Best used sports cars 2021
Our top used sports cars for those looking for a fun but usable second-hand car
If you are looking for a car that's fun to drive above all else, you can't beat a used sports car. A second-hand sports car offers all the thrill of owning a truly special model, yet the reduced price - and lesser depreciation - means that the sharp edges of a new model have been shaved off by the previous owner.
Yet the sharp handling remains, as we've stuck to more recent models that won't be suffering from tired suspension or other components. Pick a car with a proper service history and there's no reason to think it'll be less reliable than a new sports car - especially as owners of these desirable models tend to look after their cars.
All of the cars we've picked aren't just for weekend blasts, although they do excel in that area. They're all well-engineered and designed to be used every day, so you can commute in comfort, yet still enjoy a holiday or weekend drive.
Sports cars tend to hold their value better than run-of-the-mill cars, so you'll get more back when you sell than you might expect - although you'll also pay a little more when you buy. Go in with your eyes open and you won't be disappointed.
Read on for our picks of the best used sports cars for 2021...
Best used sports cars to buy
- Porsche 911
- Audi R8
- Jaguar F-Type
- Porsche Cayman
- BMW M4
- Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe
- Aston Martin V8 Vantage
- Ford Mustang
1. Best used sports car: Porsche 911
It’s hard to argue against the Porsche 911. We’ve picked out the 997-generation model in Carrera S spec, which is easily found in good condition on the used market with a reasonable mileage. For the money, you get one of the finest sports cars of the 2000s, and a 911 with trademark, naturally aspirated flat-six punch.
The howling 3.8-litre engine in the 997 Carrera S develops 350bhp, meaning 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds plus a top speed of 180mph. But it’s the handling and the chassis that really set the 911 out alongside its peers. Opting for a version of the Carrera S with a manual gearbox only enhances the experience.
The steering is spot on – unsurprising since the 997-generation car was the final 911 to use hydraulic, rather than electrical assistance. And it’s not just on a twisty road where you’ll find the 911 is good company; it really is the sports car that you can use every day.
Inside, the 911 boasts a 2+2 seating layout, with the rears good for small children or extra luggage space. It’s one of the most desirable sports cars of its time, with interior quality that still stands out today and, hopefully, many of the used 997 Carrera S examples out there should be evidence of this.
With an enthusiastic ownership base, lots of 911s live well looked-after lives and remain in very good condition, having been cared for by their owners with no expense spared.
See the latest Porsche 911 prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
2. Audi R8
If the predictability of the Porsche doesn’t excite you, then you could get yourself into a mid-engined supercar for around £30,000, in the form of the first-generation Audi R8. It still looks stunning, and even the ‘base’ 414bhp 4.2-litre V8 delivers thrills and all-weather ability, thanks to quattro four-wheel drive.
The later V10 models are excellent as well, with a spine-tingling soundtrack. These were auto-only for the most part - manual V10s are rare, whereas it won't be hard to find a manual V8 with the incredible open-gated shifter.
The R8 is a delight to drive and aside from the lack of rear seats and a tiny boot, it's actually a practical everyday car with a comfy ride and lots of in-car tech. It's refined and smooth on the motorway so it makes a great cruiser.
See the latest Audi R8 prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
3. Jaguar F-Type
The Jaguar F-Type is available as a coupe or a convertible, and both are great. The coupe looks sleeker but the convertible provides open-air thrills and the ability to enjoy the sound of the V6 or V8 engines (avoid the four-cylinder model) even more.
The engines are the real highlight and provide incredible performance along with a bold soundtrack. The F-Type isn't for shrinking violets, despite its classy looks. It's fun to drive, though it's not as sharp as a Porsche 911 or even a Cayman to drive.
Go for an auto model, as the (uncommon) manual models aren't as good. The V8 R version is incredibly fast but the V6 S is better value, nearly as fast and still sounds brilliant.
See the latest Jaguar F-Type prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
4. Porsche Cayman
The Porsche Cayman is a two-seater, unlike the 911, and since it's smaller it makes more sense for those who don't expect to carry more than one other person around. The Cayman is arguably even more fun than the 911 - it's not as quick but the delightful steering, agile chassis and powerful engines mean it's a real driver's car.
The Cayman's engine is an interesting one to consider. The 718 Cayman models of recent years use four-cylinder turbocharged engines which aren't as responsive as the six-cylinder cars that came before it - but they are really powerful and the chassis of the 718 is fantastic. The later 718 GT4 and GTS models have the best of both worlds, with the newer chassis and a six-cylinder engine.
Yet we'd recommend any version of the Cayman - all are amazing to drive, comfortable, refined, have enough in-car tech and they're great value.
See the latest Porsche Cayman prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
5. BMW M4
BMW is known for making ordinary cars that are fun to drive, and then turning them into extraordinary cars with its M division. The BMW M4 is one of the best in recent years, particularly if you can find one with the desirable Competition pack, which added more power, different wheels and a better suspension set-up. Not that the standard car was lacking in any area - it's a fast, fun and usable everyday sports car.
There's a set of reasonably-sized rear seats in the back of the M4, so it's useful for short trips if you need to carry passengers. The interior is high quality and comes with loads of toys, so it makes a great commuter for those with pockets deep enough to pay for the fuel.
After all the six-cylinder turbocharged petrol is rather thirsty - though it's acceptable considering the incredible performance. The BMW has no trouble at all scaring passengers with how quick the car is - and it's all the more thrilling for the driver.
See the latest BMW M4 prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
6. Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe
The BMW M4 isn't for everyone - it doesn't have the most sophisticated image, and the turbocharged engine, while punchy, isn't a delight to use. The same can't be said for the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe's incredible V8 engine, which sounds like thunder rumbling away in the distance.
It provides performance to match the M4 as well, and the Mercedes is just as fun to drive, with an adjustable rear-wheel drive layout and loads of grip round corners. The Mercedes isn't the most comfortable cruiser but it's still usable every day, and has a decent boot.
It's not very economical, though few cars on this list are. The C63's luxurious interior is packed with tech, is a great place to spend time and feels well built as well.
7. Aston Martin V8 Vantage
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is an old-school sports car that can be picked up for around £25,000 these days, which is an incredible price for what is a relatively modern sports car that has an astonishing V8 soundtrack and stunning design.
It's a great car to drive, with plenty of performance from the potent V8 engine and the rear-wheel drive chassis. The steering could have more feel, and the auto gearbox isn't the greatest, but if you can live with those, who could resist the way the V8 Vantage looks?
If you're thinking of buying you'll have to be aware that these cars are getting a little older now and you'll want one that has been regularly serviced at reputable dealerships or independent garages. Running costs can be a bit high but the entry cost is so affordable, it still looks very tempting.
See the latest Aston Martin V8 Vantage prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
8. Ford Mustang
If you're a fan of American muscle cars then the new Ford Mustang is a cracking used buy. It's available at around £25,000 with the V8 engine, which is the one you really want. The EcoBoost model uses a 2.3-litre four-cylinder, which is a fine engine but feels lacking in a Mustang.
The Ford's 5.0-litre V8 is a thumping naturally-aspirated unit that's a joy to use and has a great soundtrack. Performance is great as well and it's surprisingly fun to drive - the Mustang may be an American car but it doesn't have the leaden responses you might expect.
It doesn't have the badge kudos of the other sports cars on this list but it's a relative bargain for the performance and driver appeal, and there are plenty available on the used market already.
See the latest Ford Mustang prices on our sister site BuyaCar...