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5 Genuinely Fast Cars for Less Than $20,000

Do you have a need … a need for speed? These are all genuinely fast cars that have prices below the $20,000 mark. Keep in mind, though, that this article makes no claims about reliability or overall cost of ownership. Some of these cars on the list may end up with repairs that rival the price you paid for it. In several cases, the cars on this list are cheap because they are so unreliable and expensive to repair. But if you are looking for outright speed and horsepower, these are a great place to start.

2003 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

2003 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 

The C5 Corvette Z06 is a benchmark for cheap and accessible performance, and unlike other cars on this list, it is actually a fairly safe bet when it comes to reliability. While it was initially given only a 385-horsepower V8, Z06 models built for the 2002 model year and after have the power increased to 405 hp. This was enough juice to send the Z06 to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds, which is undeniably fast. They were also only available with a 6-speed manual transmission, and compared to the standard Corvette, the Z06 offers across-the-board weight-saving measures, upgraded suspensions, bigger wheels and tires, functional brake cooling ducts, and more. While the standard Corvette is easy to find for less than $20,000, it’s worth holding out for a Z06 model if you can. Find a Chevrolet Corvette for sale

2012 Ford Mustang GT Premium

2012 Ford Mustang GT Premium

While many Mustangs are available for less than $20,000, the best bang for your buck comes from the late fifth-generation Mustang GT Premiums that came after the 2010 model year update. They’re equipped with the highly regarded 5.0-liter Coyote V8 that puts out 412 hp when fueled with premium gas in 2011-2012 models, and 420 hp in 2013-2014 models. Premium models in particular have well-equipped interiors and upgraded xenon headlights, and unlike the European cars on this list, you can actually expect it to be a somewhat reliable vehicle that you could depend on daily. Find a Ford Mustang for sale

2003 Audi RS 6

2003 Audi RS 6 

The Audi RS 6 was the first RS variant to hit the U.S. in 2002, and is probably the rarest car on this list — only 860 RS 6 models of this generation were sold in the U.S. The RS 6 is provided with a twin-turbo V8 with 450 hp, allowing it to hit 0-to-62 mph in just 4.7 seconds. The RS 6 also is reported to handle very well due to its hydraulic Dynamic Ride Control, which helps minimize body roll both laterally and longitudinally under cornering, braking and acceleration. As you can expect, reliability falls short of average and repairs can be very expensive with these cars. However, you will have a twin-turbocharged V8 unicorn on your hands for about the same price as a new Ford FiestaFind an Audi RS 6 for sale

2007 BMW M6

2007 BMW M6 

Speaking of unreliable cars, second-generation BMW M6s have depreciated below $20,000 and they are wicked fast with a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds. Powered by the same 5.0-liter V10 as the E60 M5, this is one of the easiest ways to add a 500-hp monster to your driveway. M6s are surprisingly plentiful, and you can find both coupes and convertibles at this price point.  Just be warned, odds are that you’ll sink a considerable amount of money into one of these cars after you buy it, so it is recommended you make sure you have the funds to keep it on the road after pulling the trigger. Find a BMW M6 for sale

2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG

2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG

The Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG is the most powerful car on this list, narrowly beating out the BMW M6 with its 507 hp courtesy of a 6.2-liter V8. This power allows the nearly 2.5-ton beast to accelerate to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds, provided you don’t just end up smoking your rear tires in the process. The CLS 63 AMG also compares fairly with BMW in the reliability department, as it is highly likely that you’ll end up spending quite a bit more money than you’d hope to keep it on the road for the foreseeable future. Overall the CLS63 AMG is a beautiful and comfortable cruiser that will delight its owner when it works, and break its owner’s heart when it doesn’t. Find a Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 for sale

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  1. Is the reliability of the Benz compared to the same era as the BMW that bad?  The 00 era BMW’s are dismal in reliability and wrought with issues, while I thought the Benz’s were somewhat more reliable.

    • Great question.  I would be interested to know the answer as well.  I thought that NA 6.2 was a fairly bulletproof powertrain.  So what goes wrong?  Is it something stupid like a valve that fails and is so deep you have to drop the engine? Or electrical?

    • The author is out to lunch on the BMW M V10 vs Benz-AMG 6.2L.  That V10 eats rod bearings and VANOS pumps for breakfast, both requiring an engine-out repair.  At regular intervals.

      The worst thing that could happen to the AMG V8 is fuel system and bad head bolts, but only for early builds.  These were addressed fairly quickly at the factory.

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