Fast cars are at the heart of every automotive enthusiast's basic desires. Whether it is the straight line speed afforded by massive American V-8s, or a road course special that can tear through corners. Having a fast car is a point of pride, but more importantly, a point of excitement and enjoyment. With that being said, fast cars tend to come with much heftier price tags than their less exciting, slower counterparts. This can often present an obstacle to someone looking for cheap thrills who does not have all the money in the world. Luckily, time heals all wounds, and the years have allowed once unobtainable cars to become quite obtainable.
Typically thanks to the equal parts hated and equal part beloved fact of depreciation, many high end, once expensive cars have now found themselves at the bottom of the market. We are talking high horse power, luxury beasts that are now trading for a fraction of their original worth. All this is bad news for anyone who paid sticker, but great news for those who want to cash in and experience a rich man's car on a modest man's budget.
So if you are interested in finding the fastest cars for under five figures, read on. These cars range from modern contemporaries, to aspiring classics, but they all have one thing in common: they are fast and can be had for less than $10,000.
20 Nissan 350Z $ (5,000 - $7,000)
Universally beloved by the automotive community, the 350Z has now been around for over a decade. In that time, it has accumulated a reputation as a fantastic platform to build on, whether that be a weekend track weapon, or a fun drift car.
The 350Z has undergone many changes with its younger counterpart the 370Z, but despite being over a decade old, it still is a solid performer right out of the box. It's naturally aspirated V-6 produces just under 300 horse power and the same goes for the car's torque figure.
These cars have undergone a serious decline in value, making this the ultimate project car for anyone looking to get into a Japanese sports car icon. AutoTrader has many of these going for between $5,000 and $7,000.
19 Dodge Neon SRT-4 ($6,000)
The Dodge Neon is normally one of the most forgettable cars in the automotive world. When it was finally given the SRT treatment, however, it became anything but forgettable. Thus, the SRT-4 was ushered in, changing the landscape of the mid 2000s forever. Well maybe that is going too far, but this car certainly did make a splash.
Boasting a turbo-charged four-cylinder (the “4” in SRT-4), and 230 horse power, this was a car that was bound to surprise. It was also under 3000 pounds, meaning it came with a superb power to weight ratio, as well as a tasteful boy-racer exterior.
If you are interested in a cheap, American tuner, this is the car for you. You will not have to break the bank either, clean cars with moderate to high mileage can be found on CarGurus for a paltry $6,000.
18 Subaru WRX ($7,000)
The Subaru WRX is a car enthusiast's sweet heart, and has been for quite a while now. Paired with a turbo charged four cylinder engine that has plenty of potential thanks to a massive aftermarket, this presents an affordable option for someone looking for something quick and pretty.
Sitting just below its more powerful (and more expensive) bigger brother the STI, the WRX presents a perfect value proposition. Chock full of rally heritage, while remaining relatively affordable, this car is a can’t miss for anyone in the market.
If you are wondering just how much it will cost you to drive off with one of these bad boys, you can find good condition examples on CarGurus and AutoTrader for as little as $7,000. In the car world, this is a major steal.
17 2008 Cobalt SS ($7,000)
Much like the Neon SRT-4, the Cobalt SS took a tried and true formula: take a normal, boring car and add a turbo charger and oodles more power to create a fast and affordable street car.
The 2008 Cobalt SS was definitely a step above the SRT-4, however, coming in with a 260 horse power, 2.0 liter, turbo charged four cylinder engine. It also boasted 260 pound feet of torque, as well as decent fuel economy.
If you are intrigued, you could scoop one of these up for a very reasonable price in today's market. The 2008 model year Cobalt SS can be found on CarGurus and Auto Trader for the low price of $7,000.
16 Lexus SC400 ($7,000)
Lexus has a long history of making great cars, and both the SC300 and the SC400 serve as testaments to this heritage. Specifically, the SC400 stands out as a particular example of sports car done right by Lexus.
The SC400 was in production for several years and came with an attractive spec sheet, as well as Lexus' bullet proof reputation for reliability. This coupe came with a 4.0 liter V-8 that produced a healthy 250 horse power and 260 pound feet of torque.
There is also something to be said about this car's looks, despite the subjectivity associated with beauty, the SC400 has definitely withstood the test of time. Pick one of these up today on AutoTrader for the reasonable price of $7,000.
15 2006 Mustang GT ($7,000)
The newest generation of Mustangs are beloved for their more refined handling and power, but their older siblings are still capable of bringing their share of enjoyment to those with a need for speed.
The 2006 Mustang GT is one of those eager to please cars, that is now at a price where it can be accessible by most anyone in the market. The car's 4.6 liter V-8 makes 300 horse power and 320 pound feet of torque, modest but still stout numbers.
Best of all, the Mustang may in fact have the largest selection of after market parts in the automotive world, so there are endless possibilities with what can be done to this car. According to CarGurus, you can find one today trading for as low as $7,000.
14 Porsche Boxster (986) ($7,500)
Everyone knows the Porsche Boxster is great, well-balanced, mid-engined sports car. Despite this, the car has garnered somewhat of a reputation as a hair dresser's car. In this writer's opinion, that reputation is wholly unwarranted.
The Boxster is fundamentally a formula for an engaging and fun driving experience, especially when equipped with Porsche's fantastic 6-speed manual. What you get is a top-down, mid-engined riot on four wheels, that will leave those V-8 snobs in the dust through corners.
The after market potential for this roadster is also insane, as evident if you have ever been to a track day with one of these. All it will cost to get into one of these today, according to AutoTrader, is about $7,500.
13 Golf GTI ($7,000 - $9,000)
Sure, the Golf GTI has not traditionally been known to blow the doors off and take your breath away with its speed, but for under $10,000 this is a seriously quick hatch with plenty of potential.
This hot hatch has power driven to the front wheels by a 2.0 liter turbo charged engine that comes with either a 6-speed manual or a dual clutch transmission. The GTI is great back-road car with balance and a minimal curb weight to inspire confidence.
As well as being tons of fun, the GTI is also practical and affordable, with countless listings on both AutoTrader and CarGurus, for cars ranging between $7,000 and $9,000.
12 Mercedes E-55 AMG ($7,000 - $9,000)
If you are a car enthusiast, chances are you are a fan of AMG. Unfortunately, the AMG badge comes with a heavy premium if you are buying new. If you are not, however, you definitely have options if you are trying to keep the price under $10,000.
Let me present to you the E-55 AMG, your solution to the lack of German horse power in your life. This car comes with a massive supercharged V-8, generating a ridiculous 469 horse power and an even more absurd 516 pound feet of torque.
All of that power can be yours for a small fraction of this car's original MSRP. A look through both AutoTrader and CarGurus shows several cars from 2000-2004 going for between $7,000 and $9,000. Easily the most insane horse power to dollar ration on this list.
11 Corvette C4 ($8,000)
The Corvette is the pinnacle of American sports cars. Super cars like the Ford GT aside, the Corvette is the relatively affordable go-to for anyone looking for sleek styling paired with a rumbling V-8. Not to mention the cool factor of having the partial top-down feature most Corvette's have.
Therefore, the Corvette C4 presents the perfect value proposition of car enthusiasts on a budget. Weighing less than 3,300 pounds, and equipped with the same 5.7 liter V-8 found in that era's Z28, this car also made 300 horse power and 335 pound feet of torque.
All of this could be yours today for a fraction of the C4's original price tag. A quick stroll through CarGurus shows several later-model Corvette C4s going for under $8,000, so act today.
10 2006 Audi S4 ($8,000)
Another car out of 2006, the Audi S4 is a beautiful and powerful option for those looking for a car to do it all. Not stifled by reduced displacement or turbo charging, this car boasts a good-old fashioned, naturally aspirated V-8.
That 4.2 liter V-8 helped the S4 produce 340 horse power and 302 pound feet of torque, which even today is a healthy amount of power. When first released, these cars retailed for upwards of $50,000, but can be had today for much lower.
How much lower you ask? Much lower. Just take a quick gander at AutoTrader and CarGurus to have your mind blown, because the 2006 Audi S4 can now be had for about $8,000.
9 BMW E46 M3 ($8,000)
A legend on four wheels, the E46 M3 is revered by BMW fans and car enthusiasts alike. Often looked upon as one of the greatest M-cars ever built (and that is saying something), the E46 is a modern day classic that can be yours for under $10,000.
"Powerful" and "balanced" were the ringing endorsements journalist's proffered on the E46 when it was first released. Years later, that still rings true. Making 333 horse power from a 3.2 liter inline 6 cylinder, this M3 is still a potent weapon.
Despite the acclaim and reverence, this car can actually be had for quite a reasonable price. Our trusty companions, CarGurus and AutoTrader, reveal just how much it costs to get one today. $8,000, that is all the cash you need to get into an automotive icon.
8 2008 BMW 550i ($9,000)
The 2008 BMW 550i is a great starting point for anyone looking for a modern looking BMW that also happens to have a great sounding 4.8 liter V-8. This car is a perfect blend of sport and luxury in a car that was once $60,000 when new.
With 360 horse power and 360 pound feet of torque, this was a rear-wheel drive beast that could be optioned with a 6-speed manual for the full driving experience. As mentioned before, what was once an expensive luxury sedan, is now an affordable opportunity to get into a modern BMW. Especially considering clean models on CarGurus are going for about $9,000, so act quickly and make depreciation your friend!
7 Pontiac GTO ($9,000)
General Motors has a storied history of great American V-8s, going all the way back to the original muscle car era of the late 1960s. Since then, GM has kept that tradition alive with a continual stream of affordable, big-power muscle cars like the 2006 Pontiac GTO.
The GTO came with a massive 6.2 liter naturally aspirated V-8 that made a cool 400 horse power. This car was an ode to the original 1960s era GTO, and definitely lived up to the name.
Nowadays, the GTO has reached a price point where many enthusiasts can easily get their hands on a cheap V-8. Clean examples of the GTO can frequently be found on AutoTrader for about $9,000.
6 2007 Lexus LS460 ($9,000)
The Lexus LS460 is a gold mine for the luxury inclined car fanatic. The LS460 is not what you would typically associate with being a sports car, but it is still more than fast enough with it's burly 4.6 liter V-8.
This car also had the distinction of having the world's first 8-speed automatic transmission. This transmission put in it's work, because the LS460 made 380 horse power and 367 pound feet of torque.
Being 10 years old, the car still has a modern appeal, and comes with the peace of mind afforded by Lexus' reputation for reliability. AutoTrader show these going for a steal at $9,000, which is insane when you realize they were going for $70,000 when new.
5 2010 Infiniti G-37 ($9,000)
The 2010 Infiniti G-37 is the perfect daily driver. It is fast, pretty, and practical. Being a 4-door sports sedan, the G-37 was a Japanese alternative to the inundation of European luxury sedans.
This car came with a naturally aspirated V-6, allowing this car to produce 330 horse power and 270 pound feet of torque. Being in the luxury segment, the 2010 G-37 was not a cheap car when it was new, it had an MSRP of $48,800.
Things have changed since 2010, however. Prices for these cars have gone the way of so many others. That is to say down, way down. Considering this car is not even 10 years old yet, the fact that CarGurus shows clean examples going for $9,000 is absolutely insane.
4 2000 Chevy Camaro Z28 ($9,500)
The Z28 has long been one of the most coveted among the diverse range of Camaros. So the 2000 Camaro Z28 is a fantastic option for those who want a piece of GM heritage. This car also can be built up like Legos, so if you want a track car or a drag strip special, look no further.
The car itself weight less than 3,500 pounds, while being powered by typically massive 5.7 liter V-8. This massive engine provides the car with just over 300 horse power, and 335 pound feet of torque. Those are pretty good numbers for a car that is nearly 20 years old now. Especially where its value has gone in today's saturated market, because AutoTrader has cars with relatively low miles going for about $9,500. Definitely snag one of these up if you are at all interested in cheap muscle.
3 2000 BMW Z3M Roadster ($10,000)
The Z3M is a superb driver's car, and that is simply a fact. With a buttery smooth inline 6 cylinder engine, drop-top good looks, and a relatively affordable price, what is not to like about it?
The 2000 model year Z3M Roadster made 235 horse power and 197 pound feet of torque. Not insane numbers, but when you factor in the car's sub-3000 pound curb weight, you see just how great a proposition this car is. Go on AutoTrader today and you are sure to see plenty of these listed for just under the magical $10,000. Be sure to act quickly, because prices are already climbing on this generation Roadster. Its no wonder either, a naturally aspirated, 6-cylinder roadster is increasingly difficult to find in today's market.
2 2008 Charger SRT-8 ($10,000)
More Mopar! SRT has garnered a good reputation for fun, fast, high-horse power cars, and their rendition of the Dodge Charger is no different. Boasting a classic, big-block American V-8, this Charger is a definite contender for fastest car under $10,000.
The SRT-8 sends power exclusively to the rear wheels, and a lot of it. This car's massive 6.1 liter V-8, makes 425 horse power and 420 pound feet of torque. Fuel economy may be an issue, but luckily with the car's price tag, you can pass along those savings to your gas bill. According to CarGurus, this 10 year old Charger can now be had for not much under $10,000. Not the cheapest car on the list, but definitely one of the fastest.
1 Honda S2000 ($10,000)
If you are a fan of cars, you are more than likely a fan of the Honda’s S2000. This car has a cult like following ever since being immortalized in The Fast and The Furious. Since then, demand and desire for this car has only continued to climb.
This car was never the fastest in a straight line, coming equipped with a modest four-cylinder natural aspirated engine, but it more than made up for it with legendary handling and balance that made it an autocross and track special.
That is not to say it has appreciated to the point of being unobtainable for those who dare not venture past the five-figure mark. Prices are still within grasp for earlier models, with CarGurus showing several examples going for just under $10,000. Act quickly though, because prices are bound to rise for these future classics.
Sources: autotrader.ca, cargurus.co.uk