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There’s something about having a V8 in a car. And, if it carries an exotic car name on it, all the better. Though we don’t all have $100,000 to spend on a great V8 exotic, these five could fit the bill. These one-time greats are now selling for less than $25,000, and could be your next weekend toy that won’t break the bank.

The plastic fantastic: Chevy Corvette

A silver C6 corvette
A silver Corvette C6 | Chevrolet

Chevy Corvettes do have a certain, ethos, or quality, about them that turns some folks on or very off. But, it’s hard to argue with the value of a ‘Vette, especially the C6, or sixth-generation cars, made from 2005 to 2013. The C6 cars now regularly trade for less than $25,000 and have the performance of much more expensive sports cars.

Of course all Corvettes have V8 engines. In the C6, you not only got a vastly-improved interior, but a choice of 6.0-liter to 7.0-liter V8s, removable roof panels, and even a nice stereo and touchscreen. Sure, they’re impractical, loud, and ride harshly, but there are few cars that offer as many thrills, especially with the manual gear box, as a Corvette.

Maserati GranTurismo is a bargain Ferrari

A yellow Maserati GranTurismo at an auto show
Maserati GranTurismo has a Ferrari V8 | Zhe Ji via Getty Images

One look at Craigslist or AutoTrader, and you’ll see dozens of used Maserati GranTourismo sports cars listed for $30,000 or even as low as $21,000. They’re hard for this car guy to resist with their low, long, sleek profile, exotic car name, and most importantly the same V8 engine as the Ferrari 458. This four-seater can hang with most exotics, but for Mitsubishi Outlander money.

Why are Maserati GTs so cheap? Well, let’s count the ways. They’re expensive to buy, expensive to own, expensive to insure, and their resale curve looks like a stone falling. Also, the GT has THE WORST reliability score of any car rated by the U.K.’s Reliability Index, scoring worse than the (notorious) BMW M5, the Nissan GT-R, and other expensive exotics. It’s not even the most reliable Maserati. But, if you get a good well-treated example, and can shoulder the maintenance costs, it’s hard to beat a Maserati.

Mercedes SL Class cars are classy canyon carvers

I had one of these cars. Sadly, it was destroyed in a crash. Purists will tell you that these cars are not “true” sports cars because they have antiquated automatic transmissions and are too cushy and soft. Those purists are wrong. Our pick in the under-$30,000 range is the 2001 to 2011 version of Mercedes’ top two-door. You get a range of engines, from the bulletproof 228-horsepower V6 all the way up to the SL 55 AMG, with 493 horsepower.  

These Mercedes coupes can keep up with most cars, and they make great daily drivers, too, with luxury options that were popular in their day. Sure, the touch screens aren’t as large as today’s cars’, and they came with funky options like integrated mobile phones. But, it’s hard to beat the class of the SL, and the automatic folding hard top is great for warm summer nights. There are numerous examples on Autotrader and other sites with low miles for less than $25,000.

The Lexus SC430 gets overlooked by sports car folks, but it shouldn’t

A silver Lexus SC430 parked with the top down
The SC430 has sportscar moves | Lexus

I recently got a ride in my friend Sarah’s SC430. It had been a minute since I’d been in a 430, and was surprised at both how quick it felt, and how luxurious it is. The 2005-2010 Lexus SC430 cars saw an update with bigger wheels, a better interior, and critically, Bluetooth. They are now selling for less than $25,000, which is a bargain when you consider the performance of the 288-horsepower 4.3-liter V8.

The SC in the SC 430 stands for Super Coupe, which is a bit misleading because these cars have folding hard tops. Like the Mercedes, purists shy away from these because they’re a bit soft around the edges. But, you get a killer interior and a great driving experience from these big Lexus coupes.

A Jaguar XKR’s supercharger will make you giddy

a white XKR Jaguar at a car show
Jaguar XKR-S GT | Jin Lee via Getty Images

My dad had an XKR for several years. When you put your foot in it, the supercharged Ford-built V8 would spool up like the Millennium Falcon going into hyperdrive. Today, these cars that sold for nearly $100,000 seem like used bargains with 420 horsepower. But the Jaguar wasn’t just about speed, these cars are also about classy luxury that makes a statement. Even the Porsche guys look on in envy at Jags with their wood trim, sumptuous leather, and excellent good looks. Also, it’s worth a note, that the old Jag reputation of bad reliability was banished by the time these cars came out, and were produced from 1996 to 2006.


Is a Used Maserati GranTurismo Really a Bargain Ferrari?