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Super-Fast Sports Cars That Somehow Won’t Break The Budget

Cameron EittreimApril 1, 2022

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23: 1997 Audi A8

The Audi automotive brand is almost synonymous with automotive performance. The company has a storied history in the rally car and overarching motorsports world. Audi’s engineering is something that has made Audi a brand that’s quite revered. The 1990s were a transitional time for the brand and the A8 was one of the cars they made during this transitional shift. The elongated design of the performance coupe made it attractive to luxury car shoppers (via Edmunds).

Photo Credit: Audi

The performance of the V8 engine is still powerful and exciting to this day, which is why the car has experienced a resurgence. Because of the bullet-proof engineering of the car, the ride is still quiet and comfortable. The resale prices of the Audi A8 models have continually gone down in price, making this car an affordable option that’s also fun to drive.

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22: Lexus LS400

As with the SC400, the engineering that went into the LS400 sedan was top-notch. This car is a sports sedan in every sense of the word with a powerful V8 engine stuffed under the hood. Even a used LS400 that is 30 years old, performs better than most new cars. Between its off-the-line acceleration and the incredible sound deadening in the interior, the LS400 is a great car that’s exciting to drive and easy on the wallet (via Car Gurus).

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When it came to the design of the LS400, the car was largely unchanged for a decade. This means that most of the production years are very similar to each other. Finding an affordable used sports car is getting more difficult with age, but the LS400 is a car that is constantly fun to drive and offers a great deal of performance for the price.

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21: Porsche Boxster

The Porsche Boxster was a modern Porsche model that was introduced to consumers in the 1990s. The purpose of this car was to be an everyman’s Porsche that was affordable to buy and easy to drive. The company design and budget-friendly price tag made the Boxster a very popular option. The car had the traditional Porsche styling and adaptive handling that you’d expect from a storied brand like Porsche (via Motor Trend).

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As with most used luxury and exotic cars, the Boxster has maintained a fairly affordable resale price. Spending around $5K will fetch you a moderately used Boxster that still has a lot of life left in it. Many of these cars were initially lease models, which means they were mostly well-maintained.

Photo Credit: Automobile

20: Mercedes-Benz 500E

How does a driver experience the thrill of driving a Mercedes-Benz on a budget? Obviously, they go for the used models which are much more affordable to get. The 500E is one such car. It’s a legendary model sold in the 1990s and its performance is renowned. This was a car from the era where Mercedes models were over-engineered to perfection. As with most used luxury cars, the resale value for the 500E is affordable, unless you are looking at an ultra-low mileage example (via Motor Trend).

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The 500E was popular because of the short wheelbase and excellent handling characteristics. When it came to engineering during this era, Mercedes was unmatched in terms of quality. Few used cars provide the same thrill behind the wheel as the 500E, which is why the car has maintained its popularity with enthusiasts.

Jaguar XJS
Photo Credit: Hagerty

19: Jaguar XJS

Used Jaguars are not the first thing that comes to mind for most enthusiasts who are looking for an exciting ride. But the 1990s were an underrated time for the brand where these cars were quite good. The XJS is a car that you’ll seldom see on the road anymore because they weren’t very reliable. The 1996 model is by far the most highly coveted because it has modern engineering coupled with the classic styling that you’d expect (via Car Survey).

Jaguar XJS
Photo Credit: Hagerty

The XJS was available in a coupe version and a convertible, both of which sold in very minuscule numbers. But the performance that the XJS offers for the price is exceptional. You can find these cars for a low price tag, and with a small amount of work, you’ll have a luxury car that runs and drives excellent.

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18: Chevy Corvette C4

When it comes to underrated performance cars the Corvette C4 is about as underrated as you can get. This was the generation right before the C5 and for most enthusiasts, it was considered outdated. But the C4 shouldn’t be overlooked, as this is one of the best generations for the Corvette brand. This was one of the first Corvette models to use a fuel-injected engine, and there are various specialty models made throughout this time (via Car Survey).

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The C4 Corvette model was the precursor to the C5 platform, which was one of the most popular Corvette models of all time. The last model years for the C4 were the best, and the car is as close to a modern Corvette as you can get for the price range. Between the design characteristics and the performance, the C4 is one of the best bargains in the Corvette world.

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17: Volkswagen Phaeton

Volkswagen was on a profitable track in the mid-2000s after the success of the New Beetle and the redesigned Jetta. The next move by the company was to market a high-end luxury sedan model. This sports sedan was designed in a completely new facility and was built by hand. The car shared underpinnings with the Bentley Continental, which meant that the performance was quite exceptional. The Phaeton was never a sales success even though the car was a high-quality model (via Top Gear).

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At the time the Phaeton was new, the car was well above the $100,000.00 price tag, whereas nowadays the car has depreciated quite nicely. You can find one of these on the market for a little bit of nothing, and the build quality is top-notch. The performance of the 6.0 L 444 HP W 12 is by far the best you’ll get out of a Volkswagen from this era.

Bentley Arnage
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

16: Bentley Arnage

Bentley is a luxury brand often equated with performance and that is what the brand wants. Bentley vehicles are fun-to-drive cars that also incorporate a high level of luxury into the design. The Bentley Arnage was one of the most recent Bentley models to incorporate the modern luxury features that we have today. The car was featured in dozens of music videos and had some of the most impressive performance characteristics of any Bentley model (via What Car).

Photo Credit: Bentley

Compared to how much this car was when it was brand new, the current price point is a bargain. The Arnage has a high level of luxury and performance that you just can’t go wrong with. Finding one in mint condition isn’t a hard task and like most luxury cars, the price has seemingly depreciated overnight.

2003 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage - Aston Martin Short Chassis Volante
Photo Credit: Edmunds

15: Aston Martin DB7

The Aston Martin DB7 is constantly getting high marks for quality and performance, which is why it is a highly sought-after sports car on the used luxury car market. The Aston Martins from the ’90s are not often showcased when talking about iconic sports cars. But these vehicles offered a lot in terms of performance and luxury. The modern interior and timeless styling have made the DB7 a car that you can be proud to own (via Car Survey).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Most used luxury cars depreciate quite heavily and the DB7 is no exception to this rule. The car has lost a tremendous amount of value which means that most consumers can snag one up for a cheap price. With a little bit of work and the proper maintenance the DB7 just might be one of the best deals in used luxury cars right now.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

14: Mazda 929

If you look at the Mazda lineup in the ’90s you won’t miss much. The brand was going through a lot of changes and the cars were about as bland as you could imagine. That is, until you looked at the 929, a sedan with all the appointments you’d expect a Mazda to have. The performance of this car is an exception, and the car has still managed to hold up well even by today’s standards (via Cars.com).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Mazda cars from this era have depreciated quite hard across the board, but the 929 was hit especially hard. Which means that you can snag a stellar deal on one for a fraction of the price. The car offers great handling, exceptional off-the-line performance, and a reasonably luxurious interior drivers can’t go wrong with.

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13: Infiniti Q45

Used Infiniti models are like most bread-and-butter luxury cars. Infiniti has never offered much in the way of individual performance or high-end value like Lexus has. But there have been a few Infiniti models notorious with performance and offered a reasonable amount of bang for the buck. The Q45 was a V8-powered sedan with the underpinnings of the Nissan 350Z sports car, which meant it drove well (via Consumer Reports).

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Because Infiniti models are generally undervalued to begin with the Q45 can be had for a fraction of the price that it was when it was new. You’ll get stellar performance and the signature reliability that enthusiasts recognize the Infiniti brand for. The styling of the Q45 is unique, and the car is rare so you’ll seldom see another one on the road like it.

Dodge Stealth
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12: Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo

The Chrysler partnership with Mitsubishi in the 1990s was quite a fruitful endeavor, and Chrysler definitely benefited more than Mitsubishi with this partnership. The Dodge Stealth is a highly underrated sports car that shares its entire design with the Mitsubishi 3000GT. This twin-turbo sports car has the performance to rival a Toyota Supra, while at the same time providing its own unique styling (via Driving Line).

Sports car - Car
Photo Credit: Edmunds

Given that you find a Stealth in decent condition, the car provides excellent value for the price. You can’t go wrong with the twin-turbo engine and the interior is fairly luxurious as well. Many of these cars have been kept in original condition or have low mileage, which means you’ll enjoy this car for years to come.

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11: Audi S4

There is just something about a compact Audi model that makes owning one a great experience. The S4 is the epiphany of this with modern Audi engineering and a rev happy motor. Most of these S4 models can be had for a small price, and they offer great features. The engine is one of the most reliable power plants Audi has ever used in a car (via The Truth About Cars).

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Even when the car was brand new the styling and performance was lauded by the automotive press. The S4 had a sort of timeless styling that has made the car quite popular in the used market. But its prices have remained steady and you can get a great deal on an S4 and have a car that performs better than you’d expect.

Alfa Romeo 4C
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

10: Alfa Romeo 4C

When Alfa Romeo made their triumphant return to the American automotive market, there was a lot of speculation on how the brand would do. Their vehicles have been doing great and the 4C is a sports car that is well worth grabbing. You can get a used one for a great price and this is one of the most honest roadsters you’ll ever drive (via Car & Driver).

Alfa Romeo 4c
Photo Credit: Alfa

Alfa-Romeo has always been the “driver’s” car and the 4C lives up to that expectation. The lightweight design of the car and luxury options make it a pleasure to drive. The short wheelbase gives the car that same open-road feeling that the Mazda Miata does and the rev-happy engine is begging you to drive it.

Photo Credit: Aston Martin

9: Aston Martin Vantage

Another Aston Martin model worth noting is the Vantage that was on the market in the 2000s. The styling of the car was in line with the rest of the Aston Martin lineup from this era. The performance was above average and managed to live up to the expectations the brand had set fourth (via Motoring Research).

Photo Credit: Aston Martin

Aston Martin has maintained a high performance reputation that rings true even today. The Vantage is one of those cars that has stood the test of time. You can find one for an affordable price, enjoy all the luxury features, and the car has all the characteristics you’d expect from a Vantage from this time period.

Audi A4 via Motor Trend
Audi A4 via Motor Trend

8: Audi A4

Building on the same successful formula of the S4, the A4 is an equally fun-to-drive Audi. The engineering is top of the line and the car had a completely revised exterior. The reliability of the S4 has gotten high marks from previous owners and the automotive press., which means buying a used one is a great investment (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Audi

But when it comes to the Audi A4, the most important thing is the performance, and the A4 delivers in spades. The car is one of the most notable Audi models to take on the recent design changes. The engine is one of the best, and the engineering gives the car a top-notch feeling even for a used model.

Photo Credit: Audi

7: Audi A6

Sometimes you want more than a compact car, and the Audi A6 is a large and in-charge luxury sedan. No matter which version of the A6 you pick, the car offered stellar performance for the price. The interior is spacious, and the styling of the A6 is timeless when you compare it to other full-sized sedans in this segment (via New Car Test Drive).

Photo Credit: Audi

Living up to the Audi heritage is not an easy task but the A6 did it quite well. The car drives great and can make a great deal if you have been yearning for a true performance car. Although most enthusiasts will go for the S4 or the TT, the A6 is often the understated variant of the Audi lineup.

BMW 850CSi
Photo Credit: Automobile

6: BMW 850CSI

What was once considered a supercar the BMW 850CSI has aged like fine wine. The car has also depreciated in value and one of the reasons for this is that the car has a lot of issues with its electrical. But if you are willing to put up with constant maintenance, the 850CSI is a car that will leave a smile on your face every time you drive it (via Motor Trend).

BMW 850 CI
Photo Credit: Car Domain

Prices for the 850CSI have drastically decreased in the last decade, and you can find higher mileage models for even less. But the car had a wonderful amount of power and luxury for the price. The 850CSI is by far one of the best used sports cars you can get for the money and one that will leave you smiling.

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5: BMW 525i

The BMW 525i is by far one of the most underrated cars in the BMW lineup. This sedan from the 2000s is highly regarded for its performance and design. The standard luxury features that you’d get from the factory make the car a comfortable driving experience, to say the least. But it’s the performance that makes the car shine and one of the best sports car values you can get right now (via Cars Guide).

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There are a couple different variations of the 525i, including a wagon model that is highly coveted. This platform is general was one of the better designs that came out of BMW. The resale prices haven’t ballooned like many other models from this same time period, which has made the 525i a great entry-level sports car.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

4: Cadillac CTS-V

When Cadillac introduced the CTS-V, it was the first modern sedan the brand ever had before it was released. The stying and the design were counter culture to everything that Cadillac had offered before. The performance from the stock model was promising. When coupled with the manual transmission, the CTS and CTS-V where surprisingly fun to drive (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

First generation CTS-V models are still fairly reasonable when it comes to the pricing and these cars are easy to come by. You can find one that has been well maintained and still offers a lot of life left for the price. There are a number of performance sedans from this era, but the CTS-V should be at the top of your list.

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3: Mercedes-Benz 600SL

The Mercedes-Benz 600SL was a variable supercar in every sense of the word. The design and the engine were far technologically advanced compared to anything else on the market. The 600SL in particular added many modern luxury features that we take for granted nowadays, such as a power top and built-in phone (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Mercedes

When the 600SL hit the market, it was at the top of the Mercedes-Benz line. The blend of technology and interesting features made the car well received with enthusiasts. Another interesting thing about the 600SL is the fact that it has depreciated quite a bit in terms of value, so drivers can find them very affordably.

Photo Credit: Toyota

2: Lexus IS200

With the first two Lexus models of the 1990s being smash hits for the brand, it was only a matter of time until another model entered the market. That model was the IS200, which was a compact sedan that was actually an import from overseas. The IS200 had many interesting features, and the performance was exceptional (via Consumer Reports).

Photo Credit: Toyota

The automotive press praised the IS200 for its initial design and reliability. The interior was fairly basic when compared to other Lexus models at the time and was the only Lexus that came with cloth seating. But the purpose of the car was to attract a young demographic and it did just that.

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

1: Porsche Cayenne

The thought of Porsche introducing an SUV model was a novelty at the time of the Cayenne’s release. But the SUV did quite well in terms of sales and ended up becoming a smash hit for Porsche. The performance of the Cayenne was in line with any of the sports cars being sold at the time (via Car & Driver).

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

The most popular model was the Cayenne Turbo that ended up a sales success for Porsche. The Cayenne was by far one of the most popular models at launch in Porsche’s history. This is the car that basically birthed the sports car themed SUV movement that we have today. Without the Cayenne, there would have never been a Lamborghini URUS.

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