Fast, cheap cars for under $10,000

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Tuned 2003-2005 Dodge SRT-4 photographed at the Montreal National Sport Compact Auto Show 2007.

Open the hood on that 2005 Dodge SRT-4 and marvel. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/Bull-Doser/Wikipedia)

Have a need for speed but a budget for the bargain bin? Here are some fast, cheap cars that will run you $10,000 or less. Be aware that there are some surprises in this list, sandwiched in amongst some old favorites of the auto modding community. Are they cheap cars that are fast, or fast cars that are cheap? You decide.

Fast, cheap cars No. 10 – Mitsubishi 3000GT/Dodge Stealth

Technically, this one’s a mash-up. A 1990s-vintage 3000GT has a high body weight at 3,800 pounds, but if you go with a period Stealth R/T twin turbo or the 3000GT VR-4 at 300 hp, you can throw down for anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000.

Fast, cheap cars No. 9 – Volvo 850 T-5R

Wait, are we talking a safe, boxy Volvo here? Don’t knock it until you try it. A mid-1990s version gets 240 hp from a 2.3-liter straight five devised by the minds at Porsche. This front-wheel drive goes 0 to 60 in just under seven seconds. If you’re willing to put some cosmetic TLC into one of these at $6,000, you’ll have a speedy, stealthy machine that isn’t maintenance heavy.

Fast, cheap cars No. 8 – GMC Syclone/Typhoon

An early-1990s GM muscle car taken from a compact pickup platform, the GMC Sonoma Syclone and it’s long-roof variant the GMC Typhoon are all-wheel-drive with more speed that just about any truck around. We have a turbo-charged beast of a 4.3-liter V6 to blame for that. Expect to pay right around $10,000 for a Typhoon that looks more like an SUV, and slightly less for the pickup-sized Syclone.

Fast, cheap cars No. 7 – Dodge Neon SRT4

Gotta love that 1990s speed for under $10,000. Dodge made the Neon light and flimsy, but did something right under the hood and made it nearly rocket-powered. Expect to find these for a price somewhere between $5,000 and $8,000, and mod your way to victory at the track.

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Fast, cheap cars No. 6 – Subaru Impreza WRX

In stock form, this turbo-charged, 4WD has a strong chassis and the potential for you to squeeze 300 hp out of the engine. Pay $6,000 for a 2002 wagon and add on $2,000 more for better exhaust and more. You won’t be sorry if you have a need for speed.

Fast, cheap cars No. 5 – Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG

While this sports sedan doesn’t represent the most desired German style from the period, model years 1998 through 2000 featured a 4.3-liter V8 with 300 hp that could go 0 to 60 in under six seconds. Plus, it’s leather-lined and comfortable. For $9,000 to $10,000, you can make one yours.

Fast, cheap cars No. 4 – Nissan 300ZX

The twin-turbo 300ZX is another 1990s vehicle whose time on the track hasn’t ended. Three hundred factory horses run from 0 to 60 in five seconds. Expect to pay $10,000 for one in top shape, or cut a few grand if you want to do some of that work yourself.

Fast, cheap cars No. 3 – BMW M3 (E36)

One does not simply drag race with a BMW E36 M3. With 240 hp tuned on a top-of-the-line chassis, what one does is hit the back roads. Become a cornering king for $5,000 to $8,000.

Fast, cheap cars No. 2 – Chevrolet Corvette (C4)

Bring out the mullet, wife-beater and gold chains for this fat V8. Model years 1984 through 1996 may look like something from the streets of downtown New Jersey, but you will have speed to spare on track days. All of this – lifestyle accoutrements optional – for $4,000 to $8,000.

Fast, cheap cars No. 1 – A GM F-platform V8

The 1980s and 1990s introduced less-than-classy Camaros and Firebirds. But what these douche-mobiles have is speed to burn. By the 1990s, a 350 hp LS1 Corvette motor provided the power for such ugly beauties as the WS6 Firebird. Tuned, one of these will tear it up at your local autocross. Starting at around $5,000 and topping out around $10,000 for a more polished model, you’ll want to budget more for choice modifications.

Super cars for well under $50,000


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