If you care more about what’s under the hood than how much cushion is on your steering wheel, this list is for you. Thanks to years of innovation in the automotive industry, you don’t have to be the company CEO to afford a fast and fun car. For those that don’t need 22-way adjustable seats, heated cup holders, or leather-wrapped air vents, Daily Driver has compiled a list of our top 10 fast cars under $5,000.
A brand new 2016 BMW 7 Series will set you back more than $80,000, but you don’t have to be a top executive to buy a 7 Series. If you’re willing to jump back a few years, the 2001 BMW 7 Series is still a fast and fun car you can find for under $5000. The base engine is a 4.4L V8 that produces 282hp. If for some reason 8 cylinders isn’t enough, you can upgrade to the 5.4L V12 engine with 326hp. The 2001 7 Series has BMW nostalgia written all over it.
Designed and built with the legacy of the Datsun 240Z in mind, the Nissan 350Z saw similar success as a spritely and sporty coupe. 2004 was also the first year that a convertible version was made available. Built on the Nissan FM’s platform, as in “front midship,” the engine sat just behind the front axle for better balance. The 3.5-liter V6 was good for 290hp.
Drive a Miata once and you’ll be hooked. The 1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a small roadster with a 1.6L I4 engine. We’ve written about how it’s a great sports car, a great convertible, and rock solid reliable. It’s also affordable. Despite not having a beefy engine, this car will easily out-maneuver its muscular competitors. For winding, hilly roads, this car is a ton of fun for the price. Also, who doesn’t love pop-up headlights?
What’s better than a $5,000 car that’s fast and luxurious? One that’s as over-engineered and solid as Gibraltar rock. Lexus is known for reliability and the LS 400 went a long way toward building that reputation. With a 4.0-liter V8, the LS 400 packed a good punch, especially at mid-rpms which makes for some fun booming past traffic on the highway.
With a 5.7L V8, the 1994 Pontiac Firebird has strong racing character. The sound of the engine is music to the car lover’s ears. Many of these Firebirds are still very reliable. If you want ’90s sports car styling, a roaring V8, and a record of reliability, look no further.
The 2004 Saab 9-3 is great if you want something a little different. The 2.0L I4 turbo engine is both frugal and fast, producing 210 hp. The ride and handling are top-notch, especially for a car under $5,000. It’s a fun to drive package that looks handsome, despite being 11 years old.
If you’re less concerned about looks and more concerned with power and comfort, check out the 2003 Crown Victoria. Stuck with the cop car stigma, the Crown Vic has a 4.6L V8 that produces 224 hp. This Ford is a very safe car for its age, it’s extremely comfortable, and has a record of strong reliability.
One of the most popular cars in the world, the Ford Mustang has been an icon since the ‘60s. The 1998 Ford Mustang GT is an impressively fast car for under $5000. Aside from the classic 4th generation Mustang look, you’ll be pleased with the great sounding 4.6L V8 with 225 hp. There’s a lot of value in this package, as it’s both reliable and fun to drive.
These won’t be easy to find under $5,000, but it is possible with some patience and a diligent eye. These American classics came equipped with the legendary LS1 engine a 5.7-liter V8 putting up 335hp. This was the last of the fourth generation Camaros, and therefore perhaps the most refined (engineering wise at least). The Z28 was available in coupe or convertible, but we recommend splitting the difference with the classic T-top.
So, what sets the SRT-4 apart from a normal Dodge Neon? Just as with the greatest of all Street Fighter games, it’s all about the Turbo. The turbocharging on the SRT-4 boost up the Neon by 65hp, going from 150 to 215hp and 245 lb. of torque. This four-banger is actually the same engine as the PT Cruiser, but the SRT-4 is some 500 lbs. lighter. Admittedly, these won’t be easy to find for $5,000, but, if you’re up for a serious project car, there are few better choices than an SRT-4 in need of attention.
Have a little more to spend on your next car? READ: 9 Best Used Luxury Cars
Ready for a quick set of wheels you can call your own? Search Carsforsale.com to find the best deals on fast cars near you.
Every single car on this list would be outrun in a straight line OR curves by a mid to late 80s Corvette, which can be had for less than $5000.