Cheap Sports Cars: 6 Of The Most Powerful Options Under $15,000

Buying a cheap sports car that isn’t a Mazda MX-5 Miata is a right of passage for many car enthusiasts. However, buying a cheap sports car with respectable horsepower is another task entirely. It’s a challenging task but not impossible. Here are just a few of the most powerful used sports cars you can snag for a cool $15,000 or less, like the C5 Chevrolet Corvette or the BMW M3 E46. 

  • Dodge Challenger SRT8
  • Chevrolet Camaro SS
  • Ford Mustang GT S197
  • C5 Chevrolet Corvette
  • BMW M3 E46
  • Nissan 370Z

Is the SRT8 Challenger fast?

The Dodge Challenger SRT8 is a fast, powerful muscle car and arguably one of the most potent cheap sports cars on the market. For instance, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) says the 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 has a fair purchase price of around $12,889 with average mileage. Of course, the average mileage for a 2009 model is high, well over 120,000. Still, that used car price tag buys you a 425 horsepower V8-powered muscle car that drips with attitude. 

The 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8, like the BMW M3 E46, is one of the most powerful cheap sports cars under $15,000.
2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 | Scott Olson, Getty Images

How much is a 2010 Camaro worth now?

The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro has depreciated to a point where potential owners can get the cheap sports car for under $15,000. KBB says a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS has a fair purchase price of around $13,526. Better yet, the Camaro packs a 426-horsepower 6.2L V8 and a standard six-speed manual transmission

Is a Ford Mustang GT S197 one of the most powerful cheap sports cars?

The 2011 Ford Mustang GT is more than just another pony car from the post-facelift S197 generation. It’s the first year Ford stuffed the 5.0L Coyote V8 into a Mustang. As a result, used car hunters can snag a 2011 Ford Mustang GT with 412 horsepower for right around $15,000. However, potential owners might have to stretch their budgets to get a low-mileage example.  

How much HP does a C5 Corvette have?

The C5-generation Chevrolet Corvette packs a naturally aspirated 5.7L LS1 V8 with 345 horsepower and 350 ft-lbs of torque. While that figure might come in under a Mustang or Challenger, the Corvette is lightweight and sharp compared to the brutish muscle cars. In fact, the Corvette weighs just a little more than 3,200 lbs, which is around 900 lbs less than the Challenger SRT8. Moreover, a 2000 C5 Corvette Coupe with average mileage can be yours for about $14,906. 

The C5 Corvette, like the E46 M3, is one of the most powerful cheap sports cars under $15,000.
C5 Chevrolet Corvette | PA Images via Getty Images

Is a BMW M3 E46 a cheap sports car?

M3s are automotive royalty among usable sports cars, but they’re seldom cheap. However, the E46 generation M3 is still accessible enough to qualify as a cheap sports car. According to KBB, a used 2005 BMW M3 has a fair value of right around $15,000 with average mileage. Moreover, with 333 horsepower and a 4.8-second sprint to 60 mph, the E46 M3 is a force in the cheap sports car market. 

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Is the Nissan 370Z a fast car?

The Nissan 370Z is a taut, focused sports car with 332 horsepower courtesy of a 3.7L V6. Moreover, the 2009 Nissan 370Z has a fair value of around $14,884. If you want to escape American muscle cars, Corvettes, or hot BMWs and retain some horsepower, a 2009 Nissan 370Z might be your best bet. 

The term sports car is flexible; many car enthusiasts consider muscle cars to be in a category of their own separate from sports cars. Either way, these cheap sports cars promise power for the budget-minded fan. Of course, these aren’t the only options for high-horsepower, wallet-friendly cars.

Tell us about your favorite sports cars in the comments below!