Used cars are one of the most economical ways to buy a car. You skip out on paying for dealership fees and depreciation, and when they're purchased from a reliable dealer, you can get an excellent warranty for your car. Luckily for people looking to stretch a budget, many cars depreciate incredibly quickly. You can buy cars for a fraction of their original value. Oftentimes, cars that are more expensive depreciate the most and therefore become available to people who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford them.
For prospective speed demons, this is great news. Something that has a top speed of 155 mph and 300 horsepower would ordinarily cost you upwards of $40,000, but on the used market, can be easily found for under $15,000. While it's important to remember that you’ll be paying to maintain a $40,000 car and not a $15,000 one, you’ll have saved money on the purchase, freeing up money to use on maintenance and repairs. More importantly, if you're able to get a warranty, then you’re in great shape. A speedy ride that’s far cheaper than sticker price with the assurance that you won’t have to pay for maintenance? Sign us up!
These cars may not be the most reliable used cars, but they're some of the fastest that you can find cheap for under $15,000. These examples, in particular, were found on AutoTrader.
15 2004 Subaru WRX - 5.3 Seconds
The Subaru WRX is perhaps the darling of all car enthusiasts. It has many desirable features, including a fairly tight suspension that keeps the car dialed in around corners, whether that's on a track, on the dirt, or on the snow. The car is fast, agile, and easily underestimated, which may work to your advantage in a race. It gets from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds, which is much quicker than many modern cars. The example we found only costs $10,000. For a reasonable price, the speed and capability of Subaru's AWD beast present quite a bargain that's easily attainable for the average car enthusiast.
14 2012 Ford Mustang - 5.3 Seconds
The Ford Mustang is yet another cheap used car that can get drivers up to speed quickly.
Completing the 0-to-60 mph sprint in 5.3 seconds, the Mustang is a solid choice for anyone looking for cheap speed.
This model that we found costs just $10,500, which is pretty solid, considering that being a 2012 model, the car is fairly new. The RWD coupe has everything that enthusiasts want: the correct drivetrain, a powerful V6 engine, a long hood and aggressive body, and a slick driving experience at a true bargain. The Mustang is reliable and cheap to service as well, further increasing its appeal.
13 2012 Lincoln MKS - 5.3 Seconds
For those looking for more practicality, look no further than the 2012 Lincoln MKS. This refined U.S. luxury sedan is equal parts comfortable and quick, reaching 60 mph in a respectable 5.3 seconds.
Available for $10,000 on Autotrader, this sedan will suit all of your needs.
While perhaps not the best-looking car on this list, it's one of the more luxurious ones. A BMW M3 may be more appealing, but if you think with your wallet, then the MKS is the obvious choice. However, for those more concerned with speed and less so with luxury and practicality, there are plenty of cars for you ahead.
12 2006 Mazda MAZDASPEED6 - 5.3 Seconds
For the same price as the MKS, you can buy a wacky 2006 MAZDASPEED6 for $10,000. The similar price fetches you a similar 0-to-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds. The WRX-fighting sedan is quick, relatively agile, and spacious enough to haul you and four friends down the road at considerable speed. AWD, practicality, and reliability make this an appealing choice over various competitors, although looks may not be particularly inspiring. However, they're unique and quirky, which appeals to its own set of drivers. Legendary Japanese reliability means that the Mazda will be sitting faithfully in your driveway, waiting to be driven hard for years to come.
11 2005 Dodge Neon SRT-4 - 5.2 Seconds
The 2005 Dodge Neon SRT-4 just edges out the competition to 60 mph, coming in at 5.2 seconds. It does, however, smoke them when it comes to the price.
At $7,000, it's the cheapest car on this list and quite the bargain if you're concerned with speed.
Its looks are... interesting, to say the least. Its round headlights do have an appealing quirky charm to them, and many drivers are able to create a good-looking ride with some simple modifications. The Neon SRT-4 is cheap, reliable, practical, and a blast to drive, and perhaps its best quality is that it doesn't take itself too seriously.
10 2005 Mercedes C55 AMG - 4.9 Seconds
Creeping into sub-5-second territory, we have a 2005 Mercedes C55 AMG, which gets up to 60 mph in an impressive 4.9 seconds. It does eat up all of our budget, with examples popping up on Autotrader for about $15,000. That's quite the price for this 13-year-old speed demon. An old Mercedes with a large and complicated V8 engine isn't going to be the most reliable ride in the world, but at least when it works properly, you'll be having a blast. With the beautiful sound of the aggressive German exhaust combined with the thrill of instant acceleration, the C55 AMG has got to be one of the most fun cars to drive on this list.
9 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera - 4.9 Seconds
Classy refined speed is the 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera's strong suit. It jumps to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and just keeps going. For $10,000, this is quite the bargain. It's hard to beat the Porsche's looks and refinement, regarded as perhaps one of the best automakers. The 911 Carrera is at home on the track or rolling up to a fancy restaurant, making a versatile addition to any garage. Parts and service can get expensive, but much like with the C55 AMG, it's unlikely that you'll care too much when you're flying down the road with a smile on your face.
8 2007 Lexus IS 350 - 4.8 Seconds
The 2007 Lexus IS 350 provides the expected reliability, solid design, and practicality that you'd expect, but it's unexpectedly quick. It beats out the Mercedes and the Porsche, getting from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.
Available for around $9,000, the IS 350 is a good all-rounder that fulfills just about every need that a driver may have.
Compared to most similar cars of its time, the 350 wins out nearly every time. Older cars with the Lexus badge have the reputation of being cars for old folks, but this one is anything but. Expect many surprised looks from people that lose to you in races.
7 2010 Audi S5 - 4.8 Seconds
The 2010 Audi S5 gives the Lexus a run for its money, although it may not be quite as practical with only 2 doors. With a roaring V8 available with the press of a pedal, you won't mind too much.
This powerful engine gets the S5 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.
On the pricier side of our budget at $14,000, the Audi is expensive to purchase and will likely be expensive to maintain. Luckily, you'll save money on speeding tickets because the S5 flies under the radar, thanks to its subtle styling. Who knew it? This car can actually be a good investment!
6 1998 Mitsubishi 3000GT - 4.7 Seconds
The 1998 Mitsubishi 300GT is perhaps one of the least orthodox rides on this list, but with the unique factor comes appeal. The slick Japanese coupe can be had for as little as $10,000, which is a bargain, given that it can get to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. This car was incredibly ambitious — it had AWD, twin turbos, all-wheel steering, and an active suspension system. It has what are essentially normal components of some modern sports cars, and can be bought for just a fraction of the price. While the technology may be old, the 3000GT can give most modern cars a run for their money.
5 2001 Chevrolet Corvette - 4.7 Seconds
The 2001 Chevrolet Corvette is a desirable ride amongst car enthusiasts, especially U.S. residents. The Corvette has a strong following, and at these prices, anyone can join in. This model year starts around $12,500, which isn't bad, considering you get flashy U.S. style, a powerful V8 engine, and a slick convertible top. This champ gets to 60 mph in a quick 4.7 seconds and eclipses most cars on this list. While it's nowhere near as nice as modern Corvettes, the 2001 model has appeal that outshines the "old man" driver stereotype. Plus, now you can brag to all of your friends that you bought a Corvette, which is certainly an advantage that comes along with this car.
4 2000 Jaguar XJR - 4.6 Seconds
A classy luxury sedan with a sporty edge can be yours for just $9,500 in the form of a 2000 Jaguar XJR. Sleek styling pairs well with a responsive engine, making for a driving experience that's much more than you'd expect from an old British sedan.
The Jag's V8 engine and sharp powertrain get the car to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.
This speed is accomplished in a comfortable and luxurious interior for far less money than a new one, and the beauty of the XJR is that it's retained its style and class nearly 20 years after its production.
3 2011 Nissan 370Z - 4.6 Seconds
The 2011 Nissan 370Z is a perfect blend of reliability and speed. Many of these cars entice you to drive them hard and mash the pedal, but excessive racing may land you with an expensive repair bill. Nissan, however, engineers reliable cars, and the 370Z is no exception.
Available for around $14,000, this dynamic coupe outperforms the comparable Scion FRS for about the same amount of money used.
Rear-wheel drive and a tight suspension will keep you dialed in through corners, and a 4.6-second 0-to-60 time will keep you speeding right along the road and past your friends.
2 2012 Volkswagen Golf R - 4.5 Seconds
The Volkswagen Golf R is a neat sleeper, and the 2012 model year can be found used for a reasonable $15,000. The hatchback is reliable and practical and has a surprisingly upscale interior. While the blob headlights aren't as attractive as the more rectangular ones on the newest generation, the Golf R is still styled quite well. It looks subtly aggressive and has small features that enthusiasts will immediately recognize. If that isn't enough to sell you on it, the Golf R sprints to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. It may look like a slow car for buying groceries and commuting, but in reality, it's anything but.
1 2006 BMW M3 - 4.2 Seconds
At the top of our list is a 2006 BMW M3. The M3 is widely regarded as the pinnacle of full-on sports cars, presenting a driving experience that's quick, dynamic, and engaged. A true driver's car, the M3 is something that enthusiasts lust over their whole lives. Fortunately, this model year can be found for around $11,500 used, which is a true bargain. It's also the quickest on this list, making the 0-to-60 mph run in a speedy 4.2 seconds. The M3 will likely run you an expensive repair bill should some sort of engine or internal component go wrong, but as with many cars like that on this list, you won't care too much as soon as you get behind the wheel.
Sources: Car and Driver, zerotosixtytimes.com