By Cory Barclay
These sports cars are just as stylish today as when they first arrived on the market, and they're readily available for under $10,000.
In days long ago, if you had $10,000 you wanted to spend on a car, you could go and buy yourself a brand new, stunning classic: a Corvette or something similar. Today, $10,000 won’t get you as far, but if you know where to look and search hard enough, you can still find some pretty good deals on modern sports cars (from 1999 to the present).
Updated January 2022: Car enthusiasts never stop looking for great deals and bargains on sports cars, be they recent or classics. So, we've updated this list with some more amazing sports cars that look like they should be way more expensive than their used prices in 2021 suggest.
Not all of the cars on this list are future classics, but they all share a similar quality: they’re sports cars first and foremost, they’re speedy, and you can probably find one in pretty good condition. None of these cars are going to be mint, but when you’re buying a car for a tenth of the price of its original MSRP, what can you expect?
In North America, the “sports car” market is one of the biggest nationwide. And just because you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money on a car doesn’t mean you have to buy something boring and predictable like a Camry or a Corolla or an Accord. All of the cars on this list are pretty fun, and they’re all $10,000 or less. So go wild, and maybe you’ll get some ideas on where to spend your hard-earned money in the future. Just make sure you always check out the gas mileage, the condition of the engine, and take your newly-haggled sports car to a mechanic to make sure the thing won't fall apart on the ride home.
Here are 20 recent sports cars that anyone can buy for $10,000 or less, and are worth it.
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15 2000 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible RWD ($9,500)
The Chevrolet Camaro is a legendary car that first lived as a pony car and then as a muscle car. It had a good life as competition to the Ford Mustang from 1966 to 2002, and then again from 2009 to the present. We won’t focus on the later generation (too expensive), but rather on one of the last years of the fourth-generation, from 1993 to 2002. These cars had the same characteristics as the 1967 original models: a coupe body with 2+2 seating, rear-wheel drive, and pushrod 6-cylinder and V8 engines. In 1998 the car was introduced to a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 engine that carried 305-horsepower. You can buy a convertible RWD for less than $10,000 nowadays.
14 2007 Nissan 350Z ($10,000)
The 350Z became an instant icon when it was introduced in 2002, partly thanks to Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. The model also features a convertible version which was introduced in 2003. However, all trims are powered by the same 3.5L six-cylinder engine developing an impressive 287 hp for the earlier versions and 306 hp for the 2008 model. The 350Z is also one of the fastest sports cars you can buy under $10,000. The best part is that these can be found used under $10,000 without much hassle, which makes them a massive bargain.
related: 10 Cheapest Sports Cars That Will Do 150 MPH
13 2002 BMW Z3 ($10,000)
2002 was the last model year for BMW's unforgettable and affordable Z3 — first of its kind. This nimble and attractive roadster was powered by a decent four-cylinder engine that sent all its power to the rear wheels. The Z3 was succeeded by the more powerful Z4, which is why examples of this cool late-'90s sports car can be found for well under $10,000. It proves that sometimes, cheap BMW sports cars are really the best bargain.
12 2004 Alfa Romeo GTV ($9,000)
Highly popular in Europe in the early 2000s, the Alfa Romeo GTV (or Spyder, for the convertible option) is a Pininfarina-built compact sports car that looks and drives like a poor man's Ferrari yet costs as much as a Fiat 500. The most powerful trim is a 3.2L inline-four developing 240 horsepower, but the more modest enthusiasts would usually opt for the 150-horsepower 2.0L. Both versions can be found for under $10,000, however, the only variable being their mileage and overall state. We advise playing it safe with this one, as you don't want to buy a cheap Alfa that will fall apart as soon as you drive it off the lot.
11 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder ($8,500)
The Toyota MR2 is a two-seater, mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive sports car that was in production from 1984 to 2007. It lived through three generations, first conceived as a sporty, small economical car, but then employing straightforward design elements like MacPherson strut front and rear suspensions, four wheel disc brakes, and a transverse-mounted inline-four engine.
Late-second and early-third generation models can still be bought for cheap. This Spyder convertible uses a 1.8-liter I4, was the first year to introduce a 5-Speed Sequential Manual Transmission, and can be found for around $8,500, down from $23,585. You shouldn’t have trouble finding a sweet MR2 to add to your garage on a budget, but the late SW20 (1990-1999) and W30 models (1999-2007) are the sweet spot.
10 2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK230 Supercharged ($9,500)
Bet you didn’t expect to see a Mercedes-Benz on the list of cool sports cars under $10,000? Well, the SLK-Class is a compact luxury roadster that was first launched in 1996, and has lived through three generations. The R170 first-generation model was produced from 1996 to 2004, designed by the late Bruno Sacco. The mid-first generation 2000 models were given a facelift, featuring an updated design and updated engines. The SLK230 had a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine that gave the car 185 horsepower, and started at $41,000. For whatever reason they haven’t held up well, but you can get one for about $9,500.
9 2001 Ford Mustang GT ($7,400)
The Ford Mustang is the original pony car, creating the market for itself. Through its six generations, the Mustang has gone through a ton of body and design changes.
The 2004 Mustang GT was the last year of the “Fox Body” models, which became quite classic in their own right. And the GT was the second-most powerful version (behind the Cobra), running a 4.6-liter V8 that increased its power to 260 hp. These cars started at $28,000 back in 2004, before they went through a whole redesign, but now you can find one for under $7,500.
8 2006 Dodge Charger ($9,900)
The Dodge Charger has been around as long as the Chevrolet Camaro, since 1966. The first Charger has been built on three different platforms and sizes. The current version is a four-door sedan, but in 2006, the first year of the sixth generation, the Charger was introduced in an all new form. The basic model came equipped with a 2.7-liter V6 engine, while the most powerful SRT8 came with a 6.1-liter Hemi V8. You can buy a 2006 model for about $10,000 now.
7 2001 Audi TT 1.8T Roadster ($7,300)
When you think of Audi, you normally think of high-priced, high-performance luxury and sports cars that are in the low to mid six figures. But the Audi TT has always been reasonably priced.
These compact sports cars have been around since 1998. You can still buy a mid-first generation model (2001) for pennies on the dollar.
The 1.8T Roadster is a front-wheel drive vehicle that uses a 1.8-liter inline-four turbocharged engine that gives it between 178 to 222 hp. The MSRP for this car started at $32,950, but now you can get one for a mere $7,300.
6 2002 Pontiac Firebird Convertible ($10,000)
The Pontiac Firebird was insanely popular when it first came out in 1966 as opposition to the Ford Mustang. They became even more famous after being the car of choice in 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit. The classic pony car style was mainly used in the first and second generations, from 1967 to 1981, and by 1982 they’d changed their shape.
Classics command a ridiculous price, but early 2000s models, namely the last year of the fourth generation, can be found for around $10,000. And they still use the powerful 5.7-liter LS1 V8 engines, too.
5 2001 Mazda MX-5 Miata ($8,700)
The Mazda Miata has always been a pretty cheap but ridiculously fun car. Since 1989 these small, compact sports cars have been giving drivers joy worldwide.
A 2001 Miata used a 1.8-liter inline-four engine, could get 23 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, and sold for $21,180 back then. Nowadays, you can find one for around $8,500, and if not that price, surely under $10,000.
These speedy little cars are definitely worth it. They’ve received numerous awards, such as the Car of the Year Japan in 2005, and Car and Driver’s “10 Best” list from 2006 to 2013.
4 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse ($9,700)
The Mitsubishi Eclipse is one of the most popular JDM cars for modding. These compact sports cars first hit the market in 1990, and production ended in 2012. The first two generations were rebadged Eagle Talons and Plymouth Lasers, while the third generation shared a redesigned platform with the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus.
The 1999 Eclipse GS is the last year of the second generation, which is arguably the best-looking and best-driving generation of the four. These cars run on 2.0- to 2.4-liter inline-four engines, that produce 140 hp for the GS. You can also buy one for less than $10,000 nowadays.
related: Here Are The Fastest Japanese Cars Of The 1990s
3 2003 Mazda RX-8 Sport ($6,500)
While the Mazda RX-8 is not as cool as the classic RX-7, you won’t find a mid-to-late-90s version of the RX-7 for under $10,000, so this will have to suffice.
And the RX-8 isn’t actually a bad car: it uses a 1.3-liter Wankel engine, and the “Type S” trim, or Sport model, had an output of 231 horsepower thanks to its 6-speed manual transmission.
Unfortunately in 2010 the RX-8 was removed from European markets after the car failed to meet emission standards, and it was discontinued in 2012 because of rising Yen prices. Nowadays you can get a first-year, 2003 model for around $6,500, down from $22,558.
2 2005 Chrysler Crossfire ($5,000)
The Chrysler Crossfire didn’t have a long life, only being in production from 2004 to 2008, but that doesn’t make it a terrible car on its own. The car was borne out of a short-lived union between Mercedes and Chrysler, and was built in Germany by Karmann. It was a 215-hp sports car built on the Mercedes SLK platform, and it used a 3.2-liter V6 engine. Because it was made with a lot of Mercedes-Benz parts (expensive), a 2005 model of the roadster started at $34,085 and could go up to $49,370 for the Roadster SRT6. But nowadays, you can get one with reasonable mileage for just around $5,000, which is pretty intriguing.
1 1999 Porsche Boxster ($10,000)
Finally, we have one of the most classic sports cars from one of the most classic car companies. Sure, it’s not a 911, but the Porsche Boxster is still nothing to sneeze at. These mid-engined two-seaters will make you look pretty well-to-do. They’ve been around since 1997, and have won tons of new awards, including “Best Roadster in the World” in 2016 by Autocar, and on the “10Best” list eleven times from Car and Driver, from 1998 to 2003, and 2006 to 2010.
related: What You Should Know Before Buying Porsche's Cheapest Model, The Boxster
You can get a sub-21st century Boxster for around $10,000, which is an absolute steal to be driving around such an iconic car. It’s the entry-level Porsche, but it’s still down from $41,000, which is pretty awesome.
Sources: roadandtrack.com, cargurus.com, thrillist.com