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Buying a used sports car is a challenge, especially if it’s your first time navigating the market. And while there are general used car buying tips to follow, there are some additional guidelines for used sports cars. To get the quality, performance, and price you want, use these tips to get a used sports car you can feel good about.

Understand the aftermarket to avoid a used sports car nightmare

Most sports cars you’ll come across in the used market have some form of aftermarket modification. On their own, mods aren’t a bad sign for a used car. But knowing what the aftermarket looks like for the car in question will help understand if that intercooler is helping reliability or creating a liability, depending on the quality of the part and installation.

For example, on a BMW with an N55 engine, an aluminum charge pipe is a clear upgrade over the OEM plastic pipe that is prone to breaking. Not only does this upgrade indicate care from the previous owner, but an attention to detail in replacing a known failure point.

Join forums and groups for real ownership feedback

The BMW 2 Series is a good used sports car.
BMW 2 Series | BMW

To get some help with your used sports car purchase, jump onto forums or social media groups of actual owners. Yes, there is a lot of noise in these spaces. However, you can also find commonalities and trends to help guide your potential purchase. Things like common failure points, good aftermarket replacements and upgrades, and mileage-based reliability issues are easily mined in these owner-driven spaces.

While they shouldn’t be your only source of data, they can help you choose between similar models based on specific data for the sports car in question. That can help you find a higher-mileage model that will cost you less money. And even though it’s got an extra few miles on the clock, it’s been better cared for than a pricier model with fewer miles.

Go for more than 1 test drive

C7, C6, and C5 Chevy Corvettes line up at the National Corvette Museum.
A lineup of Chevy Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

This one seems obvious, but with so many online transactions and auction sites, it’s becoming more common to buy a car without ever driving it. For some vehicles, it may be impossible to get behind the wheel before you buy. But as often as you can, try to test drive the car you want before you buy.

Not only is it a good idea to test drive the actual model you intend to bring home, but similar options as well. If there are multiple C7 Corvettes within 100 miles, test drive three or four to better understand the platform. Maintenance and aftermarket choices can drastically change how a car feels (and functions) after it leaves the factory. Understanding a bigger scope of potential experiences can help you find a used sports car that isn’t just exciting, but works well for how you like to drive.

When you’re on a budget, this can let you know what cheaper versions of the car you’re looking for feel like. It can also help you understand a well-sorted, higher-mileage model versus one that needs some serious attention.

A pre-purchase inspection is your friend when buying a used sports car

All of the insider knowledge in the world doesn’t compare to having a professional take a look at your next car. A pre-purchase inspection may cost $100 to $200 but could save you thousands in deferred maintenance, or worse. A mechanic with professional diagnostic tools can help diagnose compression problems, potential turbo failures, and other hidden issues that even the most knowledgeable buyer can’t see by peeking under the hood.

Use these tips and buy your next used sports car with confidence

Armed with these suggestions, you can both discover and buy your next used sports car with better confidence. Avoid getting a lemon and get a car for weekend road trips, track days, and more, with fewer worries about things going wrong.

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