Everyone wishes they were rich, even if they don’t want to admit it. It might not be everyone’s main goal, but financial freedom is always sought after. Obviously, not everyone can have enormous wealth. Sometimes, though, just looking rich is enough. What’s the best way to look rich without actually being rich? Owning a classy car, of course.
You might have seen car auctions before and noticed some pretty classic cars being sold for relatively low prices. It might, in turn, have caused you to raise your eyebrows. That’s because looks can be deceiving, and not all super expensive-looking cars are actually that pricey.
Would you be shocked to hear that there are Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Maseratis, Porsches, and Lotuses on this list? We kind of were when we were doing our research, but there it is. Some of the brands most well known for being exceedingly expensive are sometimes not actually that expensive at all.
Most of the time it takes some digging to find deals. You won't, for example, be able to just waltz into a used car dealership and find an inexpensive classic Rolls-Royce, and if you do, be careful, it might be missing an engine.
To save you some time, we’ve dug around and have found cars that are not only cheap, but also in great condition and with low mileage.
Take a look at these 20 affordable cars that’ll make you look rich.
20 2007 Nissan 350Z ($8,000)
The Nissan 350Z (or the Nissan Fairlady Z, as it’s called in Japan) is a fast two-seater sports car that was in production from 2002 to 2009 as a coupe, and from 2004 to 2009 as a roadster. It’s the fifth generation of Nissan’s Z-car line. The 2007 350Z had a new engine, its VQ35DE V6 being replaced with a VQ35HR V6 that gave it 306 hp with an SAE certified power benchmark. It redlines at 7500 rpm.
The hood was redesigned with a new bulge to mimic the original 240Z, and in the U.S. new trim levels were narrowed. Bluetooth was also added.
The 350Z is definitely a head-turner, and you can get a 2007 model that looks far younger than its actual age. There are multiple 350Zs on Car Gurus and like-minded sites, with roadsters costing between $8,000 and $10,000 for a 2006 model.
19 2005 Jaguar S-Type R ($9,000)
It’s an indisputable fact - to us anyway - that all modern Jaguars look awesome. The S-Type is an executive notchback saloon that was first showcased at the 1998 Birmingham Motor Show. The car was produced from 1999 to 2008. The S-Type revived Jaguar’s 1963-68 S-Type nameplate.
The 2005 model car received a facelift, and it's from this model year where you can get one for pretty cheap. The 2002 S-Type was revered for its Type 4.2 Supercharged V8, which at the time made it the fastest road production saloon car in the world.
The 2005 model had redesigned front and rear aprons, a modified grille and rear light clusters, a new aluminum hood, and a new 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine. You can find one of these bad boys for as low as $9,000 if you look hard enough.
18 1982 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit ($9,900)
It might not seem very likely that you can be pretty much broke and still own a Rolls-Royce, but that can be the case. The Silver Spirit by Rolls-Royce is an elegant full-size luxury vehicle that was produced from 1980 to 1999.
A long-wheelbase version of the car called the Silver Spur was also produced at the same time, and it was the first to feature the retractable Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament.
The first generation Silver Spirit, called the Mark I, was in production between 1980 and 1989. It rocked a 6.75-liter L410 V8 engine and a THM 300 3-speed automatic gearbox. It’s a car that exudes class even to this day, and you can get them for a relatively low price. We’ve found multiple ‘80s models for $20,000 and below, and a particular black ’82 with just 72,000 miles on it on Car Gurus for just $9,900.
17 1982 Mercedes-Benz 280SL ($15,000)
The SL-Class from Mercedes-Benz has been around for a very long time, since 1954 to be precise. It translates to “Sport Lightweight,” with the original concept of the car being that of a toned-down Grand Prix car tailored for high-end performance enthusiasts in the post-WWII economy in the United States.
Though the SL-Class has been around for 64 years, spanning six generations and multiple body styles, we’re focusing on one that’ll make you look rich without breaking the bank: a 1982 R107 model.
This third-generation SL looks even classier today than it did back then. The number in 280SL refers to its engine displacement, a 280 running with a 2.8-liter I6. Prices for the 280SL fluctuate wildly. You can find a (heavily spiffed up) ‘69 model for $298,000, or you can find this ‘82 version for as low as $15,000.
16 2005 Maserati Spyder ($18,800)
Here’s another brand that's become well-known for their classy sports cars and sedans. Italian automaker Maserati produced the Spyder from 2001 to 2007 before replacing it with the GranTurismo. It comes in both four-seater coupe and two-seater roadster versions, and both were modeled after the 3200 GT. The Spyder is also commonly known as the 4200 GT.
Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro designed this car as well as the Maserati Ghibli and 1971 supercar Maserati Bora, so you know you’re getting quality here. While most of these cars cost between $20,000 and $30,000 used, we found one with just 65,000 miles on CarsForSale.com for just $18,800 complete with all the amenities, including a 4.2-liter V8 engine.
15 1997 Bentley Turbo R ($19,000)
Another classic car company that exudes performance and elegance is Bentley. They also happen to be a brand of whose cars most people only dream of owning. However, like Rolls-Royce, if you are a deal-spotter you can find an older model Bentley for a pretty affordable price.
The Turbo R is a high-performance car that was produced between 1985 and 1999. It has a turbocharged 6.75-liter V8 nabbed from the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo. It also has retuned suspension and wider tires on alloy wheels, which was a first for the car company.
If you won’t take our word about how solid this car is, Motor Trend also claimed that the Turbo R was “the first Bentley in decades deserving of the famous name.” These cars are pretty hard to find, but if you’re willing to travel to California, there’s a 1997 model currently on AutoTrader that has only 60,000 miles for just shy of $19,000.
14 2000 BMW M5 ($20,000)
The BMW M5 is a sports sedan that’s part of the 5 Series of executive cars put out by the Bavarian automaker. The first version of the M5 was hand-built in 1985 with a tuned-up M1 engine, making it the fastest production sedan around at the time. These cars are still in production today, just with a different eye toward design.
The E39 M5 is from the third generation, which was in production from 1998 to 2003. It had a significant power increase, using an S62 V8 engine that garnered 394 bhp, and a Getrag type D 6-speed manual transmission. Most BMWs in this make and model would cost upward of $30,000, but on AutoTrader there are a few that can be had for $20,000, and even less if higher mileage doesn't bother you too much.
13 2017 Chrysler 200 ($22,000)
Chrysler is not known for its overly-expensive cars, and the Chrysler 200 is a pretty snazzy looking midsize sedan. These cars were produced from 2010 to 2017, and you can get one of the newest models for a low price if you know where to look. The 200 lived across two generations, in four-door sedan and convertible body styles.
You can actually get one of these nice-looking cars brand new for just $22,000 new if you take it without the extra add-ons. You’re looking at a four-wheel-drive 200 Touring with 9-speed shiftable automatic transmission.
These second-generation models were equipped with either a 2.4-liter Tigershark I4 with the LX “base” model, or the 3.6-liter Pentashark V6 on the Limited model, which produced 299 bhp.
12 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth ($23,000)
Fiat is not typically known for their high end sports cars, but this beauty is quite the exception. The Fiat 124 Spider is a front-engine, rear-drive roadster that has been in production since 2016. It’s based on the Mazda MX-5 roadster (Miata), and was manufactured alongside it at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant.
It has the same platform, interior, and mechanisms as the MX-5, but it also has a Fiat turbocharged Multiair 1.4-liter I4 engine, shocks, and a unique exterior styling. The 124 nameplate comes from the 1966 to 1985 Fiat 124 Sport Spider. Given its small engine, it only runs at 168 hp and has a top speed of around 144 mph. It still looks awesome though, and you can get one almost new (2,500 miles approximately) for around $23,000.
11 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR ($25,000)
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is one of the premiere JDM cars available for modding. The Evo is a sports sedan that was produced from 1992 to 2016. Originally intended only for Japanese markets, the Evo forced high demand, which led to them being offered to European markets in 1998 and then in the United States in 2003.
The GSR is the street car model, and a 2012 version is part of the Concept-X line.
The GSR came with an all-new four-wheel drive system called S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control), and a 2.0-liter 4B11T I4 turbocharged engine with 296 hp. On Car Gurus there is a mode on sale in California that has 72,000 miles and is only $24,995. If you want to look like a street racer (or just want to look cool riding around town) head over to Spring Valley.
10 2002 Bentley Arnage ($24,800)
Making a second appearance on a list that you might have thought them unlikely to appear on at all is Bentley, this time with the Arnage. The Arnage is a large luxury vehicle that was in production from 1998 to 2009. At the time, this was one of two cars that marked the first new designs from the company since 1980. The other was the Silver Seraph.
The Arnage was also powered by a new engine. Rather than the typical 6.75-liter V8 of the past, this was given a 4.4-liter twin-turbo BMW V8. For a brief moment in history it was the fastest and most powerful four-door saloon in the world with 354 hp. Though prices for an Arnage can fluctuate between $25,000 to $50,000 and even go higher, we found a black 2002 model with just 55,000 miles on it for just $24,880 on CarsForSale.com
9 2005 Lotus Elise ($28,000)
Talk about a car that’ll make you look rich! The Lotus Elise may look like a supercar, but it can actually be very reasonably priced. The Elise is a two-seater, mid-engined roadster that was first built in 1996. The first models were hand-finished with fibre glass bodies on bonded, extruded aluminum chassis, helping keep weight and production costs minimal.
The first roadster was capable of a top speed of 150 mph, but the 2005 model was perhaps even faster. It was the first Elise to be sold commercially in the United States.
These quick roadsters were fitted with a 1.8-liter Toyota 1ZZ-FE I4 engine, had relatively low horsepower, but still moved fast. Most 2005 models go for around $30,000 and above, but we found one on Auto Trader that was just shy of $28,000, with only 55,000 miles on it.
8 2014 Jaguar XJL Portfolio ($30,000)
The Jaguar XJ is the name of a long-running, full-size line of luxury sedans made by the British carmaker since 1968. Since 1970 the XJ has been their flagship model, and the original version was the last Jaguar saloon to have had input by Sir William Lyons, Jaguar’s founder. That ’68 has been featured in various high-profile appearances, but we’re talking about a newer model here, an X351, which has only been around since 2009.
The X351 was unveiled in 2009 by Jay Leno and Elle Macpherson at the Saatchi Gallery in London. It’s a longer and wider car than its predecessors, but has smaller headlights and a squarer grille. The 2014 model had a minor facelift (upgraded suspension and rear seating, small cosmetic changes), but it was still powered by a 5.0-liter 385 PS V8 standard. Surprisingly, you can find a used 2014 model for around $30,000 and above.
7 2017 Kia Cadenza ($31,000)
The Kia Cadenza is a car most might not expect on this list, but it’s here for two simple reasons. The first is that it looks pretty nice when you’re driving one, and the second is that it’s actually pretty cheap to buy. The Kia K7, as it’s called in South Korea, is a full-size executive sedan that was launched in 2010 to replace the Kia Amanti.
Its first generation was from 2010 to 2016, but here we’re featuring the newer second generation, which scored a huge “Top Safety Pick+” from the IIHS.
A standard model comes equipped with a 2.4-liter Theta II GDI I4 engine, but you can also get them with 3.0-liter V6 engines or a 2.2-iter I4 diesel. All the used 2017 Cadenzas we found started at around $31,000 and went up from there.
6 2011 Cadillac CTS-V ($32,000)
The Cadillac CTS-V is the old American company’s take on a newly refined, high-performance sedan. It’s the upgraded version of the CTS, and has been around since 2004. There are three different body styles available, and they all have a pushrod OHV V8 engine and sport-tuned suspension.
These cars are fast, sleek, and best of all, inexpensive. They’re much more affordable than, say, their competitors, the Audi RS6, BMW M5 (newer models, not the one mentioned above), and Mercedes E63 EMG.
A second-generation model CTS-V comes equipped with a 6.2-liter LSA V8 supercharged engine with 556 hp, which allows it to reach 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. Though these cars start at $59,995, you can find used models for nearly half that, starting at around $32,000.
5 2003 Porsche 911 Cabriolet ($35,000)
Who would have thought it was possible to get a Porsche 911 for under six digits? These high-performance, rear-engined classic sports cars have been available since 1963, and are the epitome of the boxer-engined goodness- besides maybe the Porsche Boxster. These cars are cult favorites for modifying for races, rallies, and other competitions.
The 911 was named fifth in an international Car of the Century poll in 1999. It’s one of the oldest sports coupes still in production today, and one can be yours for the low price of $35,000 or so if you look hard.
The Turbo S Cabriolet was introduced in 2001. It has more power than a traditional Turbo, can reach 0-60 mph in 3.91 seconds, and has a top speed of a whopping 189 mph. You can actually find other 911s from the early 2000s for less than $30,000, but this particular one was around $35,000.
4 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 MK III ($38,750)
The Austin-Healey 3000 is the type of car you see on display at classic car shows around the world. It’s a British sports car that was around from 1959 to 1967, is exceedingly rare in this day and age, and will make you look like a millionaire.
The 3-liter car won many European rallies in its day, and is still raced in classic car competitions to this day.
The Mark III 3000 convertible was first released in 1964, given a power increase from 136 to 150 bhp, and was the first 3000 to display the speedometer directly in front of the driver. It was the last generation of 3000s to exist. You can typically find them on used classic car sites for around $50,000 to $70,000, but there are also a few that are priced more reasonably, like this one in Santa Ana, California for $38,750.
3 1931 Pierce-Arrow Eight Club ($42,900)
Pierce-Arrow was an early American car company founded in Buffalo, New York, by George N. Pierce. The company lived from 1901 until 1938, and was best known for their luxury cars, though they also produced fire trucks, camp trailers, motorcycles, and bikes.
The old-fashioned cars produced by Pierce-Arrow were a sensation for their day—the 1933 Silver arrow caused a huge stir at the time of its release as a concept car, because of its futuristic look.
There are only three in existence today, and you won’t find one on this list, of course. But you will find this beautiful Eight Club sedan, which is something you might find at the runways of a classic car show. Though these cars might typically be between $70,000 to $250,000, this beauty from St. Louis, Missouri is priced at just $42,900.
2 2006 Lotus Exige S ($55,000)
If we called the Lotus Elise a “supercar-looking” car earlier, we may have been wrong—this is what a supercar should look like. It’s a two-door hardcore coupe version of the Elise, and is the bigger-engined model of the Lotus family.
It uses a V6 instead of the Elise’s straight-4. The car has been in production since 2000 with all sorts of different modifications. The 2006 Exige S reverted back to an I4—a supercharged 1.8-liter Toyota engine that produced 220 bhp and was capable of reaching 148 mph top speed. Though it may not be as fast or powerful as it looks, that fact alone is going to help your budget. This car looks absolutely awesome, and will certainly turn heads on the road. There are a few used models on sale for roughly $55,000.
1 1960 Chevrolet Corvette ($60,000)
Though we could have put a Dodge Viper or modern Corvette on this list because they’re both relatively inexpensive for what they are, we couldn’t do without this beautiful 1960 Corvette. It is reaching higher price-points, that’s true, but it’s still in the range of “rich looking” without actually being “rich.” The Corvette has been around since 1953, and in those 65 years we’ve seen countless body styles and designs.
This, however, is a C1 first-generation Corvette, first introduced in 1953 and defunct in 1962. It’s the classic model of an already classic car. It will be recognized by car enthusiasts wherever you go, and will turn the heads of even the most inexperienced of car enthusiasts. All of this can be had for $100 short of $60,000 at ClassicCars.com.
Sources: CarGurus.com; ClassicCars.com; AutoTrader.com; CarsForSale.com; Wikipedia.org