This is our Top 10 Best: Most Affordable Sports Cars of All Time below 100K. There was alot that factored into this list. Much of it has to do with practicality, price, handling, awards, and history. You may not agree with the list, but one thing's for sure, these cars have all stirred our hearts and minds. These are the cars that breathe life into our dreams at night. Sure, we'd all love to have a Lamborghini, but what's realistic and what's not are two different things. And every one of these sports cars are very realistic for Americans to own and drive.
Corvette was born out of the post-war sports-car boom, at an optimistic time when nearly anything seemed possible, including the world's largest automaker building a two-seat "image" car. The Corvette is now a mainstay in the Chevrolet lineup and considered one of the best performance cars of all time. The latest in the Corvette line is the ZR1($111,100), which is itself the revival of a long history of souped up ‘Vettes, and this newest version is the most powerful Corvette ever. Using a supercharged version of the base-model LS9, this model produces 620 spleen-busting horsepower, and moves the carbon fiber and aluminum body around the Nurburgring faster than any other production car in the world to date. Jeremy Clarkson declared the ZR1 the 2009 Performance Car of the Year. It is certainly the best sports car statistically America has ever produced, thus propelling it atop our Top 10 list.
2. 2011 Nissan GT-R R35 | Price: $84,060 - $88,340 | 0-60 in 3.2 & 1/4 in
This was originally an honorable mention selection, however I knew we would have received bomb threats. This car is possibly one of the best cars to ever come across our shores from Japan. The Nissan GT-R is all-wheel drive with a twin-turbo 6 cylinder engine, producing 485 bhp at 6400 rpm and 434 lb·ft at 3200-5200 rpm and can reach a top speed of 193 mph and does 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. For good reason, the GT-R has retained its Skyline predecessor's nickname, "Godzilla".
3. Mazda RX7 | Price: $37,800 | 1995 Mazda RX-7 R2 0-60 in 5.0 & 14.0 in 1/4 mile
The Mazda RX-7 is a sports car by the Japanese automaker Mazda. It was produced from 1978 to 2002, with the third and final iteration of the highly popular RX-7 hitting the streets of Japan in 1992, and America a year later. Power was generated by the first-ever mass-produced sequential twin-turbocharger system to export from Japan, an extremely complex piece of machinery that gave the RX-7 a wide and usable torque curve throughout the entire RPM range. Car and Driver voted it to their 10 Best list ’93-95, and Playboy awarded the RX-7 victor in a head-to-head contest against the Dodge Viper. Handling was world class, and to this day remains one of the finest handling cars of all time thanks in part to its front-mid-engine layout, and its futuristic looks have kept the car looking sexy after all these years. This car still remains one of the most sought after performance cars.
4. Toyota Supra Mark IV | Price: $31,078 - $40,508 | 1997 Toyota Supra Turbo 0-60 in 5.1 & 1/4 in 13.6
Based off the Celica platform, the Mark IV Supra was a more performance oriented car than previous versions. Utilizing a Sequential Twin Turbo configuration similar to the RX-7, the Supra was capable of 0-60 runs of 4.6 seconds and a top speed in excess of 170mph, all very impressive stats for the mid-’90s. What was most impressive, though, was the durability of the 3L 2JZ-GTE Inline 6. These cars were capable of pavement-pealing 800 to 1000 horsepower figures without major modifications, and as such the Supra developed its own cult following within the tuner market, and remains one of the most highly sought after Japanese sports cars in history. You want one? Good luck finding one unmolested.
5. 2011 Ford Mustang | Price: $22,145 - $37,845 | 2010 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 0-60 mph 4.5 1/4 mile 12.8 & 2010 Ford Mustang GT 0-60 mph 4.9 1/4 mile 13.5
The Ford Mustang doesn't need much of an introduction. Production of the first Mustang began in Dearborn, Michigan on March 9, 1964 and the car was introduced to the public on April 17, 1964 at the New York World's Fair. The 1965 Mustang won the Tiffany Gold Medal for excellence in American design, the first automobile ever to do so. The Mustang was on the Car and Driver Ten Best list in 1983, 1987, 1988, 2005, and 2006. It won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award in 1974 and 1994. In 2005 it was runner-up to the Chrysler 300 for the North American Car of the Year award. Ford revised all the Mustang's engines for 2011. The new V6 is a smaller 3.7 L aluminum block engine weighing 40 lb lighter than the outgoing version. The engine produces 305 hp and 280 lb·ft of torque. Ford announced on December 28, 2009 that the 2011 Mustang GT would feature a 5.0 engine that produces 412 horsepower and 390 lb·ft of torque on 91 octane fuel.
6. Nissan 300ZX | Price: $37,439 - $44,679 | 1995 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 0-60 in 5.5 & 1/4 mile 13.9
The 300ZX added to Nissan’s performance credibility following the 240Z and 280ZX. The updated Z32 model in 1990 blew the competition away with a strong 222 HP N/A 3.0L V6, and the Twin-Turbo edition churned out an incredible 300 at the crank, making the 300ZX one of the fastest accelerating cars in its day. It managed to combine the brute strength of American Muscle with the sex appeal of an Italian exotic, and the critics just ate it up. The year it was released, Motor Trend named it the Import Car of the Year and Car and Driver placed the car on its “10 Best List” 7 years in a row. And nearly a decade after production had ceased, Automobile showed some serious Z-Car love by listing the 300ZX as one of the “100 Greatest Cars of All Time”, one of the “20 Greatest Cars of the Past 20 Years”, and one of the “25 Most Beautiful Cars in History”.
7. 2011 BMW M3 | Price: $58,125 - $76,648 | 0-60 in 4.3 & 1/4 12.7
Based on the 1986 model year E30 3-Series, the first M3 was introduced with a 2.3 L I4 S14B23 engine (or S14 in shorthand). The engine design was based on various BMW genealogies: basic block layout from the M10 4 cylinder (found in the 2002 and 320 series) overbored and reinforced to similar specifications of the BMW M88 inline-6. The valve train and head architecture from BMW's M1 and, later, M6 inline-6 cylinder was adopted for aggressive breathing, resulting in outstanding performance for the day. Subsequent models ( E36, E46, E90/91/92 ) continued to build on the performance success of the E30 model, thrusting it into the spotlight in road racing while acquiring numerous accolades. The BMW M3 is essentially a 3-series BMW model grocery getter with a more powerful engine thrown in it along with a bunch of suspension upgrades, and better styling. Oh, and don't forget the M3 badges. The 2010 BMW M3 produces 414 horsepower out of its milky-smooth 4.0-liter V8 and hits the scales quite chunky at 3,652 lbs. The BMW M3 is the answer to a successful businessman's desire to go fast when the kids are not in the car, and it has always delivered.
8. 2011 Subaru Impreza STi | Price: $33,995 - $37,345 | 0-60 in 4.7 & 1/4 mile in 13.5
The Subaru Impreza STi is a product of the Subaru Technica International division (STI). Since the 1980's the STi Division led development for the FIA World Rally Championship and other motorsports activities. After the company had grown, the division was used to create high-performance consumer versions of the Subaru Impreza WRX, an all-wheel drive car with a turbocharged boxer engine, leading to the development of the Impreza WRX STi. The STI was originally sold only in Japan, but after Subaru saw the Impreza WRX sell at much better levels than expected, in Europe Subaru began selling the STI in North America in the spring-summer of 2003 as a 2004 model. And the rest is history. The STi now comes with a 2.5-liter turbocharged SUBARU BOXER® 4-cylinder engine producing 305 hp. It jumps from 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds.
9. 2011 Chevrolet Camaro | Price: $22,680 - $34,295 | Camaro SS: 0-60 in 4.6 & 1/4 mile in 13.3
The Chevrolet Camaro first went on sale on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year and was designed as a competing model to the Ford Mustang. The car shared its platform and major components with the Pontiac Firebird, also introduced for 1967. Four distinct generations of the Camaro were developed before production ended in 2002. The nameplate was revived again on a concept car that evolved into the fifth-generation Camaro; production started on March 16, 2009. The Camaro was recently featured in the 2007 movie, "Transformers" as the Camaro's character, Bumblebee, transformed into the current 2010 model. Production of the fifth-generation Camaro was approved on 10 August 2006 and went on sale in spring of 2009 as a 2010 model year vehicle. The current 2010 Camaro is offered as a coupe only in LS, LT, and SS trim levels. LS and LT models are powered by a 3.6 L (220 cu in) V6 producing 312hp mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic with manual shift. The SS is powered by the 6.2L (376 cu in) LS3 V8 producing 426 hp and is paired with a 6-speed manual. The automatic SS gets the L99 V8 with 400 hp (300 kW). The RS appearance package is available on both the LT and SS and features 20-inch wheels with a darker gray tone, halo rings around xenon headlamps, and red RS or SS badges.
*On April 1, 2010, the Camaro was named the World Car Design of the Year at the World Car of the Year Awards.
10. 2011 Mazda Miata | Price: $23,110 - $29,650
The Mazda Miata single-handedly saved the concept of the “British” sports car in the ’80s at a time when no one was making them, and became the best selling drop top of all time. It was cheap, reliable, and incredibly satisfying to drive, and cars like the Boxster, the SLK, the Z4, the S2000 all owe their very existence to the success of the unassuming Miata. The Miata is fun, but has never burned an image of pure performance into anyone's head, yet it has quietly ruled many racing circuits around the country including the SCCA. I once complimented a man in his Miata on his rim and tires and his response was memorable..."I have had every kind of sports car... Ferrari, Porsche turbo, but I keep returning to this as one of the funnest cars to drive." It's simple, sound mechanically, and fits into just about any parking space. Now in its third generation, the MX5's first generation, the NA, sold over 400,000 units from 1989 to 1997 – with a 1.6 L (98 cu in) straight-4 engine to 1993, a 1.8 L (110 cu in) engine thereafter (with a de-tuned 1.6 as a budget option in some markets) – recognizable by its pop-up headlights. The second generation (NB) was introduced in 1998 with a slight increase in engine power; it can be recognized by the fixed headlights and the glass rear window. The third generation (NC) was introduced in 2005 with a 2.0 L (120 cu in) engine. The Mazda Miata remains the most sold convertible in the history of the automobile.
2010 Lotus Elise | Price: $47,250 - $54,990
The Elise is a David amongst Goliaths. Coming in at 200lbs under a ton, the Elise is a modern vision of something very old and very British; a super light, agile, capable, minuscule sports car with an emphasis on handling over acceleration. The current design emerged in 2002 as a two seat, rear-wheel drive, mid-engined roadster conceived in early 1994 and released in September 1996 by Lotus Cars. The car has a hand-finished fiberglass body shell with an aluminum chassis that provides a rigid platform for the suspension, while keeping weight and production costs to a minimum. The roadster is capable of speeds up to 150 mph. The Elise was named after Elisa, the granddaughter of Romano Artioli who was chairman of Lotus at the time of the car's launch. There are many versions of Elise (naturally aspirated Elise producing 189 hp), such as the hard top Exige (supercharged), Exige S 240, the 111R, 340R, and the American-friendly California addition. This car may not have cupholders, but is a bargin compared to more popular exotics.
2009 Honda S2000 | Price: $34,995 - $36,995
There’s a reason why V-TEC has a following. The S2000 sported a high-revving 240 HP 2.0L inline 4 known as the F20C, an engine which was recognized as the International Engine of the Year from 2001 to 2004. In those same years, the rest of the car’s finest attributes, namely its silky smooth six speed tranny, its razor sharp handling, and surprisingly gorgeous aesthetics (I mean, it’s Japanese. Come on!) made its $30,000 price tag seem like a steal. But the cost of ownership was high in everything but maintenance costs, as the roadster’s hyper-aggressive personality and lack of any civilized manners made it a brute on the roads, and with little to no storage space, cramped leg room, and a jarring ride due to the overly stiff suspension set up, the car was bound to wear you down on long jaunts. However, owners of these cars will swear by their prowess and their performance. And like anything else Honda, they were extremely reliable, garnering high satisfaction ratings from their owners as well as J.D. Power and associates year after year. Despite its exit from production, it will continue to remain one of the best of all time.
1998 Nissan 240SX | Price: $18,359 - $24,449 | 1995 Nissan 240SX SE 0-60 in 8.0 & 1/4 mile in 15.8
The 240SX would never had made this list while it was actually in production from 1989 - 1998, but with the emergence of import tuning, this car has catapulted it onto our list. The Nissan 240SX was often characterized by its lack of performance with it's 2.4L truck engine, while in Japan, this car was given the stout 2.0L turbo charged engine (SR20DET). Tuners in Japan were quick to extract the power potential from this car and U.S. tuners soon caught on. What really propelled this car onto this list was it's handling and it's rebirth in the era of drift racing. The 240SX made one of it's first motion picture appearances in the 2001 movie "The Fast and the Furious". The Nissan 240SX continues to be a highly sought after performance car.
Nissan 350Z | Price: $$37,870 - $40,220 | 2004 350Z 0-60 in 5.3 & 1/4 mile 13.77
I know what you're going to say, this should be in the Top 10, and on many levels I'd have to agree with you. The one thing, I believe that keeps this off the Top 10 list is that it lacked a factory turbo option. The Mazda Miata and the 350Z certainly were the two that were wagering for the last Top 10 spot. The 350Z came off the heels of the 300ZX and the 240SX and lived up to its "Z" expectations very quickly. In August 2001, Nissan introduced the Z Concept. Much like the previous Z concept, it debuted at the North American International Auto Show and was painted a bright orange. The squat, long-hood/short-deck styling resulted from a competition between Nissan's Japanese, European, and American design studios, with the La Jolla, California studio's design being chosen. The product planners hoped to avoid the price problems that plagued the last few years of the 300ZX with a target MSRP of $30,000 while using the Porsche Boxster as a benchmark.
In the summer of 2002, the 350Z was released to wide acclaim. It employed a slightly improved version of the 3.5-liter VQ35DE DOHC V6 engine found in multiple Nissan cars at the time, including the Maxima and Pathfinder. This engine initially produced 287 bhp (214 kW) and 274 lb·ft torque, but in 2005 was increased to 300 bhp and 260 lb·ft. Prices started at $26,000 US, well below the $30,000 mark initially set forth by Nissan. Coupled to either a 6-speed manual gearbox or 5-speed automatic (the automatic lost 13 bhp in comparison), it was initially available only as a 2-seater hardtop. A convertible model was later introduced in 2004. The 350Z will continue to live on as age runs its course with it, much like the 240SX.
Love it or leave it, this is our Top 10 Best: Most Affordable Sports Cars of All Time Under 100K. Let us know what you think! And please, vote on our poll!