Supercars are playthings for the rich, right? Not necessarily. Some are becoming dangerously affordable. These are the supercars, or pretenders to supercar status, that we’d buy for five figures. Just remember to keep some money in reserve for running costs…
Porsche 911 Turbo
The venerable 911 Turbo has always been able to show many Ferraris and Lamborghinis its back tyres. The most affordable way to buy one is via the 996 generation, the least loved of 911s. The 1999-2005 996 Turbo is still a weapon, though, with well over 400hp and a top speed of 190mph. They’re available for less than £30,000.
It’s hard to believe, but the Audi R8 is now 13 years old. With sharp styling, mid-mounted V8 or V10 engines and Lamborghini DNA, it’s a supercar, if not a thoroughbred. That last bit is why you can now pick one up for less than £40,000.
Twelve years ago Godzilla returned, with the introduction of the R35 Nissan GT-R. No longer badged a Skyline, the GT-R shed its boxy saloon underpinnings in favour of a sleek coupe body. The performance from its 485hp V6 (600hp in the later Nismo) and advanced four-wheel-drive system proved problematic for many supercar owners, and still does today. You can pick one up for less than £30,000, too.
Arguably Lamborghini’s first mass-produced car, the Gallardo boasts a V10, more than 500hp, four-wheel drive, a near-200mph top speed and the howl of a wounded wolverine. Upwards of 14,000 were made, so it’s by no means rare, but that means it’s not expensive. Prices were softer than they are now a few years ago, but you can still find one for less than £70,000. For reference, a bog-standard Porsche 911 now costs over £80,000.
Aston Martin DB9
With a rumbling 5.9-litre V12 engine, there’s very little about the DB9 that isn’t exotic. Nevertheless, you can buy one up for less than £30,000: an absolute bargain in comparison to equivalent Ferraris. It’s something of a soft-focus supercar, but an absolute knockout to look at. Top speed is 186mph.
McLaren is relatively new to the supercar scene. The classy, clever and very fast 12C has struggled in the second-hand market. As a result, this most contemporary of used supercars can be yours for less than £80,000. A 600hp output (625hp in later models) and 207mph VMax sound tempting, but buy at your own risk. These haven’t got the best reputation for reliability.
A Maserati for Micra money? Madness, surely? Nope, although the 177mph Coupe is perhaps a stretch for supercar status. For less than £15,000, though, we’d gladly take home this tuneful 390hp Italian V8. Just be ready for bills befitting a car that’s four times the price, plus a paddle-shift gearbox from the dark ages.
Ferrari 360 Modena
With a V8 engine not entirely unrelated to the Maserati’s, but mounted in the middle, here’s the 400hp, 183mph Ferrari 360 Modena. Its maker promised better reliability, easier availability and lower running costs. All told, it really isn’t a bad buy, although you want to find a good one. Best to avoid the £40,000 bottom-of-the-barrel, then, unless you feel brave.
MG X-Power SV
Yes, this did happen, albeit briefly. MG’s missguided swing at the supercar establishment nearly crippled MG Rover (if it wasn’t crashing and burning already). Packing a 324hp Mustang V8, with the option to supercharge it to 390hp insanity, the SV was a ferocious fibreglass beast. You might not be made welcome in Monaco, though, and hesitate to spend £50,000 on one today.
Lotus’ most exotic creation is long gone, but definitely not forgotten. It was also James Bond’s supercar of choice for an excursion under the waves. The Esprit’s wedge shape and delightful dynamics have aged superbly. The very cheapest can be bought for less than £20,000, although for that price you’ll get a facelifted four-cylinder, rather than a later V8. Or indeed a more iconic early example.
The ultimate American supercar? With a monstrous 8.0-litre V10 from a truck, ill-fitting fibreglass bodywork, a cabin that smelt like glue and driving dynamics tuned by the grim reaper, the 165mph Viper made 406hp feel scarier than some 1,000hp cars of today. What’s not to love, especially for less than £40,000?
Alfa Romeo 4C
A selection of supercar ingredients don’t quite make a supercar, but the oddball Alfa 4C still appeals. With a carbon fibre tub, engine in the middle and a paddle-shift gearbox, it sounds like it should have a prancing horse on its flanks. Then you learn about its 240hp 1.75-litre four-cylinder engine. Still, how does £40,000 for a three-year-old example sound?