The recipe is simple: two doors, rear-wheel drive, sharp handling and quick off the line. This has led to the production of some of the most fun cars that have ever been made and continues to thrill drivers to this day. Many models currently available can be pricey, but these are some of the most affordable options you can find.
After first emerging into the automotive world in 1962, the Mustang has been the most successful American sports car in history, looking over the infamous blemish that is the Mustang II from the mid-70’s of course. Today’s Mustang continues this proud tradition, with the base model starting at $25,000 and offering a total of four different engine choices, all of which produce power in excess of 300 horsepower, with some models even attaining 27 mpg on the highway. The assortment of trim options, engine specifications and other information are covered at Ford's official website.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
If you prefer sleek design and finesse of a straight sports car over the raw, unbridled pure American muscle car, the Miata may be just perfect. Also starting at $25,000, the Miata is tight, refined, and designed from the start as a convertible sports car that couples nicely with long, scenic drives with plenty of curves. This 2016 World Car of the Year award winner is capable of an astonishing 36 mpg and can take you from 0 to 60 mph quicker than 6 seconds with its 2-liter four-cylinder engine.
Fiat 124 Spider
Also for $25,000 is Fiat’s convertible sports car, featuring magnificent Italian styling details, four-wheel independent suspension and a 160 horsepower 1.4 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine--the most powerful in its class. It also comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, push button start, and a quick powered soft top. For an additional $4,000, you can have an Abarth tuned 124 Spider, which boosts overall performance without sacrificing any of the 35 mpg you enjoy with the base model. It does have room for only two people, but that’s all you need to share the experience of a pure Italian sports car.
Going back to Japan, the BRZ is designed to exemplify the ideal sports car layout. It has taken all of the necessary bits of sports car design and made them better. From its strong stance to stiff suspension and tight steering control, this car offers one of the best handling cars you can find below a $50,000 model. Combining the excellent handling response with the same 2-liter boxer engine that you’ll find in the legendary WRX that doesn’t redline until 7,400 RPM, you’ll find yourself in a 205 horsepower speed-machine for just $25,500. Subaru has taken the performance developed for their rally cars and put it straight onto the road for the average driver to experience and even more details are available on the official website.
First developed in 1966 specifically to compete with the Mustang, the Camaro has been one of the staple models for Chevrolet for over 50 years. The current model has been designed in a similar style as the more iconic classic designs from the 60s and 70s, but with some additional muscle to aid in appearing aggressive. The improvements haven’t just been to the exterior too, even the base model at just $26,000 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 5.5 seconds, and its 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is capable of an EPA estimated 31 mpg on the highway. Chevrolet still squeezes their 6.2 liter V8 under the same hood for the SS version, which creates 455 horsepower. A full exploration of available models and features is available on Chevrolet's official website.
Following the termination of the Scion brand, the Scion tC was too good of a car to completely discontinue, so Toyota has absorbed it and rebranded it as the 86 sports coupe. With an engineering lineage extending back to the beloved Celica, the 86 serves as Toyota’s answer to Nissan and Mazda. Starting at $26,000, the 86 features a 2-liter boxer engine producing 205 horsepower with a manual transmission and 200 horsepower with the automatic option. Designed to be as light as possible without sacrificing strength in the frame, the Toyota is sure to be one of the best handling coupes you can find.
At a starting price of $27,000 is the last of the big three American muscle cars--the Dodge Challenger. Labeled as the strongest muscle in America, the base model Challenger, with its 3.6-liter V6 engine, pumps out 305 horsepower with two larger V8 engines also available for up to 485 horsepower. The Challenger is also the first American muscle car to offer all-wheel drive on its production models for improved performance.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe
The Genesis Coupe is designed to give you the luxury and ease of the G80 while offering the performance and exhilaration of a classic sports car. For $27,000, the Genesis Coupe comes with a 348 horsepower 3.8-liter V6 engine which, as a base model offer, surpasses every other car in this list. It comes with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a class-exclusive 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. With its sturdy construction, stiff suspension and dynamic powertrain, the Genesis Coupe will allow you to take all of your favorite corners at any speed without trouble.
Rounding off this list at $30,000 is the 370Z, the newest model in the famous Z line of performance coupes dating back to Nissan’s Datsun days. It features a 3.7-liter V6 which produces up to 332 horsepower and has speed-sensitive power steering, bucket seats, shift alert light and even three cup-holders as standard features. For a complete luxury sports car straight from the factory, look no further than the 370Z.