I love a bargain. Especially finding the best bargain sports cars. I’m sure most of you do too. Nothing excites me more than seeing a piece of unobtainium come into my blue-collar budget.
As I constantly peruse the online auto classifieds, I have come across some true diamond deals. The options nowadays are truly plentiful for the enthusiast looking for a depreciated sports or luxury car. All cars on this list have their strengths and weakness’ but all make for a sweet deal for those of us with meager budgets.
7. Nissan 370z
Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, 2 doors, 2 passenger car with a 330 horsepower V6. That is a recipe for fun. The 370z got largely overshadowed by its overachieving big brother the GTR and it quickly got lost in the shadows.
I think the 370z might be a little underappreciated. The Z is an iconic Japanese sports car known for balance and grip.
The naturally aspirated V6 is stout and has been around in Nissan’s lineup in one form or another for more than a decade, so reliability is not a question. Decent brakes, 5 sec 0-60, stylish looks the Z is a solid weekend carver or platform to build up.
Although it isn’t the fastest around, picking one up under $15k with decent miles, you can mod the hell out of it (tastefully please) to be whatever you want; handling monster or straight-line beast. Oh and please get a manual if you do.
6. Chevrolet Camaro SS
Early examples of the 5th generation Camaro SS’ (2010-2013) can be found all over the place ranging from $10-15k for less than average mileage cars. With a sub 5 second 0-60 time, Brembo brakes, decent handling, and an LS3 (manual only option, autos get the L99 engine) you have a great all-around package with a tough muscle car look and unlimited options for upgrades in the aftermarket world.
Although the interior can feel downright cheap, it can be forgiven because of its bare-bones muscle car roots. At least it gets credit for being retro.
Just through some headers on it and you’ll forget about the interior pretty fast.
5. Chevrolet Corvette
The C6 is a bargain right now. The early base c6 (2005-2007) examples came with the LS2 but the sweet spot is the 2008 refresh that came with the LS3.
Lighter and more exotic than the Camaro it has a great balance of style and power. Simple and tasteful mods are all that is really needed to make a great weekend warrior that you can be proud of.
A minimum of 400 hp in the basest of trims, good brakes, Targa top, decent highway mpg, and a badge with American history, what more could you need.
Criticisms of the corvette are its not-so-great-looking interior, early steering wheel design as well as cheap materials. Luckily a lot of this can be remedied by the aftermarket. Pick one up with decent miles under $18k.
Where do I look for cars? Check out Edmunds.com for great used car listings.
4. BMW M6
V10, V10, V10. What more do I need to say. For under $18k these wonderful beasts can be in your driveway now singing the glorious song that is the V10 exhaust note.
The M6 is a classic grand tourer. It’s not the fastest thing around but it is a revver and makes you work for the power.
Heavy and yet planted this car is made to eat highways. Also probably your wallet as well. Maintenance is notorious on these cars hence the depreciation but I believe if you do your research clean and maintained ones can be found, and with help of the internet, most things can be tackled by the experienced DIYer.
Manual ones are rarer but are out there so search hard for one since the SMG auto ones aren’t known for their reliability. So exotic and still modern, it’s hard for me not to move it up higher on this list.
3. Mercedes Benz CLS AMG
5.4L supercharged hand-built V8, producing 469 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Oh, how I love AMGs. The only thing I love more is AMG depreciation.
In 2006 this car was the shit and 12 years later it’s still amazing. Luxury, class, massive brakes, glorious exhaust, and looks so good MB created a new vehicle category to classify it (4 door coupe). This car has it all.
With an original MSRP of $86k, these beauties can be had under $18k with less than average miles per year. The only criticisms that I can see are the speeding tickets you’ll receive from mashing it every time you get in it.
The aftermarket for this engine is also plentiful since MB used it in various other models. It was the German Hellcat of its day. Get one now seriously.
2. BMW M3
E92 M3’s can be had under the $20k mark pretty readily these days. With dual-clutch and manual options, great brakes, glorious hi revving V8, and the option to have a sedan, coupe, or convertible this may be the Goldilocks car.
Being a BMW it has all the luxury comforts looks one could want, and aggressive yet contemporary looks with the performance to back it up. I think prices now are at their bottom and will slowly start to creep upward as this car is bound to be a future collectible (i.e the way of the e30) being the only V8 M3 model ever.
Downsides to the M3 include the typical German car maintenance costs and a premium on lower miles.
1. Porsche Cayman S
Tactile and precise. Two words that sum up the Cayman S. Handling will blow your mind on these cars. Having a mid-engine not only makes this an exotic layout it makes for a vehicle that is confidence-inspiring.
With 290 horsepower boxer 6 has enough horsepower to move quite briskly, but the key with the Cayman is the overall package. It allows you to use all of the power without being afraid because the chassis can handle it (and some argue more).
Brembo brakes and classic Porsche styling it is a winner for the road, track, or the weekend. This car embodies road feel and feedback. Get one now under $20k for these depressed future classics, as time goes on the Porsche fanatics,
I’m sure, will be driving these up in value.
P.s. get the stick you’ll thank me for it.
What do you guys think? Agree or disagree with the cars on the list? What bargain sports cars do you think are missing? Let me know in the comments below!
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