Let’s be honest, we all want to look like we’re rich. The nice clothes, nice house, the Apple Watch, call me shallow, but all of these things make a lasting first impression. And why should your car be any different?
You don’t want to pull up to the club in your mom’s Odyssey, do you? That’s why we put this list together to help you roll on the haters, without having to break the bank. And make sure you keep reading until the end of the list because we have something a little special for you.
These are the 8 cheap cars that make you look rich! And none of them suck!
2004 – 2007 Cadillac CTS-V – Baddie Caddy
We’re starting this list off with a classic. Cadillac has made a name for itself as one of America’s most recognizable luxury brands. They’ve been around since the dinosaurs, or at least almost as long as Ford has, and they’ve put out iconic models like the DeVille and the El Dorado to prove they’re one of the best.
As we’ve moved into the modern age and sports car performance has become more important to luxury car makers, Cadillac has taken their own crack at the sports sedan game. This is where the CTS-V comes in.
The CTS-V was developed and released in 2004 to take on the Germans with a push-rod V8, the LS6, and sports tuned suspension. The V8 puts out 400 horsepower going to the rear wheels matted to a 6-speed manual transmission. This isn’t your grandfather’s Cadillac used to shuffle his old bones to golf courses This is a badass sedan built to win drag races.
Not only can you use your Caddy for smoking supercars at stoplights, but you’ll probably have enough money left over to drown them out with some straight pipes. And, of course, your back won’t have to suffer the usual sportscar shortcomings, this is a Cadillac, after all. You can expect a luxurious ride and interior, equipped with a full leather interior and all of the amenities to make you feel like a king.
Prices for used 2004 to 2007 models float around $15,000, so your wallet will thank you.
So, that’s what your grandfather would have liked, now let’s take a look at what your cousin who plays too much Need For Speed might like. Something from The Land of the Rising Sun.
Find a cheap Cadillac CTS-V on AutoTempest!
2014 – 2020 Infiniti Q50 – Nifty Infiniti
We’ve looked at cars from this Japanese manufacturer before, and Infiniti has made its way onto another one of our lists. But no, for once, we’re not talking about the G35. This time we’ll look at something a little more refined and refreshed. The Q50 was created as a replacement for the G-series of sedans and coupes, bringing the brand into a more modern age of sports sedans.
The Q-series is a more refined and better looking, in my opinion, than the G-series, and uses a similar architecture to the outgoing model. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? The Q50 came out hot in 2013 with a 3.7-liter V6 and either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. A sport model was also available targeting competitors in its class, like the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class.
As with the CTS-V, you can expect some serious performance and luxury. Thanks to its sharp design, well-equipped interior and exceptional reliability and performance, the Q50 is one of the best bang-for-your-buck deals in the luxury sedan market.
If you look around hard enough, you can find examples in the $12,000 to $18,000 range. You’ll be spending a little more, but just look at what you get for that money. The classic Nissan V6 formula, rear- or all-wheel-drive, a luxurious ride, and you can brag that you technically have a Skyline. Okay, maybe not the fun Skyline, but these are called Skylines in Japan.
We found a few clean-titled Q50’s on AutoTempest for under $13,000.
Okay, so far we have two acceptable choices for your next ride. Let’s think a little more like royalty and throw sensibility to the wind.
Find a cheap Infiniti Q50 on AutoTempest!
1998 – 2009 Bentley Arnage – Bentley Carnage
This wouldn’t be one of our lists if we skipped the unreliable money pits. So, let’s talk about the Bentley Arnage. While it doesn’t exist anymore, the Arnage is still quintessentially Bentley. The Arnage was put into production by Bentley and Rolls-Royce’s parent company Vickers in the mid-1990’s to put these super-luxury marques back on the map.
When it came to the powerplant, a BMW twin-turbo V8 was sourced for the Arnage, with output coming in at 349 horsepower and a respectable 413 pound-feet of torque, pushing the Arnage effortlessly through the backroads and down the highway.
The big German V8 acts less as an engine and more as a patient butler. “Would you like some more acceleration, sir? As you wish.” And, boom, you get an aristocratic waft of power propelling you forward.
The Arnage is also probably the most luxuriously equipped car on this list. It is a Bentley after all. The interior feels less like a cockpit and more like a Victorian living room, with that signature feel of class and sophistication Bentley is known for all these years later.
How much will all of this British poshness cost you? Used options will run anywhere from $15,000 to well over $25,000, but you get a Bentley for the cost of a new Volkswagen Golf. Unfortunately, the Arnage is notoriously unreliable, and you might just end up spending a Warren Buffet-sized bankroll on replacement parts.
But even if this Bentley drains every dollar you have, people are still going to think your rolling in the dough.
You’ll be sure to make a statement with an Arnage in your garage, which is probably where it’ll spend most of its time, but our next entry will let you fly completely under the radar in the lap of luxury.
Find a cheap Bentley Arnage on AutoTempest!
2008 – 2012 Audi A4 – Howdy, Audi
We all know that one guy with the Audi. He works in middle management, never uses a blinker, and knows everyone’s rear bumper better than his own brake pedal. When he’s not in a business meeting, he’s probably driving an Audi A4.
The A4 has been around for nearly two decades at this point, and its popularity has never really wavered. White-collar folks can all agree on its simple and refined design, and easily accessible luxury. The 2008 to 2012 generation, also known as the B8, has become particularly popular. It sits in the sweet spot of age and design, where its old enough to be affordable, but well-designed and still modern-looking even 8 years after its release.
The Audi A4 gets the same 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder found in the VW GTI. That paired with Audi’s signature Quattro all-wheel drive makes the A4 a competent performance sedan too. With power delivered solidly to the ground, it’s basically a Golf R with a trunk.
If you’re really lucky you can find the Avant version of the A4, giving you a little more storage space and some clout with the wagon boys. The S4 is the performance variant everyone wants,but it’s more expensive, but that’s what we have APR and other tuning companies for.
How much can you expect to pay for all this luxury and performance? I’m glad you asked. You can find clean models for around $10,000 or less. That’s all-wheel-drive, a smooth ride, and modern looks, all for less than a new Golf! Not a bad deal in my book.
The Germans always have exquisite options for simple, cost-effective, luxury machines. So, let’s keep looking at what else they can throw our way with our next entry.
Find a cheap Audi A4 on AutoTempest!
2014 – 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA – The Cheap G-Class
Does your luxurious lifestyle demand a little more room and utility? Do you like to go off-road every once in a while? Do you have a dog or perhaps a couple kids to haul around? Have we got the car for you!
The Mercedes GLA is the baby in the Mercedes SUV lineup, and acts more as a lifted hatchback than a full-size SUV. Who doesn’t want a full hatch to take advantage of and added ground clearance? You’ll be spending a little more than some of the other cars on this list, but I think we can prove that it’s worth the extra cost.
You get the industry standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a turbo slapped on, and all-wheel-drive. Think this is an Audi repeat? Think again! That Audi doesn’t have 14.9 cubic-feet of cargo space! This means that you, your family, and whoever you want to bring with you can ride in comfort. Or you could just fill the whole thing with Ideal merchandise. We won’t judge.
You also have 5.3 inches of ground clearance to go soft-roading, or to avoid potholes at the shopping center. And if you look hard enough, you may even find an AMG model. Be aware that it’s more of a visual pack than for actual performance. Judgemental looks from other Mercedes owners may be a side effect, so choose your GLA wisely.
But how much dough are we talking for a solid GLA example? Yes, you will be paying more than $16,000, and I know that hurts to hear, but you get what you pay for. A fairly new Mercedes-Benz for less than $30,000. That’s a fraction of what you’d be paying for any other Benz. Time to flex on Karen and the other moms while bringing your kids to soccer practice.
We found an example for around $16,500 on AutoTempest, and the AMG GLA for about $5,000 more.
A German sub-compact SUV is as safe a choice as any for a nice, luxurious car to stunt in. Let’s let the British take another swing at the budget rich guy car, just make sure you have a toolkit nearby.
Find a cheap Mercedes-Benz GLA on AutoTempest!
Old Triumphs – Classy Classic
The British make the list once again. Here’s another guy we all know: he wears business casual almost everyday (Saturday is BBQ day, can’t get the Vineyard Vines dirty), and he most likely owns a small British roadster for weekend cruises. That British roadster might be one of two models, an MG or a Triumph. The Triumphs make our list because they have a much more refined and classy design language.
Old Triumph TR models look amazing, and other models like the GT6 can be easily confused for a classic Ferrari. Personally, every time I’ve seen a Triumph in the wild, I always think the driver must be doing well for themselves. Plus, who doesn’t love convertibles?
Prices can range from anywhere from $5,000 to around $20,000, depending on what model you want. Unfortunately, Now we have to get to the cold hard truth of the matter, British reliability, particularly old British reliability. Just ask Squidd about his old Land Rover.
Old British sports cars have a habit of being overly complex, as in they like to make sure owners know how to wrench. You can expect to spend a decent amount of time under the hood, but your hard work will be rewarded with a quintessential weekend road-tripper.
So, hit the road in style in a Triumph Spitfire, like the one we found for just $9,000.
Okay I’m exhausted from all that talk of constant maintenance, can we look at something more sensible, please? How about another offering from Japan?
Find a cheap Triumph on AutoTempest!
2015 – 2020 Acura TLX – An Acura Legend
Okay, let’s shift gears to the polar opposite of a Triumph roadster. Japan has a reputation for reliability and precision engineering. You may find mismatched door panels on a Triumph Spitfire, but an Acura TLX is going to be precise and elegant down to the last bolt.
You can get updated versions of Honda’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder, or their 3.5-liter V6 paired to a fully automatic transmission. Power can either be sent to the front wheels or through Honda’s all-wheel drive system on higher spec models.
Front wheel drive? Automatic? Before you smash your phone in protest, most reviewers found the TLX to be capable on its feet, thanks to Honda’s very clever all-wheel steering system. If you remember, Honda first introduced all-wheel steering on the Prelude, and they brought that tech into the 21st century with the TLX.
This means that as you guide the TLX through corners, the rear wheels will be turning independently, so you can feel like a driving god. And, not to mention, you’ll be piloting your TLX from a beautifully trimmed interior, with full leather seats and a very contemporary looking dash.
So, let’s tally up the points for the TLX, you can find both a four- and six-cylinder versions with all-wheel steering, a well-trimmed interior, and driving characteristics to compete with its German counterparts.
And the best part? You can find TLX models for relatively cheap. Prices float around the $12,000 mark for nearly all models.
So, this is our winner, right? Not so fast, because we have one last car that may just steal the show. Here’s the moment of truth, one that’s sure to completely knock your socks off. But, it’s going to be pricey.
Find a cheap Acura TLX on AutoTempest!
DDR Grullon GT8 – Dance Dance Racecar
This is our honorable mention for this article, and it’s a good one. The outlandish, spaceship-shaped DDR Grullon GT8. This Frankentstein supercar is part Porsche and part Corvette, and it’ll make you stand out even in a field of Huracans and Audi R8’s.
DDR is a Miami-based company that will ship you the full GT8 body in a box, leaving the rest of the assembly to you. Remember when we mentioned that Triumphs like to make sure you’re an honest mechanic? This is a more extreme version of that. If you have the engine from a C5 Corvette and the drivetrain from a Porsche 911, then you’re already halfway there!
Now, this won’t exactly be the most luxurious ride inside. Most of those components will be ripped out for the sake of performance. But who cares when you have a completely unique looking kit car with a spoiler and roof scoop?
Base price for the kit starts out at $18,000, which is a lot. Add in all the extra parts, labor, and you’re looking at some serious time and money invested. But, trust me, all those costs will be worth it in the end. Being able to roll up to your next car meet in something no one has ever seen before is priceless.
And, hey, want to skip the hundreds of hours of blood, sweat, and tears? Pre-built examples of the DDR GT8 have gone for sale for under $60,000. If you ask me, that’s a steal for a car that essentially looks like a McLaren F1. Which are what? $8 million now? And the DDR’s in the price range of a really used R8, which certainly won’t stand out as much as the GT8.
Find a cheap DDR GT8 on AutoTempest!