Best cheap supercars and sports cars
There’s lots of affordable fun to be had with cheap supercars and sports cars. Here are our thrilling high performance bargains
Brand new supercars and top-end sports cars are out of most people’s price range, however if you’re prepared to shop around on the used car market you might just be able to make that performance car dream a reality.
A cheap supercar or cheap sports car from the second hand car market is a cost-efficient way of accessing the kind of thrills that only these types of vehicles can offer. With the right model you’ll be doing so for quite a bit less than a manufacturer would charge for something factory fresh. And that should only add to the adrenaline.
What’s more, high-end cars don’t tend to do anything like the annual mileage that might be achieved by, say, a saloon used for commuting to work, or a hatchback used running errands around town. That means the list of potential faults could well be smaller, giving you more peace of mind should you decide to part with your hard-earned cash.
A word of caution though: supercars and sports cars are also types of vehicle that owners like to drive hard and when things do go wrong, they tend to be expensive to put right. It all means it’s essential to see evidence of careful maintenance before you agree to a deal. It’s always a good idea to review a vehicle’s service history to ensure there are no catastrophic issues lurking under the bonnet, and we would always advise asking a professional mechanic for their opinion too.
If everything checks out then you’ll the envy of everyone you know before you can say ‘cheap supercar’. As is the case with most vehicles, everybody’s tastes are different, but we’ve come up with a list of nine cheap supercars and sports cars that should act as a good starting point without costing the earth.
Best cheap supercars and sports cars
1.7 Super Sport (1994/L reg, 6k miles)
Specialist Caterham has been building its Lotus Seven-based sports cars for over 40 years, and whichever one you choose, it will put a smile on your face. Lightweight construction ensures that even with a modest 135bhp, the Seven is rapid, while direct steering and a ground-scraping ride height mean every journey is exhilarating.
A factory-built car will give peace of mind over a home-built kit, but buying a Seven gives you access to a world of helpful owners and factory assistance, although you’ll need to be prepared to get your hands dirty keeping it running.
370Z (2009/59 reg, 30k miles)
Big, brawny coupés are in short supply in the UK, so the Nissan 370Z really stands out when you see it on the road. With its bulging wheelarches and bulbous curves, it isn’t quite as elegant as the 350Z it replaced, but its wide stance and squat body signify its sports car intent.
The 370Z is a decent performer thanks to that big V6 under the bonnet – although it doesn’t sound as meaty as it should – and the handling is sharp for a car that’s relatively heavy. But that big engine has big costs associated with it, while the auto version really numbs the driving experience.
Elise 111S (2005/05 reg, 82k miles)
The Elise is a perennial sports car favourite. It’s not quite as spartan as a Caterham , and it feels more like a real car than a kit, but its lightweight build and nimble handling are true to the philosophy of Lotus founder Colin Chapman.
A £15k budget stretches to a Series 2, the sharper-looking model that shared its chassis with the Vauxhall VX220. The standard car had a 120bhp Rover K Series engine, while the 111S featured the variable valve timing version with 156bhp. In 2004 the 111R added a Toyota engine with 189bhp, and this more reliable model is the one to go for.
Aston Martin DB7 Vantage
V12 Vantage (2002/02-reg, 73k miles)
You’d hardly call a small Aston Martin the entry-level model, but in a way, that’s what the DB7 was.
The original car’s supercharged straight-six was joined by the later V12 Vantage , which sourced its engine from Ford . This car delivered 420bhp and was offered with manual or automatic boxes. The latter are cheaper, but that transmission suits the DB7’s grand tourer nature. We’d advise finding a model that has been serviced by an Aston Martin specialist, too.
Porsche 911 Turbo
911 Turbo (2006/06-reg, 53k miles)
There are silly prices to be paid for all kinds of fairly ordinary Porsches , but look hard enough and you can still find some decent cars out there at sensible money.
A budget of £50,000 will land you a decent 997-generation Turbo , which gets four-wheel drive and was offered with either a six-speed manual box or a seven-speed PDK auto. Yet despite its startling performance, the Turbo is the easiest supercar to live with, thanks to its 2+2 layout, decent boot and good visibility. Full Porsche service history is recommended.
Engine: 3.6-litre flat-six, 480bhp
XKR-S (2012/12-reg, 32k miles)
By the time the XKR-S arrived in showrooms in 2012, Jaguar had transformed itself from a grown-up, sensible luxury car maker to a dynamic and youthful firm. And that couldn’t be better demonstrated with the tyre-shredding last hurrah for Jag’s GT coupé.
The supercharged V8 delivered big numbers, with a stonking 543bhp and 680Nm of torque. It was backed up by revised suspension settings, so the XK was more nimble than before. There’s a convertible version available, and we think the XKR-S looks best in the exclusive French Racing Blue paint option.
V10 (2008/09-reg, 70k miles)
If ever a model could be called the everyday supercar, it’s the Audi R8 . While the concept-car looks mean it’ll turn heads wherever you go, it’s as docile as an A3 when you’re taking it easy. Go for a version with magnetic ride dampers, and it’ll be pretty comfortable, too.
But bury the throttle, and all hell breaks loose, with the V10 model in particular delivering a hard-edged growl that will send a tingle up your spine. Prices start from £36,000 for the V8 or £46,000 for the V10 featured here, so the choice is yours.
Ferrari 360 Modena
360 Modena (2001/Y-reg, 36k miles)
Today, it seems any Ferrari can be viewed as ‘investment potential’. Scour the classic ads, and you’ll find vendors demanding over £30,000 for unloved models like the Mondial and 400i. But if you can afford a bit more, then a genuine Ferrari sports car could be yours.
The 360 Modena has fallen out of favour, as its blobby looks aren’t as appealing as its F355 predecessor’s. But the screaming mid-engined V8 has plenty of power, and we’d recommend the H-gated manual over the F1-inspired semi-auto box. After a few years, it might even become desirable again and be seen as one of the better Ferraris.
Aston Martin Vantage S
V12 Vantage S (2014/14-reg, 38k miles)
Even after 12 years in production, the Aston Martin Vantage is one of the most beautiful cars on the road. And with constant development over the years, it has kept pace with luxury sports car rivals along the way. While the limited-edition GT12 and GT8 pay homage to the brand’s GT racing models, you can have just as much fun with the ultimate production version of the standard car, the V12 Vantage S .
This model takes the standard V12 Vantage and gives it a makeover into a more focused sports car, featuring a new V12 engine with 565bhp. This means a 205mph top speed. While the 2014 example we found had a relatively high 38,000 miles under its belt, the car’s main dealer service history means you can buy with confidence.
Which of these supercars and sports cars would you go for? Let us know in the comments section below!