Go ahead and drive your dream sports car. Mercedes, Audi, Porsche and other head-turners are all available at affordable prices. All of these cheap sports cars that'll make you look rich can be yours for under $10,000 and often below. You'll get the luxury, ride and performance plus a look that says you can afford to have fun. Perfect for a ride in the country or parking in the executive spot of a company you're just getting off the ground, pick a nimble two-seater Audi TT or a enjoy a high-horsepower Dodge Charger beast. With these cars, you'll enjoy the work of top automotive stylists and engineers. Your affordable dream car is ready for you to take your turn behind the wheel and develop performance driving skills. Rather than stretch for a new entry-level model, why not enjoy yesterday's fully-appointed ride?
Continue scrolling to keep reading
Click the button below to start article in quick view
VW turned a corner in the 1980s when they started making GTI versions of their popular Rabbit and Golf four-seaters, making just the right adjustments to the suspension and drivetrain to appeal to everyday sports car enthusiasts. By 2001 they had quite a following, selling cars to people who loved to drive and wanted something sporty and, affordable that they could also commute to work. The people's car also got some attractive styling, updating it from the boxy Rabbit days.
M stands for motorsport, the line of BMWs designed more for the driving enthusiast than the executive. The M3 gets you behind the wheel driving a car with a customized engine, transmission and suspension for weekends at the track and weekdays in traffic. This might not be the right luxury vehicle for an older buyer -- unless that buyer knows how to drift around turns and power into the straight and enjoys exhilaration from driving rather than sedate touring.
This supercharged rocket comes with body design and interior styling to impress. It's a two-door, two-seater couple's car, typically with a 2.3L 4-cylinder engine and leather seats. There are upscale Benz appointments to explore from air conditioning to cruise control, all done up with typical German engineering, which will spoil you enough that you might not buy domestic again. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but pushing the rear-wheel-drive beauty on the highway or on country roads will make you wish everything in your life could go as smoothly.
Leather, Bose Sound, and anti-lock brakes plus 142 horsepower in a modest-sized sports car is just the start, as it's actually a step above later models with wood and leather in the interior, which were replaced with plastic. This makes it dangerously close to a classic, some say it could be a collectible, but the price makes it a downright steal. Put the top down, find someone fun to enjoy the second seat, and hit the coastal highway or winding mountain roads.
People love their Mitsubishi Eclipses, but you may be able to find one at a reasonable price. They come with five-speed manual transmissions, front-wheel-drive, engines from 140 horsepower, and a tough, aggressive look which parts crowds as you roll into the party. It's compact, but there is some room in the rear for a couple of smallish passengers. The driver's seat has all-important lumbar support, which leaves you refreshed when you climb out after a challenging drive.
That telltale Subaru Boxer engine sound lets people know you're on your way in this performance-oriented compact sports car, which has a long tradition of competition and customizing. If you want to make this bug-eyed, hood-scooped turbo-flat-4 performer your own, look to the thriving aftermarket for body and under-the-hood enhancements, or just enjoy it as it stands. You'll find out why the pedal diagram circulating online calls them Pew! - Brake - Brrrr, celebrating the sounds you'll come to love.
The "mister two" mid-engine, rear-drive sports car handles nimbly and makes a perfect driving companion, with only room for one more passenger and not a lot of luggage. Lightweight with 140HP from the four-cylinder DOHC engine, it has enough performance to make top-down cruising a real pleasure. Toyota included a new power steering system that owners find more responsive and enjoyable to drive. Appointments and space for audio gear make the MR2 far from austere, which is lovely for long drives.
Depending on the options, you can get 200 to 335 noisy horsepower in the Firebird, putting the wind in your hair even on a calm day, and of course, it does the same for whoever is occupying the passenger seat. You can also consider the Trans Am version, but this model is a bit more subdued, ready to roll up on a warm summer evening after a cruise to the restaurant where you hand over the keys to the valet feeling every bit the part.
This child of American and German parents -- Chrysler and Mercedes Benz -- was not on the market long because the marriage didn't last long, but it's quite an eye-catcher and engineered to thrill. It's based on the Mercedes 320SLK, and while the convertible model is just a bit out of our price range, the SRT-6 version is quite affordable by our standards. It includes an intercooled supercharger with 12-valve V-6 for 330HP of fun you can just enjoy by telling your friends about it.
Imagine yourself cruising in a 2004 Ford Mustang, with the top down on the open road. Nice, huh? That's well within the price range we mentioned. If you want to not just cruise, but accelerate, a step up to the V-8 GT version from the V-6 only adds a couple of thousand, still in range. If you've ever driven a Mustang six, you know that's an excellent choice and buying used, you aren't counting your pennies or payments to get the extra horsepower, up to 390 depending on the options you find.
If you're a Chevy loyalist, you'll be looking for a convertible Camaro, and the 2000 year Z28 model with V-8 will make the noise you treasure and burn the rubber off your tires just like you remember. If you had to drive your mom's station wagon as a hand-me-down when you were a kid, this will set things straight. The stretched hood, the clearly room-for-two-only seating, and muscle car rear-wheel-drive plus four-wheel disc brakes which help you do more than drag race are now within easy reach.
The 2009 Lexus IS 350 Sport is best if you find it with the performance options. As is, it includes horsepower in the range with Mustangs and Camaros, but with four doors, so it's more practical if you have responsibilities like carrying a family or taking the hounds to the dog park. Quality is Toyota-solid, and the interior and all-around styling are meant to impress. Unlike some Lexus models, it even looks a bit sporty.
Available in V-6 or 4-cylinder models, the 2.0L four fits our price range better and definitely meets the handling and appearance criteria plus, as an executive's weekend car, it's a great way to escape to that out-of-the-way B&B with your significant other. Just make sure there's a nice interstate to blast up and a winding country road to enjoy before you get there. Oh, did we mention, you can get it cheap with Quattro all-wheel-drive?
A Honda Civic, you say? A 1999 model? Yes, and with the Si package, it's still mid-range in our $10,000 allowance. Look for premium wheels, sun/moonroof, and other options to jazz it up, and turn to the aftermarket parts to make it very much your own, even track-ready. If you just want to drive, the Civic Si very efficiently produces 160HP from a VTEC engine, which some consider one of Honda's best.
You may have seen the Scion sedan and boxy xB around town, but fear not, as the updated descendant of the popular Toyota Celica, this car is not like the others. It's not quite hardcore in its handing, but it does have a powerful engine, and, unlike most sports cars, it has comfortable room for four adults. This is also a newer model than most cars, but you're still paying less than half of the original list price.
This beast comes from a family that includes names such as "Hellcat" and "Demon." It's built for performance, with an upgraded interior, which makes it a comfortable way to burn rubber. Look for options like leather seats, including a heated one for the driver, dual-zone climate control, and premium sound with cell phone hookup for extra luxury. SXT doesn't have crazy Hellcat power, but there are lots of luxury features and a 3.5L V-6 engine, which will make you quite happy.
If you've always wanted to try a sports car with the famous Wankel rotary engine, now's your chance. The RX-8 Sport uses a 1.3L Renesis engine, which provides 250HP, which you can manage with a six-speed manual transmission. The ride is smooth and the engine's high-revving if you like -- up to 9,000 RPM, thanks to the unique dual-rotor design. This car makes an impression twice: once for the impressive design, and again for car buffs who realize you're harnessing a rotary engine.
If you find one of these in red, be prepared to pay speeding tickets based simply on the look -- even standing still, it looks like it's flying by. The base model includes everything from fog lights and alloy wheels to cruise control, keyless entry, and power windows, plus a 3.0L V-6. In other words, from appointments and styling to suspension and power, the 3000GT makes a great impression from the moment you open the door.
There's something hardcore, no-nonsense German about Audi engineering and design, especially in such the TT Roadster's compact, personalized package. It has luxury appointments throughout and gives you full control with Quattro AWD, a six-speed manual, and a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine making the TT Roadster a pleasure to spend time in and especially to drive on challenging roads. Find it with leather, soft-top or hardtop, and more advanced equipment like stability control and automatic climate control.