It is easy to get carried away with numbers. Life seems to be measured in millions or billions these days and when Barclays Bank announced a recent drop in quarterly profits from £1.15 billion to £793 million the media led us to believe that bankers were were about to throw themselves off the top of the company’s HQ in Canary Wharf. Time to get a grip we think.
Numbers have got a little out of hand in the car world too now and we have seen deals closed at 1 million pounds plus at a rate never seen before in our time as ‘supercar’ brokers. That is fine and dandy of course but in reality the vast majority of petrolheads have now found themselves following the pursuits of car-spotters and dream-chasers on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram in search of car-pornography to satisfy their lust for automotive nirvana.
We thought, therefore it was time to challenge ourselves to find out which cars can provide the necessary ‘supercar’ fix for car-lovers who don’t happen to have access to the cash reserves of a Russian oligarch but also want a car they can drive without being ‘papped’ on the way to the supermarket.
The initial criteria for creating the ‘affordable’ short-list was as follows:
- A purchase budget of no more than £50,000
- Ideally at least 300 bhp power output (or power to weight ratio)
- a zero to 60 mph time of less than around 5 seconds
- Modern-ish without being called a ‘modern classic’
- The car should be a crowd-puller (that was the hardest part)
- A car that people will give way to at junctions with pleasure (actually that was the hardest part and unlikely to be the case with a few of these cars)
Of course £50k is still an awful lot of money for the vast majority of British citizens but we are assuming that a car-fanatic will be prepared to sell his grandmother in order to acquire the car of his dreams (sorry Nan!). That figure is also roughly a third of what you might expect to pay to become a junior member of the ‘supercar club’ if you were buying a brand new car.
So not in order of preference but in order of the alphabet here we go, including a link to one we have found for sale in order to prove the point:
Alfa Romeo 4c – the company appears to have found its mojo again with the 4c and hopefully Alfa will start producing great cars again. The 4c has the looks, the noise and the pulling power to compete with its Ferrari cousins without the need for the driver to wear his shirt open to the navel. Drives like a dream and looks cool in any colour. For sale: http://bit.ly/21fCM7e
Ariel Atom 3 300 – a left-field choice but certainly one that would get you noticed parked next to an alien spaceship from Mars. For those drivers who have a masochistic tendency and enjoy being exposed to the elements of nature. This car will try to tear the skin off your face and an Aventador would do well to keep up with an Atom in any drag race. Dare to be different! For sale: http://bit.ly/1UhRZE1
Aston Martin Vantage V8 N400 – actually for £50k we could have opted for a DB9 (Coupe or Volante) or a Vanquish. Anything with an ‘Aston Martin’ badge is super-cool anyway so our choice is academic. The V8 Vantage N400 is fast, has a manual gearbox, just enough toys, made in limited numbers and ticks all of the right boxes for us. For sale: http://bit.ly/1rAohPA
Audi R8 – really didn’t think it would be possible but in fact there is a surprising number of R8’s available on the market for less than our target buy-price. It is nearly ten years since the R8 was first launched and yet it still looks fresh today. There probably isn’t another car in our top twenty that can emulate the R8 and look like it is worth twice the price. The family-man choice, however, would be the RS6. For sale: http://bit.ly/1VVSbKd
BMW M6 – More of a Grand Tourer than a street-racer but none the worse for that. A stonking 560 bhp on tap means that progress will be rapid and a trip to Monaco can be done in the blink of an eye. The roomy cabin means you can take three mates on the trip with you too! If, on the other hand, you really do need four doors then an understated F10 M5 can be bought for similar money. For sale: http://bit.ly/1VWgCY7
Bentley Continental GT Speed – Formerly the chariot of choice for Premier League footballers the Conti GT has matured very nicely and fitted with the 600 bhp W12 engine you won’t find another car in this list with a badge that can rub shoulders with the best company out there. The shape still looks current too because thankfully Bentley has kept the cosmetic updates to a mild make-over level over the years. For Sale: http://bit.ly/1XWP0jt
Ferrari 360 Modena – Trying to buy a fairly modern Ferrari for less than £50k was always going to be tricky but we were determined to get one on our list of favourites. However we did cheat slightly because that budget will get you a left hand drive 360 and nothing else right hand drive will come close. Get one in Rosso Corsa with Crema interior and your mates will think you have just won the lottery. For sale: http://bit.ly/1YVhomc
Ford Mustang GT500 Shelby – In the 60’s Steve McQueen made us all fall in love with his Highland Green GT 390 Fastback in the film Bullitt and the name Mustang still conjures up the stirring car-chase footage from the film. The car you can buy today will definitely be quicker with anything from 600 upwards available depending on which version you buy. The American V8 soundtrack is worth every penny! For sale: http://bit.ly/1XWSdPU
Honda NSX – Massively under-rated initially but the NSX turned out to be a giant-killer with Ferrari very much in its sights. The fabulous engine, superb handling and sensible list price meant that in spite of its mass-market origins Honda had managed to produce a proper supercar of its own. Technically because of its age now it is technically a ‘modern classic’ and shouldn’t be in this list – but it is, so there. For sale: http://bit.ly/1UiXL8u
Jaguar F-Type V8 Supercharged – We could have equally gone for the Supercharged V6 but the V8 F-Type just tips the balance on the mental scale. Over-the-top explosive exhaust note will have pedestrians running for cover and a rear-wheel-drive set-up that makes for some of the easiest rubber-burning wheel-spins on the planet. Smile factor is huge and with the roof down the search for tunnels will be high on the agenda. For sale: http://bit.ly/1qXh4s1
Lamborghini Gallardo – Disappointingly we couldn’t find anything to fit below our budget in the classifieds but there are some that come close. Lambo’s are holding their values well these days and a Gallardo can still pull a few glances when it is out and about. We think that if you were determined enough to haggle with a dealer and not too fussy about the mileage of the car then there is a Gallardo out there for you. For sale: http://bit.ly/21gPmDg
Lotus Exige S 3.5 V6 – Lotus has come a long way since the Elise of the late 90’s and in spite of the turbulent history of the company over recent years there have been some interesting developments in product development and big improvements in build quality. Lotus has produced some of the best chassis designs ever since the beginning of time and the Exige will embarrass almost anything on the track. For sale: http://bit.ly/1qXkj2L
Mercedes Benz C63 AMG – Like many of the other cars in this list the 6.3 litre V8 C63 AMG makes a delicious sound. Start one up from cold and and the ferocious bark sounds like an angry demon stirring from its sleep. At first sight the C63 looks a little like a C250 with an AMG kit but that is half the attraction really because you can poodle around and blend in with the traffic knowing you have 500 bhp on hand. For sale: http://bit.ly/1XX9NDr
Morgan Aero 8 – It doesn’t get any more old-school than Morgan but the company knows how to produce a fast car when it wants to and they are a familiar sight on many race tracks around the world. The BMW V8-powered Aero 8 packs a punch in standard form for the road and is another soft-top in our selection that produces a glorious sound. Its quirky shape means you will get lots of friendly waves too. For sale: http://bit.ly/1rlgdBU
Nissan GT-R – Another Jap that has spoilt the party for many of the premium brands amongst the high-performance pack. The GT-R has been developed to within an inch of its life and the result is that it shows you don’t need to spend a six-figure sum to buy a car to scare the life out of you whilst losing your driving licence. The GT-R takes on all-comers – just check out the YouTube drag-race videos! For sale: http://bit.ly/1TyR7IY
Noble M400 – If speed is high on your list of priorities then a rare, low-volume production Noble could be right up your street. Zero to 60 mph will be in the 3 second category and if you are brave enough you could push the car to 200 mph. The car is built by the same people who build the Superperformance GT40 and they know a thing or two about fast race cars. Your individuality will be applauded with a Noble. For sale: http://bit.ly/24n03WY
Porsche Cayman 3.4S – We couldn’t have an Exige in our list without including it’s nemesis the Porsche Cayman. Everything the Lotus can do , the Cayman will try to better it. Not always successfully but in a way that appeals to the more conservative buyer who has build-quality and longevity as their main priorities. The Cayman also threatens its big brother, the 911, in terms of value for money these days. For sale: http://bit.ly/1UjM4hO
Porsche 911 (997) Turbo – Porsche has produced so many variants of the 911 that the choice at £50k is mind-blowing. However, putting aside the GT3 and RS offerings, a 911 Turbo is a wet-dream for any car enthusiast. The performance figures are academic because most people will never have the chance to test the car to its limits and too many will not want to even use it to protect its residual value which is a shame. For sale: http://bit.ly/1WtnP0L
Tesla Roadster – Yes there is an electric car in our list and because we wanted a Tesla our choice was limited to the Roadster. You simply can’t buy a Model S (our preferred choice) for anywhere near £50k, at the moment at least. The Roadster is, however, related to the Lotus Elise, has set several world records for electric-powered cars and can get to 60 mph in less than four seconds. That’s why we chose it. For sale: http://bit.ly/1NXEEKx
Ultima GTR – it is a coincidence that the ultimate car on our list should be an Ultima. However, it might also be literally the ultimate of our car choices for £50k because it is the fastest car here. Designed originally by Lee Noble (yes, the very same of Noble Cars) the Ultima GTR can blow most ‘hypercars’ into the weeds for acceleration, including the Veyron. Need we say more? For sale: http://bit.ly/1UjTiSU
So there you have it, these are our, albeit subjective, choices for an alternative supercar for around £50k or less. You might disagree and if so, feel free to tell us which cars either shouldn’t be in our top twenty or point out some we may well have over-looked.
The links to the cars for sale have all been taken from the Pistonheads classified listings and you may indeed find better buys from other sources. Some of the cars we have found may also have been sold by the time you have read this article.
Let us know if you need any help looking for your ideal supercar for £50k by giving The Car Spy a call on 01892 506970 – we will be happy to assist you.