Let's face it, high speed but low-cost vehicles are often a total shot in the dark. Truly powerful cars are few and far apart, and often command high price tags unless they are in a state of total disrepair.
Of course, while there are many models that are less than ideal for a cheap fast car, there is a solid group that, if found in good shape, can offer some serious fun without causing too much strain on the wallet. Here are 5 incredibly fast cars for under $10,000, and 5 others that simply are not worth the hassle.
10 Worth It: Chrysler 300C SRT8
The beauty of the 300C SRT8 is the fact that it is truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. Boasting a reliable American V8 with an insane horsepower figure for a family sedan, the 300C SRT8 marries two entirely different worlds and allows them to coexist harmoniously.
What's even better about this particular model is that it is a largely forgotten SRT offering, meaning that potential buyers can scoop up examples in fairly good shape for at or below the $10,000 mark.
9 Not Worth It: Jaguar XF Supercharged
Although a name long associated with wealth and prestige, like other luxury vehicles, it tends to go the entirely opposite way after the first few years of ownership. Jaguars, especially earlier models, have countless electrical and engine issues, and the massive engine housed in the Jaguar is no exception.
It actually is one of the most unreliable engine configurations offered in the early 2000s and is a proverbial money pit for anyone interested in owning, daily driving, or even attempting to modify it.
8 Worth It: Nissan 350Z
Nissan's 350Z has a reputation amongst tuner cars as a seriously fun little pocket rocket, with two seats, a potent V6, and rear wheel drive all fed through a manual transmission. The Z family has been regarded as one of Japan's finest sporting car groups for decades, and that mark of excellence remains on even the more recent 350 and 370Z.
With so many examples existing on the used market today, the 350Z is an easy find for under $10,000 that will require little maintenance to keep enjoying on a daily basis for a long time to come.
7 Not Worth It: Pontiac Grand Prix GXP
The Pontiac Grand Prix GXP is an oddball amongst sports cars. The only model on this list offered in front wheel drive, it immediately raises concern for tuners in terms of torque steer that may be incurred through aftermarket modifications. Not only that, but the infrastructure to support the maintenance of Pontiac vehicles has seriously dwindled as time has gone on from when the company folded, so finding OEM parts may become more of a task as time goes on.
Although yes, the car is sporty in nature, it is not nearly as potent as a buyer can get for this price and therefore shouldn't really be considered that hard.
6 Worth It: Ford Mustang GT
The Ford Mustang GT is the ubiquitous American muscle car, and that pedigree is deserved given the time it has transcended and still come out on top. There is really not much to say about this car that hasn't already been said, and more often than not, its screaming V8 engine does the talking before anybody else can.
Like the Z, the used market is filled with 21st-century example Mustangs that can be scooped up for well under $10,000 and enjoyed for thousands of miles.
5 Not Worth It: BMW 550i
If it is purchased new, the BMW 550i is a great car. The legendary driveability of BMW's products may derive from its engine, suspension, steering dynamics, etc., but the real problems owners face in older examples extends far beyond that.
Electrical issues coupled with countless small but expensive things that consistently break in older BMW's would lead prospective buyers to be wary when considering it, as the car's upkeep can definitely exceed its initial purchase price.
4 Worth It: Hyundai Genesis GT Coupe
Hyundai made a serious name for themselves in the tuner world by having the Genesis coupe model available, and years later it has now even spawned its own sub-brand that barely bears the Hyundai name anymore.
However, if badges don't offend, then an older model Genesis is the perfect option for a slightly larger rear wheel drive sports car that will be reliable, no matter how you thrash it about.
3 Not Worth It: Audi S4
The Audi S4 is another option that is great if purchased brand new. After the initial few years, German luxury car reliability tends to decline. Along with the upkeep of the car, owners may find themselves worrying about the forced induction system that yields the necessary turbocharge that provides the Audi S4 with a sporty edge, especially on older higher mileage examples.
2 Worth It: Dodge Charger RT
The Charger is the quintessential powerful sedan in America, driven by everyone from law enforcement to small families, the Charger has proven its reliability through action, and prospective owners can capitalize on a large number of used examples available to get one for a significantly lower price, maintaining under $10,000.
The beauty of the Charger is that, like its brother the 300C SRT8, it can double duty as the family hauler and track prowler, giving individuals looking for a symbiosis of the two with the perfect product that doesn't break the bank.
1 Not Worth It: Volvo S60R
The Volvo S60R has without a doubt the weirdest modern engine configuration of any sports car on this list, with a turbocharged inline five-cylinder. This oddly obscure configuration is cool in theory; however, long term practicality, the vehicle may run into some issues.
A discontinued five-cylinder engine with forced induction and largely difficult-to-find parts is not the greatest option when searching for a well-composed cheap sports car. An individual willing to undertake a unique build challenge may appreciate the Volvo S60R.