A driver who wants accessible speed doesn’t need to be rich. These days the used car market is saturated with fast cars for $10,000 or less. These are just a few of those options that fit the bill for fast and cheap used cars, starting with Mercedes-Benz and its E55 AMG, one of the fastest sedans in the world for its time.
Fast, Affordable, And Comfortable: W210 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG
The W210 E55 AMG lasted from 1998-2002. Its 5.4-liter V8 sent 349 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a 5-speed automatic transmission, its top speed electronically limited to 155 mph. It also commanded an aggressive traction-control system for its open-slip differential, and sat on 18-inch AMG wheels, shrouded in 275 mm rear tires.
It weighed around 3,600 pounds, but the smooth and assertive power delivery meant the AMG glided across the tarmac with superb grip. Inside was leather-bound and cushy adjustable seats with three programmable custom settings, and the cabin was dead silent at 70 mph. The AMG’s MSRP was $70,300, but the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) sets its high retail price at $11,200. This makes it one of the cheapest and fastest cars on the used market.
The AMG was special for its versatility. It managed to be fast, nimble, and comfortable. It won’t break the bank initially as it only costs around $10,000, but its maintenance schedule demands staunch attention. Close attention to oil changes, brakes, and tires ensures the E55 AMG is a long-lasting fast car.
Fast And Cheap: Pontiac GTO
In 2004 Pontiac released its GTO, a rear-wheel-drive coupe that could hit 160 mph. It was based on an Australian Holden Monaro and used a 5.7-liter V8 from GM that produced 350 hp, but in 2005 made closer to 400 from six liters. It could come with a manual or automatic transmission and it sold for $33,000 MSRP. NADA sets its clean retail price at $9,500.
Owners on KBB testify to the GTO’s straight-line speed. Externally it looks unassuming and simple, thus earning it the “Sleeper” moniker. Those same owners attribute the GTO’s weaknesses to a long-throw shifter, brittle leather, and expensive and rare parts. However, it’s easy to maintain, is comfortable on long trips, and is quiet on the inside, making it a cheap and fast car.
Cheap, Fast, And Reliable: Nissan 350z
In 2003 Nissan had to work a few kinks out of its newest addition to its Z lineup, the 350z, but by 2006 it had most of the issues fixed. Now it’s more affordable than ever and a relatively fast car. It used a 3.5-liter V6 that produced 287 horsepower, mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission, and was rear-wheel-drive. Its top speed was clocked at 156 mph, and while its MSRP was $26,370, NADA reports its current clean-retail value at $5,900.
The 350z is praised by owners for its reliability, ease of maintenance and performance, especially with its 2007-2008 model years thanks to its more powerful engine.
The Mazda MX-5 comes highly recommended for its balance and light curb weight, but for drivers who prefer the same level of performance but with more power, the Nissan fits the bill and with reliability to boot. It’s also cheaper than certain model-year MX-5s.
Cheap and fast cars saturate the market. Normal road cars dating all the way back to the 1980s can hit 150 mph, so the only question that remains is what kind of car provides the most enjoyable experience at 150 mph?