Home Cars The 20 Best Affordable Classic Italian Sports Cars You Can Buy Today

The 20 Best Affordable Classic Italian Sports Cars You Can Buy Today

Vukasin Herbez July 11, 2018

The first thing you think of when you hear the words, “Italian sports car,” is the color red. And the second is the price. Simply, all Italian sports cars are expensive, no matter if they are new or old. To prove this point, look at the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. It achieved the highest price ever paid for a passenger car – $38.1 million.

That’s an insane amount of money for a car, even though Ferrari made just 39 of them and they are iconic in every aspect. So, what to do if you are craving some Italian automotive charm, but you are not a multimillionaire? Worry not, because there are quite a few interesting options that can give you many memorable driving moments for far less money. In fact, you can buy a true Italian classic sports car for the price of a new mid-sized SUV.

However, the best examples could be a bit more expensive. Still, you can enjoy the same driving feel, sensual lines and high revving engine for just a fraction of some high-priced models. To prove this point, here is a list of 11 affordable Italian sports cars. Most of these cars are classics, but there are some newer cars, as well.

You’ll even see some hot hatches and compacts, as well as a few models from the ’90s to import since they are eligible according to U.S. import laws. So read on to learn about the best Italian sports cars on a budget.

  1. Lancia Delta HF IntegraleXJ6

Lancia presented their compact model, the Delta HF Integrale in 1979. But only after it was on the market for five years did the company start thinking about a performance version. Lancia was always big in rallying. So, after the banning of their Group B model, the S4, they wanted something that could work well on the street and on the track. And so, the HF Integrale was born.

The main features of this model were a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with, at first, 185 HP and later up to 220 HP. It also had a permanent, well balanced all-wheel-drive system. The Delta HF Integrale is an important hot hatch because it was the first with an AWD system. This marked the beginning of the transition from front wheel drive to the all-wheel-drive performance machines of today.

They also went from simple, budget hot hatches to modern, high-tech cars. The combination of a powerful engine, sharp handling, great traction and low weights was intoxicating for magazine testers of the day. In fact, the Delta HF Integrale received nothing but praises. Over the years, the Delta HF Integrale was a successful concept on rally stages all over the world, but also among hot hatch fans.

Lancia stopped production in 1994 after producing almost 40,000 Integrales. If you want to be the owner of a rally legend which finally available for import to America, be prepared to pay over $30,000 for one. It is also important to note that the quality of these highly tuned cars was never their strong suit.

  1. Maserati BiTurbo

Most people don’t know this, but it is easy to become the proud owner of an almost classic Maserati for as little as $10,000. For that money, you can buy a decent Maserati BiTurbo, which they introduced in 1981 and produced until 1994. The BiTurbo lineup of cars started with the 222 model which was a handsome two-door coupe. It continued with 420 and 430 sedans they built on the same basis. There was even the beautiful convertible by Zagato design house, but it is more expensive and quite rare.

They intended the BiTurbos to be entry level Maseratis at more affordable prices. Under the hood was a new generation of turbocharged 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter V6 engines with high power output from 180 HP to 270 HP in later years. The interiors were luxurious and they fitted them with all kinds of creature comforts. So, you are probably asking why these fantastic looking cars from an exotic brand like Maserati can be so affordable. The reason is simple.

The BiTurbo generation of cars was not reliable and prone to mechanical issues. Maserati made over 40,000 of BiTurbos in a 13-year period but just a small fraction are still on the road. However, the modern technology and aftermarket components improved the quality of the gorgeous but flawed BiTurbos. Some brave owners reported these cars finally can be reliable. So, if you want an Italian exotic, but are on a budget, the Maserati BiTurbo could be the solution for you.

  1. Lancia Fulvia Coupe

Today, Lancia a forgotten company. Although they are still active, there is nothing interesting in their lineup except rebadged Chryslers. But, back in the ’60s, Lancia was an independent luxury manufacturer with highly-respected cars. They were famous for their unique designs and technical solutions. So, when the company presented the Fulvia Coupe in 1965, the car world took notice.

The Fulvia Coupe was a little 2+2 two-door car with a narrow-angle V6 in the front powering the front wheels. This unique layout handled fantastically. And the small weight of the car presented a vivid performance. Despite producing just 85 to 115 HP, the Lancia Fulvia Coupe was a rally champion. It was also a rewarding car to drive fast on winding roads.

Today, you can find decent Fulvia coupes starting at around $20,000. They imported the Fulvia Coupe to America when it was new, so you can find dozens for sale right now.

  1. Fiat Dino Coupe

Back in 1967, Fiat introduced the Dino, a coupe and a convertible sports car. It featured a Ferrari V6 engine straight from the 246 GT Dino. Bertone designed the coupe while Pininfarina styled the convertible. The two cars shared the mechanics, engine and performance, but their design was totally different.

They officially sold the Fiat Dino Coupe in America, so you can find one in the classified ads for as little as $15,000. This is the most affordable way to own a piece of Ferrari magic for Ford Fiesta prices. If you are a budget-minded enthusiast, look for the Dino Coupe since it is more common and affordable than the convertible. Also, look for the later 2.4-liter V6 version since it is faster than the early 2.0-liter model.

  1. Lancia Scorpion

So, you are looking for a limited production Italian sports car from the ’70s with two seats and a mid-engine layout, but you only have around $20,000. Does it sound impossible? It isn’t since there is a solution to your problem: the Lancia Scorpion. In 1976, Lancia presented the Scorpion, a U.S. spec version of its Beta Montecarlo model.

They couldn’t use the Montecarlo name for the American market since Chevrolet already had the Monte Carlo. So, Lancia decided to go with the aggressive Scorpion nameplate. Despite the car’s modern looks and technical layout, the Scorpion wasn’t a great performer. This is because its four-cylinder engine delivered only 81 HP in U.S. spec.

The Scorpion was on sale for two years, 1976 and 1977, and they sold around 1,800 examples in America. Today, these Lancias are rare, but not exactly expensive. In fact, they upgraded most of them with Fiat’s 2.0-liter engines. These engines produced more power and gave Scorpion the performance it deserves.

  1. Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV Tipo 105

One of the most iconic Italian sports coupes is the gorgeous Alfa Romeo Giulia Coupe, which people often called the Tipo 105 Coupe for its chassis code. This was a Bertone designed two-door version of the legendary Giulia sedan, which was Alfa’s main model during the ’60s. Thanks to its styling, details and racing success, the Alfa Giulia Coupe became a separate model and not just a coupe version of a mass-produced sedan.

Alfa introduced it in 1963 under the name Giulia Sprint GT. And this little Alfa stunned the car world with its sculptured lines and perfect stance. Under the hood was a small 1.6-liter four-cylinder twin-cam engine with the advertised 105 HP. The Tipo 105 had a live rear axle and four-wheel disc brakes, which was unheard of in the mid-60’s. Over the years, the power grew to 1.8-liters and 2.0-liters in later models.

The final versions are recognizable with four headlights, wider tail lights and the 2000 GTV badge. Those cars have 136 HP and glorious soundtrack thanks to a high revving, all alloy engine. For a while, Alfa Romeo Tipo 105 Coupes were affordable, but in recent years, the price spike has affected this model. Despite getting more expensive, they are still affordable. So for around $30,000, you can find this little Italian gem that they often call “The Poor Man’s Ferrari.”

  1. Ferrari Mondial

If you thought you couldn’t get a Ferrari for Toyota Camry money, think again. Ferrari introduced the Mondial in 1980 as the successor of the 308 GT4. It was a compact Grand Turismo sports car with a 2+2 seating configuration and mid-engine layout. This meant it offered more space than the 308 and 328 GTB models, which were two-seaters only.

Although the Mondial was more practical and somewhat less expensive, it wasn’t particularly popular. So today it is one of the rare poorly-regarded models in the Ferrari community. The design wasn’t dynamic. Also, the performance figures were slower than the rest of the Ferrari lineup. The company responded by offering a 3.2-liter V8 and Turbo version, but it still didn’t help its reputation.

Ferrari ended production in 1993 after building close to 5,000 Mondials. Today, this is one of the most budget-friendly ways to achieve Ferrari ownership. A decent Ferrari Mondial will set you back approximately $35,000.

  1. Lancia Thema 8.32

Ferrari never officially built a four-door sedan, but Lancia did in 1986 when they introduced the Thema 8.32. This was a top of the range Lancia model at the time. It featured a transversally mounted Ferrari 3.0-liter V8 engine from the 308 GTB Quattrovalvole; hence the name. It had eight cylinders with 32 valves. But it wasn’t the first time Ferrari gave its engine to Lancia.

Some 10 years before the Thema 8.32, the Lancia Stratos received a 2.4-liter V6 from the Ferrari Dino. However, this was the first time a Ferrari engine powered a luxury sedan. The Thema 8.32 had 212 HP and seven second 0 to 60 mph times. This was fast for the day as well as for a front-wheel-drive sedan. To call the 8.32 a BMW M5 competitor would be a stretch, but the Thema Ferrari was a comfortable, stylish cruiser.

Lancia also offered a high level of standard equipment and a long list of luxury options. They discontinued the Thema in 1992, selling just over 3,000 of them. This model is unknown to American enthusiasts since they never officially imported the Lancia to the U.S. in the late 80’s. The Thema is mechanically similar to Alfa Romeo 164 or SAAB 9000 which they sold in America.

Fortunately, the Thema 8.32 is now over 25 years old, which means you can legally import it to America. So you will be pleased to find the prices in Europe are below $20,000. But this is affordable considering the rarity and provenance of this extraordinary Italian sedan.

  1. Alfa Romeo GTV6

The Tipo 105 successor was the coupe version of Alfetta, which they introduced in the late ’70s. This car with the chassis code 116 had advanced construction and an updated suspension. It also featured several interesting details. First, it had transaxle gearbox that vastly improved the weight distribution and handling. Second, it had a De Dion type rear axle that helped the cornering and driving dynamics.

With a 2.5-liter V6 engine in the front, the GTV6 delivered 160 to 170 HP and a vivid performance by the standards of the day. Even today, the GTV6 is famous for its driving dynamics, solid acceleration times and a soundtrack from the high revving V6. Interestingly, they sold this car in the U.S., offering an optional turbo kit by Callaway performance that produced 233 HP. The prices are affordable, so if you are into Italian sports cars, better grab one.

  1. Ferrari 308

Back in the mid-60s, Ferrari introduced the Dino 246 GT. It was an entry-level model with a V6 engine instead of a mighty V12. Hardcore car enthusiasts first dismissed the car, but the public accepted it. So, it sold well, bringing the company financial stability it needed. The successor of the groundbreaking 246 GT was the 308 GT4 Dino, which Ferrari produced from 1973 to 1980.

The 308 GT4 featured several interesting things, such as an angular design by Bertone, not Pininfarina, as expected. It had the first Ferrari road-going V8 engine and a 2+2 seating configuration. This meant the GT4 had more space for occupants and luggage. It was also considerably less expensive when new. In fact, Ferrari intended it to be a car for everyday use.

Available with 2.0 and 3.0-liter V8 engines, the Dino GT4 had 170 to 240 HP. Even though these are not impressive figures by today’s standards the car is lightweight. It also handles great due to the mid-engine layout. The GT4 comes with a glorious soundtrack and a true sports car feel. Current market values for a driver quality Dino GT4 from the mid-70s is around $45,000.

    1. Fiat Coupe

Fiat never imported the interesting Coupe to the United States. But since it is older than 25 years, it is now eligible for import. Fiat presented the Coupe in 1993 and it stayed in production until 2000. Fiat sold the Coupe in Europe and selected markets around the globe. And at one point, it was the fastest, most powerful Fiat product.

It was also the Fiat with the biggest potential to become a classic, sought-after model. The Coupe had front wheel drive. It was a four-seater, two-door model with an interesting design and elegant interior. They based on the standard Fiat platform, but it had a performance-tuned suspension and steering, making it sporty and dynamic.

The engine lineup started with rather anemic four-cylinder engines but later went with the potent 2.0-liter turbocharged five-cylinder units with 220 HP. That was quite the power output for the early ’90s. In its turbo guise, the Fiat Coupe was a fast car and with unique styling. In fact, it was a real head turner wherever it appeared.

The prices are not high, so you should jump at the opportunity to own this rare car in the U.S. This is a gorgeous Italian coupe with modern features like air conditioning, ABS brakes and airbags. And with 0 to 60 mph times of 6.3 seconds, it is quick, even by today’s standards.

    1. Fiat X1/9

Behind this strange name lies one of the most interesting affordable sports cars of the ’70s. Fiat introduced the X1/9 in 1972. It was a small two-seater with a T-Top, mid mounted engine and two trunks, in the front and in the back. Think of it as Porsche Boxster, but only 20 years older.

Despite fantastic looks and technical layout, the X 1/9 was underpowered with just around 60 HP from its small 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The performance was not impressive, so most owners decided to fit bigger engines. However, you can find them at bargain prices since they exported them to the U.S. in large numbers.

    1. Alfa Romeo Sprint

In the early ’70s, Alfa Romeo introduced the compact model called the Sud. The powerhouse was a flat four engine they mounted deep in the engine bay that sent power to the front wheels. The layout was revolutionary for the time and gave the Sud impressive driving characteristics. But Alfa wanted to explore the concept further, so in 1976, they presented a coupe version they called the Sud Sprint.

The Sprint was an agile compact sports car with 1.3 to 1.7-liter flat four engines that provided power and an exhilarating performance due to the low weight and direct steering. As with all Alfas from that period, the Sprint wasn’t particularly durable, but it was a fun and dynamic little coupe.

  1. Fiat Ritmo Abarth

The original Italian hot hatch was the Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130. It was the ultimate version of the standard Ritmo compact model they introduced in 1983. The Ritmo Abarth 130 was one of the fastest, most powerful cars in its class on the European market.

Under the hood was a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with two carburetors, eight valves and 130 HP, which was more than enough for its 2,000-pound curb weight. The power went to the front wheels over a five-speed manual transmission and the Abarth racing department set the suspension for aggressive driving.

  1. Alfa Romeo Spider

Back in 1966, the Alfa Romeo Spider was Italy’s answer to the popularity of those cool British roadsters. Eventually, it became globally popular, so it’s an Alfa Romeo model with the longest production run. They built the Spider on the Alfa 105 sedan/coupe base with a Pininfarina-designed body. It had alloy twin cam engines and rear wheel drive.

During the late ’60s, the car became popular in the movie, The Graduate, when Dustin Hoffman drove a red Spider. They made most of the 120,000 Spiders until 1994. They sold many of them in America, so these gems are inexpensive and quite common.

  1. Fiat 128 3P

Fiat conceived the Fiat 128, also known as the 138 Coupe and 3P or Tre Porte, which translates to three doors in French, as a sporty alternative to the economy family sedan. They presented it in 1971, and the 128 Coupe and 3P featured front-wheel drive and four-cylinder engines.

Despite its cool, almost muscle car looks, 128 Coupe and 3P weren’t exactly fast. The reason was the engine choice. Buyers could choose between a 1.1 or 1.3-liter unit that delivered 60 and 67 HP. That is why most owners installed more powerful engines.

  1. Fiat 850 Coupe

Fiat was always one of the best producers of the supermini and compact cars, often making sportier versions for keen buyers. This is exactly what 850 Coupe is. Presented in 1964, 850 Coupe was a cool looking fastback version of the regular 850 compact family car.

Despite looking like a toy compared to other full-size cars of the period, the 850 Coupe was a capable driving machine since it was so light and nimble. With just 65 HP the car wasn’t exactly capable of outrunning any Porsches, but since it was so small, it could provide much driving excitement.

  1. Lancia Kappa Coupe

If you are looking for a modern, capable and comfortable coupe in a unique form with an obscure history, the Kappa Coupe is the right car for you. They based it on the regular Lancia Kappa family sedan, but Maggiora Carrozzeria is who built the Coupe. This means it is the last custom built Lancia in automotive history.

Several engines were available, but the best choice is the 3.0-liter V6. With 205 HP, it can deliver a convincing performance. Also, this car is a Lancia, which means it is full of luxury appointments.

  1. Alfa Romeo SZ

This highly unusual sports car was the one of the best handling and performing Alfas in the late ’80s and early ’90s. They built it on a Milano base featuring the same 3.0-liter V6 engine with 210 horses. But the SZ had a lightweight plastic body and stiffer suspension.

This transformed the Milano platform into a terrific sports car available as a coupe and a rare convertible they called the RZ. The production was limited so when they stopped it in 1994, Alfa built only 1,036 coupes and 278 convertibles.

  1. Alfa Romeo Milano 3.0 V6

If you are looking for an Italian performance sedan on a budget, now it is the time to pick up an Alfa Romeo Milano 3.0 V6. They imported them to the American market in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

The Milano was an elegant four-door model with some interesting technical features. It had a De Dion rear suspension and transaxle gearbox, making it handle like a racing car. Along with a three liter, 200 HP V6 engine, the Milano delivered a decent performance. In fact, people compared them to the BMW 5 Series.

These are the 20 best affordable classic Italian sports cars you can buy today. If any of these beauties caught your eye, now is the time to buy before prices skyrocket. With a little effort and searching, you could be the owner of a beautiful Italian sports car.

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