As young men, we dreamed about owning a sports car. We felt that the vehicle like a sleek BMW Z4 would give us status and would be the portal to our dating life. When we grew up, we realized that sports cars cost money, and most are out of our budget. Then, we became obsessed with owning a sports vehicle since human beings want what they cannot possess. After saving up for years, we gave up on the dream and settled for a mediocre vehicle that will get us to work and back home. Some of us became fortunate to own a sports vehicle and lived to regret the purchase. Although speed, status, and stardom are synonymous with sports cars, certain models have proven to be ineffective.
Updated May 2022: Not all sports cars are made equal. Whether that’s due to unavoidable reliability issues, horrendous exterior designs, or just underwhelming performance figures, some sports cars simply age better than others. So, we’ve updated this list to remind you which sports cars are worth shortlisting, and which you should forget about.
Whether it’s the lackluster performance or the unreliable engine that made the vehicle subpar, we’ve compiled a list of sports cars that aren’t worth the money. We suggest you stay clear of these vehicles if you want to save money and headaches. At the other end of the spectrum are sports cars that have maintained their lavish design and extraordinary performance. Due to succeeding models, some of the sports cars on the list that are worth the money have a low price tag but are still as brilliant as the year of their release. Whether you’re looking for used sports vehicles that perform well or sports cars to avoid, we’ve compiled a list for you.
21 Worth It: Mazda MX-5 NB Miata
As the cliché saying goes, Miata is always the answer. The Miata has been in production since the early ’90s, and to this day it’s still seen as one of the best small affordable sports cars you can buy. The NB-generation was released to the public in 1998 and finished its production in 2005, and to this day it still remains a fun nippy sports car to chuck around corners. Sure, it might not be immensely powerful since it only has a naturally-aspirated four-cylinder under its hood, but that’s more than sufficient to slap a silly smile on your face. On top of it all, MX-5s are known to be quite reliable, just another reason to buy one.
20 Worth It: Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06
In a world of sports cars, most drivers regard the Corvette Z06 as a heavy hitter. The U.S. manufacturer fitted the vehicle with an aluminum frame, a large and powerful engine, and stiff suspension. When we compared it to the other Chevrolet models, the Z06 came out on top. Drivers who are interested in getting their hands on a Corvette should search for the 2006 and 2007 models, as these are available at basement prices. The cars have 7.0-liter V8 engines that pump out 505 horsepower and produce 470 lb-ft of torque, and to match its performance is a six-speed manual transmission too.
19 Worth It: Mazda RX-8
If you’re looking for an unconventional sports car that’s worth the money, then the RX-8 is right up your alley.
The sports car isn’t known for its performance since it has a 1.3-liter roatry engine that generates 232 horsepower and 152 lb-ft of torque when equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. The car comes with an extra pair of rear-hinged doors, making it easier for passengers to access the coupe’s back seat. The RX-8 excels on windy roads, as the car’s light and tossable chassis make it fun for the driver to turn the bends.
18 Worth It: Honda S2000
Honda is known for producing some of the most reliable vehicles ever produced. The Japanese manufacturer decided to venture off into the sports-car market by producing the S2000.
Many regard the S2000 as the most popular roadster that Honda produced, and one of the all-time greatest topless sports cars to exist. The car was in production from 1999 to 2009 and may make a return. Buyers won’t be disappointed with an early millennial model that costs just over $15,000. The standard engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that emits 250 horsepower and is high revving.
17 Worth It: Nissan 350Z
The 350Z was responsible for bringing back the Z sports to the Japanese stable after a long hiatus. The car paved the way for the 370Z. If you’re a lover of the 350Z, then you need to get yourself the Nismo model. The car has sporty trappings and a stiff chassis that has special seam welds. The car also has an aerodynamic body kit instead of the luxury items that dominated the upper levels of the 350Zs. Buyers will also get four-piston Brembo brakes, useful when bringing this performance vehicle to a screeching halt. The engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 with a 6-speed manual transmission.
16 Worth It: BMW E46 M3
Automobile pundits have panned the new generation of M3 vehicles. The experts stated that the vehicle doesn’t live up to the reputation that the German manufacturer gained for the earlier models. That’s why we suggest that M3 lovers scour the market for the 2005 and 2006 models.
The E46 M3 has an amazing engine; a 3.2-liter straight-six that spurts out 333 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. BMW offered the SMG automated manual transmission, but pundits recommend that buyers opt for the six-speed manual gearbox, which was standard and proved to be more reliable.
15 Worth It: Ford Mustang GT
The sixth-generation Mustang was released in 2015, resulting in the production end of the S-197. The U.S. manufacturer produced the vehicle from 2005 to 2014. When the new generation came onto the market, the price of the S-197 dropped drastically. That means buyers can get an amazing sports car at rock-bottom prices. If you want the S-197 below $10,000, you should search for models older than 2010. Most of the vehicles come with low mileage, although they’re more than 8 years old. The best part of the car is that it performs well. Whether you select the V6 or the V8 engine, you’ll get a thrilling ride that’s great value for the money.
14 Worth It: Subaru Impreza WRX
This list would be incomplete without the Subaru WRX. The Japanese manufacturer released the first-model Subaru Impreza in 1992 as a replacement for the Leone. The performance-orientated Impreza WRX received the turbocharged engines that made the car a formidable opponent on the roads. The North American markets received the off-road appearance package called the “Outback Sport.” The manufacturer offered the turbocharged STI variants in numerous specifications with a myriad of limited edition variants sold.
13 Worth It: Audi TT
German and Japanese manufacturers dominate the list. The Audi TT is a 2-door compact sports car that’s been in production since 1996. We recommend the early 2000 models, as the German manufacturer improved the vehicle every year since it debuted the vehicle. The Audit TT was nominated for the North American Car of the Year award for 2000. By 2003, the German manufacturer provided a facelift and some styling and practicality improvements to the vehicle. The standard engine was a 1.8 liter; then, Audi upgraded it to a 3.2-liter.
12 Worth It: Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG
The luxury compact roadster came into our lives in 1996 and has only been discontinued in 2020, but the new SL continues its legacy. Mercedes produced the second generation from 2004 to 2010, this version is the one we consider the gem of all the generations.
Those who want a performance vehicle won’t be disappointed when they get behind the wheel of this Mercedes. The SLK 55 AMG had a 5.4-liter engine that pumped out 355 horsepower. The car reaches 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. Formula 1 used a modified version of the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 as its safety car during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
11 Worth It: Porsche Cayman
Most German manufacturers produce outstanding vehicles, and Porsche is no exception. One of our favorite models that Porsche brought out is the Cayman. The car is an entry-level compact that’s better in many ways than some of the Porsche 911 models. If you want to explore this magnificent vehicle, you can go back as far as the 2000 model to get a thrilling experience. The standard features are the direct fuel injection that allowed the 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine to pump out 320 horsepower. The great thing about the Cayman is that it came with the option of a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual that has quick gear changing.
10 Waste: Smart Roadster
Yep, that’s right, the notorious microcar company used to manufacture a sports car back in the early 2000s, and it was everything but a wise choice. The Roadster was powered by a minuscule 0.7-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that only put out 80 hp and that meant 0-60 took place in under 15 seconds – absolutely dreadful. What’s even worse is its automated-manual transmission that took ages to change gears, and since no manual gearbox was offered, you were screwed from the factory. Even Brabus had a swing at transforming the Smart Roadster into a somewhat fun sports car, but the task seemed too large even for them.
9 Waste: Hyundai Tiburon
The Tiburon wasn’t all too bad, excluding its goofy exterior characteristics, of course… and its dreadful performance… and its fatality rate. Okay, the second-generation Tiburon was bad, let’s face it. The top-trim Tiburon came equipped with a 2.7-liter V6, but it only managed to push out 170 hp which resulted in a 0-60 time of 8.5 seconds, and its front-wheel-drive layout didn’t bring much to the table in terms of a fun driving experience. Oh, and we mentioned fatality numbers; the 2000s Tiburon models had 96 fatalities per million registrations, which earned it a spot on the deadliest cars in America. Luckily, Hyundai has come quite a distance, and today they are responsible for some of the greatest hot hatches the world has ever seen.
8 Waste: Chevrolet Camaro Z28
The U.S. manufacturer, Chevrolet, made the Camaro to give Ford Mustang a run for its money. The only problem is that the Camaro pales in comparison to the performance and durability of a Mustang. We agree with you if you say the car looks lavish and has muscle features. Although that’s true, owners of the car experienced numerous problems with the vehicle. Besides the poor rear visibility, owners of the Camaro stated that they experienced problems with the engine overheating and coolant leaks. The fuel pump is also notorious for giving problems, which may lead to the engine stalling.
7 Waste: Toyota Celica GT-S
While the Japanese manufacturer is known for making some of the most reliable vehicles on the road, it makes mistakes every once in a while. If you buy a Celica GT-S, you should avoid the 2000 and the 2001 models. The performance of the seventh-generation Celica GT-S is subpar, especially as the manufacturer regards it to be a sports car. When drivers step on the gas, they’ll feel that the car is sluggish and hesitant to the limits. The other problems also lie under the bonnet. The car’s oil pump and filter are known for giving problems. Despite those flaws, Toyota has been making some extravagant changes to its model lineup, and we can’t wait to see the new Corolla GR hit the road!
6 Waste: Mitsubishi Eclipse
If you choose the 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse year model with an automatic transmission, then you’re doomed to spend the rest of your days at the repair shop. The Eclipse, like many sports cars of the early 2000s, has a problem with its automatic transmission. The 4-speed automatic transmission has a manufacturing defect, and Mitsubishi hasn’t addressed the issue. The common problem is that the wave cushion spring, located in the transmission, often breaks down, resulting in transmission failure. The piece propels itself through the filter and into the pump after breaking. That causes the pump gear to break, resulting in the shut-off of the Eclipse’s gears. We apologize for offending some hardcore Fast & Furious fans, but facts are facts.
5 Waste: Pontiac Solstice
The Solstice looks like a combination of the Alfa Romeo and the Mazda Miata. The car looks good, but so do many other unreliable vehicles. General Motors took almost 10 years to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles for defective ignition in 2014. Part of the recall were 2006 and 2007 models. Drivers could’ve pulled out the faulty ignition switch out of its socket with a heavy keychain, resulting in safety hazards, such as disabled airbags and loss of power to electronic components. The faulty ignition switch led to 13 documented deaths.
4 Waste: Mini Cooper S
Drivers shouldn’t be concerned only with the S model but with the entire brand since the mid-2000s. When Consumer Reports released its annual list of unreliable vehicles, the Cooper had featured almost every year since 2007. The watchdog stated that models from 2007 to 2011 are unreliable and slapped a ‘Never Buy’ label on the vehicle. The list of problems that Cooper drivers dreaded was the turbocharger failure, the slipping clutch, the exhaust rattle, and a defective tailgate. The British manufacturer recalled numerous models. From the 2006 to 2013 models, Mini recalled its vehicles in an attempt to redeem itself from the disastrous manufacturing.
3 Waste: Lexus SC 430
Usually, when Toyota manufactures a vehicle, the result is exemplary. That wasn’t the case with the Lexus SC 430. The Lexus SC is a grand tourer that Lexus retailed from 1991 to 2010. The first generation debuted with a V8-powered engine in 1991, and Lexus added the I-6 SC 300 the following year.
The positive attribute of the vehicle is that it looked like a sports vehicle and was available as a convertible and coupe. Drivers experienced the most problems with the early 2000 models. The car isn’t a performance vehicle and has some issues under the bonnet. The car’s image was further dragged through the mud when Top Gear featured the vehicle in its Worst Car in History of the World DVD.
2 Waste: Ford Thunderbird
The U.S. manufacturer produced the original Thunderbird from 1954 to 1997, and it used to be an excellent muscle car. Then, production resumed in 2002 and ended in 2005.
The car had a good spell but brought its share of problems to owners of the vehicle, which Ford regarded as a personal luxury car. Ford manufactured the car as a two-seat sports convertible, and one of the worst models was 2002, as owners of the vehicle complained about the rough engine that stalled and the coil failure. The drivers of the vehicle had tolerated the subpar engine for a few years before turning their back on the U.S. vehicle.
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