Car enthusiasts are almost always looking for a bargain. Nothing makes you feel better than when you’ve found the perfect car for a fair price. Most of us would love to own a Corvette, although few of us would be able to afford the $70,000 price tag. Thanks to depreciation, car enthusiasts are able to stretch their budgets and get quite a lot of car for their money. To those who aren’t particularly interested in cars, these bargains may seem outlandish; however, they are the result of smart shopping. Sure, your car may be a bit older, with a few more miles on the odometer, but you’ll be smiling in an old Porsche while your coworkers have grown in new commuter sedans.
Some of the cars here are not necessarily good investments or even smart purchases. For instance, a 10-year-old Porsche or a 10-year-old Maserati will likely not be the most reliable car in the world. With some of these, it is possible to spend more on repair bills than you spent on the initial purchase of the car. But hey, if you’re having fun, who cares?
$20,000 can get you quite a lot on the used car market. Obviously, all of these cars are used and have been found on various car-selling websites across the country. While you may not be able to pick one of these up in your area for the exact prices listed, you can get pretty close. Read on to find out what a budget of $20,000 can get you-you'll be surprised!
25 Mercedes SLK 55 AMG – $20,000
Buyers looking for an insane amount of power and tire smoke should opt for the AMG version of the SLK. A 2007 model will run you about $20,000, which is on the higher end of our budget.
However, with the prestige and power of the AMG badge, who could possibly turn this deal down? This car also comes in a convertible, meaning that with the top down you’ll be able to hear the beautiful burble of that sweet AMG exhaust.
24 Chevrolet Corvette – $16,000
Buyers looking for an iconic ride on a budget need look no further than the Chevrolet Corvette. Rear wheel drive, a light body, and a powerful V8 engine combined under elegant design lines to create a sports car that is desired all over the world.
Older Corvettes are budget-friendly, and 2003 and older model years can be found at or under $16,000. Cheap parts and a thriving aftermarket make this coupe accessible from just about anyone on a budget, from students to retirees.
23 Porsche 911 Carrera – $20,000
If you’re looking to dominate your local racetrack or to stand out in the parking lot of the country club, the Porsche 911 Carrera is a good fit for you. A 2004 model year will stretch our budget and run you about $20,000, but for the iconic 911 performance you receive, many would consider this a bargain.
Timeless styling and crisp handling set this car apart from the completion. Just think – you could have a 911 or a new Honda Accord. The choice is obvious!
22 Maserati GT Cambiocorsa – $16,000
This is perhaps one of the more exotic offerings on this list, and it may surprise buyers to know that they can find a car like this for such a good price… although, your mechanic’s bill may end up costing you more than the actual car itself.
A 2004 model year of the Maserati GT Cambiocorsa can be found for about $16,000, which is quite a deal for this Italian stallion. With a sports exhaust and a wax, this may be the most fun you can have for $16,000.
21 Dodge Challenger SRT8 – $20,000
If you’re still pining for a taste of US muscle, the Dodge Challenger SRT8 is here to satiate you. This is quite a fast ride and is a bargain for the speed it brings to the table. Buyers may find themselves stretching their budget, with a 2010 model year going for around $20,000.
The Challenger is universally loved, and if you want to feel like Dominic Toretto, then this is the car for you. Strong looks and a powerful engine are certainly appealing.
20 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 – $12,000
The Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 is a rather unique ride that most people won’t recognize, but car enthusiasts will go crazy for. This was an old sports coupe that Mitsubishi made back in the 90s, and now it can be had by just about anyone.
You may have to go back as early as the 1994 model year, but that is about as new as these cars get. The price is quite cheap, however – only $12,000 for this sporty Japan-made racer.
19 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo MR – $18,000
If you’re dead-set on a fast Mitsubishi, you may want to look past the 3000GT and take a look at the Lancer Evo MR. The Mitsubishi Evo is similar to the Subaru WRX – both are turbocharged, both have roots in rally driving, and both are reliable sedans.
The Evo is a bit more performance oriented whereas the WRX is geared towards day to day livability. It is a little newer on this list, and buyers looking for a quick, reliable AWD car with a turbo will be happy with either option. A 2008 model year can be found for $18,000.
18 Subaru WRX STI – $10,000
The STI can be found on AutoTrader for about $10,000 for the 2004 model year; perhaps pricey for a 14-year old car, but well worth the price for the speed you get. This is likely the car of choice for buyers who live in areas that receive snow – it’s hard to do better than a WRX. They are affordable, reliable, and fast, getting you from your home to the ski resort without batting an eye.
The older models still have the same oomph as the newer ones, so why not go for a 2004 and save a bit of money?
17 Ford Mustang GT – $16,000
For buyers on a budget, this iconic American racer can be found for about $16,000, coming in under our $20,000 budget. This applies to the 2009 and lower model years, which still deliver exceptional performance and bang for the buck, despite their age.
The Mustang is beloved by car enthusiasts young and old and is sure to get some envious but joyful looks when you cruise down the street. There is a booming aftermarket for modifications too, and it’s easy to make this car look unique.
16 Acura TSX - $15,000
Buyers looking for an updated car that doesn’t break the bank should consider the Acura TSX. While it may not be the fastest car in the world, the TSX is quick enough to speed up and catch most cars on the road.
Buyers can find as new as a 2012 TSX for just $15,000, which is easy on the wallet. Additionally, Acuras are known to be reliable and cheap to service, making for an economically sound purchase. It doesn’t look half bad, either.
15 Cadillac XLR - $16,000
The Cadillac XLR is a fairly unknown car that doesn’t receive much attention, yet it is well deserving of a frenzy. The stylish and sporty coupe is one of the more unique rides on the road and certainly spices up Cadillac’s lineup.
It’s a bit older, and buyers shopping under a $20,000 budget will likely end up with a 2005 model year. This car will run you about $16,000, and newer XLRs can climb quite a bit higher than that.
14 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works - $14,000
Many people don’t know that Mini makes a very performance-oriented version of the Mini Cooper, and that is the John Cooper Works model. A 2013 model year will cost you about $14,000, which may be more than you expect but this is a serious car.
Some may find the styling reproachable and some may be enthralled by it – in the spirit of racing, the checkered flag theme is seen throughout the Mini. This is a unique and quirky ride that can serve parties of all ages.
13 Lexus IS 350 C - $13,000
The Lexus IS 350 C is a somewhat unusual offering from Lexus, but it makes this list nonetheless. Buyers in search of a fancy Japanese ride can find a 2010 model year for about $13,000, which is a pretty good deal for this car.
The Lexus will last you many years, and you’ll continue to get looks when you pull up to the country club. Style, power, and reliability make this Lexus a desirable ride for many, and a great fit for many different lifestyles.
12 Jaguar XJ - $16,000
A budget of $20,000 can put you in a serious luxury car, as is the case with this Jaguar XJ. Buyers can get a relatively updated 2010 model year, which will make you feel as though you’re in a much more expensive car.
This ride can be found for around $16,000, although it’s likely that your new car will have relatively high miles. However, for the power, prestige, and luxury that you receive, most people are willing to make that sacrifice.
11 Toyota Camry SE - $12,000
You may not have anticipated seeing a Toyota on this list, especially not a seemingly bland commuter like the Camry. However, this sedan is surprisingly fast and unsurprisingly affordable.
With a powerful V6 engine, the Camry is quicker than some of the competition on this list. Buyers can get as new as a 2012 model for the low price of just $12,000. While it may not be the fastest or most interesting car on this list, it will get you where you need to go every time.
10 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L – $14,000
Much like the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord is not a car that many would expect to see on this list. Surprisingly, the Honda Accord Coupe EX-L can deliver a fast driving experience.
It looks pretty good too, and sadly Honda brought an end to its production in the past year. Luckily, on the used market, buyers can fetch a 2013 model year for roughly $14,000. Considering Honda’s famous reliability, the cheap price coupled with the appeal of this car will keep it in your garage for many years.
9 Subaru Legacy GT - $13,000
The Subaru Legacy GT is very similar to the WRX, although it comes in an appealing wagon body style. The AWD, turbo, and practicality all come together to create an appealing package that appeals to all demographics.
They hold their value extremely well, and buyers can find a 2010 model year for around $13,000, and for the price, this is quite a bargain. While the Legacy GT sedan doesn’t look nearly as good as the WRX, the wagon looks simply excellent.
8 Audi S4 –$20,000
You can buy as new as a 2010 model year of the Audi S4 on AutoTrader for just under $20,000. For that price, the German luxury sedan is a steal. Although it is eight years old, the Audi S4 has aged beautifully and still has the interior quality and technology to stand toe to toe with much newer rides.
The ride is power, class, and luxury set it apart from the competition and make it a desirable player in this price range.
7 Infiniti G37 X – $13,000
Another budget-minded approach is the Infinite G37 X. This fast ride will get you to the office on time and in one piece. The styling of the G37 is somewhat restrained, but this means that the sedan can be driven for business or for pleasure.
You can find as new as a 2009 G37 for the reasonable price of $13,000. This leaves plenty of money in the bank to save, or for mods… or, in the best-case scenario, both.
6 Nissan 370Z – $15,000
This Japanese coupe is quite a bargain. Quicker than many cars on this list, the Nissan 370Z can be had for about $15,000. Cars may be a bit older, as this price pertains to the 2011 model year. However, Japanese reliability, rear wheel drive, and a fast ride can be had for considerably less than similarly priced options.
The 370Z has retained its sense of style as well and has aged beautifully. Many car enthusiasts would happily choose this car over many modern ones.
5 Audi TT RS – $20,000
The 2009 model year of this Germany-made coupe can be found on various websites for between $15,000 and $20,000. This is one of the fancier coupes on the list, and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive is sure to afford you great stability in the snow.
A perk to the TT is that it has four seats, and while the rear ones are pretty much unusable - they do put the car in a slightly lower insurance group. Who knew that a Germany-made coupe could be a cheap and practical car?
4 BMW M3 – $20,000
This highly sought-after German sports car can be found used for roughly $20,000 if you’re willing to buy a 2008 model year or lower. Compared to the S4 and Audi’s competition, the M3 offers a performance-oriented option that isn’t as stuffy as the luxury sedan.
This car will push you into the seat and keep you pinned there whether you’re driving to the grocery store or down the track. The speed is electrifying – this is one of the fastest cars you can get for this price.
3 Mazda MazdaSpeed6 – $8,000
The Mazda MazdaSpeed6 is an often-forgotten sedan that would be ignored by most anyone that glanced at it. While it looks incredibly average, it is infused with Mazda’s fun-to-drive engineering, making for a spirited ride.
It’s an older car, and you can find a 2007 model year for about $8,000. This is one of the cheapest cars on the list, and while it may not be the most stylish, it is certainly fast and economical. It’ll breeze past most cars on the road with ease.
2 Volvo S60 T6 – $12,000
Swedish luxury doesn’t escape this list, and here is the Volvo S60 T6. This AWD sedan has a refined and timeless look to it, keeping it relevant for generations to come. Buyers can find as new as a 2011 model year for about $12,000, and in the spirit of Swedish sensibility, you have some money left over to invest or save.
This is definitely a sleeper, zooming past many cars on this list with ease. It’s hard to say no to this car.
1 Volkswagen Golf R – $20,000
Those looking for an updated ride should consider the Volkswagen Golf R. The Golf R is one of the newer cars on this list and is loaded with all of the technology and safety features you could ever ask for. Volkswagen’s stoic styling has kept decades-old Golfs relevant today.
If you look hard, you can find as new as a 2013 Golf R for $20,000, stretching our budget tightly. The Golf will likely have high miles, but that is a small concession for all the perks of this car.