Home Cars Nostalgic Sports Cars That Are Somehow Inexpensive Today

Nostalgic Sports Cars That Are Somehow Inexpensive Today

Cameron Eittreim September 29, 2021

The sports car segment was once the most popular in the auto industry. But with a changing focus toward crossovers, the appetite for sports cars has seemingly dwindled overnight. What the decreased taste in sports cars has done for the segment is reduce demand and resale values. We looked back at nostalgic sports cars that are inexpensive today. You might remember these sports cars for their iconic design and performance.

The quintessential sports car is something sleek and fun to drive. But there are many aspects that make a sports car truly unique. A sports car should feel exciting every time you drive it, even if it’s not the first time. The sports cars in this list are nostalgic for not only their performance, but also for what’s represented from that era.

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25: Audi S8

Audi is one of the first automakers that comes to mind with performance. The S8 released in the ’90s was the pinnacle of German performance. The precision build quality and powerful 4.2 liter V8 were the perfect combination of style and substance. Audi put a lot of effort into the design of the S8 because of competition from Mercedes and BMW. The full-size luxury sedan market had also become crowded with offerings from Lexus (via Cars Guide).

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The lowered stance of the S8 gave it an aggressive look coupled with its premium alloy wheels. Its 0-60 time was among the best for a sedan in the large segment. Interior volume was also massive in the Audi S8. Even by today’s standards, a clean S8 is considered a serious bargain. The build quality and ingenuity that went into the S8 are among the best in the automotive industry.

Photo Credit: AG Fans

24: Audi RS 2 Avant

Another popular Audi model from the 1990s is the RS 2 Avant. If you’re familiar with Audi, you’ll recognize the Avant name. The Turbo Inline-5 engine is one of the most precisely built engines in the world. Yes, maintenance will be expensive but the experience is worth it. The styling of the wagon makes the Avant a practical car for a family or single driver (via Top Gear).

Photo Credit: AG Fans

Even by today’s standards, there’s still a lot of bang for the buck with the Avant. The engineering is top-notch, and you can feel the quality driving experience behind the wheel. Its interior space is enormous, and the aftermarket community for the RS 2 is different. No matter if you are familiar with the Audi universe or new to it, the RS 2 Avant is worth considering.

Photo Credit: Auto Spot

23: SL 60 AMG

Perhaps the best thing about the luxury car market is the depreciation. It’s not a great thing when you are a seller, but it’s excellent if you are a buyer. Mercedes-Benz models tend to depreciate rather quickly, as is the case with the SL 60 AMG. You can find one of these for next to nothing and the performance is phenomenal. The 6.0L V8 engine runs smooth as silk as you take the SL 60 down winding roads (via Car and Driver).

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The interior had a blend of early technology and luxury features. Many of which have become commonplace in today’s automotive market. There is a solid foundation for modification that the SL 60 AMG provides drivers. The aftermarket enthusiast community for these cars is also different, and there’s a wealth of knowledge to be had.

Photo Credit: Auto Spot

22: Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

Another well-rounded car from the 1990s is the E55 AMG. The E-Class is the middle ground between the C-Class and the S-Class. The subtle blend of luxury and performance is a pleasant departure from the ultra-expensive cars of the past. The E55 AMG has experienced quite a lot of depreciation over the years, so finding one is easy. For the features you get, the E55 AMG is a tough bargain to turn down (via Motor Trend).

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The 5.4L V8 engine performs admirably and is much better than you’d expect. The design of the E55 and its styling is classic and yet modern. If interior comfort is an auto goal you’re looking for, the E55 AMG delivers. But ultimately, the main selling point of this Benz is the performance you’ll get from the factory for the price.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

21: BMW (E36)

The E36 needs no introduction, as it is the most recognizable M3 around. The engineering that went into the E36 alone makes it an important catch. You don’t have to plunk down a ton of cash on an actual M3 model. The E36 came in various trim levels, and the performance was naturally aspirated. The resale value for the E36 is almost zero and you can find one for almost nothing. This is because there is a lot of maintenance that goes into keeping the E36 on the road (via A Better BMW).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

If you are willing to put the work in the E36, it can be one of the most rewarding cars you’ll ever drive. The E36 has many modern luxury features that you’d expect in today’s vehicles. There’s no doubt that BMW was ahead of the curve, and that’s why the E36 was so popular. You can find one of these cars for a low price and the performance is gratifying.

Photo Credit: R&T

20: Volvo 850 T-5R

Surprisingly enough, the Volvo brand has had its fair share of performance cars over the years. One of the most notable Volvo performance cars among enthusiasts is the T-5R. Known affectionately as the “brick”, the 850 T-5R is a turbocharged fun fare. The box-shaped Volvo had an inline five-cylinder engine that was turbocharged (via Reviewary).

Photo Credit: R&T

On top of being one of the most fun-to-drive Volvo models, the T-5R is also the rarest. The off-the-line acceleration is unlike anything else in a Volvo. The interior is luxurious, and an optional five-speed is worth seeking out. The boxy exterior shape isn’t the most attractive, but the Volvo 850 T-5R is highly desirable.

BMW 850CSi
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19: BMW 850 CSi

The BMW 850 CSI is a notable sports car that has recently come back into favor. Late rapper Easy E had a pearl white model. The performance of the 5.6 L S70 V12 is still unmatched to this day. There are very few cars that can compete with the 850 CSi on a naturally aspirated performance. The resale value on these BMWs has deteriorated due to various electrical problems (via Motor Trend).

BMW 850 CI
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If you’re willing to put up with some maintenance issues, the BMW 8-Series is an excellent choice. The car has styling that still looks good today, not to mention it is rare. There are very few BMW cars that have the reputation that the 850 CSi does. This is a true driver’s car if there ever was one.

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18: VW Mk3 Golf VR6

Honda gets the credit for creating the hot hatch craze with the CRX, but the Golf VR6 took it to the next level. What happens when you take Audi engineering and cram it into a compact package? Well, you get the Golf VR6, a unique blend of performance and handling. Volkswagen knows how to market a compact, and the Golf has a lot going for it (via Which Car).

Photo Credit: VW

The MK3 is sort of the forgotten generation of the Golf. This was during the time when Volkswagen was in deep financial trouble. The brand had to rebound somehow, and that rebound would happen later on with the New Beetle. But in the meantime, the Golf VR6 was a welcomed addition to the lineup, and it offered a lot.

Photo Credit: BMW

17: BMW M Coupe

Based on the wonderful Z3 sports car, the M Coupe is an evolution. The hatchback design and the short wheelbase made it drive amazingly. The 3.2 liter DOHC Inline 6 has been among the best of any BMW engine in the past. The M coupe was released in low production numbers, and most of the car is similar to the Z3 (via Auto Trader).

Photo Credit: BMW

The unique hatchback style is unlike any other BMW you’ve ever seen. The resale value on the M Coupe isn’t too high, which is a good thing. You can seldom find one with low mileage that was taken care of. The ride is quintessential BMW, and there is an abundant aftermarket community for the M Coupe.

Photo Credit: Streetside Classics

16: Porsche Boxster

The Porsche Boxster was released during the 1990s Renaissance for the Porsche brand. The modern styling and lightweight design made it a smash hit. The Boxster uses a 2.5 L flat-6, which is one of the best engines to come out from Porsche. The overall design of the entire car is still among the best to this day. There are ample amounts of modifications that you can do to the Boxster to make it modern (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Streetside Classics

The prices have depreciated so much that you can get a used Boxster for next to nothing. You will have to put up with the usual Porsche repair issues, but that’s a small price to pay for an excellent sports car. The Boxster is one of the most iconic Porsche models of the last decade.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

15: Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

The SN-95 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra is one of the most affordable Cobra models you can get. The styling leaves a lot to be desired, but this is indeed a fixed Mustang. The performance is far above anything you can get in this price range. The replacement parts are abundant for this Mustang model, which is a good thing. The Mustang has evolved a lot over the past few decades into a modern sports car (via Mustang Specs).

Photo Credit: Mustang Specs

When it comes to a modern interior, the SN-95 was the first modern Mustang. The curvaceous exterior and interior were a departure for Ford. The styling for the Mustang from this era isn’t as extreme as the GM F-Body cars from the same period. The SVT Cobra is a memorable Mustang model that offers a lot of bang for the buck.

Photo Credit: Curbside Classic

14: Lexus SC400

The Lexus SC400 was the first V8-powered sports car with a Lexus badge. The build quality of the Lexus SC400 is above the rest when it comes to quality. The interior materials were top-notch, and riding in the SC400 still feels like a million bucks today. The V8 engine that came with this car was bulletproof, and the quality was at the top of its class (via Lextreme).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The V8 engine performs well, and repairs are minimal, to say the least. Lexus cars are always known for their high-quality design. The SC400 is based on the Toyota Supra, so it’s only natural that the car drives well for its age. There are a few notable sports cars from this era, and the SC400 is one of them.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

13: Nissan 300ZX

The Nissan 300ZX is the twin-turbo-powered Nissan sports car of the 1990s. The design was fairly straightforward at the time. The styling won’t win any contests, but the 300ZX is a handsome car nonetheless. Available in a T-Top or convertible, the 300ZX has performances that rival the Toyota Supra. The interior is luxurious with leather seating and a plethora of options (via Car Gurus).

Nissan 300ZX via Motor Junkie
Photo Credit: Motor Junkie

The off-the-line performance of the twin-turbo engine is still exhilarating today. The cost of a 300 ZX is much cheaper than a comparable Supra. The convertible version is rare and pleasant to say the least. The 300 ZX is sure to be a collector’s item as time goes on, so there has never been a better chance to snag one.

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12: Chevrolet Corvette C4

Perhaps one of the most iconic sports cars to grace the world, the C4 Corvette is vastly underrated. The design of the C4 influenced the Corvette for many generations after. The LT1 V8 engine performs exceptionally to this day. The classic design of the C4 is attractive and the car is lightweight. There are many resources available for the LT1 V8 engine. Many replacement parts are compatible with other Chevy’s (via Auto List).

Photo Credit: GM

A Corvette C4 with low mileage won’t set you back more than $10,000, a stellar deal when you consider the C4 a supercar. The interior is nothing striking, but the rest of the car more than makes up for the shortcoming. There are a few cars that perform like a C4 Corvette in this price range.

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11: Mitsubishi 3000 GT

The Mitsubishi 3000GT is one of the best sports cars in the decade. The twin-turbo-powered beast of a car offers stellar performance. Perhaps the best thing about the 3000GT is the price. You can find one of these for a very low price. The fairly unknown car has a great deal of comfort and convenience built right in. There was even a rare convertible model of the 3000GT that is seldom witnessed (via Cars.com).

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The 3000GT had a lot going for it, and as a used sports car it is a lot. You can’t find twin-turbo power for this kind of price tag. With a little work, the 3000GT can be transformed into a loyal and capable sports car. The beautiful and unique exterior styling is something you’ll seldom find.

Photo Credit: Audi Data

10: VW Corrado

Volkswagen is a brand with its share of unique vehicles. But when it comes to performance, Volkswagen isn’t a brand that comes directly to mind. That changed with the Corrado, which was a rear-wheel drive sports car. The performance of the Corrado was unmatched for the time period. But Volkswagen was in serious financial straights, and the Corrado didn’t resonate with buyers (via Honest John).

Photo Credit: Audi Data

Nowadays, you can find a Corrado for a reasonable price tag. The design of the car appeals to many buyer types. The Corrado has a lot of potential thanks to its unique design and German engineering. With the hatchback design, the Corrado isn’t your average sports car by any stretch of the word.

Honda Prelude
Photo Credit: Honda

9: Honda Prelude

The Honda Prelude was a popular model in the Honda lineup for decades. The design hasn’t changed much over time. But for the price, you can’t beat a car like the Prelude. The naturally aspirated motor propels the Prelude with ease. The unique design of the car still has a roomy interior, which is different from a sports car (via Car & Driver).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The design of the Prelude was inimitable and much different than many other cars from this era. The reliability and engineering that went into the Prelude made the car stand out from the crowd. To this day, the Prelude is incomparable, and you can find one for a reasonable price tag. With a little work, the Prelude can be one of the best driving used cars on the road.

Dodge Stealth
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8: Dodge Stealth R/T

Surprisingly enough Dodge had a winner on their hands in the 1990s. The Dodge Stealth R/T was based on the Mitsubishi 3000GT. The twin-turbo-powered performance was a tremendous change from ordinary Chrysler products. Because the Stealth is a relatively unknown performance car, resale prices are also lower. Almost all the parts are interchangeable with the 3000GT, which makes repairs straightforward (via Car & Driver).

Sports car - Car
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In many ways, the Dodge Stealth R/T is a better-looking car than the Mitsubishi variant. It has that signature Dodge Gril and Chrysler styling. The Stealth R/T performs well, and for the price you can’t beat the amount of power you get. Few cars have been as iconic as the Dodge Stealth R/T.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

7: Ford Mustang GT

The SN-95 Mustang is probably one of the most underrated sports cars of the 1990s. The styling wasn’t as well-received as you’d expect, but the SN-95 is indeed a Foxbody Mustang. With all the perks that come with a fixed Mustang. The 5.0 V8 is exceptional, and the interior is enormous (via Mustang Specs).

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You can find an SN-95 Mustang for far less than a lot of other Mustang generations. The remarkable thing about the car is the vast amount of parts readily available to turn the SN-95 into a modern drag car. The design will never be replicated, and the car stands out from the crowd.

Photo Credit: Subaru

6: Subaru SVX

There were only 24,000 Subaru SVX models ever built. The unusual sports car is one of the rarest on the road. The performance is unmatched for the time period, and the unique styling is something that you seldom see. But the cheap price that you can find an SVX for makes it an appealing project car (via Curbside Classic).

Photo Credit: Subaru

There was a lot to be liked about the SVX, from the power plant to the styling. There aren’t many sports cars that look as extreme as this one. But you can have a unique sports car that will be more unique than anything else on the road. There are also many enthusiast groups dedicated to the SVX.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

5: Mercury Cougar

The early 2000s Mercury Cougar was sort of a last-ditch effort for Ford to revitalize the Mercury brand. The car had everything going for it, including the styling. But it lacked in the performance department, which let a lot of buyers down. The styling was also on the feminine side, which was done on purpose by Ford (via Cars.com).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The problem is that the original buyers of the Cougar were alienated and the car stopped selling. The new age Cougar went on for a few years before cutting the car off altogether. Eventually, the Mercury brand was disbanded, and the Cougar is now a thing of the past. But you can still find one for a low price and enjoy its nostalgia.

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4: Porsche 968

Much like the Porsche Boxster, the 968 was also an icon of the 1990s. The styling of the 968 is unlike almost anything you’ll encounter on the road. The style and the feeling of the car are unlike any other Porsche on the market. The hatchback design and the V8 engine both make the 968 a welcomed addition to the Porsche heritage (via Edmunds).

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Another remarkable thing about the 968 is, of course, the price tag too. You can find one of these for a low number. With the optional V8 engine, the 968 is a stand out sports car with a lot of potential. At the end of the day, you have to remember that the 968 is indeed a Porsche inside and out.

Photo Credit: Ford

3: Ford Probe

The idea behind the Ford Probe is that it would replace the Ford Mustang. The reality was far from that, and the Probe became a distant memory. But for the price, you can’t go wrong with the 24V version. Especially in the final years of the Probes life cycle, the design was modern, and there was a lot going for it (via Repair Pal).

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There are few sports cars that will perform and drive like the Ford Probe. Weird name aside, the Probe is far different than many other sports cars on the market. The interior is cheap but does the job, and the Probe definitely has that ’90s Ford feeling to it. For the price, you can turn the Probe into a decent sports car.

1998 Acura Integra - Acura
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2: Acura Integra

The Acura Integra is one of the best used sports cars you can buy. For the price, you get a high-revving four cylinder engine and an honest driving characteristic that can’t be beaten. The Integra doesn’t look like anything else on the market. The design is unique, and the performance is more than adequate for daily driving (via Motor Trend).

Honda Motor Company - 1994 Acura Integra
Photo Credit: Acura

The Integra is one of the most stolen cars in the country, but if you invest in an alarm, it will be fine. Honda put some of the best research and development into the Integra, and it became an iconic model. With naturally aspirated performance and legendary reliability, the Integra is still a good sports car.

Photo Credit: Scion

1: Scion TC

The Scion TC was released after Toyota had stopped selling the Celica sports car. The design was youthful and modern simultaneously. The four-cylinder engine is high revving and does the job well. From a design perspective, the interior for the Scion TC is still relaxed to this day. The rear seating has more than enough space for passengers or kids to jump in for a quick ride (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Scion

There is an abundance of aftermarket upgrades that you can buy for the TC. All of this combines to make a very attractive sports car that you can get for next to nothing. The Scion TC competes well against the Honda Civic SI and you can save a lot of money with the Scion TC.

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