Nissan GT-R rear exterior

The best sportscars you could buy for £50k

The best sportscars you could buy for £50k

Looking for sportscar thrills on a maximum budget of £50,000? Then buckle up because you’re in for a treat.

We’ve cast semantics aside to give you a choice of sportscars covering everything from relatively practical coupes to less than practical mid-engined two-seaters, high-revving V8s and a four-wheel drive technical tour de force. So keep reading this list of the best eight sportscars available on a budget of £50,000.

BMW E92 M3

The E92 BMW M3 is like a Casio watch with Rolex mechanicals because while it’s one of the more unassuming M3’s on the outside, underneath its internals are pure exotica. Top of the list is a 420PS (309kW) 4.0-litre V8 that positively demands to be revved past 8,000rpm. Competitors’ engines at the time seemed mediaeval by comparison. But as much as the performance and sound of the V8 will impress, the way the M3 handles is just as beguiling. An electronically controlled differential gives the M3 agility a 6.2-litre Mercedes C63 of the time could only dream of and – unlike in the Mercedes – you can also have a manual gearbox. Our budget of £50,000 is plenty to get a late facelifted example with sturdier rod bearings – a famously weak spot on earlier M3s.  

Porsche 718 Cayman S

When the Porsche 718 Cayman first went on sale you could have been forgiven for thinking it was a Cayman with its heart cut clean out. Gone was the sonorous flat-six that was so key to the Cayman experience, and in its place was a turbocharged flat-four with, frankly, none of the old engine’s charm. Now though, the unpopular Cayman makes lots of sense. For starters, values have dropped quicker than you’d expect for a depreciation-resistant Porker. Also, while the 718’s turbocharged engine might not drip with character – a simple chip releases north of 430PS (316kW) and a punchy 542Nm (400lb ft). When you consider such a machine would weigh around 150kg less than a GT4 RS and have the fine balance all Cayman’s are famous for, it’s hard to imagine picking up a more accomplished sportscar for less than £40,000.

Jaguar F-Type R

While the Porsche Cayman is like a laser guided missile, the Jaguar F-Type R the nuclear option of the sportscar world thanks to a supercharged 550PS (405kW) 5.0-litre V8 that has more power than you (or indeed the F-Type’s chassis) could ever need. It’ll tail slide at pretty much any speed you care to mention – and some you’d rather not – but there’s a nimbleness to the F-Type that wasn’t present in the XK R that preceded it. Naturally, one of the F-Type’s biggest selling points is long-bonnet-pert-bottom looks that are still fabulous today and make up, in some small part, for an interior that belongs nowhere near a car that could cost north of £100,000 new. At least the 310-litre boot is practical for a two-seater sportscar. What’s more, our £50,000 budget is enough to get you a rear-wheel drive F-Type R in as-new condition.

 

Alpine A110

Beating the Porsche Cayman at its own game is no mean feat so it’s even more impressive that the Alpine A110 did it in its own particular way. Low weight was key. A chassis and body panels made from aluminium gave the A110 a near-1,000kg kerb weight, meaning Alpine could fit soft suspension that breathed with the road surface and allowed the car’s body movements to work with it in corners. Power comes from a rorty 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine – as fitted to the Megane RS – which gave the French flyweight a serious turn of speed, when combined with a dual-clutch transmission that could bash through its gears at a serious lick. Our budget is enough to get you a car that still has the balance of Alpine’s three-year warranty that – when combined with 40mpg fuel economy – makes this brilliant sportscar one of the most sensible options on this list.

Ford Mustang Bullitt

The current Ford Mustang proved to be something of a revolution when it touched down on UK soil back in 2015. It was the first Mustang to officially be sold here in right-hand drive configuration and the first to have independent rear suspension. This was a Mustang that was no longer a leftfield choice and – dare we say – it even handled. Yet despite a 435PS (320kW) V8, it didn’t ooze with the character you might expect of a Stateside V8. That was solved with the Bullitt launched in 2018. A new air filter, exhaust and larger throttle bodies brought power to 460PS (338kW), but more importantly gave the Bullitt a V8 rumble that was worth the money alone, although you also got uprated suspension, steering and brakes. Dark green paint finished the job. Now, this four-seat, big-boot coupe can be yours for as little as £40,000.

Nissan GT-R

On sale in 2007, the Nissan GT-R took everything we knew about sportscars and slung it in the bin. This was a near 1,800kg coupe that could give a Porsche 911 Turbo a merciless pasting off the line and on track. But how? Well, power came from a twin-turbocharged 480PS (353kW) V6, which was transmitted to the road via one of the most sophisticated four-wheel drive systems ever fitted to a road car – one that can grip and slide in equal measure. Inside, the GT-R was a tech fest on wheels, with dials for pretty much every readout you could possibly imagine hidden on the centre infotainment screen. Four seats and a useful boot made up for the fact that, in sportscar terms, the GT-R was hefty. Such is Nissan’s legendary status that price remains strong – even now, you’ll need £45,000 to get in a clean ten-year-old-example.

Alfa Romeo 4C

On paper, the Alfa Romeo 4C sounded like the Alfa we’d all been waiting for. Not only was it a lightweight sportscar with a carbon-fibre tub and a mid-engine layout, it also looked great and had a comically loud exhaust hooked up to its punchy 240PS (177kW) 1.7-litre turbocharged engine. Sadly, the reality of the 4C was also comical. Despite its carbon-fibre, the Alfa weighed more than a Lotus with an aluminium chassis. Meanwhile, the much-hyped unassisted steering that promised a telepathic feel of the road turned out to be terrible, hunting and snatching over cambers and surface changes. Unpleasant at best and plain dangerous at worst. So why include it on this list? Well, tweaking from a brand specialist can have the 4C handling as it should and, with prices starting from a little over £40,000, our budget allows for a touch of complimentary tuning.

Toyota GR86

While the Toyota GT86 was a sublime handling sportscar that brought (pardon the pun) a whole new spin to the sportscar world, it was not without its faults – a strangled engine being the main one. In the GR, Toyota solved this by fitting a 235PS (173kW) 2.4-litre petrol that was quicker but also more liveable – it can make swift progress without being thrashed and the engine’s increased torque makes it easier to manipulate the car’s highly adjustable chassis. In fact, at this price point, it’s hard to imagine a sportscar with a more complete handling balance. What’s more, as the only car on this list available brand new on our £50,000 budget (including a ten-year manufacturer warranty), the Toyota makes a lot of sense. If only the 450 examples destined for the UK hadn’t already sold.

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Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

8 of the best sportscars money can buy

8 of the best sportscars money can buy

Lottery win coming through? Found yourself in the market for a money-no-object sportscar? Excellent.

We’ve pulled together this list of absolute beauties for every taste from a track-prepped Ferrari and a Gordon Murray-designed Mercedes to luxurious GTs, boulevard cruisers and even a car deemed too extreme for the road. Here’s our guide to the eight best money-no-object sportscars.

1. Ferrari F12tdf

Named after the Tour de France road race held in France between 1951-1986, the Ferrari F12tdf is a sportscar that has been custom-built for the track. Ferrari took the standard 740PS (544kW) F12 Berlinetta and improved it in every conceivable way. The 6.3-litre V12’s power increased from 740 to 780PS (574kW), while carbon-fibre bumpers and under trays helped shed 100kg. The result? A top speed of “more than 211mph” (Ferrari never confirmed an exact number) and 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds.

Performance figures were only half story, though. The F12tdf generated 230kg of front-end downforce thanks to a new aero package. When combined with rear-wheel steer (not fitted to the standard F12), meant that – whatever you did – understeer was never a problem. Huge carbon ceramic brakes (nicked straight from the LaFerrari hypercar) provided limitless stopping power. The downsides are few but substantial – Ferrari only built 799 examples, and they command prices of well over £1 million.

2. Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

You get a sense of Beauty and the Beast to the unlikely partnership between McLaren designer Gordon Murray and Mercedes-Benz. While Murray was famed for building championship-winning racing cars, Mercedes wanted to build a GT that would appeal to glitterati like Paris Hilton. Something had to give and (given Murray’s famous dislike for compromise) unsurprisingly that ‘something’ was Mercedes. Because of this, while the McLaren SLR might look like the Vision SLR Concept shown at 1999’s Detroit motor show, it was all new under the skin, with an engine sitting half a metre further behind the front axle and a fuel tank relocated to sit within the wheelbase, all to satisfy Murray’s need for a near-perfect 49:51 weight distribution.

Sadly, other parts of the SLR – the tacky cabin, its 1,768kg heft and wooden-feeling brakes – were less than perfect. But such criticisms will soon melt away once you bask in the glory of the Merlin-like sound emitted from the 635PS (467kW), 5.5-litre supercharged V8s side exit exhausts.

3. Aston Martin V600 Le Mans

While the Aston Martin V600 Le Mans looked more like a rocket-propelled stately home than a sportscar, its ungainly looks could be deceiving – this GT could keep a Lamborghini Diablo honest. And it could do it while pampering its four occupants in wood and leather-lined luxury. Lifting the Aston’s vented bonnet revealed a 5.3-litre V8 flanked by a pair of superchargers with pumping force to rival a hydroelectric power station.

The V600 Le Mans is particularly cherished. Not only did it bring power up to 608PS (447kW, or 600bhp, hence the name), but it also got some much-needed attention to the suspension and brakes. The Le Mans body kit might be too Max Power from some, but only 40 Le Mans models were ever built, which explains why you’ll need close to half a million pounds to get a good one.

4. Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0

If the Porsche 911 is the ultimate sportscar, then the GT3 RS 4.0 litre is the ultimate sportscar in its purest form. To build it, Porsche took the ‘standard’ GT3 RS’ 3.8-litre flat-six, stroked it to 4.0-litres then added exotic mechanicals like titanium conrods and a crankshaft nicked straight from the RSR racing car. Weight, meanwhile, dropped to 1,360kg – 10kg less than the standard GT3 – thanks to parts like a bonnet and wings made from carbon-fibre.

The icing on the cake came in the form of an aero package (including dive plates on the front bumper) that increased downforce by nearly 20 per cent. The result was a 500PS (368kW) 911 with an 8,250rpm redline, mid-range flexibility that would leave a standard RS floundering and handling that still feels contemporary today. No wonder the best examples sell for well over Porsche’s original £130,000 sticker price.

5. BMW Z8

The BMW Z8 is an example of a sportscar that gets better with age. With an engine borrowed from the E39 M5 – but none of the saloon’s structural integrity – back in 1998, it wasn’t the sharp handler road testers expected and fewer than 6,000 examples sold before the car went out of production in 2003. But people got the Z8 wrong. It wasn’t a cornering king but a boulevard cruiser, and it does that very well.

Its retro styling – a throwback to the 507 GT – was pure, shark-nosed BMW (how times have changed), and while it never handled like a Lotus, it had plenty of power on the straights. Anyone looking for a deeply cool, and relatively rare sportscar would be hard-pressed to ignore the Z8, even if clean examples sell for nearly double their original £100,000 asking price. 

6. Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

If the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione was a film, it would be Shallow Hal because, for once, this is an Alfa Romeo that has the personality to go with its achingly good looks. A carbon-fibre body means the Alfa is lightweight (1,585kg) for a big GT car, while a near-perfect weight distribution was guaranteed by mounting the engine far behind the front axle and the gearbox ahead of the rear. Double wishbone suspension front and rear guaranteed neat handling, while power came from a Ferrari-sourced 4.7-litre V8 producing 456PS (335kW) at 7,000rpm. Enough to get the Alfa from 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds on its way to a 181mph top speed.

Contemporary sportscars – like the Ferrari 599 GTB – would give the Alfa a run for its money, but the 8C’s desirability is assured because only 500 were built. No wonder an 8C will now cost you twice its 2007 asking price.

7. Morgan AeroMax

We couldn’t write a guide to the best money’s-no-object sportscars without featuring Morgan – a manufacturer with the essence of ‘sportscar’ coursing through its veins. Such was the reaction to the AeroMax’s swooping Art Deco lines when it was revealed in 2005, Morgan decided to build 100 examples rather than the single car originally planned. The AeroMax blends old and new in true Morgan tradition so while you get traditional looks and a vintage driving position, the chassis is aluminium and the 4.8-litre V8 comes from BMW.

It’s a combination that gives the Morgan a power-to-weight ratio of 316PS (232kW) per tonne and handling that would be outside the abilities of a traditional ash-framed model… And we haven’t even mentioned its race-spec AP brakes and glorious-sounding side-exit exhausts. Sadly, you’ll need close to a quarter of a million pounds to get your hands on one now.

8. TVR Cerbera Speed 12

With a lightweight fibreglass body spirited along by your choice of motorsport-inspired six or eight-cylinder engines, any Peter Wheeler TVR was quick – so let’s pause for a second to consider the 7.7-litre Cerbera Speed 12. With double the power of any other TVR. Its V12 lump was created by welding two Tuscan Speed Six engines together to which TVR bolted the engine to a backbone chassis with carbon-fibre body panels. The finished article was a car that even Wheeler – a man not known for his caution – decided was faintly ridiculous, saying: “I knew within 300 yards that it was a silly idea. Over 900bhp (912PS/671kW) in a car weighing just over a ton is plainly ridiculous on the road”.

Rule changes would soon render the Speed 12 obsolete from the track, too, but not before one lucky owner bought the soul-available road car. And only after the buyer had passed a one-on-one chat with Peter Wheeler, who judged their suitability. As the only example of a TVR turned up to 11, you’d imagine the Speed 12 would be nearly priceless to the right buyer.

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