The Best Sports Cars Under 40k to Buy Used in 2021

The Best Sports Cars Under 40k to Buy Used in 2021
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Remember covering your bedroom with fantasy sports car posters as a kid and dreaming of one day growing up and actually owning one … or several? And then reality sets in as you slowly come of age and come to terms with reality that an $80,000, $90,000 or $100,000 ride just isn’t in the cards?

Well, guess what. There’s a secret we never knew as kids. The trick to affording a super sports car – regardless of the make or model – that would otherwise be way out of your budget is to buy it used, not new.

These days, buying a used sports car without breaking the bank – cracking open Pandora’s box of unforeseen mechanical problems – is as easy as the click of a button, such as the case with Shift. All Shift’s cars come with best-in-class service contracts and fair prices without any sales pressure. That means you get the great price and value of a used car with the bumper-to-bumper protection of a new car, be it a Jag, Bimmer or Pony.

Here are nine of the best and most affordable sports cars to buy used in 2021.

BMW 2 Series

BMW 2 Series

An Autobahn-worthy contender that needs no introduction, the speed-demonic BMW 2 Series comes with either a four-cylinder that packs a total of 255 horsepower or six-cylinder with a monstrous 382 horsepower. As far as looks go, the two-door coupe is sleek as a hard top and downright sexy as a convertible, the latter of which BMW sadly decided to discontinue for 2022. All the more reason to opt for a late-year used model. That way you have the freedom to choose whether you want to blast off with the top up or down. The base model starts at around $38,000 new and the upper trim variants max out around $59,000. Used 2 Series models, however, can go for as little as $21,000.

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BMW 2 Series

An Autobahn-worthy contender that needs no introduction, the speed-demonic BMW 2 Series comes with either a four-cylinder that packs a total of 255 horsepower or six-cylinder with a monstrous 382 horsepower. As far as looks go, the two-door coupe is sleek as a hard top and downright sexy as a convertible, the latter of which BMW sadly decided to discontinue for 2022. All the more reason to opt for a late-year used model. That way you have the freedom to choose whether you want to blast off with the top up or down. The base model starts at around $38,000 new and the upper trim variants max out around $59,000. Used 2 Series models, however, can go for as little as $21,000.

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Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang

The Mustang inarguably reigns as one of the most classic muscle cars to ever prowl the roadways of planet Earth. And that's exactly why it's the only car that Ford continues to manufacture today. That's right. Over the past few years, Ford has been slowly fading out all its cars in its North American market in order to focus more on SUVs and trucks. So that means the Mustang is now literally the poster car of the Ford portfolio, at least in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Customization options on the many different trims of the Mustang are essentially all but countless, which means pricing ranges greatly, too. In general, prices for new models stretch from around $27,000 all the way up to $70,000. Leading the pack is the Shelby GT500, which features a 5.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine and a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Used midrange GT editions, however, tend to hover in the low $30,000s.

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Ford Mustang

The Mustang inarguably reigns as one of the most classic muscle cars to ever prowl the roadways of planet Earth. And that's exactly why it's the only car that Ford continues to manufacture today. That's right. Over the past few years, Ford has been slowly fading out all its cars in its North American market in order to focus more on SUVs and trucks. So that means the Mustang is now literally the poster car of the Ford portfolio, at least in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Customization options on the many different trims of the Mustang are essentially all but countless, which means pricing ranges greatly, too. In general, prices for new models stretch from around $27,000 all the way up to $70,000. Leading the pack is the Shelby GT500, which features a 5.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine and a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Used midrange GT editions, however, tend to hover in the low $30,000s.

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Jaguar XK

Jaguar XK

The Jaguar XK is without a doubt an ideal grand tourer that shamelessly flaunts flowing lines and classic British style. Under the hood is a 5.0-liter 385-hp V-8 engine that Jaguar teamed up with a six-speed automated transmission, paddle shifters and rear-wheel drive. The XK's steering is solid and its handling is rational, making for a fun and elegant driving experience be it on windy backroads or wide-open stretches of freeway. What's more, the XK is also technically a collector's item, given that 2015 was the grand finale of the car's nearly 20-year run. Back then, the base model came with an MSRP of $77,000 and supercharged upper trims went for more than $120,000. These days, used Jaguar XKs can be found for around $35,000 and with plenty of life left in them, too.

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Jaguar XK

The Jaguar XK is without a doubt an ideal grand tourer that shamelessly flaunts flowing lines and classic British style. Under the hood is a 5.0-liter 385-hp V-8 engine that Jaguar teamed up with a six-speed automated transmission, paddle shifters and rear-wheel drive. The XK's steering is solid and its handling is rational, making for a fun and elegant driving experience be it on windy backroads or wide-open stretches of freeway. What's more, the XK is also technically a collector's item, given that 2015 was the grand finale of the car's nearly 20-year run. Back then, the base model came with an MSRP of $77,000 and supercharged upper trims went for more than $120,000. These days, used Jaguar XKs can be found for around $35,000 and with plenty of life left in them, too.

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Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda MX-5 Miata

The pintsized Mazda Miata is hands down a sports car legend. Since its release in the late-1980s, the two-door micro coupe has undeniably sped its way to the top of the list of best options in its class on the market. The Miata combines tight handling, a stylish cabin with room for two and a fun 181-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. All together it makes for an iconic roadster that car enthusiasts know and love. New Miatas cost somewhere in the low-$30,000s; used models, however, usually go for roughly half of that, if not significantly less.

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Mazda MX-5 Miata

The pintsized Mazda Miata is hands down a sports car legend. Since its release in the late-1980s, the two-door micro coupe has undeniably sped its way to the top of the list of best options in its class on the market. The Miata combines tight handling, a stylish cabin with room for two and a fun 181-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. All together it makes for an iconic roadster that car enthusiasts know and love. New Miatas cost somewhere in the low-$30,000s; used models, however, usually go for roughly half of that, if not significantly less.

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Nissan 370Z

Nissan 370Z

More than 50 years have passed since Nissan released the first generation of Zs, which were originally branded under the company's now-retired Datsun name. The sixth and latest addition to the Z family, the two-door, two-seat Nissan 370Z coupe boasts a 3.7 V-6 engine that's paired with your choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters that launch the car from zero to 60 mpg in just over 4.5 seconds. The price of a new 370Z starts at around $31,000, although used models go for significantly less depending on the model year. Early-model 370Zs are often priced in the low-$20,000s, while more current used 370Zs can be found for around $25,000.

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Nissan 370Z

More than 50 years have passed since Nissan released the first generation of Zs, which were originally branded under the company's now-retired Datsun name. The sixth and latest addition to the Z family, the two-door, two-seat Nissan 370Z coupe boasts a 3.7 V-6 engine that's paired with your choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters that launch the car from zero to 60 mpg in just over 4.5 seconds. The price of a new 370Z starts at around $31,000, although used models go for significantly less depending on the model year. Early-model 370Zs are often priced in the low-$20,000s, while more current used 370Zs can be found for around $25,000.

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Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86

Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86

The racy love affair of two iconic rally race champions, Subaru and Toyota collaborated to release what is essentially the same sports car albeit under different names: the Subaru BRX and the Toyota 86. And the 86 actually used to be known as the Scion FR-S until Toyota – Scion's parent company – officially retired the sub-brand altogether in 2017. Slight differences do exist, but they're only skin deep. The Subaru sports a slightly more elegant interior, and its price tag has been adjusted accordingly. Even so, new models of both start in the upper-$20,000s and low-$30,000s, making it one of the more affordable sports cars on the market today. Be it the Scion, the Subaru or the Toyota, each two-door coupe touts crisp handling, refined tuning, a precise transmission and a sleek, sexy interior, too. Each also gets decent gas mileage, especially for a sports coupe: 22-25 mpg in the city and 30-34 mpg on the highway.

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Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86

The racy love affair of two iconic rally race champions, Subaru and Toyota collaborated to release what is essentially the same sports car albeit under different names: the Subaru BRX and the Toyota 86. And the 86 actually used to be known as the Scion FR-S until Toyota – Scion's parent company – officially retired the sub-brand altogether in 2017. Slight differences do exist, but they're only skin deep. The Subaru sports a slightly more elegant interior, and its price tag has been adjusted accordingly. Even so, new models of both start in the upper-$20,000s and low-$30,000s, making it one of the more affordable sports cars on the market today. Be it the Scion, the Subaru or the Toyota, each two-door coupe touts crisp handling, refined tuning, a precise transmission and a sleek, sexy interior, too. Each also gets decent gas mileage, especially for a sports coupe: 22-25 mpg in the city and 30-34 mpg on the highway.

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Subaru WRX

Subaru WRX

There's no denying that Subaru is one of the world's forerunners when it comes to safety, having been one of the first automakers to include standard all-wheel-drive on the majority of its vehicles. Pair that with the ability to sharply cut through curves and zip around corners while riding on a turbocharged 268-horsepower four-cylinder engine, as is the case with the Subaru WRX, and it's a match made in street-racing heaven. Purists may scoff to find this car among our picks for best sports cars under $40,000 because yes, the WRX is technically a sedan. But it sure doesn't act like one. A few minutes behind the wheel is all it takes for you to understand why. New Subaru WRXs have a base price of $27,500, but higher-trim models like the sporty STI edition go for more than $40,000. You'll find the same car used somewhere in the low $20,000s.

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Subaru WRX

There's no denying that Subaru is one of the world's forerunners when it comes to safety, having been one of the first automakers to include standard all-wheel-drive on the majority of its vehicles. Pair that with the ability to sharply cut through curves and zip around corners while riding on a turbocharged 268-horsepower four-cylinder engine, as is the case with the Subaru WRX, and it's a match made in street-racing heaven. Purists may scoff to find this car among our picks for best sports cars under $40,000 because yes, the WRX is technically a sedan. But it sure doesn't act like one. A few minutes behind the wheel is all it takes for you to understand why. New Subaru WRXs have a base price of $27,500, but higher-trim models like the sporty STI edition go for more than $40,000. You'll find the same car used somewhere in the low $20,000s.

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Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Given that it has four doors and ample interior room for five passengers, the all-electric Tesla Model 3 is technically considered a luxury sedan. But in all honesty, that's the case in appearances only. The RWD base model is capable of zipping its way – and oh so silently, too – up to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, with a top speed of 140 mph, while upper trim AWD Long Range and Performance editions make it to 60 mph in 4.2 and 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 145 mph and 162 mph , respectively. With those acceleration times, the Model 3 is able to keep up with – if not outrun altogether – most every mass-produced sports car on the road these days. With a sleek, minimalistic interior that sports a 14-speaker sound system and a 15-inch infotainment display, chances are you'll feel as though you've not only been dropped into the future but that you've hit the ground running, too. New base model Model 3s start at just under $40,000, but you can find used models of the more deluxe Model 3 trims for about the same.

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Tesla Model 3

Given that it has four doors and ample interior room for five passengers, the all-electric Tesla Model 3 is technically considered a luxury sedan. But in all honesty, that's the case in appearances only. The RWD base model is capable of zipping its way – and oh so silently, too – up to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, with a top speed of 140 mph, while upper trim AWD Long Range and Performance editions make it to 60 mph in 4.2 and 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 145 mph and 162 mph , respectively. With those acceleration times, the Model 3 is able to keep up with – if not outrun altogether – most every mass-produced sports car on the road these days. With a sleek, minimalistic interior that sports a 14-speaker sound system and a 15-inch infotainment display, chances are you'll feel as though you've not only been dropped into the future but that you've hit the ground running, too. New base model Model 3s start at just under $40,000, but you can find used models of the more deluxe Model 3 trims for about the same.

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Volkswagen GTI

Volkswagen GTI

A sportier take on the Volkswagen Golf, the tiny GTI hatchback – fueled by a turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder, 228-horsepower engine – will most likely knock your socks off. Regardless of whether you go with the six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission, the GTI's pick-up is shockingly swift and impressively obedient. Because it's a hatchback, the GTI is also very practical, thanks to the fact that its cargo area in the back is larger than that of a standard two-seat sports car, whose back seat is usually non-existent. The top-tier Autobahn edition of the GTI – which offers a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker Fender audio are among the features – goes for just shy of $37,000. Used Autobahn GTIs, as well as several other trim editions, on average are priced around $15,000.

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Volkswagen GTI

A sportier take on the Volkswagen Golf, the tiny GTI hatchback – fueled by a turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder, 228-horsepower engine – will most likely knock your socks off. Regardless of whether you go with the six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission, the GTI's pick-up is shockingly swift and impressively obedient. Because it's a hatchback, the GTI is also very practical, thanks to the fact that its cargo area in the back is larger than that of a standard two-seat sports car, whose back seat is usually non-existent. The top-tier Autobahn edition of the GTI – which offers a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker Fender audio are among the features – goes for just shy of $37,000. Used Autobahn GTIs, as well as several other trim editions, on average are priced around $15,000.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team