Affordable sports cars are our best bet of getting a genuinely fun driving vehicle. Even more so if we’re shopping for used cars. The current situation in the car markets isn’t as bright as it used to be a decade or so ago in that respect. But don’t get us wrong, there are still many great fun-driving sports, luxury and even family cars around, but something has been lost with the rise of the SUV craze. This is yet another solid reason why shopping for a used vehicle should actually be encouraged. Not only are they cheaper, but the current selection of used vehicles is more diverse when compared to what’s usually on offer. You’ll always be able to dig up something you simply can’t find any more. Whether it’s the V8-powered compact sporty sedan or a power wagon – there’s always that wild card model just waiting for you to pick it up.
Take a look at our choice of 10 fun-driving used vehicles available for less than $10,000. If you’re still not convinced that used car is the way to go but aren’t exactly prepared to splash the cash on Corvette, upper echelon Mustangs or Camaros, etc..
Are These The Best Used Cars Under 10,000 Dollars?
Chevrolet Camaro (F Body)
The fourth generation Camaro is famous for its sleek and elegant design, and legitimately fun driving dynamics. The Camaro Z28 and SS stand out as the best possible choices among the lot, and they’re all available for less than $10k. Actually, for much less in some instances. If you decide to get yourself one, you’ll likely be more than happy with their LT1 or LS1 V8s, depending on whether you go with pre or post 1998 models.
Audi S4 (B6)
The third generation Audi S4 wasn’t produced that long ago. It was the latest and freshest S4 between early 2003 and late 2005. Saloon, wagon or convertible – they were all available with 40-valve 4.2L V8 pushing up 339 horsepower. Even current models “only” make 333 ponies thanks to the supercharged V6, but 2017 year models surpassed the B6 in terms of power. Still, you’ll have to splash more than $50,000 on them, while used S4 shouldn’t cost you more than $10,000 whichever way you decide to go.
Nissan 300ZX (Z32)
Although you can certainly find much newer Nissan 350Z models for less than $10k, they often cost more than that. This is why we’re recommending its predecessor, the 300ZX Z32. It came either with 222-horsepower 3.0L normally aspirated V6 or the 300-horsepower twin-turbo version of the same engine. Garrett turbochargers and dual intercoolers really did a great job on 300ZX which still remains one of the most fun to drive Nissans to the day.
Mazda MX-5 Miata (NB)
A third generation NC Miata for less than $10k can still be dug up if you’re lucky enough. Still, we’d recommend the second generation NB Miatas which don’t cost more than $10k these days. In fact, they’re often readily available for less than $5,000. The MX-5 Miata’s 140 horsepower at the time doesn’t look like much on the paper but the roadster doesn’t need raw power to be a fun driving machine. The Miata is light and high-revving which should prove fun enough on its own. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is arguably one of the most fun cars under 10,000 dollars out there.
The Porsche 944 produced between 1982 and 1990 has a rather colorful price range today. You’ll find it for around $5,000, but don’t be surprised if the seller asks you to cash in more than $20k. Still, there’s plenty of them available for under $10k, so don’t despair. For that kind of money, you’ll most likely end up with one of the naturally aspirated in-line four-powered models. If you can add a few thousand more, you can likely end up going home in a 217-horsepower turbocharged version of the Porsche 944. Who knows, you might be lucky enough to get it for less than $10k, but be quick about it. Their prices seem to be soaring right now.
Dodge Neon SRT-4
There’s hardly a better choice than the Dodge Neon SRT-4 if you’re looking for a domestic compact performance car. The Neon SRT-4’s 2.4L turbo four used to deliver either 215 or 230 horsepower depending on the model year. Add to that 245 to 250 lb-ft of torque, a 5-speed manual gearbox and a 6,240 rpm redline, and you’ll figure out why the Neon’s the way to go. Every true domestic car enthusiast should be saddened by its discontinuation even now, 10 years later. At least they’re still available at bargain prices, often lower than $5,000.
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
The 3000GT is one fun car to drive by itself, but the turbocharged all-wheel drive VR-4 model is even better. It’s available throughout all three generations of the 3000GT which all came out between 1990 and 2001. The 3.0L V6 mill produces between 296 and 320 horses which is quite a deal for what’s a genuinely nineties Japanese sports car. Not to mention that it’s a Mitsubishi. Newer models and used cars under 10,0000 USD might be a tall order, but older 3000GT’s can be found for around $7,000.
Volvo V70 R
The Volvo V70 R is basically a carried over Volvo 850 R – at least considering the powertrain. Otherwise, it’s more like the facelifted version of it. They both have the same 2.5L in-line 5 cylinder engine producing 237 hp in the 1998 version and 247 hp in 1999. For the year 2000, the Volvo V70 R received the 261-horsepower upgraded Volvo modular in-line five engine. So, apart from being newer and younger, these V70 R Volvos also pack a little bit more heat. That’s something to pay attention to! If you need the fun-driving practical boxy wagon, that is.
Although the Honda S2000 still keeps its value, you shouldn’t have too many trouble finding one of these cars under $10,000. It might even be the post-2005 year model, but the more likely scenario is that it’ll be a slightly older one. In any case, this Japanese roadster boasts an extremely high rpm redline which goes up to 9,000 in older models. At the same time, the Honda S2000 packs 237 horsepower which further adds to its exciting driving dynamics. They simply don’t make them like this anymore.
BMW 540i (E39)
The BMW 540i is the strongest available non-M fourth generation 5 Series. While the M5 still costs quite a bit of money, the BMW 540i can easily be acquired for the sub $10,000 price tag. Even with less than 100,000 miles on its odometer. Even the late production models. And they’re almost as much fun as the M5s. How could they not be given their 282 and 291-horsepower V8 engines. BMW will always be BMW, after all, and performance is what they know the most about.