Having $20,000 a decade ago could get you a decent race car, today, the same amount can only get you an expensive watch, or a decent holiday for you and the missus. If you are lucky, $20k will get you subpar mods on your beater to make it a little faster and more pleasing to the eyes. This, however, doesn’t mean that you need to give up your athleticism.
There are tons of fast cars under $20,000 if you look hard enough. They might not be fast enough to beat a Bugatti Chiron Super Sports, but they’ll take off hard enough to get your blood pumping. Here are ten fast cars you can get for $20k, ranked.
10 Honda S2000 1999 – 2009
Depending on where you come from, the Honda S2000 has a lustrous demeanor. Some call it charm, others character. These subtle attributes contribute to the S2000’s soul. Honda is perhaps the most loved vehicle brand in America; it's simple, it's economical, it's manageable, and when it comes down to it, it's pretty fast. The S2000 packs a 2L 4-cylinder engine that produces 237 hp and revs to 9,000 rpm.
The Honda S2000 will hit 62 mph in 6.2 seconds. When floored upwards of 6,200, the S2,000 still feels anti-social until the VTEC kicks in at 9,000 Rpm. It might not pack enough power to rattle a crowd in Daytona Racetrack but is sure runs on one of the best engines on any sports car.
9 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2008 -2016
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is the pride and joy of the Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi Corporation. Unfortunately, the last Lancer Evolution in production was back in 2016, and with it, the Legend of the ultimate Rally Car died. With a Turbo-charged 2L four-cylinder engine, the Lancer Evolution produces 300 hp. Its legendary 4G63 engine is the ultimate tuner’s block that has been known to produce up to 1000+ hp after modifications.
Its all-wheel-drive transmission and impeccable boosting power have for years given nightmares to Subaru enthusiasts. If you are looking to own a fast-Japanese sports car with accolades, the Mitsubishi Lancer is your ultimate choice.
8 Subaru WRX STi 2008 -2010
It would be unfair to complete this list without mentioning the iconic Subaru WRX STi, an undisputed Rally Champion. The Subaru WRX STi has a reputation of running best under foul weather, and there are thousands of Youtube videos of WRXs pulling trucks stuck in the blizzard. These Japanese bundle of power pumps out 300 hp on an All-Wheel drive train system.
Its iconic boxer engine has enough power and rumble to match up to the likes of the Ford Mustang GT even though it is four cylinders shy. It is capable of doing a quarter-mile in under 13.6 seconds.
7 Ford Mustang GT 2005 – 2014
The Ford Mustang is an undisputed king of the track in America. Its iconic rumble and beastly demeanor are unlike anything around today. The Ford Mustang GT is so popular movies, as well as music, have been produced around it.
Its fancier siblings the Boss 302 and Shelby GT500 might win the crowds, but the GT takes center stage when it comes to the Mustang line. This beast thunders under a 4.6 L V8 that produces 300 hp. Paired with the optional Tremec manual transmission, the Ford Mustang GT is a track assassin.
6 BMW M3 E46 2000 -2006
If you have a limited budget and you are still looking to turn heads and wreak havoc on the track, the legendary BMW M3 E46 is your best bet. The M series from BMW will go down in history as perhaps one of the best performance cars out of Europe. It packs an inline 6 3.2 L engine producing 333 hp. It comes with a manual gearbox or a semi-automated SMG (most reliable gearbox on the planet), both with six-gears.
The M3 is a refined sports car with amazing ride quality and super-fast boosting power. They won’t make cars like this anymore in the future, if you are still confused about what to pick with your $20K budget – the BMW M3 would be an excellent choice.
5 Chevrolet Corvette C5 1997 - 2004
The Corvette is an American icon, loved both by the young and old, for its brutal speed and striking good looks. The new 2020 Corvette might cost six figures, but that shouldn’t turn off your dreams, you can still get a clean c5 Chevrolet Corvette for under $20,000. The Chevrolet Corvette C5 packs a 5.7 L V8 engine that produces a whopping 350 hp. If you are looking for something quick and petite, this is the ultimate choice.
Its unique design surprisingly is still a crowd-pleaser. The Corvette has a reputation on the track, and apart from its monstrous internals, its rear-mounted transmission, and track-tuned suspension make it a mighty fast car.
4 Dodge Challenger 2009 -2015
The 2000s were great years for America, not only due to the rise of successful businesses and influentials but also due to the amazing cars produced to complement its success. Let’s face it; it is going to be a little bit difficult to find a Dodge Challenger Demon under $20k. There a high chance you’d miss one even if you are on the waiting list. However, you can still get your hands on an R/t or SRT-8.
While the Demon is quite the pick, both the SRT-8 and the R/T make a ton of amazing power. The R/T runs on a 5.7 HEMI producing 372 hp. The SRT-8, on the other hand, runs on a HEMI 6.1 producing 425 or a HEMI 6.4 L producing 525 hp depending on the year.
3 Pontiac GTO 2004 – 2006
After missing in action for 30 years, the Pontiac GTO was back in the game in 2004 with an all-new version model. The first line came with a 5.7 L LS1 engine from the legendary Chevy Camaro. However, by 2005, the GTO was powered by a 6.0 L LS2 engine producing 400 hp.
Its design isn’t anything to write home about, as it resembles a tricked-out Camry, something that greatly contributed to its discontinuation after its comeback. The Pontiac GTO lived a short blissful life, and will forever be in our hearts. In case you are looking to enjoy its glory days, its available for under $20k.
2 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2010 -2015
It's possible to get a Camaro for under $20,000, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a V6. There are several Camaro SS fifth-generation models available on a limited budget. There track monsters pack a 6.2L LS stroker that produces between 400 hp and 426 hp. Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, this rear-wheel-drive sports car is the ultimate road hog.
The Chevrolet Camaro SS is capable of doing a quarter-mile in under 13 seconds at 111 mph – that’s quick even for a 2020 car. Its unique design and striking good looks make it a head-turner even in today’s standards.
1 Cadillac CTS-V 2009 -2010
The CTS-V pushes the $20,000 price limit a bit; however, if you are patient and look hard enough, you might own one. Let’s face it; no one looks for a quick car on the Cadillac line unless you work for the secret service. Cadillac still has a fantastic fast car to offer, and it comes in a sedan, coupe, wagon form. The Cadillac CTS-V is powered by a 6.2L LS motor that produces well over 500 hp – Impressive, right?
It’s paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, which is very unlikely in Cadillac tradition. It might be more of a sleeper, but it's great on the track, and friendly on your pocket too.