budget performance cars


Kapitis Indagatoris
Two door XJ looks clean!
It was! I bought it for him as his 16, high school and college car. It was the in-line 6, 5 spd manual, Up Country addition and it survived all those crazy years......Once he got his first job he traded it in on a new car with over 200k on it....Gotta say, was a tough little thing!


I feel like you can't talk about a budget "performance" car without mentioning several generations of the VW golf.
You can get a bunch of them for well under $5000 which leaves a lot of room for improvement
The MK5 is a good example.
Whether you get the GTI or base model with the 2.5 (which is the one I would get) virtually everything can be upgraded for the remaining $5000


Expedition Leader
I have a inherited 2006 SLK350. I’ll say its been decently fun and fairly easy to keep. Faster than the Miata but definitely does not corner like the Miata with the Cast Iron 3.5 lump up front. The newer version with the lighter turbo 4 is probably better in the twistys. But as a fun road trip rig the SLK has been solid. Fast as hell in a straight line. I like driving it more than my buddies 2006 911 which feels heavy in comparison.


Well-known member
@calicamper it wouldn't keep up with my Miata on the Hockenheim track.

Now, hate to bring this up, it's kind of a secret or sleeper...Jaguar XKR and XK series, 2000 through2014/15 are dirt cheap for what you get, beautiful cars in the shadow of the famous XKE. Turbo passes 200 mph!


Expedition Leader
@calicamper it wouldn't keep up with my Miata on the Hockenheim track.

Now, hate to bring this up, it's kind of a secret or sleeper...Jaguar XKR and XK series, 2000 through2014/15 are dirt cheap for what you get, beautiful cars in the shadow of the famous XKE. Turbo passes 200 mph!
Nothing keeps up with the miata in the turns except the little Lotus Elise.


Well-known member
Nothing keeps up with the miata in the turns except the little Lotus Elise.
And a Morgana 4+4, Lotus Super Seven, Lotus Elan, Lotus Europa, Mini Cooper S, Porsche 911, 912,914, more expensive 908, Triumph TR7, Donker Voort GTO, going back to more vintage types, considering the ability to carve corners, the Austin Healy Bug Eye, an MGA, the MG-TF and TD.

Certainly, honorable mentions, the Opel GT, Alfa Jr., Audi 3, Audi Quatro, Peugeot 205 GTI, Volvo P1800 and hold on to your hat, the VW Karmin Ghia!

I've forgotten some of the other "open wheeled" vintage sports cars similar to the Morgan, the Super Seven and the Voort GTO, MG-TF/TD as these cars placed the wheels outside the main body covered by rolling fenders and running boards, like a Formula car with fenders. This allowed the front wheels to have a greater turning radius turning sharply without hitting inner fender wells of full bodied cars. The Super Seven is probably one of the fastest cornering sports car built for the street and would compete with the Ford GT, Mcclearn and the European exotics.

As to the best corner carving street sports car, not being familiar with all the late model offerings, my vote would go to the Lotus Europa in a full bodied two seater class, the Lotus Super Seven taking first place overall.

But, the Miata certainly belongs in this group of carvers, I really enjoyed mine.


Well-known member
I was --> <-- this close to buying a 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage that was on BaT that ended up going for ~$25,000. It had 80K miles on it, and the video showed it drove very well.

Astons are to me the most desirable GT vehicles, full stop. Well sorted ones that get driven, as this one had, are usually the most reliable, as the bigger problems have been worked out over those miles.

Still kicking myself for letting that one go.


Well-known member
Audi 2000-2002 (AKA 'B5') S4 owner experience...

Miata should be on there definitely.

As for the cars listed... I do have the noted Audi S4. Mine's an '01. The S4 is an A4 that they shoehorned a twin turbo 2.7l v6 into. It's as fast as I need it to be (156MPH due to limiter) and I can readily mod it to over 700 bhp :Wow1: which is both a pro and a con. Lots and lots of engine/suspension upgrades available from $500 to over $30K so your budget can be your guide to that.

Fast, very smooth, very comfortable car to drive both in and around town or on the open highway.🤤

I've driven from the SF Bay Area to Denver & back for a vacation to Vail. It was quite the enjoyable drive and if my reservations was for the day before I would have done it straight but since I had no place to stay in Vail the day before, I stopped at a friends in Alpine UT.:smiley_drive:

It's $$$$$ to maintain or repair and because if this I wouldn't put it on that list. As an example, to do the valves is $2k+. I'm currently facing that issue right now and am still not convinced I should do it or if I should just trade it in for another car. :(

If the turbos go out, another $$$$$$ bill (more than the valves). Plus they have to remove the engine to gain access to the turbos. Also one turbo alone rarely dies. They usually die in pairs. One shortly after the other typically.:Wow1:
I had a 2001 A4 2.8 Avant Quattro Sport 5MT and I loved that thing. Everything RS4 but the engine and brakes. I wanted an S4 but alas, they were a bit out of my reach....


Kapitis Indagatoris
Spring is coming to the mountains and my plan this year is to get the TR-6 out of mothballs and replace the master cylinder and do some Rocky Mountain British Car Club runs.
Some of the best times in that car were the southern Missouri/Ozark Spring/Fall Club Runs with the Kansas City All British Car Club. Nothing like being in the middle of no where, on the side of the road, working on a British car with your girlfriend/wife and a group of buddies!



Well-known member

Ahhhh, the MGA 1600, love that roadster, I think Carol Shelby stole the basic design for his masterpiece.
Nice TR 6, mine was green, yellow TR4A, my Bug eye was orange, a red Miata, etc. etc.

Best drives have to include Eurika Springs to Branson!
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Well-known member
What about the RX-7?
Which one, a '67 Mercury Cougar XR 7, Dan Gurney Special or the Triumph? I'd rather have the Cougar.

What makes a car fun? A short wheel base, wide track, low center of gravity and power to push it.

My bug eye was probably the least powerful car I ever had (well, second to some VW bugs) but the car was one of the most fun to drive, cornered like a solid axel go cart.


That 300ZX on the list bring back memories.
A buddy of mine had one, when I had my first gen 1989 SHO Taurus (hence the screen-name ;) )

What a hot mess of a fun car that was. Good times. :cool:




A 1970 Porsche 911S had 180 HP and weighed around 2300 LBS - undisputed performance car - right?
My 2019 Miata has 181 HP and weighs 2346 LBS - it has Brembo brakes and better suspension than the 911, really good air conditioning and heated seats so you can comfortably drive with the top down in 42 degree weather.
Its a lot faster and more comfortable than the 54 HP diesel 1966 Series IIA 109" in the background - plus its huge fun on a twisty road and way more reliable than any of the other sports cars I've owned.

Miata & 109.jpg

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