European cars are great machines, featuring elegance, pose, and usually an excellent engine. Most European sports cars are designed to be status symbols for the rich and famous to drive, costing them a lot of money in the process. Luckily for us motoring enthusiasts, these cars depreciated so much that they are cheaper to purchase than a slightly used Toyota Camry.
European cars like the Bentley Continental made headlines when it was launched in the early 2000s, debuting with a new W12 engine and lots of technology. Fast-forward nearly 20 years and that same car with all its soft leather, 550 hp W12, smooth transmission, and a plethora of stitches now cost less to purchase than a Mazda MX-5. While this seems like a no-brainer, there are some other costs associated with owning a European sports car like this. For one, the maintenance is extremely expensive and when one of the many complicated components needs replacing, the bill will make a significant impact on the ol’ bank account.
But still, buying a European sports car for an absolute bargain compared to its original value is an awesome feeling, and driving it around makes one feel like a million bucks. Here are ten European sports cars which used to be status symbols, but are now considered cheap according to Hagerty.
10 2003 Bentley Continental GT – $25,300
The Bentley Continental debuted in 2002 at the Paris Motor Show, before arriving on the market in 2003. The first generation of the new Continental only featured one engine – the 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 specifically designed for the model.
It produced around 552 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, sending power to all four wheels via a 6-speed semi-automatic transmission. Given the high original purchase price, paying around $25,000 for a sporty luxury car is a pretty good deal, with the car costing around 20% of the new price.
9 2000 Jaguar XK – $17,400
The Jaguar XK originally debuted in 1996 to replace the completely outdated XJS – itself the only GT car since the E-Type. The XK featured only V8 engines, with the top-spec XKR gaining a supercharger and 400 hp.
The first-gen XK may not be the best-looking of the British brand’s cars, but it certainly has a presence and was bought by the rich and famous as a weekend convertible to drive around Rodeo Drive with. It’s quite cheap for what it is but beware of the potential repair costs.
8 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider – $13,200
The Alfa Romeo Spider is the quintessential Italian convertible in the sense that it is affordable, great-looking, and is not designed for a specific socio-economic class. Both a multi-billionaire and someone who works part-time in retail can own a Spider, and it would be completely normal.
The Spider was launched in 1966 and received continuous updates until 1993. The Series 3 version is the easiest to find, with the US market getting a 2.0-liter version of the famous Twin-Cam inline-4. The Alfa Romeo Spider is a brilliant car that is still on many dream-car lists.
7 1989 Maserati Biturbo – $5,100
The Maserati Biturbo was the first twin-turbocharged production car in history, featuring a smaller V6 and the industry-first 3-valves-per-cylinder heads – although it was later upgraded to 4 valves. The Biturbo went on to spawn a multitude of Maserati models, ending with the Ghibli GT.
The Biturbo produced around 180 hp from its 2.0-liter V6, while the 2.5 and 2.8-liter versions produced between of 182 and 280 hp. The Maserati Biturbo was a terrible car, but it is cool in hindsight and for an average price of just over $5,000, it is a cool first foray into Italian classic cars.
6 2003 Maserati Quattroporte – $18,800
The Maserati Quattroporte V was the first proper 4-door Ferrari – just without the Prancing Horse emblem on the front. The Quattroporte V featured the same F136 V8 as in the Ferrari F430, but with the displacement limited to 4.2 and 4.7 liters.
The initial Quattroporte V models were plagued by the ridiculous DuoSelect automated-manual transmission before Maserati offered the conventional ZF 6-speed – greatly improving the car. The Quattroporte V is a great car with an amazing sound, all for under $20,000 – if you’re brave enough.
5 2001 Maserati GranSport – $28,000
The Maserati GranSport was the 2-door coupe from Neptune’s Trident before the GranTurismo made its debut. The GranSport featured the same V8 engine as Ferrari used at the time, but with a cross-plane crankshaft instead of a flat-plane.
The GranSport was offered with a 6-speed manual transmission, although most customers opted for the F1-Style automated manual which operated using flappy paddles – a new and exciting thing back then. The GranSport still looks fantastic today and its intoxicating exhaust note can give the modern Ford Mustang GT a run for its money.
4 1998 Aston Martin DB7 – $28,700
The Aston Martin DB7 was the car that saved the British marque from bankruptcy and cemented the modern company as one to rival the best of the best in the segment. The DB7 took a page out of the Jaguar XJS’ book and offered either a supercharged inline-6 or a big V12 as the only engine options.
Even though it has the Aston Martin wings on the front, the DB7 only costs an average of $29,000 on the used market – a bargain for the automaker. It may be a bit outdated, but it’s still an Aston Martin and anyone can pretend to be the famous spy while driving it.
3 2000 BMW Z3 – $15,500
The BMW Z3 was a pretty good compact roadster from the German automaker, but the idea of owning one was spoiled when it started to be referred to as the ‘hairdresser’s car’. Luckily, motoring enthusiasts are taking it back and the Z3 is now a brilliant project car.
In the US, the Z3 comes with only straight-6s, specifically the 2.8 and 3.0-liter models. The Z3 produced between 190 and 230 hp, making it quite a rapid little car. According to Hagerty, it is currently selling for around the $15,000 mark, with prices slowly climbing.
2 1989 Porsche 944 – $11,300
The Porsche 944 is a great entry-level model from the German giant as it is well-engineered and relatively easy to work on. The 944 also has great handling and while it only has a 4-cylinder, the engines are punchy and lively to drive.
The 944 is the most well-known of the smaller Porsche models, with numerous units built during its production run. There are many on the used market, retailing for well under $15,000 – perfect for a project or a weekend car.
1 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera $24,000
The Porsche 911 is the greatest model the German company ever made, which means that many want to own one. Luckily, the late 1990s to early 2000s model is the cheapest of the lot, with prices starting from just $15,000.
It would be recommended to look at one in the $20,000 to $30,000 mark as they are still quite nice and usually come with a full service history. So, while the captains of industry drive around in their new 911s, be sure that a slightly older one is easily attainable for a fraction of the price.