXP package consisted of 5.3-liter V8 sending 303 HP to the front axle. Also, it had an updated suspension and gearbox. The transformed this family sedan into a highway missile. For sure, the GM engineers invested a lot of time to make this front wheel drive car perform and handle like a European performance sedan.

  1. BMW 550i E60

The BMW M5 is the perfect performance sedan, but it doesn’t fit this list since there isn’t a good example at the price range of $10,000. However, the next best thing is the E60 550i with 380 HP from its V8 engine in either an automatic or manual. Whatever version you find, you will get a perfectly balanced chassis, a powerful engine, and a luxurious interior.

In fact, the 550i E60 is a highway cruiser that produces north of 300 HP for less than 10 grand, which is the deal of a lifetime. Just bear in mind that the maintenance can be costly.

  1. Nissan 350Z

Available as a coupe or a roadster, the Nissan 350Z is a sports car legend in an affordable package. The handsome front-engine rear-wheel drive car has a potent V6 engine and limited slip differential as standard equipment. This feature makes it safe to drive hard and also makes it a favorite drift car.

And don’t forget the enormous aftermarket support for this model. It means you can easily tune and customize your car. Best of all, under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 with 300 HP that delivers a respectable performance.

  1. Mercedes CLS 550

This gorgeous four-door coupe was one of the most radical Mercedes sedans they ever built. It captivated the public’s imagination with elegant styling, a luxurious interior, and powerful engines. For example, the 2008 CLS 550 came with a V8 engine and 382 HP that provided a sports car-like performance.

The base price for this car was close to $70,000 just 10 years ago. But now you can find them for less than $10,000 due to the magic of depreciation and its notoriously expensive maintenance.

  1. Jaguar XF Supercharged

For just $10,000 you can buy a 420 HP, supercharger 10-year old Jaguar. This statement is exciting and yet frightening at the same time. First, having a blisteringly fast 4.2-liter V8 powered Jaguar is exciting. But owning 10-year old luxury sedan that is in need of painstaking, expensive maintenance is also scary. However, the choice is yours. So, are you brave enough?

  1. Volvo S60 R

If you are looking for a stealth super-sedan with all-wheel drive, a 300 HP engine and great performance for a bargain price, the Volvo S60 R is for you. The mid-2000s S60 Rs are budget-friendly, too.

And better yet, it packs its turbocharged five-cylinder engine with exactly 300 HP. This makes those cars eligible for this list, and their prices are well below the 10-grand limit.

  1. Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Porsche unveiled the Cayenne Turbo in the early 2000s. However, the Cayenne Turbo may have offended a lot of brand purists since it was an SUV. But it also brought much to the segment in terms of driving dynamics, performance and prestige. It was a proper Porsche with a 450 HP engine providing capable handling.

Also, it had plenty of interior space. But, even though it is Porsche Turbo, it doesn’t drive like one because it is still just an SUV, despite the fact it produces 450 HP.

This list showed you how to go fast on a budget with the 20 best cars with 300 HP or more for under 10k. Did you choose your favorite? If you did, you’d better hurry up before they become rarer and far more pricey.

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