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Scary Fast Cars on a $15,000 Budget


The air is turning crisp, and leaves are beginning to fall; it seems like every year passes faster. Speaking of fast passes, what better way to screech into fall, blast past Halloween, and careen straight on into the rest of the holidays than in a hot set of new-to-you wheels? Here is our list of 10 scary fast cars under $15,000.

1. 2005 BMW M3

2005 BMW M3

No list of great, affordable performance cars should lack a BMW, especially when the E46 M3 is available. 2005 was the next-to-last year of production for the fourth-generation BMW M3. Its 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder, packing 333 horsepower, sounds as good as it accelerates. As fast as the M3 is in a straight line, it’s also scary good in the corners; BMW aficionados often name the E46 M3 their favorite. See 2005 BMW M3 models for sale

2. 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS

2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS brings big power to the party with its 426-hp V8 — but only if you pick the 6-speed manual transmission; automatics get a 400-hp version of the same engine. With its rear-wheel-drive chassis and surprisingly nimble setup, the 2011 Camaro SS is one of the best handling and horsepower-per-dollar values. See 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS models for sale

3. 2000 Chevrolet Corvette

2000 Chevrolet Corvette

Lighter and nimbler than the Camaro or the M3, the 2000 Chevrolet Corvette might be the oldest car on this list, but it might just be the fastest. A 5.7-liter V8 rated for 345 hp makes light work of the car’s roughly 3,200-pound curb weight, and the C5 Corvette’s low center of gravity, wide stance, and unique suspension make it a beast in the corners, too. See 2000 Chevrolet Corvette models for sale

4. 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T

2013 Dodge Challenger R/T

If you’re more of the dragstrip type, the 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T should be at the top of your list. Its 5.7-liter Hemi V8 isn’t the strongest in the Challenger line, but it’s still plenty potent at up to 375 hp, especially for less than $15,000. The Challenger is a bit heavier and less eager to corner than the other cars on this list, but it’s a master of American-style straight-line speed. See 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T models for sale

5. 2011 Ford Mustang GT

2011 Ford Mustang GT

Effectively the crosstown foil to the 2011 Chevy Camaro SS, the 2011 Ford Mustang GT packs a 5.0-liter V8 rated at 412 hp that drives the rear wheels for maximum dynamism. The Mustang GT’s suspension and cornering ability are impressive, too, but like the Challenger, this is also a solid pick for those who spend their weekends at the drag strip. See 2011 Ford Mustang GT models for sale

6. 2012 Infiniti FX50

2012 Infiniti FX50

The odd duck of this lineup, the 2012 Infiniti FX50 was an oddity even in its heyday: A luxury crossover SUV with 4-door coupe styling and a brawny 390-hp V8 engine. The car-like traits weren’t limited to the styling, either, as the FX50’s sport-tuned suspension helped it handle more like a large hatchback, especially in FX50 Sport form, which added active damping, rear steer, and more. See 2012 Infiniti FX50 models for sale

7. 2009 Maserati Quattroporte

2009 Maserati Quattroporte

The 2009 Maserati Quattroporte is easily the most exotic car on this list. Under the sleek, sculpted hood sits a Ferrari-derived 4.2-liter V8 engine rated at 400 hp, but who cares about the numbers — it’s a frickin’ (Maserati-spec) Ferrari V8 for less than $15,000. Oh, and it’s wrapped in an Italian luxury sedan. See 2009 Maserati Quattroporte models for sale

8. 2012 Mini Cooper JCW

2012 Mini Cooper JCW

At nearly the opposite end of the size spectrum but far more focused on performance, the 2012 Mini Cooper JCW takes the econo-hatch formula to its illogical conclusion. The John Cooper Works is the second-hottest Mini Cooper (after the unobtanium JCW GP); its 208-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder slinging the svelte 2,701-pound hatch around with ease. The suspension is even sportier, ready to rotate the front-drive hot hatch at the slightest provocation of the steering wheel. See 2012 Mini Cooper JCW models for sale

9. 2010 Nissan 370Z

2010 Nissan 370Z convertible.

A perennial “tweener” car, the 2010 Nissan 370Z sits astride the gulf between more affordable, lower-horsepower performance cars and the more expensive, brawnier alternatives. Its 332-hp, 3.7-liter V6 also splits the difference between the V8s and turbocharged 4-cylinders that make up the rest of this list. Despite being 10 years newer and from half a world away, the 370Z and C5 Chevy Corvette almost feel related in their analog, old-school driver-car connection. See 2010 Nissan 370Z models for sale

10. 2013 Subaru WRX

2013 Subaru WRK front left

 

Alphabetically last but likely to place near the front of the pack if this whole list were to race, the 2013 Subaru WRX lives up to the WRX rep as an affordable supercar. Pairing all-wheel drive with a 265-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer 4-cylinder, the WRX’s off-the-line acceleration can be brutal, and it’s no slouch when it’s time to corner, either. In the right hands, the WRX’s combination of turbocharged torque and AWD traction makes it one of the fastest cars on any given road in the real world, certainly capable of hanging with cars that are much faster on paper. See 2013 Subaru WRX models for sale

10 Scary Fast Cars Under $15,000

  1. 2005 BMW M3
  2. 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS
  3. 2000 Chevrolet Corvette
  4. 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T
  5. 2011 Ford Mustang GT
  6. 2012 Infiniti FX50
  7. 2009 Maserati Quattroporte
  8. 2012 Mini Cooper JCW
  9. 2010 Nissan 370Z
  10. 2013 Subaru WRX

Nelson Ireson
Nelson Ireson
Nelson Ireson is an automotive writer and enthusiast whose 15-plus years of experience have seen him travel the globe, driving as many new cars as possible. His work has appeared throughout the print and online automotive world, including Car and Driver, Autoblog, and Motor Authority, among others. He writes for Autotrader from Long Beach, California.

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