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Finding fun, daily-driveable sports cars under $25,000 can be hard. But, with some diligence and a little research, it’s possible to end up in something fun, practical, and good-looking to boot. Now, we’re going to undertake our search for the best sports cars under $25,000 with some stipulations. First, let’s assume it will be the only car you own, and because of that, it must be practical. Second, we’re going to assume you won’t need to carry more than two people or small children with it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the first candidate.

The 996-gen Porsche 911 is a fantastic bargain

A bargain sports car under $25,000: The Porsche 911 photographed at the pier in Monaco
A Porsche 996 911 in Monaco | Steve Hall via Getty Images

This brings us to the 996-generation Porsche 911. Then 911 name is one synonymous with no-compromise sports car ownership, and the 996 models are no different. The runny-egg headlights are notoriously divisive among enthusiasts, but that just helps keep prices relatively low. Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Produced from 1997-2004, this generation of 911 is still one of a few bargain sports cars under $25,000. It can be had with either an automatic or manual transmission, paired to a 300 hp flat-six motor. Best of all, you can have yours with either rear or all-wheel drive, coupe or convertible. These models are reliable, but beware of the IMS bearings in the motor and ensure they’ve been taken care of. Examples like this one can be found for a hair under $25,000.

So is the V8 BMW M3

A red 2008 BMW M3 on a racetrack in California
An E92-generation BMW M3 | Mark Elias via Getty Images

Our next example is a little more hardcore. It’s also just a touch larger. Produced from 2007-2013, the E92-generation M3 can be had with an automatic or a manual transmission, both with six gears. Like the Porsche, the auto can be a little lazy, so you’re best off with a stick if you can get it. However, unlike the 911, the M3 is rear-wheel drive only, so snow tires will be necessary for those in wintry climates.

On to the motor. Making 414 hp, this BMW M3 is powered by a naturally-aspirated V8 that wails at its 8300 RPM redline. In this car, the motor is everything. It’s what you pay for, and boy, do you get your money’s worth. Aside from some finicky odds and ends, watch out for rod-bearing failure, and ensure a higher mileage car has had them replaced. Driver-condition models like this silver one can also make it one of the best sports cars under $25,000.

The E92 BMW M3 is the best sports car under $25,000

A white BMW M3 like this one is the best sports car under $25,000
An E92-generation BMW M3 | Mark Elias via Getty Images

It was a difficult decision to make, but the BMW wins out here. The practicality of a larger car simply cannot be ignored if this will be your only car. The interior space feels larger, too. Of course, the more modern furnishings of the BMW are welcome as well. It’s hard to find a sports car with more character for the money on top of that. 911’s are great, but you have to spend real money to elicit the same emotional response as the Bimmer’s V8 does. Finally, the transmission in the BMW is simply nicer to use, both automatic and manual. Bearing the maintenance costs in mind, it would be hard to find better sports cars under $25,000.


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