Alright, so your friend just bought a Lamborghini, and there’s no denying it looks sweet, but he’s getting negative miles per gallon, and can’t fit a single bag of groceries into his trunk. Worst of all, he paid a freakin’ fortune for it! Supercars are amazing, and they certainly have a place in this world, but if you’re in need of something a little more practical, we’re here to help.
We put together a list of the best daily drivable sports cars that you can get for cheap. That way you can get to and from the office every day, hit the track on the weekends, and not break the bank!
Nissan 350Z – Legendary Z
We’re hoping you know about the first car on our list. I mean, we talk about it all the time. We even did an entire video on the history of it, and it’s basically the best value you can get for a sports car. We’re talking about the Nissan 350Z.
How would you like to join the ranks of the Drift King from Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift? That’s right, I’m talking about that blacked-out 350Z with the custom graphics and Veilside body kit. Well, that exact car was actually listed on AutoTrader back in 2017 for over $100,000. But, since this is a video about cheap daily drivers and not six-figure movie icons, let’s talk about how you can get your own Fairlady for a whole lot less.
We found a red 2003 350Z with under 100,000 miles on the clock for only $6,000! The Z isn’t just a great sports car, it’s a pretty solid daily driver too. Sure, it’s only got two seats, and the gas mileage isn’t incredible at around 25 miles to the gallon, but that VQ engine is straight-up bulletproof as long as you don’t do something like turbocharge it.
It’s honestly hard to find a better combination of fun and reliability than the 350Z, which sort of makes it an ideal car. And if you want to know how to pick up an ideal car, consider checking out our Ideal Car Strategies, so you can learn how to buy any of the dream cars on this list like a pro.
The next car on the list is a car that everyone sort of forgot about. It comes from Deutschland, is powered by a legendary inline-six, and is ready for some topless cruising.
BMW Z3 Roadster – The Underdog
Among the many BMW models that people love to rave about, the Z3 seems to get left out of the conversation over and over again, and I just can’t seem to figure out why! Sure, maybe it’s because it’s just a fancy Miata, but if I’m being honest, I think it looks a little better. Plus, that inline-six is way more fun than an anemic little four-banger like the one in the Miata.
The facelifted 1999 Z3 model even gets 27 miles to the gallon, which beats out most of the other cars on this list, while still churning 170 horsepower out of a 2.5-liter six-cylinder, or an impressive193 horsies with the 2.8-liter.
Plus, the Z3 has dynamite driving dynamics that’ll make you feel like you’re on the Nurburgring. The 1999 model also got some nannies like electronic stability control, which are less fun but are probably better to have if you’re going to be driving your Z3 to and from the office every day.
We found a 1999 Z3 Roadster on AutoTempest with under 50,000 miles for just $6,000. That’s a killer deal for a car that’s bound to be considered a classic in a few years.
Next up, we’re going to the States with an American classic, and this car makes a great daily driver. Just watch out for pedestrians.
Ford Mustang GT – Burnout Machine
The Mustang has gained a reputation as a “Crowd Killer” because people feel the need to show off that straight-pipe soundtrack as they’re leaving the car meet. But, driven like a responsible human being, the Mustang GT can make for a great cheap daily driver.
Now, you can argue that a Mustang isn’t a sports car. But, if you’re shopping for a 350Z and an old BMW, you’re probably cross-shopping with Mustangs and Camaros, because what you’re after is the best performance for your dollar, and it’s really hard to beat Mustangs in that category.
The “New Edge” Mustangs of the early 2000s are particularly good when it comes to power-per-dollar, and they’ve gotten ridiculously cheap. We found a clean one for $8,000 and it’s a drop-top, which is nice for those summer days with the girlfriend. Plus, since it’s got that reliable modular 4.6-liter V8, four seats, and a pretty spacious trunk, you can use it every day and not feel bad.
But what if you’re willing to take a bigger risk and pick up a car that Top Gear tried to argue was actually a piece of collectable art? Enter in the Mazda RX-8.
Mazda RX-8 – Rev Happiness
Get your Doritos out and start snacking! We’re looking at a sporty little Japanese driver that’s got Mazda’s legendary Wankel rotary engine under the hood! The Wankel is compact, powerful, and made such a sweet noise. Seriously, just take a listen to that thing.
If that’s not enough to stir up a burning desire for an RX-8, you should know that these cars also offered an incredibly comfortable drive and they were only offered with a six-speed manual. Sure, the gas mileage is nothing to write home about, and you’ll have to become very familiar with the term “apex seals,” but take your RX-8 on a few winding roads and you’ll understand exactly what all the hype is about.
Plus, we found a 2005 model with under 90,000 miles for just $7,000. That’s nothing to complain about. All the money you saved might go straight to repairs, but you’ll have a badass JDM underdog in your garage, and it’s hard to put a price on that.
For our next car, we’re looking at a high-revving luxury Honda that’s perfect for daily commutes and cutting loose on the weekends.
Pontiac Solstice GXP – It’s Quirky
Now, we’ve covered a lot of cool cars so far that you can have in your garage, but for me, I think the one that I’m going to see in my dreams is the Pontiac Solstice GXP. I mean, just look at that body styling. Pontiac could’ve made a basic roadster like everybody else, but instead, they decided to make this kind-of-weird, kind-of-incredible-looking convertible.
And guess what else? They threw a freakin turbo in it! Much like the Cobalt SS, it’s got a miniature little 2-liter four, but get that turbo involved and you’re still looking at 260 ponies. This was also GM’s first-ever direct-injected gas engine to be sold in the USA!
Now, this car was also sold as the Saturn Sky Red Line, and since Saturn is now deceased, that makes this car even rarer. So, you’re getting a unique car that packs a serious punch and is also a piece of history! Unfortunately, you’re getting only two seats and negative storage space. But who cares? You can drop that top on a sunny day and floor it to work with turbocharged acceleration!
You can get a Solstice GXP like the one we found on AutoTempest with under 100,000 miles for just $7,000! These things are pretty hard to find, though, so best of luck.
We’ll stay in America with this next pick, add some back seats, add four more cylinders, and go fishing…
Chevrolet Camaro Z28 – The Catfish
When GM dropped the 1993 Camaro Z28, they made the bold statement that “the heartbeat of America is today’s Chevrolet.” And, if you ask me, I’d still like to hear the Z28’s heart beating in 2021. Beating inside this American classic is a 5.7-liter pushrod V8 known as the LT1. You could choose a Borg-Warner six-speed manual, which is what I’d do. Save the manuals!
These bad boys were built on the F-body platform and they had removable T-top options, and I think they still look pretty good today, even if they do have the nickname “Catfish” because they kind of look like a fish.
So, what’s all that going to cost you? Well, we found a Z28 that was driven under 2,000 miles for less than $5,000! That’s a straight-up time capsule for a bargain!
Now, let’s transition from rear-wheel drive to a German all-wheel drive. I’m talking Quattro, baby!
Audi TT Quattro – Rally Pedigree
Audi knows a thing or two about going fast. After all, they are one of the biggest names in rally sport. So, it’s no surprise that their little roadster makes a great everyday sports car.
Born in 2005 with the immaculate Quattro all-wheel drive system, the TT has always been a blast to drive and not too bad to look at either. The Audi Quattro system first made its appearance in rally racing and snagged four WRC championships for the brand. Then, Audi started tossing the technology in street cars, and we’re so glad they did.
You can pick up a 2000 Audi TT Quattro for under $7,000. And while you might not have unlimited power at your disposal, that all-wheel drive system will keep you planted on the road like nothing else. Seriously, these things are a dream to drive and you’ll be smiling every moment that you’re out running errands.
What’s that sound? Is it VTEC? Must be time for that honorable mention.
Acura RSX – Honorable Mention
A front-wheel drive car? Well, that’s why it’s an honorable mention. But, honestly, I think the Integra absolutely deserves to be called a sports car. In Japan, the RSX is called the DC5 Integra, and when they washed up on our shores in 2001, they were wearing an Acura badge instead and called the RSX.
Two models were available right from the get-go: the base RSX and the Type-S. Let me tell you, the Type-S is the one you want. While the base RSX got 160 horsepower and a five-speed manual or automatic, the Type-S bumped that up to 200 horses and only came with a six-speed manual.
As I said, Type-S was designed for the practical car guy. It had four seats in a surprisingly spacious interior, got 31 miles to the gallon, and has world-famous handling characteristics.
We found a Type-S with under 85,000 miles for $9,000. And for a corner-carving, gas-saving coupe with Honda reliability, I’d say that’s a great deal.
And for the last car on our list, we have a no-brainer. What’s the best cheap daily driver sports car? Miata is always the answer!
Mazda MX-5 Miata – The Obvious Choice
First unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show back in 1989, the Miata completely changed the world of sports cars and set a new driving standard. Miatas are pure bliss to drive. They’re fun, reliable, easy on the eyes, and best of all, affordable.
You can pick up a 1992 NA Miata with under 100,000 miles on the clock for just $6,000! Then, drop the top and drive up and down the California coastline to your heart’s content, all while getting 34 miles to the gallon.
Miatas are undeniably one of the best bang-for-your-buck cars in the world of sports cars. Unfortunately, the secret is out, so it’s not easy to find one that hasn’t been trashed.