These days, buyers looking for the fastest and most powerful cars have to be ready to cough up hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions. The Lamborghinis, Bugattis, and the Ferraris – cars that are so expensive only multi-millionaires can afford them.
Fortunately, there are several exciting car options that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Though these cars may not have the latest technology or 500hp engines, they provide a thrilling driving experience that leaves a fat smile on any purist’s face. The best thing about these cars is that, since they are cheap, drivers can push them to their limits without worrying about getting a scratch or dent.
10 2006 Pontiac Solstice
With a sexy look, strong performance, and a value-oriented price point, the 2006 Pontiac Solstice was a beautiful package at its launch. It’s equipped with hydroformed body panels that give it seductive curves and flowing lines, making it one of the most gorgeous cars of its time.
An authentic sports car, the Solstice comes standard with rear-wheel-drive, a near 50-to-50 weight balance, a four-wheel independent suspension, and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. At the heart of the Solstice is a 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine cranking out 177 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque, or a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 260 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.
9 BMW 3-Series E30
The venerable E30 is the quintessential BMW 3-Series – a car so popular that BMW made over 2.2 million from 1982 to 1992. The E30 is lauded as the car that cemented BMW’s position as a premium manufacturer of compact but powerful vehicles.
What gives the E30 its edge is its small, rear-wheel-drive chassis with an attractive design and perfect weight distribution. A 170-horsepower six-cylinder powers the 325 model, giving it unbelievable acceleration for a vehicle made so long ago. This car also has huge aftermarket support, making it perfect for a project.
8 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX
Rather than compete with the small sedans from Toyota and Honda, Subaru tries to be unique by offering things other big Japanese manufacturers don’t – a wagon body style, big power, all-wheel-drive, among other unique features. The 2002 Impreza WRX was completely redesigned and equipped with a turbocharged engine, allowing enthusiasts to drive a powerful sports sedan without breaking the bank.
Its 2.0-liter Boxer engine is perfectly paired with a sport-tuned suspension with a wide front track, sport seats, four-wheel disc brakes, and high-performance tires on 16-inch alloy wheels.
7 Porsche 944
In 1982, Porsche introduced the 944, which proved to be one of its most important models. One of the standout features of the 944 was its new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower – not much in today’s standards but more than enough back then.
However, The value of the 944 lies in its responsive handling and precision driving. It comes with a transaxle layout that distributes weight more effectively and boosts handling. On top of all that, the 944 has pop-up headlights, a feature we really miss these days.
6 1991 Toyota MR2
In the 1970s, most people considered Toyota to be a tedious, economy carmaker without any attractive options for enthusiasts. However, that all changed in 1984 when Toyota introduced the MR2, which instantly became a hit. It was loved for its affordable price, excellent road holding, and outstanding performance.
While the first-generation MR2 can be overpriced, later generations are much more affordable and easier to find. Those who buy an MR2 can expect rapid acceleration and fantastic handling thanks to its mid-engine layout.
5 2002 Mercedes-Benz SLK230
The SLK230 is a fun-filled roadster that combines the security and safety of a hardtop, the fun and freedom of a convertible, and the reliability and precision associated with the Mercedes-Benz brand. The SLK230’s most notable feature is its retractable steel roof that makes the car seem airtight as a Mercedes-Benz sedan when raised.
Under the SLK230’s hood lives a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with 192 horsepower. The powertrain could be paired with either a five-speed TouchShift auto-manual transmission or a six-speed manual, which is harder to find.
4 Ford Crown Victoria
This practical machine may seem misplaced on a list about sports and performance cars, but it isn’t. The Crown Vic deserves a place here as it is one of the most durable vehicles that has ever been produced – which is one reason why cops and taxi companies love it so much.
The Crown Vic draws its power from a 4.6-liter modular V8 engine cranking out 260 mph. This may not sound like enough power, but it is enough to give the huge rear-wheel-drive sedan above-average acceleration and cruising speeds.
3 Mazda RX-7
Between 1970 and 1990, Japanese automakers dominated the industry, producing cheap sports cars that could do almost everything better than European cars three times their price. One of those cars was the iconic Mazda RX-7. Introduced in 1978, the RX-7 is a rear-wheel-drive sports car with all the ingredients to become a cult classic.
Its most notable feature is the 1.3-liter Wankel rotary engine that produces 135 horsepower, enough to deliver a lively performance from this magnificent car. Mazda sold almost 500,000 RX-7s in the US, which explains why they are so cheap.
2 2001 Porsche Boxster
Porsche and affordable aren’t words you easily find in the same sentence, but the Boxster shows that they can. Like other Porsche cars, the Boxster is a good-looking sports car with excellent driving dynamics. Unfortunately, it has always been in the famed 911’s shadow, which is why buyers can get the 2001 model without digging too deep into their pockets.
The Boxster is powered by a 2.7-liter flat-six engine producing 217 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. This gives the driver an unparalleled thrill ride and one of the most beautiful exhaust notes.
1 2003 Ford Mustang
No list featuring fun-to-drive cars can be complete without including a Mustang. The Mustang is simply the best muscle car money can buy, loved by many for its hearty V8s, affordability, and wide range of customization options. The 2003 model appeals to purists who love the burble of a massive V8. Being a rear-wheel-drive car, the Mustang also handles like a pro and has the appeal of a legendary vehicle with a long and storied history.
It comes with a punchy 4.6-liter V8 serving up 260 horses. A six-speed manual gearbox ensures all this power is smoothly sent to the rear wheels.
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