£10k sports cars | Six of the Best

A new GR86 looks good value at £29,995 – but we can do better than that…

By PH Staff / Sunday, April 10, 2022 / Loading comments

Toyota MR2, 2006, 35k, £7,990

What’s the one thing more exciting than a fast car? An affordable fast car, of course. And that’s just what launched this week, with a UK price for the new Toyota GR86 confirmed at £29,995. The old GT86 launched at £24,995 almost a decade ago, which is more than £31,000 today – the GR is a good deal, no doubt. Just in case there remain people around you to be convinced…

Nevertheless, there’ll be plenty of us without the £5k deposit, or who can’t afford the £299 a month, or are just unable to make the numbers work on a GR86 – however inventive the man maths. So it’s time to celebrate the more affordable sports cars out there, those that celebrate the fun of driving one way or another. There are traditional coupes in the ’86 mould, with roadsters and four-wheel drive cars included in the mix for variety. All cost a third of the Toyota’s RRP, or less.

It only seemed fair to kick off with another sports car from the world’s largest producer; those surprised to see an MR2 here really shouldn’t be. After all, here’s a sub-tonne, mid-engined, rear-drive sports car, with rarity in its favour and without a direct replacement; as the crap ones were weeded out, so the good’ns had to appreciate. Its layout meant the MR2 struggled commercially when new, the 1.8-litre engine robbing it of the valuable boot space that made an MX-5 so handy, but now it means buyers can get into a mid-engined roadster for buttons. There are still post-’03 facelift cars, with the six-speed gearbox and revised engine, for £3,000, which seems a bargain. This one, a run-out TF300 special edition, is rather pricier, as one of the last MR2s sold in Britain with just 35,000 miles and a full Toyota service history. It’s yours for £8k. Bargain.

BMW Z4 3.0si, 2007, 64k, £9,980

We said there’d be variety! With the lusty ‘N52’ 3.0-litre straight-six under the long, long bonnet, this Z4 has nearly twice the power of the MR2. Even all this time after launch – the 3.0si was introduced for the first Z4’s mid-life facelift – it remains fast, sprinting to 62mph in six seconds and onto 155mph. Which is still ahead of the GR86, in fact. Offered as a coupe or a Roadster, with a manual or automatic transmission, the 3.0si quickly proved popular; less lairy than the flagship Z4 M, and usefully cheaper as well.

That difference stands to this day. You won’t find an M for less than £15k, and some are as much as £25,000, but this nicely presented 3.0si Roadster – green, manual, 64k – still sneaks in at less than £10,000. You can pay less, in fact, if you’re willing to take a car with more miles. With an engine that good powering a BMW sports car this stylish, it’s little surprise that values have been creeping up of late.

It shouldn’t even prove too expensive to run, with the obvious proviso that this 2007 car is now 15 years old. Fuel economy of more than 30mpg and CO2 of just over 200g/km makes it more frugal than some others on this list. A kerbweight more than 150kg less than a new Z4 M40i ought to place less stress on consumables, too. No wonder they’re proving popular…

Nissan 350Z, 2007, 84k, £9,995

Where Toyota was able to get its new sports car to market in the UK, Nissan’s new Z will be offered in Japan and the US only – pity. For more than a decade, the 350 and 370Z won plenty of fans over here with their combination of good looks, brawny V6 power and old-school rear-drive handling balance. Sadly, however, that sort of sports car is an awful lot harder to sell in 2022 than 2012, so the only Nissan Z to buy now is a used one.

Fortunately, there remain plenty to choose from, even if prices have risen of late. Once upon a time there were usable Zeds around for £5k, but that entry point is now 50 per cent higher. Nobody really knew it back then, but the mid-2000s were such a sweet spot for sports cars – Vauxhall offered a VX220 and a Monaro, for heaven’s sake – that the best of the breed were sure to become coveted in time. The 350Z, perfectly resurrecting the Zed car for the 21st century, was certainly one of those.

The very best cars are now as much as the later 370s, the earlier Zed always more popular than its replacement, although cars like this remain for sale at a four-figure sum. It’s one of the last facelifts, meaning it has the 313hp HR engine, and the GT Pack brings heated seats, Brembo brakes and a Bose stereo. An old Zed won’t be quite as delightful to drive as a new 86, but there’s still an awful lot to like.

Westfield SEIW, 1998, 12k, £10,250

Wildcard time. If you’re of the belief that a proper sports car shouldn’t have a roof, should demand some skill of its driver and will ensure every journey is an event, then it has to be something like this Westfield. There aren’t any Caterhams that cost this little, the only Lotus you’ll buy is an M100 Elan and even the TVR Wedges are now out of budget. If you want to spend £10k on some hairy-chested British sports car silliness, this is the way to do it.

Westfield, of course, has been making sports cars for 40 years now, beginning with the XI in 1982. There have been cars like this SEiW for almost as long, with all manner of powerplants; the important thing to note here is that being an SEi means it has independent rear suspension (an SE keeps a live rear axle) and the ‘W’ denotes a widebody. Which is probably handy for all of us after a couple of years of lockdown living.

Though registered in 1998, this Ford-powered Westfield has covered just 12,000 miles. It has a five-speed gearbox, limited-slip diff, four new Toyo Proxes and a set of Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 wheels. So it’s all set for summer of sunny evenings blasting down country lanes, carbs gargling away and smile plastered all over your face. And all for thousands less than a Mk4 MX-5…

Audi TT S, 2008, 67k, £10,495

Yes, it’s an Audi TT, but don’t call for our heads just yet. Because this is a TT S, and that makes a difference. It didn’t have the heavy V6 out front to manage, but you still got the option of a manual gearbox, and the changes rung – magnetic dampers, stiffer springs, new anti-roll bars – really did bring out the best of Audi’s ubiquitous coupe.

Add all that to the 272hp four-cylinder turbo, meaning 0-62mph in less than 5.5 seconds, and the result was a very convincing TT back in the day. “The brilliant R8 now has a little brother it can be proud of” read one review, which might have been pushing it a tad, but the improvement was obvious enough. Plus, of course, the TT S looked smart and had a nice interior.

With Mk1 TTs now firmly in modern classic territory (and prices reflecting the fact), the 2006-on Mk2 looks intriguing. This one maybe looks a little safe in black over black, but it has a full service history to back up its 67,000 miles. The standard wheels should give the best ride-handling compromise, and – wouldn’t you know – that cabin still looks pretty good as well.

Alfa GTV 3.0, 2001, 103k, £6,995

Last but by no means least, an Alfa. We had to, right? Like so many on this list, the combination of an emotive engine, good looks and just the passage of time – the last GTV was made in 2005 – has made the 916-era cars more desirable. Even if they were never the greatest sports cars in the world to drive.

You’ll struggle to find a better-sounding or more emotive engine in this day and age though, and when it’s cloaked in that swept-back body, you don’t really need another reason to seek out a manual V6 – especially when its got stack of history to its name and a smart colour to boot. Given it’s now more than 20 years and 100,000 miles old, the GTV is going to need more conscientious care than some newer alternatives, but the reward of driving something like this ought to be more than worth it.

That Alfa replaced the GTV with the Brera has also worked in the former’s favour; the newer coupe never quite capturing the buying public’s imagination in quite the same way. Where once a GTV or Spider was a Shed-money sports car, a dwindling supply of good ones has meant the survivors have become prized. That ought to remain true for this one if kept in good order – although, as happened with the last long-term owner, it might be a while before you want to get rid…

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