If you’re like most gearheads, you’ve probably wanted to own a sports car ever since you saw a poster of one in your childhood. We don’t blame you – sports cars have the most beautiful designs, the latest and greatest technologies, and the most power. Unfortunately, these things do come at a steep cost, which is why sports cars are usually some of the most expensive models on the market.
However, with some research, you can find many cheap sports cars that offer the thrill you’re looking for without draining your bank account, particularly if you look in the used car market. We did that for you and found ten superb used sports cars you can find in the $10,000 range.
10 Datsun 280Z – $9,900
In the late ’60s, Datsun introduced a model that changed its fortunes forever – the 240Z. The 240Z took the world by storm thanks to its sheer beauty, practicality, reliability, and best of all, its affordable price. The 240Z started the now-iconic Z Series that has helped maintain Nissan’s position as one of the best sports car brands of every decade since and is still one of the cheapest sports cars 2023.
As the pioneer of the Z car, the 240Z has gained a cult following over the years which has resulted in a massive increase in its price. Thankfully, the 280Z that went into production six years after the 240Z’s introduction is still affordable and since it almost looks identical to the 240Z, many won’t notice.
9 Chevrolet Corvette C4 – $9,500
The C3 Corvette was massively disappointing for most gearheads thanks to its lack of power, which is why everyone was looking forward to the day Chevy would finally unveil the fourth-gen model. That day came in 1984, and it was a great day.
The C4 was an improvement over the C3 in every way – it had a more modern stylish design, advanced technologies, and most importantly, more power. The base C4 is still in the $10,000 range, but if you want more power, you can double your money and get the C4 ZR-1.
8 Toyota MR2 – $7,000
To many gearheads, the mid-engined layout is the most ideal to use in sports cars. Mid-engined sports cars have better weight distribution and better handling as a result, which is why gearheads have always loved them. Toyota was the first Japanese company to build a mid-engined sports car in 1984 – the MR2.
The MR2 was clearly designed to take on the Europeans, as it had a head-turning wedge-shaped design and plenty of power coming from its mid-mounted engine. The thing that made the MR2 a winner, though, was its affordability and reliability compared to European sports cars.
7 Mazda Miata (NB) – $9,000
In the late ’80s, Mazda introduced a model that changed how the world views affordable sports cars forever. Dubbed the MX-5 Miata, this little sports car had a tiny four-cylinder engine making just 116 hp, but it was a lot more fun to drive than super-expensive Ferraris and Lamborghinis with five or more times its power.
To achieve this, Mazda made the Miata as lightweight as possible, allowing its drivers to feel like they were one with their cars. Over the years, the Miata has cemented its reputation as the best affordable driver’s car, which is why it’s still going strong today. To find one under $10,000, you’ll have to settle for a second-generation model or older.
6 Porsche Boxster (986) – $10,000
When Japanese sports cars started flooding European and American markets in the ’70s and ’80s, Porsche was among the most affected automakers as there was a sharp drop in the demand for its offerings. Porsche needed to build an entry-level sports car to stay competitive, which is why it introduced the Boxster in the late ’90s.
The Boxster turned out to be a fantastic model for Porsche, which is why it’s still one of the best affordable sports cars 2023. Gearheads loved its 911-inspired design, power, and mid-engined layout that arguably made it a better driver’s car than the 911. The Boxster also cost a lot less than the 911, prompting some 911 buyers to write angry letters to Porsche in protest.
5 Dodge Stealth R/T – $9,000
Japanese and American automakers rarely collaborate on projects, but when they do, it always results in special cars. The Dodge Stealth is one such car. Introduced in 1991, the Stealth was essentially a badge-engineered version of the Mitsubishi 3000GT with a unique exterior design done by Chrysler.
The Stealth was praised for its sporty design, fantastic driving dynamo thanks to four-wheel steering and antilock brakes, and power, particularly the top-of-the-range R/T turbo with its 300-hp powerplant.
4 2009 Dodge Challenger SE – $10,000
The American auto industry was dominated by muscle cars for much of the 20th century. However, most muscle car models died decades ago, leaving us with just a handful today. The Dodge Charger and Challenger models are two of the few remaining muscle car models, but there’s a big argument about whether they’ve lost their muscle car identity.
Many gearheads feel like the Dodge Charger has lost its muscle car identity and is now one of the best sports sedans you can buy in 2022. The Dodge Challenger has largely maintained its muscle car identity, especially with models like the SRT Demon destroying everyone in drag strips, but the V6-powered Challenger SE model is considered to be more of a sports car than a muscle car, which is why late 2000s models are under $10,000.
3 1994–1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse – $8,500
Another fantastic sports car developed out of the Mitsubishi-Chrysler partnership in the ’90s is the Mitsubishi Eclipse, which used the same platform and many parts used in the Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser. The Eclipse was the best of the three cars, though, and the one that gearheads still remember fondly to date.
The Eclipse had a great run from 1989 to 2011, with over 1 million examples built over four generations. The second-gen model is our recommendation today, as it had a stylish design that doesn’t look out of place today and a 210-hp four-pot under the hood.
2 Honda Prelude – $9,500
Honda is mostly known for the iconic NSX and the Civic Type-R, which is one of the best sports sedans ever put on the market. One Honda that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves is the Prelude, even though it was pretty awesome.
The Prelude debuted in the ’70s and quickly became one of the most popular Japanese sports cars thanks to its exquisite design, sporty performance, and nimble handling. There are five generations of the Prelude to choose from, with the final one offering up to 217 hp to work with.
1 Mazda RX-7 FC – $9,600
When it comes to Mazda sports cars, it doesn’t get much better than the RX-7. The RX-7 is an absolute icon of the Japanese auto industry, particularly the third and final FD generation. The FD’s looks, rotary power, and pop culture significance have earned it a cult following over the years, which is why it currently costs more than $50,000 at auctions today.
Thankfully, the second-generation ‘FC’ is still within reach and while it’s not as beautiful as the FD, it still has a turbocharged Wankel rotary engine that delivers a unique and exciting driving experience. It also has the iconic pop-up headlights that we all love so much.