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Exotic cars don’t have to be out of reach of the working person. In fact, a modest salary can pay for some exotic performance cars quite easily. Driving it on public roads might be tricky, what with insurance, gas prices and ever-waning reliability. However, if what you’ve always wanted is an exotic performance car, look no further than these three fine specimens. The glaring question is, how much is it to run these cars after you buy them? What about reliability? One of these entries may surprise you in more ways than one.

1998 Ferrari 456 GT: how reliable is it for an exotic performance car?

Ferrari 456 GT
Ferrari 456 GT | Ferrari

It may surprise you to learn that it’s possible to buy a Ferrari for less than $60,000. The 456 GT had a 5.5-liter V12 mated to a manual or automatic transmission, developing 436 horsepower for the rear wheels. The Ferrari’s fuel efficiency is buried 6-feet-under ideal, but that’s not why people buy this car. The 456 GT was the most expensive car in Ferrari’s lineup at the time, but now you can get one for $51,995 off of 

A bonus point goes to the Ferrari 456 GT in the way of reliability. With proper maintenance, its V12 can last past 100,000 miles without having to rebuild the bottom end. The self-leveling rear end might warrant some attention, as well as the inlet manifold gaskets and the engine mounts. Maintenance costs may vary. expect anywhere between $2,500 and $8,000 per year, depending on its condition and how well it’s treated. The Ferrari makes a solid exotic performance car.

2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage: modern and satisfying

Current Aston Martin Vantages have a $139,000-starting MSRP. They have the 4.0-liter V8 that pumps out 503 horsepower, have manual transmissions, and are rear-wheel drive. It sounds like a lot of money. The V8 Vantage from 2007, however, goes for dirt cheap, and it’s everywhere. You can find one for around $40,000. Take one look at Auto Tempest and you’ll trip all over the many that are for sale. It had a 4.3-liter V8 that made 380 horsepower, had a manual transmission, and weighed about the same as a modern Vantage at 3,595 pounds.

According to, the V8 Vantage enjoys surprising dependability. No major recalls have been issued, and owners can even take it out to the track if they want to. Regular maintenance seems to be part of a predictable routine, but owners testify to sparse repairs. Annual maintenance costs between $500-$1,000, according to some V8 Vantage owners.

1986 Lamborghini Jalpa: interesting but slow exotic performance

Lamborghini Jalpa on display in the Netherlands.
Lamborghini Jalpa on display in the Netherlands | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

It’s tough to find a cheap exotic performance car, especially a Lamborghini, for less than $90,000 that works. Granted, the Jalpa might not be the ideal candidate to roll off of the fighting bull’s assembly line, but it still counts. The Jalpa lasted nine years preceding the Gallardo. It used a 3.5-liter V8 that made 255 horsepower, mated to a manual transmission. The power went to the rear wheels, and the engine was mid-mounted. The Jalpa wasn’t fast. In fact, it was the slowest of its class according to Car and Driver. Against the Porsche 911 Turbo, the Ferrari 328 GTB, and the Lotus Esprit Turbo, the Jalpa was slowest in acceleration.

Buying the car today doesn’t present problems that are too horrendous. The fenders can rust easily, and the brakes will overheat. Otherwise, it’s about as solid as you can expect, maybe moreso, an Italian car from the 1980s can be. Regular maintenance is key with old Lamborghinis. Some owners plan on high repair bills, and then triple it for extra assurance. Put aside at least $10,000 per year to afford the Jalpa, especially since it’s more than 30 years old. The Lamborghini Jalpa is far and away the most expensive exotic performance car on this list, simply for the maintenance. A 1986 Lamborghini Jalpa goes for around $60,000.

It’s between the Lamborghini and the Ferrari

Not only are these cars exotic, they’re also relatively cheap, reliable, and fun. All of them have manual transmissions, they’re all rear-wheel-drive, and they will each turn heads. The Lamborghini could be considered the most interesting and simultaneously the most expensive, while the Ferrari might actually be the smartest choice for a cheap exotic performance car.