Cheap is good. Fast is good. Having a fast car that also allows your wallet to be padded by the crispest of singles is a perk that I don’t think any human on the planet would pass up. That’s why last week I asked you to show me the fastest cars you could find under a $5,000 budget. Cheap speed is best speed.

10. 1995 BMW 750iL

The easiest way to make a car faster is to give it a larger engine, and the easiest way to buy a cheap car is to buy a depreciated luxury car, that’s why this BMW 750iL makes so much damn sense. Not only does it have a mammoth V12 engine, but it can cruise at its limited top speed of 155 miles per hour for as long as it takes for the fuel to run out - so probably around 20 minutes.

(Suggested by JayHova)

9. 1989 Ford Mustang GT


Have you ever wanted to be Vanilla Ice? Be honest. No? Alright, that was a long shot. But he did have a cool car in that one video - the same Ford Mustang GT Convertible that we see here. Well, not exactly the same car, although it is a white convertible just like Ice’s because it’s physically impossible to carry his massive ego in anything that doesn’t have a retractable roof. This example is quite formidable in stock trim and can go toe-to-toe with supercars given a modest budget and enough straight road ahead. It’s still as good as it was years ago - maybe even better.

(Suggested by g101010101)

8. 1994 Chevrolet Camaro Z28


When cars are inexpensive, any added feature is a bonus. The fact that this Chevy Camaro Z28 has a convertible top is a feature that should be considered an additional perk if you don’t live in a place where it rains, snows, or sometimes smells funny. The power it possesses won’t win any land speed competitions, but with the insane aftermarket support, this could be one of the fastest ‘verts that ever did ‘vert.

(Suggested by Buzz Killington)

7. 1997 BMW E36 M3


Long-forgotten cars like this BMW E36 M3 are going up in price because people are realizing that the chassis is one of the best to come out of the nostalgia-fest that we call the ‘90s, and power doesn’t really matter all that much anyway because the 155 mph is plenty fast for a relatively light and planted car. Rose-tinted glasses can still be bought cheap, but not for long.

(Suggested by dr861)

6. 2006 Saab 9-3 Aero SportCombi


This Saab 9-3 Aero SportCombi may have relatively small displacement, but it certainly makes up for it. I’ll let Chevy Sonic the Hedgehog explain:

With the rev limiter removed, the 2.8T V6 can hit 155 mph (the same motor in the Opel Vectra VXR). Even Oppo-lock Jalopnik gave a nod to the Saab on the fastest FWD cars list. Bonus- any other car on that list is bought cheap and boy-racer abused, whereas the 9-3 was had from dealerships for rather pricey, and thus typically lived a more sedate first few years. It’s also one of the few cars in this challenge that is not only less than 10 years old, but also on the right side of this millennium.

What’s not to love here? Well, first, it’s a Florida car with a rebuilt title. The claim is that it was in the wrong side of a rear-ender accident (not that there ever is a good side). Plus, being from Florida, one would have to substantiate the claim that the reason for rebuild is truly as stated, and not from spending some time on Bikini Bottom. Second, that driver’s seat has seen some things, man... It’s seen some things. In fact, all those seat leathers look rough. Current bidding is at $2500. Given the rebuilt title and what similar vintage Saab 9-3 Aeros go for, I would fathom that the final sale price will be below $5k.


(Suggested by Chevy Sonic the Hedgehog)

5. 1984 Buick Regal T-Type


Do you want a Buick Grand National but hate the fact that you can never see your kids anymore because they now have to work longer hours? Well, fret no more, as you can get the performance of Buick’s not-so-sleepy sleeper in a package that even the most frugal helicopter dad can afford - the Buick Regal T-Type. It’s the answer to the question: Why pay for filet mignon when Steakums are cheaper and it all ends up in your toilet anyway?

(Suggested by dr861)

4. 2002 BMW 540i


This BMW 540i is one of the best performance bargains in the history of the motorcar. It has a nearly 300-HP 4.4 liter V8 engine that delivers massive amounts of torque through six manual gears or an untold number of automatic ones. Who knows, the number could be infinite. Anyone that has a well-sorted E39 is a person that will always smile when they set off on their morning commute because it’s an event when you press the go-pedal.

(Suggested by northroad1)

3. 1998 Jaguar XJR


This Jaguar XJR is a performance bargain-and-a-half. I’l let Land_Yacht_225 explain:

Among the top depreciating luxury marques is Jaguar, a regal firm from the British Isles with a penchant for leather, beautiful wood, and superchargers. They’ve made some mistakes in the past, but the severe unreliability which they are still marked against for to this day, went out with Windows 95. My submission for you today is a car that encompasses all of Jaguar’s best qualities, and none of it’s worst. This is a 1998 Jaguar XJR. It has a 4.0L Supercharged V8 making 370 horsepower with a limiter at 155mph, like the good Germans have. It has 120,000 miles on the clock and the owner wants only $4,500 - that’s a buy it now price.

(Suggested by Land_Yacht_225)

2. 1993 Nissan 300ZX


In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Nissan decided to make a world-beating car that would have a timeless look and performance on par with anything its rivals were putting out, and they created the Z32 Nissan 300ZX. Although base models like this one were anything but blisteringly quick, they shared chassis and engine designs with the turbo models, making them one hell of a potential powerhouse. Step into this car and you’re entering a world of tire-roasting possibilities.

(Suggested by complexcoordination)

1. 1994 Pontiac Firebird


This Pontiac Firebird had a sordid past, but when you’re buying a car for next to nothing, character can make the difference between a sale and a pass, and this car has it oozing out of every hand-sized panel gap. I’ll let dr861 explain:

You want v8? You want rumble? You want ‘MURICA?! Here it is. The 1994 Pontiac Firebird Formula with the 5.7 V8. Row your own gears as well. This stunning example with an AutoCheck rating of 0, and a mere 17 owners is the dream find. If you want fast (not reliable it won’t do that at all) this is where you start. 275 hp, murderous looks (literally you look like a murderer), what more can you ask for?

(Suggested by dr861)

Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes and makes videos about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world’s cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he’s the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn’t feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.


You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He won’t mind.