These are the fastest high-performance used car bargains that money can buy today
If you want a fast car but only have $20,000 to spend, what are your options? Should I get a used car or a new one? The Kia Soul, Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Trailblazer, etc., are just some of the new cars you can choose from if you go that route. For the price, they’re not terrible, but you can hardly call them “fast.”
If you opt for used, however, that same $20,000 will make available a wide variety of high-performance automobiles that should more than satisfy your need for speed. However, this leaves you susceptible to purchasing automobiles that may spend the majority of their time parked in a garage. Which vehicle should you choose, then? We’ve compiled a list of the top 20 used cars you can buy for under $20,000 that are both fast and fun to drive.
As of the 24th of June, 2023: We’ve added a few more options for affordable, exciting vehicles for those who want speed but don’t want to break the bank, including some American muscle, hot hatches, and sports cars. The used car market may be unstable, but with these models, you can still have a lot of fun in a fast car for less than $20,000.
2004 Pontiac GTO
Here’s a make and model that are only available on the second-hand market. The Pontiac GTO’s fifth generation was only around for two years before it was discontinued. The GTO may not have been around long enough to leave a lasting impression on most people, but in its brief existence it made it clear that it was not to be trifled with.
The fifth-generation Pontiac GTO lived up to the hype as the final model to wear the legendary “GTO” badge. It was powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that generated 350 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. The GTO wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing high-performance car available at the time, but it packed enough of a punch to go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 160 mph. It shouldn’t be hard to find a used model for under $20,000, but you should be wary of the vehicle’s history.
2006 BMW M3 E46
The BMW M3 E46 is widely regarded as among the model’s finest iterations. Many people were affected by its presence on the market from 2000 to 2006. It was praised for being interesting to operate, dependable, and a blast to ride in. With its 3.3-liter inline-six engine producing 333 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, the M3 E46 added incredible power to the mix.
The M3 E46 could accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds and have a top speed of 155 miles per hour. It shouldn’t be hard to track down an M3 E46 because that model was extremely popular. It will be difficult, however, to find one for less than $20,000. It all comes down to your haggling skills to get it for under $20,000, but you can find some for just over $20,000 like the one we linked to.
2008 Impreza Subaru WRX STi
The Subaru Impreza WRX STi has become a legend in the automotive world. More than 300 horsepower comes from the venerable Subaru 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine. All four wheels receive power from the potent engine, thanks to the six-speed manual transmission. All of these features combine to make the WRX STI one of the most enjoyable high-performance cars to operate.
Having one will never let you down. Depending on the model year and trim level, purchasing a used Subaru WRX STI is a realistic option. In this price range, 2008 STis are available. There’s a chance you could even find some 2010 models. But double check everything to make sure.
2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
These days, Mitsubishi isn’t exactly known for its stellar reputation. There is, however, one particular model that continues to pique the interest of sports car enthusiasts around the globe. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, which was manufactured from 1992 until 2016, is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of an all-wheel-drive performance car.
That’s a lot to say about a car company that has been treading water for over twenty years. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides the go-go power, with 291 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque possible. The Lancer Evo was a blast to drive thanks to its quick acceleration and all-wheel-drive system.
2010 Ford Mustang GT
The base model 2010 Mustang with a V-6 engine can be significantly less expensive than the high-performance GT model with a V-8 engine, but both remain well under $20,000 in price. And for those who want to enjoy the V-8 sound while cruising in the open air, the GT Convertible can be had for less than $20,000.
The Mustang’s retro-inspired exterior styling and cabin are still endearing even after more than a decade, as is the car’s powerful 4.6-liter V-8, which produces 315 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. As the first model year to feature updated interior with higher quality materials, a facelift over previous models, a decrease in drag, wider wheels, a higher rev-line, and increased stiffness to benefit performance, the 2010 GT is an attractive option.
2011 Dodge Challenger R/T
The forthcoming Charger Daytona EV, which will replace the standard Dodge Challenger, is a prime example of the automotive industry’s transition to full electrification. The Challenger R/T, produced between 2010 and 2013, is a great option for those seeking a powerful V-8 engine while still spending less than $20,000 on a car.
The R/T comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 that generates 376 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. The 2011 Challenger can reach 60 miles per hour in 5.0 seconds with that, and it can go the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds at 106 miles per hour. The Challenger R/T is an impressive example of American muscle, with a look and sound to match the power of its engine.
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