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Best cheap supercars

We've all trawled the internet looking at cheap supercars at some point, to save you the trouble here are some performance bargains

‘Cheap supercar’ sounds like something of a misnomer, but depreciation and a surprisingly cluttered marketplace for such vehicles mean it really is possible to pick up a thoroughbred for a fraction of its original price. 

We’re not talking about buying some rotting, geriatric mid-engined motor from decades ago that’d now be out-dragged by a mid-spec Vauxhall Astra. The cars we’ve picked here are from the last 20 years, and some only went out of production very recently. A number are in a great ‘sweep spot’ for supercars - old enough to use the kind of large, naturally-aspirated engines that are now going extinct, but new enough to still have sharp dynamics and a decent helping of tech.

A word of caution though: when things go wrong, they tend to be expensive to put right. It all means it’s essential to see evidence of careful maintenance before you agree to a deal. It’s always a good idea to review a vehicle’s service history to ensure there are no catastrophic issues lurking under the bonnet, and we would always advise asking a professional mechanic for their opinion too. Finally, make sure you have a sizeable budget for things like servicing and replacing the big brakes and tyres supercars tend to come with.

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If everything checks out then you’ll the envy of everyone you know before you can say ‘cheap supercar’. 

Ferrari F430

  • Price new: £117,000
  • Price now: £60,000
  • Years produced: 2005-2010
  • Engine: 4.3-litre V8, 592bhp
  • Top speed: 204mph
  • 0-62mph: 4.0 seconds

A ‘cheap’ Ferrari no longer means buying a tatty old Mondial. For a perhaps surprisingly low figure you could buy 360 Modena, but if we were in the market, we’d stretch the budget for the F430. In typical Ferrari fashion, it’s essentially a very heavy update of the 360, with that car’s platform clothed in new Enzo-inspired bodywork which has aged far more successfully. It also packs a larger 4.3-litre V8 making peak power at a spine-tingling 8,500rpm, and a whole host of technical features.

This is where Ferrari really started to make a name for itself when it came to the science of speed. Highlights include an electronically-control differential branded ‘E-Diff’, cutting-edge traction and stability controls, adaptive dampers and the company’s first use of its ‘Manettino’ drive mode selector. And yes, one of the settings on the latter is to turn those traction and stability controls off completely. Only the brave need apply.

At the same time, it has a relatively old-school touch in the cabin - a gated manual gear lever. It was the last mid-engined Ferrari to come with the option of a proper manual transmission, but most buyers opted for the ‘F1’ robotised gearbox. The few stick-shifting F430s around are charged at a hefty premium - you can expect to pay around twice the going rate for an F1-equipped car, pushing it out of our definition of ‘cheap’ for this article. 

Aston Martin DBS

  • Price new: £160,000
  • Price now: £65,000
  • Years produced: 2007-2012
  • Engine: 5.9-litre V12, 510bhp 
  • Top speed: 191mph
  • 0-62mph: 4.3 seconds
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It’s a fair criticism that Aston Martin models of the noughties all looked the same. But then again, perhaps that wasn’t such a big issue when they were all so handsome. And Aston’s engineers were also doing plenty under the skin to differentiate them, so while the DBS of 2007 merely looked like a DB9 with a lairier body kit, the coupe had been thoroughly rejigged to take it further away from grand tourer territory and more towards the stomping ground of supercars of the day. 

Changes included big carbon-ceramic brakes, new adaptive dampers, extensive use of carbon fibre to trim the car’s weight figure, and a big uplift in power for the 5.9-litre V12 - 510bhp up from 450bhp. Best of all, it ditched the DB9’s automatic gearbox for a manual.

You’ll pay a lot more for one of these than a DB9, but it’ll be worth it for the enhanced driving experience, and the opportunity to say you own a Bond car. Let’s just gloss over its fleeting appearance in Casino Royale, which culminated in a rollover crash featuring some questionable physics. At least it had a bigger role in Quantum of Solace. 

BMW i8

  • Price new: £96,385
  • Price now: £40,000
  • Years produced: 2014-2020
  • Engine: 1.5-litre 3cyl turbo petrol/electric, 357bhp  
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • 0-62mph: 4.4 seconds
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The stunning i8 arguably predicted the current demand for eco-friendly high-performance machines. But the buying public wasn’t quite ready for it in 2014, and hefty depreciation now makes it a cracking used buy.

Under the composite bodywork is a 228bhp 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder engine and electric starter generator that drives the rear wheels, plus a 129bhp motor up front. Performance is electrifying, with 0-62mph taking 4.4 seconds, yet the i8 can also travel up to 23 miles in electric mode. 

Balanced mid-engined handling means it’s great to drive, while a classy cabin and loads of kit make it easy to live with. BMW is pulling the plug on the i8 this year, so buy now since it’s likely to gain instant classic status.

Lamborghini Gallardo

  • Price new: £139,305
  • Price now: £65,000
  • Years produced: 2003-2013
  • Engine: 5.0-litre V10, 520bhp   
  • Top speed: 192mph
  • 0-62mph: 4.2 seconds

Few cars scream ‘supercar’ like a Gallardo. With its classic profile, howling V10 and blistering pace, the Gallardo serves up high-octane excitement by the bucketload. 

Better still, the Spyder’s folding roof gets you closer to that motor, while four-wheel drive means the Lambo is surprisingly user-friendly. Running costs are eye-watering and a full service history is essential, but this car is more robust than most Italian exotics. There are two gearbox options - a manual with a gorgeous metal-gated lever, and the robotised manual ‘E-Gear’ with paddle shifters. No prizes for guessing which one we’d prefer.

In 2008 the comprehensively upgraded LP560-4 arrived with a new 5.2-litre V10 shared with the Audi R8, but for now, these cars are a little way beyond ‘cheap’ territory. 

Nissan GT-R

  • Price new: £56,395
  • Price now: £35,000
  • Years produced: 2007-2022
  • Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6, 473bhp 
  • Top speed: 193mph
  • 0-62mph: 3.8seconds
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You don’t get much more bang for your buck than with a GT-R. It has been humbling far more expensive rivals since 2007, and is one of the quickest ways to get from A to B. Critics will tell you it’s ‘driven by computers’ owing to its lashings of tech designed to make the car faster and more capable, but the truth is it’s a thrilling, analogue-feeling thing to drive. 

It was a great shame when the car was discontinued in Europe in 2022, as at 13 years old it’s still a force to be reckoned with, not to mention more exciting than many fresher cars it could keep up with thanks to Nissan’s numerous updates of the years. 

Thankfully there are plenty of used examples to choose from, but be wary of tuned cars, and make sure any potential purchase has never missed out on maintenance. Choose carefully, though, and you’ll have one of the biggest performance-car bargains of the last two decades.

Audi R8

  • Price new: £76,825
  • Price now:  £30,000
  • Years produced: 2006-2015
  • Engine: 4.2-litre V8, 414bhp 
  • Top speed: 193mph
  • 0-62mph: 4.6 seconds

Is there really such a thing as a sensible supercar? In the case of the Audi R8 the answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’. Thrilling to drive, yet as easy to live with as an A3 hatchback, this all-aluminium masterpiece makes a cracking used choice. 

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The growling V8 offers thundering performance, while standard quattro four-wheel drive provides agile and entertaining handling. For those with more to spend, there’s the 5.2-litre V10 version, which the Audi shared with its platform-mate, the Lamborghini Gallardo. Earlier examples of these 518bhp rocketships have now dipped below £50,000.

Regardless of which you buy, you’ll get a spacious, well-equipped and solidly-built interior. Although it’s one of the less exotic cars here, that also means it should prove cheaper and less problematic to run than most. The R8 is a car you can buy with your heart and your head.

Mercedes-AMG GT

  • Price new: £110,500
  • Price now: £55,000
  • Years produced: 2014-2022
  • Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, 503bhp 
  • Top speed: 191mph
  • 0-62mph: 3.8 seconds

More old-school muscle car than highly strung thoroughbred, the Mercedes-AMG GT is bursting with character. With head-turning looks, thumping V8 power and playful rear-wheel-drive handling, this low-slung two-seater manages to stimulate the senses on every journey.

The S is the most desirable version, with a jump in power to 503bhp, plus extra driver modes, adaptive dampers and a sports exhaust that helps the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre motor deliver a bellowing soundtrack.

As you’d expect, performance is sensational, with 0-62mph taking just 3.8 seconds. Point the long nose into a series of corners and you’ll discover quick steering, cast-iron body control and limpet-like grip, but with the sense of fun we know and love from AMG.

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The cabin is a little cramped and the ride is firm, but the car won’t cost as much to run as you’d think.

McLaren MP4-12C

  • Price new: £168,50
  • Price now: £60,000
  • Years produced: 2006-2013
  • Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8, 592bhp
  • Top speed: 204mph
  • 0-62mph: 3.3 seconds

Designed to beat Ferrari, the 12C established McLaren as a supercar force and gave it a solid platform on which to base myriad products for years to come. With a carbon-fibre chassis, high-revving V8 and a rapid-fire twin-clutch gearbox, the mid-engined Macca is a technological tour de force. 

However, the electronically controlled, hydraulically linked suspension setup is the star of the show, giving race-car poise and executive-car comfort. It’s practical for a car of this type, too, thanks to great visibility, a roomy interior and a 144-litre luggage compartment in the nose.

Few cars offer as much excitement for the money, but make sure a potential buy has the updated software that smoothed out many of the 12C’s earlier issues.

Porsche 911 Turbo (997)

  • Price new: £106,400
  • Price now: £45,000
  • Years produced: 2006-2013
  • Engine: 3.6-litre flat-six, 480bhp 
  • Top speed: 193mph
  • 0-62mph: 3.9 seconds

We’d categorise most Porsche 911s as sports cars rather than supercars, but there’s one version which is arguably deserving of the title: the Turbo. Mixing an all-wheel drive system with a 480bhp 3.6-litre twin-turbo flat-six, the 997-generation 911 Turbo certainly had the pace and capability to mix it with the supercar elite of its day, and it’s not even the most powerful derivative - Porsche later added a monstrous, 530bhp ‘S’ version.

But as impressive as its face-warping straight-line speed and all-wheel drive traction are, probably the best thing about the 911 Turbo is how useable it manages to be at the same time. Laughing in the face of its cramped mid-engined rivals, the 911 has a spacious cabin with seating for four (provided two of them are children or compact adults), a well-sized front luggage compartment or ‘frunk’, great refinement and half-decent ride comfort. 

Now read our list of the best track day cars...

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