10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

Watching cars like the Porsche Cayman GT4 sell for 40 per cent over list price can be disheartening, but don't despair. Here's how you can get your hands on an appreciating future classic...
10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

Under £35,000 - Lotus 340R

10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

Lotus has produced some stand-out specials over the years from the track focused 2-Eleven to the stunningly beautiful Lotus Exige LF1. But our favourite limited run model is the Lotus 340R. Released back in 2000, only 340 were built and only 44 are currently registered for use on UK roads - making this vehicle somewhat of a collectors item.

However, you’d be foolish to tuck the 340R away in garage because this is a machine to be used. The little Lotus is powered by a high-revving 177bhp, 1.8-litre, K-Series engine and only weighs around 701kg, helping to give the car a very respectable 252bhp per tonne. The details are also exquisite. The cabin is pared back but the asymmetric beam that supports the instruments gives the interior a distinctly art deco feel.

The exterior is equally impressive, making use of a body shell with no roof or doors. The car went on sale in 2000 for £35,000 and values have remained solid. If you find one in good shape and you have the necessary funds, buy it now.

Under £30,000 - BMW M Coupe

10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

When the BMW M Coupe went on sale back in 1998 the motoring press couldn’t quite work out if they loved or hated it. The iconic shooting-brake style which we all now covet was seriously divisive in the 90s and is credited for the car’s pretty slow sales figures. Things were made much worse for the little Bavarian hot rod when the universally adored E46 M3 was released two years later. Dealers just couldn’t shift the M Coupe, and as a result the model was killed off after only four years of production.

With hindsight, the automotive world has come to recognise that the M Coupe is in fact the much more interesting car. The design has aged incredibly well and the old school driving experience is exceptional. There are two main engine specifications to watch out for when you’re looking to buy. The earlier cars (1998-2000) made use of the E36 M3’s S50 321bhp straight-six engine, whereas the later cars received the E46 M3’s 325bhp S54 motor. Both are great engines so it ultimately comes down to personal preference. With very limited production numbers, values have absolutely rocketed in the last few years so if you want a seriously good example, be prepared to part with around £30,000.

Under £30,000 - Renault Clio V6 255

10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

Lets’s face it, the Renault Clio V6 is a very silly car. There was no real demand in the early 2000s for a mid-engined V6 hatchback, but Renault built one anyway (and we love it for it). As a result, when the Mk1 was released in 2001 it left the automotive press speechless - a mid-engined econobox? You must be joking! Unfortunately, these earlier cars had a penchant for spearing journalists into hedges due to their unpredictable on-the-limit handling. But that didn’t put Renaultsport off. It kept tinkering with its pet project which left us with the much more accomplished Mk II.

Released in 2003 the Renault Clio V6 255 was a brilliant alternative to the usual choice of M3s and S2000s. With a 2.9-litre, 255bhp Porsche-developed V6, the Clio was one seriously quick hatchback and the 0-62 time of 5.9 seconds and top speed of 153mph is still respectable today. The car isn’t exactly practical and it has a turning circle that would rival a cruise liner, but who really cares? The market is starting to wake up to this mini supercar, especially with the older Renault 5 Turbo commanding serious money. Good examples can be found for just under £30,000.

Under £25,000 - Renault Sport Spider

10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

Like many of the other vehicles on this list, the Renault Sport Spider wasn’t well received upon its release, but this was down to a matter of timing more than anything else. Just as Renault unveiled its sports car, the iconic Lotus Elise was made available to the public (1996 was a good year). The Elise dominated every group test and scooped up every accolade available, leaving the car from Dieppe (home of the Alpine factory) out in the cold.

The Renault made use of the brilliant 2.0-litre, 148bhp four-cylinder engine from the Clio Williams and the aluminium chassis was an all-new design from the ground up. With a plastic composite body, lack of windscreen and absence of roof, the car was widely criticised for its lack of all-weather protection (luckily UK cars did come with a windscreen as standard).

But lack of amenities aside, the Renault was an accomplished little sports car. Only 1685 Sport Spiders were built between 1996 and 1999 and only a handful (96 to be specific) made it to the UK. Due to the fact that these cars didn’t get the recognition that they deserved, prices are still very reasonable. There has never been a better time to buy one, and here’s a nice example for under £25,000.

Under £20,000 - Audi RS2

10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

The Audi RS2 in Nogaro Blue has become something of an icon in the last few years. Designed as a joint venture between Audi and Porsche, the RS2 is the ultimate sleeper. The car was based on the the Audi B4 platform and featured a 2.2-litre, 315bhp, 5-cylinder engine which helped rocket the unassuming family estate to 62mph in 4.8 seconds. When the car was released back in 1994 it ushered in a new era for the hyper estate car.

We love the fact that this classic Audi features 911 indicators and 968 Club Sport wheels, subtly hinting at Porsche’s involvement. The car has been identified as a collector’s item in recent years which has pushed values upwards, but it is still possible to find high mileage examples for under £20,000.

Under £15,000 - Ford Racing Puma

10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

Unveiled at the 1999 Geneva motor show, the Racing Puma (the ‘RS’) was the ultimate variant of Ford’s highly successful front-wheel drive coupe. Lightweight aluminium front and rear wings helped to give the car a more aggressive stance and Speedline Corse Turini wheels gave the car some much needed aggression. The modifications were more than skin deep however. A new camshaft, air intake and exhaust helped to release another 30bhp from the 1.7-litre Zetec engine, and uprated four-piston Alcon brakes gave the car some serious stopping power.

Unfortunately, these modifications were by no means cheap. The car cost £23,000 back in 1999 which was a lot of money for a fast Ford. Building the car was also an expensive process and as a result Ford limited production numbers to 500 (they planned to build 1000). Luckily the RS is much more affordable today and you can pick up an example for under £12,000.

Under £10,000 - Vauxhall VX220

10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

The absolutely brilliant Vauxhall VX220 has been forgotten about by the car community. Perhaps it’s a sign that the badge really does mean more than the car it’s attached to. Released in 2000 the unconventional Vauxhall was an absolute riot of a machine. Weighing only 870kg and powered by a 2.2-litre, 145bhp, Ecotec engine, the VX220 rocketed to 60mph in an impressive 5.6 seconds.

But it was in the handling stakes where the Vauxhall really excelled. The car borrowed key components from the Elise (such as the aluminium tub), but the guys at Vauxhall managed to find a better set-up than their competitors at Hethel. The VX220 was genuinely a better handling car than the 2001 Lotus Elise. Unfortunately, buyers had a hard time embracing the VX220 and as a result sales were fairly poor. However their loss is your gain, with examples now available for under £10,000.

Under £10,000 - Volkswagen Golf R32

10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

Released in 2003, the R32 was the pinnacle of the Golf range. It featured an all-new 3.2-litre, 241bhp VR6 engine (basically the same unit featured in the Audi TT 3.2 Quattro) coupled to a Haldex four-wheel drive system. Its 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds effectively created the hyper hatch sector, and the uber fast Golf can also lay claim to being the world’s first production car with a dual-clutch gearbox (DSG).

Weighing in at 1477kg, the R32 isn’t exactly a lightweight, and as a result the car isn’t as dynamically impressive as its modern rivals (Golf R and Audi S3). But that hasn’t stopped it becoming something of an icon. There’s also the small fact that they sound absolutely incredible with straight pipes. If you want some VR6 action, expect to pay around £7000 for a good one.

Under £5000 - Volkswagen Lupo GTI

10 Appreciating Performance Cars To Suit All Budgets

The Lupo GTI is one of those cars that just looks right; with a 1.6-litre engine from the Polo GTI, the little Lupo produced a healthy 123bhp, especially when you consider that it weighed only 960kg. The 0-62mph time was a respectable 7.7 seconds, and its top speed of around 120mph was plenty for an entry-level performance car.

At £12,995 the Lupo was fairly expensive when it was released back in 2001. But to make up for the hefty price tag VW went a bit bananas on the interior, kitting it out with aluminium pedals, coloured sports seats and a plush leather steering wheel. If you want one of these awesome hatches, then expect to pay around £3000 for a tatty one and around £5000 for clean example.

Under £5000 - Peugeot 106 Rallye S1

Photo Credit: carwitter
Photo Credit: carwitter

The Peugeot 106 Rallye S1 might look like a boring old French hatchback, but it’s really nothing of the sort. Like the BMW E30 M3 and Audi Quattro, the Rallye is a full-on homologation special. Released in 1993 it was built to meet Group N and A regulations; allowing Peugeot to compete in sub-1400cc international rally championships. Weighing only 825kg and featuring a 1.3-litre, 101bhp engine, the Rallye was seriously quick down small British B-roads.

With its incredibly cool steelies and lack of amenities, the car community absolutely loved the 106, but the general public didn’t really understand the stripped back Peugeot. Luckily, they’re pretty cheap with average prices of around £3000. Finding one of these cars, on the other hand, is the tricky part, as they’re extremely rare and very sought after.


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