The practice of driving is one of the most rewarding feelings on earth, especially when you have a high-horsepower performance car under your feet. As you feel the ground rumbling and you hear that signature exhaust note, you tend to become one with the car, and this is why performance cars have such a special place in many consumers' hearts. Over the years, there have been more than a few noteworthy performance cars. Some are legends such as the Camaro and the Mustang, and some are other vehicles that you might not even expect. Nevertheless, a performance car for a good price can make your commute go from a dreaded experience to one where you never want to leave your car.
There are all types of different performance cars available on the market, from large V8 muscle cars to tiny four-cylinder hatchbacks with a built-in turbo, and many models even come equipped with all-wheel-drive function. Depending on what the driver is seeking, there have been many fun performance vehicles that were actually intended for another purpose such as recreational usage. Many of these cars are affordable examples of a past generation, and with a little bit of love and care, you can be riding in a stellar vehicle. When it comes to choosing a performance car, there's just about any model to suit everyone's needs, and with used vehicle demand going up, there has never been a better time than now to be a used car shopper.
20 Camaro IROC-Z - $4,900
There are many stellar performance cars that came out of the eighties, but the third-generation Camaro very seldom gets the credit that it deserves. What makes this pony car great is a lightweight design that incorporates some of the best-looking sheet metal to come out of Detroit. And coupled with the available T-Tops, you have a one-of-a-kind show car. The Camaro IROC-Z, in the later points of its life, came with a tuned port 350 engine, and this is the preferred choice if you're looking for one of these mint-condition Camaros. (Nadaguides)
19 Pontiac Firebird Formula - $7,495
The Pontiac Firebird was always in the shadow of its corporate twin, the Chevrolet Camaro, and that's why many people really haven’t seen too many of these pony cars on the road. The early-nineties Pontiac Firebird Formula took all of the aspects of the third-gen Camaro, and they improved upon them with a more modern dashboard and interior as well as a smoother exterior than the Camaro brethren. The most notable thing about the Pontiac Firebird Formula is the fact that it features the classic flip of headlights that were popular in the eighties. (Nadaguides)
18 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 - $4,990
Although the fourth-generation Camaro basically resembled a giant skateboard on wheels, there's no denying the stellar performance that came out of the Corvette-derived LT1 motor. Grab this Camaro in a 30th-anniversary edition with orange stripes, and you have a pony car that instantly stands out from the crowd.
The Chevrolet Camaro Z28 is known for taking the heart-pounding performance of the LT1 motor and applying it to the pavement.
And if you opt for the manual shifter, this car will burn some serious rubber. (Cargurus.com)
17 Pontiac Firebird WS6 - $10,989
Released toward the latter part of the Pontiac's lifecycle, the Pontiac Firebird WS6 was a special-edition pony car that was very much similar to the Camaro's 35th anniversary SS model.
With a special paint job that incorporated blue racing stripes and a white leather interior, the Pontiac Firebird WS6 looked every bit as special as it was.
Coupled with the SLP cold air intake and exhaust package, this pony car has an unmistakable roar that it can back up quite well, making for a one-of-a-kind ride. (Nadaguides.com)
16 Mercury Capri R/S - $19,995
The Fox-bodied Ford Mustang 5.0 is one of the most popular used cars around because of a lightweight design and a tire-scorching engine that makes for a perfect donut machine. Unfortunately, this has driven the price of the Fox Body Mustang through the roof, but many consumers don’t realize that there was a clone of the Fox Body, and it sells for much less. The Mercury Capri R/S is basically a Ford Mustang 5.0 with a hatchback design and a wider front with split-beam headlights. This car has all of the attributes of the Ford Mustang 5.0 but without the higher price tag, which makes this a steal. (Cargurus.com)
15 Lexus SC400 - $3,499
The Lexus SC400 is the favorite of just about anyone who loves the thought of a powerful V8 motor being crammed into a lightweight design. This is a truly special car in every sense of the word, and if you've never driven one, you're in for a surprise. The resale value on the Lexus SC400 is quite low, and the engine is built so well that many of these vehicles run well over 350k miles. Not to mention, it has a super quiet ride that makes freeway driving a breeze, and the factory dual exhaust has a nice note to it. (Cargurus.com)
14 Toyota MR2 $7,995
No list would be complete without the Toyota MR2, and that's because this is a stellar sleeper car that features an extremely lightweight mid-engine design. This gives the little Toyota MR2 stellar acceleration and performance, and the later models came in a Spyder version as well, making for one of the most entertaining tiny convertibles that you can buy. Let's not forget about the legendary Toyota reliability, which will keep this car on the road long after you purchase it, making the Toyota MR2 a winning proposition. (Nadaguides.com)
13 Honda Civic SI - $4,303
Honda isn't an automaker that was originally known for performance, but their little Civic compact car has become a legend in the tuning world for a rev-happy motor that can take a beating and still keep on ticking. Honda jumped onto the performance car bandwagon with the unique Honda Civic SI. These cars came standard with a nice wing, stylish alloy rims, and a beautiful blue paint job that let the world know this isn't your mother's Civic in any sense of the word. (Nadaguides.com)
12 Acura Integra Type R - $17,000
The favorite car of street racers everywhere, the Acura Integra Type R is a high-revving Japanese muscle car that has a reputation for reliability and speed. The Acura Integra Type R available in the signature yellow paint scheme is going to set you back a pretty penny, but most examples of this car have been kept in showroom condition, and you won’t find a more fun car to drive. Even without any modifications, the Acura Integra Type R is a well-rounded performance vehicle with excellent gas mileage and a functional interior, and can we forget that huge wing? (Motor Trend)
11 Chevrolet Impala SS - $7,500
The Chevrolet Impala SS is the undisputed king of the streets—and with good reason. Just about every teenager in the US has wanted one of these cars, and they've held their value extremely well. Get a model with the optional floor shifter, and you have a collectible rear-wheel-drive V8 sedan that leaves the tires smoking at every stop light. The Chevrolet Impala SS is still rather affordable on the used car market, although if you want one that's in the really good condition, it's going to set you back some money. (Nadaguides)
10 Monte Carlo SS - $3,990
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS is another stellar used car that offers excellent functionality and performance for a decent price point.
The later models, which were released in 2006, featured a new-generation LS4 V8 motor that gave an impressive performance while maintaining only four cylinders during normal traffic speeds in town.
The Monte Carlo SS is an often overlooked coupe in today's world of Japanese sports cars because of its large design, but the V8-powered coupe is certainly an unforgettable driving experience with that V8 motor. (Motor Trend)
9 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP - $4,000
The Pontiac Grand Prix GTP is a large family sedan that was designed to give the average run-of-the-mill family driving experience some excitement. For the 2008 model year, the lightweight Pontiac Grand Prix GTP featured a small-block V8 motor, which gave the sedan an incredible amount of performance. The age of the large V8-powered sedan is over, and the Pontiac Grand Prix GTP is one of the last modern examples that you can still find on the road. (Motor Trend)
8 Pontiac GTO - $11,000
The latest incarnation of the Pontiac GTO was a car that was never really well received by the automotive public, and that's because of its large and heavy design, which made the car quite cumbersome. The Pontiac GTO had one of the best things going for it, and that's the 6.0L V8 motor, which not only delivered a massive amount of horsepower but also offered stellar reliability as did most of the GM LS engine line. This generation of the Pontiac GTO is worth buying just for the simple fact that it was the end of a legacy. (Nadaguides)
7 Dodge Charger R/T - $9,999
The Dodge Charger was the replacement for the aging Dodge Intrepid sedan, and the Charger managed to change the way that we look at the average family sedan. The Dodge Charger R/T features a powerful Hemi V8 engine, which gives the incredible performance. Coupled with the stellar leather interior and awesome factory rims, the Dodge Charger R/T is an aggressive family sedan that'll make trips to the grocery store a fun experience in a stylish and loud muscle sedan. (Nadaguides)
6 Chrysler 300 SRT8 - $7,980
The Chrysler 300 SRT is famous for a few reasons. Most notably, this was Walter White's second car of choice in the hit television series Breaking Bad.
The Chrysler 300 SRT takes what's a classy large sedan and crams a supercharged Hemi V8 into it.
This fire-breathing sedan is the last of the large rear-wheel-drive sedans in the US, and if you have a hankering for a large sedan with a whole lot of power, the Chrysler 300 SRT is the choice for you. (Nadaguides)
5 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO - $11,999
The Mitsubishi Lancer EVO is another legendary performance car out of Japan that rivals the Acura Integra Type R for street dominance. The Mitsubishi Lancer EVO is the quintessential Japanese performance car with a huge factory wing and a ground-effects kit that lets you know that this car means business. The Mitsubishi Lancer EVO has managed to hold onto its resale value; thus, if you're looking to get one of these limited-edition cars, you can expect to spend some money, but the car is very much worth it. (Nadaguides)
4 Mazdaspeed 3 - $7,500
There are quite a few small Japanese cars that have changed the game in the last few years. In terms of performance and value, the Mazdaspeed 3 is one of them. This excellent car has some of the best performance in its class, and the car was a surprise hit with consumers. The Mazdaspeed 3 is a stellar combination of style and comfort, making for a car that's versatile and also a blast to drive on winding roads. The Mazdaspeed 3 also came with quite a few interesting features including a stellar factory sound system. (Motor Trend)
3 Subaru Impreza STI -$14,999
The Subaru Impreza STI is another impressive Japanese entry much like the Lancer EVO that takes a racecar design straight to the streets. The all-wheel-drive drivetrain coupled with the stellar turbocharged engine is enough to give the car a boost that allows it to take on pretty much anything, and the car is actually a practical family sedan as well. The Subaru Impreza STI is another car that's held its value extremely well, and thus, you can expect to pay some serious money to have one of these in your driveway. (Motor Trend)
2 Ford Focus SVT - $3,495
The Ford Focus SVT is another rare car that was released to give the Focus line of cars some pep, and the Ford Focus SVT did just that. One look at the car will show you an aggressive pair of factory body kits coupled with an SVT-designed hood and factory racing rims, giving the Ford Focus SVT the look of a real-life rally car. The interior is also upgraded over your run-of-the-mill Ford Focus with a pair of racing seats being the main addition, which gives the Ford Focus SVT a true aftermarket feeling. (Motor Trend)
1 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo - $45,000
The Toyota Supra Twin Turbo is just about the most expensive and most powerful car on the list, this legendary car sometimes costing upwards of 100k at auction. The Toyota Supra Twin Turbo was the last true performance car released by Toyota, and the car gained massive notoriety after the hit Fast and Furious franchise. The Toyota Supra Twin Turbo is incredibly luxurious with a one-of-a-kind interior that's wrapped in leather and catered around the driver's comfort, which makes for a one-of-a-kind sports car like no other. (Nadaguides)
Sources: Nadaguides, Motor Trend, Cargurus.com