2. Toyota MR2
Back in the mid-80’s, Toyota shocked the automotive world by introducing the MR2, a small mid-engine sports car. It offered a great performance, superb road handling and an affordable price. In those days, as well as today, consumers considered Toyota as a dull manufacturer of economy models without any interesting cars for enthusiasts. But the MR2 changed that since it was different from other Toyotas. It appealed to all fans of spirited driving and dynamic handling road machines.
They presented the first generation MR2 in 1984. It featured 1.5-liter or 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine mounted centrally behind the driver, between the cabin and rear axle. This gave the little car fantastic handling. Look for the 1.6-liter supercharged model – the Supercharger (SC) that delivers 145 HP and 140 lb-ft of torque.
Although those power output figures don’t sound like much today, the MR2 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just seven seconds, which is still respectable. The prices for well-preserved examples are still affordable. The MR2 is tons of fun, so if you are looking for a small, nimble sports car from Japan with sublime handling, this is it.
1. Maserati 222 BiTurbo
Although most people have probably never heard of it, they can become the 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. It was a handsome two-door coupe, and Maserati continued with the 420 and 430 sedans built on the same chassis. There was even a beautiful convertible the Zagato design house built, but it is expensive and rare.
They intended BiTurbos to be entry level Maseratis at a more affordable price for consumers. Under the hood was a new generation of turbocharged 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter V8 engines offering a high-power output. In fact, it went from 180 HP all the way up to 270 HP in later years. The interiors were luxurious and fitted with all kinds of creature comforts.
You are probably wondering what the catch is and why these fantastic looking cars from an exotic brand like Maserati are so affordable. The reason is simple: people considered the BiTurbo generation to lack reliability and prone to mechanical issues. Maserati made over 40,000 BiTurbos in a 13-year period, but just a small fraction of them are still on the road.
However, modern technology and aftermarket components can improve the quality of these gorgeous looking, but mechanically-flawed BiTurbos. Some owners are reporting they have made these cars more dependable. So, if you want an Italian exotic, but are on a budget, the Maserati BiTurbo could be your solution.
You can forget the expensive 911s, because these are the best-underrated performance cars you can buy. No matter what your taste in cars is, there is a gem on this list just for you. But, you’d better be quick, because their prices are on the rise.