There is a definitive and ongoing trend among new car manufacturers, which involves developing increasingly more powerful sport coupes. One needs to look no farther than the latest auto shows in Detroit and Chicago to recognize that high-powered sports coupes are on the upswing. This trend is seen in both production models and concept vehicles. That is great news for those of us who desire a sporty high-performance ride, without shelling out a bundle of cash. As the new sports coupe market continues to flourish, the supply of high-quality, low-mileage used cars in this category will acquiesce.
While it may not be possible to find some of these sport coupes in top performance level trim for under $10K, you will find others fully loaded.
By conducting careful research and utilizing used car websites to locate the right used car at the right price you will be amazed at the deals that are available. The epitome of used car websites is BestRide.com. They offer access to literally tens-of-thousands of new and used cars — absolutely free.
The ’03 Mach 1 Mustang is the descendant of a rich heritage which dates back to the 1960s. This relatively fast sports coupe can be had for under $10K, if American muscle tickles your fancy. The Mach 1 package got a distinctive matte black stripe just above the rocker panels, a stiffened suspension, 17-inch Magnum rims, and a fully functional ram-air hood. The DOHC 4.6-liter 32-valve V8 is tuned to 300hp, as well.
Don’t let the C7 Stingray blues get you down. For under $10K, you can find a C5 hardtop that will yield an impressive launch from the line and leave most Mustangs in the lurch. These cars are readily available and come standard with a 345hp 5.7-liter fuel injected V8 engine and a six-speed shiftable automatic transmission. The C5 Vette is widely respected, reasonably priced and can achieve 0 to 60 mph in only 4.7-seconds.
The BMW Z3 is available as either a hatchback, or Roadster. Obviously only one of these fits our current category of concern. The Z3 Roadster, as the name implies, is equipped with only front seats and it is a convertible. It is also loads of fun to drive. It handles like it is on rails, with the legendary BMW sport tuned suspension and, while it is certainly not the most powerful car on our list, it takes-off well with the five-speed manual transmission.
These older Camaros are really quick off the line, they are reasonably spacious inside, and they are plentiful. The Z28 trim level, equipped with the 5.7-liter LS1 V8 which produces 310hp right out of the box and a four-speed automatic transmission, achieves 0 to 60 mph in approximately 5-seconds. 2002 marked the end of the Z28 production run, until 2014 when it was reintroduced. Purchasing a good quality used car in this format could be a wise investment.
This Porsche is equipped with only a 3.4-liter V6, which pumps out a meager 250hp and 225 lb.-ft. of torque but it can negotiate 0 to 60 in only 5.9-seconds and it sticks to the curves like white sticks to rice. This is a mid-engine powered Roadster which carries on the Porsche tradition of excellence. While not overly productive under the bonnet, this car can economically take you back to the days of the Porsche 550 Spyder and the RS60.
You know all about the Honda reputation of reliability, allow me to introduce to the brand’s performance side. The S2000 is also a two-seater which seems to grow on you. Honda’s ultra-lightweight 2.4-liter V-TEC engine makes this Roadster a blast to drive. It makes only 240hp but the weight of this little car is so inconsequential that it can get from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and it really straightens out the curves on these winding country roads.
With a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission, you might not classify the Miata as a sports car. You would be mistaken. This Roadster is light and fun to drive. The MAZDASPEED tuned suspension alone could win sports car accolades for this two-seater but the engine performs flawlessly, when properly maintained, with very little turbo lag felt at start up.
Used Acura cars seem to lend themselves to extraordinary value. Having said that, the Type S packs a lot of punch as a 2 + 2 performance coupe in its own right. The Honda DOHC 2.0-liter engine is tuned to achieve 200hp and, mated with a six-speed manual transmission, it is as smooth as any sports car that you will ever drive. For a front-wheel drive car, the Type S handles well during strenuous driving circumstances and manages excellent fuel efficiency numbers, to boot.
Japanese sports car enthusiasts will fight about this little ride. It is the predecessor to the WRX-STi models which are tearing up the street right now helping to bring Subaru into the foreground as a major player in the new car market. These coupes are light, fast, and easily modified. Replacing the engine with a Japanese Domestic Market engine can yield a major player on the local road racing circuit, at nominal out of pocket expense. The standard 2.2-liter boxer engine generates only 142hp but the six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drivetrain help to take up the slack.
This front-engine powered rear-wheel drive sports car is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 that manages to pump out 300hp. It offers one of the most appealing exterior packages of any car on the road, with a suspension configuration that is just short of competition grade. Despite some degree of turbo-lag, the 300ZX can get from 0-60 mph in just under five-and-a-half-seconds and, while the top speed is listed at 160 mph, keep in mind that this is a top-end car with a very high final drive gear ratio. It could easily reach the 200 mph range with minor modifications.