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If you have a need for speed, then getting behind the wheel of a sports car can easily satiate it. An exotic car will get you up to law-breaking speeds in no time, while a cheaper sports car will do the same a little slower. Either way, you’ll have a lot of fun doing it, no matter your budget. And if your budget happens to be low, as in $5,000, then these five sports cars will scratch that speed itch you have.

1. Mazda Miata – 1990-97

Three reliable used Mazda Miata convertibles, an NA, NB, and ND MX-5, all finished in red and parked in front of the L.A. skyline for a publicity photo.
Three Mazda Miata MX-5 generations | Mazda

The NA-generation Mazda Miata is the epitome of having fun while driving a slow car fast. It only had around 100 hp, but its 2,100 curb weight made up for the lack of ponies. It was never meant to go fast in a straight line anyway, as handling was the name of its game. That lightweight chassis also led to a tossable nature, and its rear-drive configuration sealed the deal when it came to driving entertainment.

You may need to look hard to find a clean example for less than $5,000 nowadays, but if you don’t mind a little fixing and possibly the need for a paint job, a cheap Miata can find its way into your garage.

2. Ford Mustang – 1999-2004

2000 Ford Mustang GT
2000 Ford Mustang GT | Wikimedia Commons

Known to many enthusiasts as the “New Edge” body style, the 1999-2004 Ford Mustang provided a healthy dose of performance and a decent amount of reliability. This version of Ford’s pony car sported a sharp new look over the previous generation in addition to sportier handling and a potent V6.

The 3.8-liter mill provided 193 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, which may not sound like much by today’s standards, but it was enough to get the car moving past the speed limit quickly. For more speed, a V8 model is available, but you may need to spend a lot more than $5,000 for one.

3. 2004 Nissan 350Z

The front view of a Nissan 350z
Nissan 350Z | Getty Images

If you’re looking for cheap, reliable fun, the Nissan 350Z is a great choice. Its two-seat configuration and low-slung stature made for a fun driving experience, as did its potent V6 engine. That six-cylinder powerplant produced 287 hp and 274 lb-ft of torque and could be mated to a six-speed manual or a five-speed shiftable transmission.

For the most fun, choose the former, as it could help the 350Z get to 60 mph from a standstill in 5.8 seconds and up to a top speed of 150 mph, reports Vin Free Check.

4. 1999 Porsche Boxster

1999 Porsche Boxster
1999 Porsche Boxster | Wikimedia Commons

The first-generation Boxster is easy to dismiss as an overpriced Miata, but it’s every bit a Porsche as its more-expensive later-model brethren. The Boxster gives drivers a smooth driving experience with its mid-engine layout and 2.7-liter six-cylinder engine. That engine had 217 hp on tap and along with 191 lb-ft of torque.

Those power figures allowed it to zoom up to 60 mph in only 6.6 seconds and up to a top speed of 150 mph. Just like the Miata on this list, it may be a little hard to find one for less than $5,000, but it’s possible with a little time and patience.

5. 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX

2002 Subaru Impreza WRX
2002 Subaru Impreza WRX | Getty Images

The old “bug-eyed” Subaru Impreza WRX may look ugly or old to some, but it’s still powerful and practical. Under its hood is a turbocharged flat-four cylinder engine that puts out 227 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque. That power was able to get the car to 60 mph from a standstill in only 5.4 seconds and up to a top speed of 158 mph. It may not have looked as cool as the newer models, but there’s no denying the bug-eye WRX was quick for its time.

Five fast cars for less than $5,000

If you’re looking to scratch your itch for speed, these five cars can make it happen. A few of them may not be the fastest cars in the market, but if you can find them for less than $5,000, you probably won’t mind.


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