10 High-Performance Cars Under $50,000 That Will Blow Your Mind
It’s ridiculous to think that some supercars have depreciated to the point where what was once a car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars is now available for $50k,000 or less. Yet that is the reality we have, as certain high-performance sports cars either become overlooked or simply have lost value to the point where it boggles the mind.
In order to help you decide what once desirable and high-octane car to get for the price of a brand-new SUV, we’ve narrowed it down to 10 high-performance cars under $50,000 that will blow your mind not only driving them but the fact they can be bought so cheaply in today’s climate.
10 Acura NSX – $50,000
The first generation NSX was a pleasant supercar, but adjusting for inflation it had an MSRP of $116,000, and quite frankly no one was willing to pay that for what amounted to a posh Honda. It’s a shame because it was every bit as good, if not better, than the Ferrari of the day, the 348.
With a chassis that Ayrton Senna helped develop, it’s no surprise that in the years since the first generation NSX went out of production in 2005 that driving enthusiasts have been paying top dollar for good examples. $50k won’t get you a decent NSX, more likely a high-miler, but since it’s an Acura that won’t affect the quality of the experience.
9 Ferrari 308 GTS – $49,000
When you see a 308, you correctly first think of Magnum, P.I. That certain brand of 80s cool hasn’t aged too badly, and the 308 has certainly aged well. Styled by Pininfarina and produced for a decade between 1975-1985, with the most desirable targa-topped GTS was introduced two years into the 308’s lifetime.
It’s pretty much impossible to get any Ferrari that you might actually want to drive for under $50k, but dig around, and you can find decent, relatively low-mileage examples for a shade under that magic $50k,000 mark. Prepare to grow yourself a mustache and move to Hawaii.
8 Audi R8 4.2 – $48,500
Hotly anticipated when it was launched in 2007, the R8 was Audi’s first proper supercar and despite being a watered-down version of a Lamborghini Gallardo, it came with a watered-down price: $109,000 back in 2008. For context, that’s a similar price to a Porsche 911, and the R8 has a 4.2-liter V8 and all-wheel-drive.
Still a hugely attractive package as a supercar, a brand-new R8 will set you back nearly $160,000. Not exactly affordable, is it? However, if you want an R8 from the first model year, nigh-on pristine examples are worth less than $50k. Essentially, you’re getting a brand-new old Audi supercar for less than a 2023 TT. A very good deal. If you’re a gearhead looking for a supercar, the R8 is a great choice.
7 Nissan GT-R – $47,000
Occupying a similar space as the R8, the GT-R was a relatively cheap supercar when it was launched back in 2007, costing the same as a BMW M3. Coming with all-wheel drive and a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6, the GT-R quickly gained a reputation as being great value for money and now has a reputation as a forever icon.
GT-Rs have held their value relatively well, which means that a large chunk of the $78,000 that you would’ve paid in 2008 is going to come back when you sell it. Luckily for this list, prices of early GT-Rs are dipping below the $50,000 mark. For a little bit more than a base 2023 Z coupe, you can have its big brother.
6 Porsche 911 (997) – $45,000
Of course, the quintessential premium sports car has always been the Porsche 911, and no matter which generation you pick, they will all deliver a pure driving experience that is forever going to be sought after. The 997 was produced between 2004-2013 and despite robust challenges during that period for the throne on which it sat, the 911 was still one of the best driving experiences out there.
Nowadays, you’ll be able to get an early example of a 997 for around $45,000, which is less than half of what a new 911 costs in 2023. They are appreciating, so here’s everything you need to know before buying.
5 Toyota GR Supra – $44,040
The only new car on this list, the GR Supra was a car that gearheads were soiling themselves in excitement over when it was finally announced as a production vehicle back in January 2019. Going on sale a little over five months later, the GR Supra has been a solid choice for those wanting a premium sports car but not wanting to shell out.
The base 2.0-liter GR Supra is available for just over $44k, and for that money, you’re getting a better-looking, more hardcore version of a BMW Z4 for less money. The GR Supra deserves more respect, and what better way to honor it than by taking one for a test drive and confirming your suspicions that it’s one of the best value-for-money cars on the market today?
4 Lotus Esprit V8 – $37,650
Lotus’ sports cars are not known for retaining their value, or retaining much structural integrity for that matter. Despite the fact that those aren’t exactly attractive qualities when buying a classic sports car, the V8 Esprit is an underrated version of the car that propped Lotus up for the best part of 20 years.
Dubbed “the car the Esprit always should have been”, this variant introduced in 1996 stuck a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V8 into the fiberglass Esprit body and actually became one of the coolest sports cars of the 90s. The good news is you can have the ultimate version of what became out of Britain’s most iconic sports cars for less than $40k, and as for the shaky reliability reputation, it’s worth remembering that James May drove a V8 Esprit across South America on Top Gear with very little mechanically going wrong.
3 Maserati GranTurismo S – $31,750
The GranTurismo S was the most powerful road-legal car Maserati sold during its production lifetime of 2008-2012. The 4.7-liter V8 was capable of producing 434 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds, which is hardly puny. Yet the price you can now find a GranTurismo S for is puny: just $31,750. The GranTurismo is coming back as a V6, but an old V8 will only cost a fraction of what the new car will, even when you factor in the inevitable maintenance costs.
Maseratis are famous for their depreciation, essentially due to their more recent reputation as a Ferrari with a less desirable badge. If you’re able to see past this, then the GranTurismo S is a great choice for a front-engined, premium sports car with a throbbing Ferrari V8 for under $35k.
2 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage – $30,500
Aston Martins are quite hit-and-miss when it comes to retaining value. More famous recent models like the DBS, DB9 and V12 Vantage have all depreciated at a slower rate than models like the Rapide, Vanquish and this DB7.
Introduced in the mid-90s, it retailed for $170,000 and actually saved Aston Martin as a company. Unbelievably, you can now find DB7s for just over $30k. Still an achingly beautiful car nearly 30 years after launch, you can get a DB7 with a 5.9-liter V12 under the hood for nearly $10k less than a 2023 V8-powered Ford Mustang.
1 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG – $29,000
Brand new in the early 2000s, the SL55 AMG was a $183,000 car (inflation adjusted). That same car can now be found for over $150,000 less than it retailed for, at under $30k. The question is, what has the SL55 AMG done to drop in value so much in the past 20 years?
Mercedes-Benz had a tough reputation in the early 2000s as a brand going through low levels of consumer trust after build quality and reliability issues were piling up for the company. Whilst the SL isn’t immune from these problems, it certainly suffered less than some of its stablemates at the time.
Unfortunately this hasn’t translated to it holding value. Good news if you want one though, as you’ll be getting a luxury roadster with a supercharged V8 able to top 200mph for just $29,000.