If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, all of us wish we were filthy rich and could afford any car, boat, plane, etc. that we desire. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards for a lot of us. For many of us, we have to show a perceived idea of wealth, even if we’re not actually wealthy behind closed doors. And much of that perceived wealth can be viewed in public by the cars we drive.
Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugattis, Bentleys—these are all cars that cost as much as many houses, and these six-figure supercars just aren’t a viable option for the less than super rich. But there are still models of cars from Audi, Porsche, Dodge, Chevrolet, Nissan, Acura, Lotus, and more, that look completely awesome on the road—and will give off the appearance of its owner being very rich.
Those are the cars that this article focuses on. The cars that make us look rich but that were bought for less than an arm and a leg. And they are out there; you just have to shop wisely and smartly—and usually in the “used” and “pre-owned” sections. But believe us when we say that you can find yourself behind the wheel of an absolutely stunning sports car that's sure to turn heads wherever you go.
So here are 20 used sports cars that will make you look rich.
The Mazda RX-8 was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in 2001. It was the successor to the popular RX-7, a new, rounder, sleeker version of its predecessor, powered by a Wankel engine.
It was discontinued in 2012, due to the RX-8 being removed from European markets in 2010 after the car failed to meet emissions standards (without those European sales and with the rising price of Yen, Mazda couldn’t justify keeping it on the market).
Because of these “issues,” you can get behind the wheel of these sweet-looking sports cars for just around $5,000 if you look and buy smart. Just doing a quick Autotrader search, I’ve found a 2005 RX-8 for just $4,000, and another for $7,500—both in my area code.
The Toyota MR2 is a mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive, two-seater (that’s what the MR2 stands for) sports car put out globally by Japanese automaker Toyota for three generations (spanning from 1984 to 2007). Its claim to fame is being Japan’s initial mid-engined production car, and these small, economical roadsters look pretty awesome. To the untrained eye, they look pretty expensive, too.
But used MR2s are anything but expensive. Toyota MR2s from the ‘80s, especially, can be had for cheap. And they still look sporty. Autotrader shows a couple ’86 MR2s for $4,500 to $6,500, and eBay has a 2002 MR2 convertible for just $7,000. Later models can be a bit pricier, so your best bet is to look for a mid-'90s to early-'00s model.
The S2000 roadster was manufactured by Honda between 1999 and 2009. It was first shown as a concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995 and was launched in 2009 to celebrate Honda’s 50th anniversary. Throughout the car’s 10-year lifespan, multiple revisions were made to the S2000, including changes to the engine, gearbox, interior, exterior, and suspension. As far as body styling, they resemble Mazda Miatas (size, shape, and convertible).
But they cost less than a Mazda Miata, and you can look pretty fly in one of these inexpensive cars. On eBay, there’s a 2003 model going around that’s just over $10,000. There’s another 2003 model that’s just $8,200 and a sleek 2004 model with a $12,000 Buy-It-Now price tag.
BMW is known as a pretty expensive car company, and the Z3 is one of the coolest-looking cars on its roster. But did you know that not all who drive a Z3 are filthy rich?
In fact, you can get a decent-looking Z3 from the early 2000s for about $12,000 (and sometimes less, depending on when you’re looking).
These two-seater sports cars were produced from 1995 to 2002, with 2-door roadster and 3-door coupe options. They were based on the E36 S Series platform, with rear semi-trailing arm designs from the older E30 3 Series. The Z3 was the first BMW Z Series car to be mass-produced, and for good reason: they look awesome, and used models are extremely affordable.
The Scion FR-S (now known as a Toyota 86, after Scion discontinued in 2016), is a 2+2 seater sports car developed jointly by Toyota and Subaru. It has a boxer engine and rear-wheel-drive drivetrain, and a fastback-coupe body style. The Scion FR-S was exclusively sold in Canada and the US. Its name was derived from its description: "F" from "front-engined," "R" for "rear-wheel drive," "S" for "sportscar." These cars, besides looking cool, came with a BeSpoke stereo system from Scion.
In the 2014 year, Scion released 2,500 “10 Series” units for Scion’s 10th anniversary—complete with HD headlights, push-button start, a shifter knob, and automatic climate control. There are multiple 2014 and 2015 Scion FR-Ss on the market for around $14,000, so you can be sure that with this sporty rich-looking car, you won’t break the bank.
One of the most famous cars in the world, the Ford Mustang has been around in one form or another since 1963. It's the epitome of American muscle, based originally on the North American Ford Falcon, a compact car. The Mustang created the “pony car” class of American muscle cars, which are affordable sports coupes with long hoods and short rear decks. The Mustang gave rise to competition like the Chevy Camaro, the Pontiac Firebird, the AMC Javelin, and the Dodge Challenger, but none of those ever reached the popularity of the Mustang (besides possibly the Challenger).
You can get an early 2000s Mustang for around $18,000, and they have a classic look to them. What’s really popular right now are mid-'60s and early-'70s Mustangs, with the original body styles, and one of those refurbished/pimped-out cars will run you between $15,000 to about $40,000.
The Infiniti Q60 is a sport luxury coupe and convertible made by Infiniti. Its predecessor was the Infiniti G coupe and convertible. The first generation of the Q60 ran from 2013 to 2016, and the second generation came out in 2016 and is still being produced today. The Q60 is a mix between a luxury coupe and a sports convertible, but it takes more after its sports side. These two-door convertible coupes are pretty sleek but also pretty mild-looking compared to, say, a Lotus or Porsche. Nonetheless, they can be bought for cheap, with many 2014 pre-owned models running for $20,000 and below. They can also get a bit pricier, but you’ll probably never find a pre-owned Q60 that's more than $30,000, and if you do, you’re probably getting ripped off.
The Nissan 370Z (also known as the "Fairlady Z Z34" in Japan) is a two-door, two-seater sports car that was first shown at the 2008 Greater LA Auto Show. The car is the sixth generation of the Nissan Z car line, taking over for the 350Z. In body style, these cars resemble Porsches (similar round back and headlight placement and tail wing), but they can be bought for much cheaper.
A recent search shows a couple 2013 and 2014 370Zs, pre-owned, for only about $23,000, and earlier models can be bought for even less than $20,000.
That’s quite a drop in price from a Porsche of any kind, especially given the similarities to and characteristics of the Fairlady.
Generally speaking, we thought Porsche Boxsters were much more expensive than we’ve found. That being said, these cars do fluctuate massively in price. We’ve found 2008 Boxster Limited Edition for just $24,000 and a 2008 Boxster S for just $26,000, while ’01 convertibles could for $8,000 and 2010 Spyders for $100,000. Given the popularity and prestige that go along with owning a Porsche, it’s safe to say that its relatively cheap pre-owned price tag is a well-kept secret amongst drivers and sellers.
Boxsters are two-door, two-seater roadsters, first released in 1996 alongside the Cayman, a fastback-coupe version of the car.
If there was no other car you were interested in on this list, with regard to looking rich while driving cheap, the Porsche Boxster is the way to go.
The original Subaru Impreza (manufactured by Subaru since 1992) is a compact family car, but the WRX versions are spiffy sports cars with a classic rear wing and a sleek body style, and the WRX STI are pushed even further. The WRX STI is a major rival to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, but you can generally get a used WRX STI for cheaper.
The WRX STI debuted at the Tokyo Auto Show in 2007 as the third generation of the Impreza, and they’re fitted with 2.0-liter EJ207 engines with twin-scroll turbochargers. The Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) is suited with three modes: “intelligent,” “sport,” and “sport sharp.” These cars are perfect if you’re trying to look cool on the road but don’t want to spend a lot. You can get a used 2012 to 2015 model for less than $30,000.
The Cadillac CTS-V is not a sports car by origination—it’s a high-performance version of the CTS. But there are three body styles of the CTS-V, including a V8 four-door that was released in 2004, a CTS-V sport wagon in 2010, and the Coupe in 2011. Here, we’re focusing on the sportiest model, the CTS-V Coupe.
The CTS-V Coupe competes in North America with other high-end coupes and luxury sedans, including the Audi RS6, the BMW M5, and the Mercedes E64 AMG.
Unlike those other three cars, however, you can get a Cadillac CTS-V Coupe for pennies on the dollar. In fact, there are a couple 2011 models on eBay right now for just $33,000, and a couple more for $38,000 to $40,000.
The Lexus RC is a premium coupe made by Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota. "RC" represents “Radical Coupe” and is a version of the Lexus IS but with two doors and as a coupe. It’s called the "XC10 Series," and its body style was borrowed heavily from the concept of the LF-LC (the “Lexus Future-Luxury Coupe”). The RC was first unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, to great acclaim. The RC has a shorter wheelbase than the XE30 Series and shares the front end of the L10 Series, the midsection of the XE20 Series convertible, and the rear components of the XE30 Series IS. Basically, the RC is a sweet amalgamation that you can buy for relatively cheap (around $34,000 for 2015 models), while still being perceived as rich. You are driving a Lexus after all.
The Lotus Elise truly looks like a $100,000 supercar, but this mid-engined, two-seater, rear-wheel-drive roadster can be had for under $40,000 (between $34,000 to $40,000 for a pre-owned coupe). The Elise was first unveiled in 1994 and released in 1996 by British carmaker Lotus Cars. The Series 1 Elise had a fiberglass body shell over its bonded aluminum chassis, giving it rigid suspension while also keeping the cost of producing it to a minimum. That’s why you can get one of these guys for relatively cheap. The Elise roadster can reach top speeds in excess of 150 mph. The name comes from Elisa, Romano Artioli's granddaughter, Romano being the chairman of Lotus and Bugatti during the car’s launch.
Another famous “pony car” and direct competitor of the Ford Mustang is the Dodge Challenger, a three-generation muscle sports car that’s been around since 1970 and made famous by exciting car movies all over. The first generation (1970-74) Challenger was a pony car set onto a Chrysler E platform and sharing components with a Plymouth Barracuda. Then, the second generation (1978-83) was a badge-made Mitsubishi Galant Lambda compact car. The current version, the third since 2008, was unveiled at the 2006 Detroit Motor Show.
Many designs of the 3rd-gen Challenger were adapted from the 1970 Challenger R/T. The first SRT8s were auctioned off by Chrysler and sold for $400,000, but now, it’s possible to get a 2016 and below version for around $40,000. Prices on these cars fluctuate greatly, as a Challenger SRT Demon can run you $150,000 brand new.
The Alfa Romeo 4C is a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive, mid-engined sports car that looks absolutely stunning. These cars definitely look more expensive than they are. They’re available in coupe and spider bodies, and use carbon-fiber tubs, front and rear crash boxes, and subframe from aluminum to keep the weight at 1,973 lbs and 2,315 lbs in the US. The 4C is the first mass-produced car of the 21st century for Alfa Romeo to re-enter the North American car market.
The concept of the 4C was unveiled at the 81st Geneva Motor Show in 2011 before being released in 2013. You can get a pre-owned 4C for about $50,000 (2015 model), or even a bit cheaper ($47,000 approximately). Either way, you probably won’t find a pre-owned 4C for more than $58,000, and that’s a steal.
The Acura NSX Coupe (or Honda NSX outside of North America) is a two-seater, mid-engine sports car developed by Honda’s luxury brand, Acura. The concept of the NSX dates back to 1984, with the HP-X (fully named the "Honda Pininfarina eXperimental") car, which was a 3.0-liter V6, mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive sports car. Honda signed up for this endeavor with the intention of exceeding the performance of a then-V8 Ferrari engine but with more reliability and a lower price point.
The car evolved into the NS-X or the “New Sportscar eXperimental) before being launched in 1990 as the "NSX." A new, second-generation NSX (2015 to present) can run upwards of $150,000, but older used models can be had for around $47,000 to $60,000 (and sometimes a bit higher, too).
The Lotus Evora sports car is made by the British manufacturer Lotus Cars and was made under the secret name "Project Eagle." In 2008, it was launched at the British International Motor Show, while the Evora S began in 2010 (built with a supercharged 3.5-liter V6 engine). A more powerful Evora 400 was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show but which was then followed by an even MORE powerful variant, the Evora GT430, in 2017.
The Evora is based on the first new vehicle platform since the introduction of the Elise in 1995. Sales, starting in 2009, were priced between £45,000 and just over £50,000 (about $63,000 to $69,000), and now, you can find a used model (2013-2014 model) for between $47,000 and $55,000.
The Porsche 911 is a high-performance, rear-engined, two-door, classic German sports car that’s been on the road since 1963. It's known for its six-cylinder, rear-mounted boxer engine, its all-around independent suspension, and its classic body style. Though it's been around for 55 years, the basic concept of the car is unchanged. The 911 is one of the most heavily modified cars for rallying, racing, and other competitive motorsports.
It's one of the most successful competition cars in the world, and in the mid-'70s, naturally aspirated 911 Carrera RSRs won major world championships.
In a 1999 international poll of the Car of the Century, the 911 came in fifth. It's one of the oldest sports coupes still in production, with one million manufactured as of May 2017. Though they can run upwards of $150,000 for new, turbo models, you can get an awesome 911 in the mid-2010s for around $65,000.
The Chevy Corvette Z06 is a high-performance version of the classic Corvette. There have been four iterations of the Z06, including the C2 Z06 from 1963, the C5 Z06 from 2001 to 2004, the C6 Z06 from 2006 to 2013, and the C7 Z06 from 2015 to present day. These sports cars aren't only one of the sleekest and fastest looking cars on the road, but for their quality, they’re also one of the cheapest. The seventh-generation Corvette, the C7 Z06, was introduced in 2014 and was the first to bear the Corvette Stingray name since the 1968 third-generation model.
You can get a seventh-generation Z06 for less than $70,000, or you could get heavily modified Z06s for much, much more. It depends what you’re after.
My favorite car on this list—and my favorite car since I was a kid—is the Dodge Viper (specifically, the SRT-10 model). It’s probably the most inexpensive supercar in the world, but it's considered a supercar. The SRT models of the Viper were introduced between 2013 and 2014, following a brief 3-year hiatus from 2010 to 2013. The production of the two-seater sports car began in 1988. Though Chrysler considered ending production after facing financial problems, a new iteration of the Viper was shown in 2012. It placed #10 on the “Most American Cars” list, meaning 75% or more of its parts are manufactured in the US.
You can get a newish SRT-10 for $70,000 and up, or you could get an older GTS Coupe model for between $40,000 to $80,000, depending on the year, or an awesome ACR model for around $150,000—but that’s for an article on a different day.