The Best Sports Cars Under $40K

  • The Chevrolet Corvette is the best sports car under $40K
  • Honda’s Civic Type R is the best FWD sports car under $40K
  • You can’t go wrong with a Mazda Miata for cheap speed

It’s hard out there. An E46 BMW M3 sold for more than a new M4 a while back. Enthusiast cars are up, sports cars in particular. Thankfully, if you’ve got a bit of scratch lying around, there’s still some fun to be had for less than a down payment in this equally insane housing market. These are the best sports cars you can buy for under $40,000.

A blue Chevrolet Corvette shot from the front 3/4
The Corvette Grand Sport was considered to be among the best sports cars of the time | Chevrolet

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The Chevrolet Corvette is the best sports car under $40K

I’ll come right out and say it. The best sports car under $40K is the Chevrolet Corvette. Obviously, this excludes the newest C8 Chevy Corvette. You just can’t get one under $40K yet. Thankfully, that won’t always be the case. Regardless, you can have your pick of ‘Vette for under that magic number. My personal pick is a C6, a Grand Sport if you can find one this cheap. The C6 represents a modern-enough take on the classic V8, stick-shift, RWD layout that made the Chevrolet Corvette famous while still being old enough to afford.

What does “Miata is always the answer” mean?

A red Mazda Miata sports car shot from the front 3/4
The Miata could be the answer for some | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

Speaking of classic formulas and sports cars. The Mazda Miata. Miata is always the answer because, well, how much more sports car do you need? Hell, for some, this is all the car you need. The above Corvette owner may laugh at the spec sheet, but that’s only until they get to a gas station. The Miata sips fuel while packing a manual transmission, RWD, and open-roof fun. Now, there’s even the RF version (above) that offers you a Porsche Targa experience under $40K.

How much is a Subaru BRZ?

A silver Subaru BRZ sports car does a burnout shot in profile
You don’t need horsepower to rip a burnout | Subaru

Let’s keep that affordable train of thought going with the 2022 Subaru BRZ. Like the Miata, the BRZ has become a boilerplate cheap sports car. Only now, many of the issues enthusiasts found with the previous generation have been resolved. That means no more rev-hang, and no more torque hole (mostly). Plus, you can pick your brand with the Toyota GR 86, a near part-for-part counterpart to the Subaru BRZ. Both offer RWD and a stick in a classic front-engine layout. You can pick one up brand new for under $40,000.

The Honda Civic Type R isn’t a sports car, it’s better

A blue Honda Civic Type R shot from the front 3/4 at sunset
The Honda Civic Type R might be the best all-round sports car | Honda

I had to include one monkey wrench car on the list. The Honda Civic Type R (honorable mention to the Si) isn’t a sports car. But it’s something you can haul ass in one day, and cargo in the next. The difference between FWD and RWD can’t be more apparent than it is here, but that’s a good thing. After all, the Civic Type R is the best FWD sports car under $40K.

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