2004 Lotus Esprit

13 Sports Cars for the Middle Class To Buy for Hobby and Investment

Many of us would love to own a sports car, but the price can sometimes be a significant problem in our quest. However, for the middle classes, there are a few more options, some of which provide a sound basis for restoration and an investment for the future.

We think at least 13 of those sports cars are out there, and this list contains those cars.

2023 BMW Z4

2023 BMW Z4
Image Credit: BMW.

The 2023 BMW Z4 provides the best of two worlds. You get a fast and punchy sports car that can drop the roof and enjoy the wind in your hair. The current base model of the Z4 is $54,050 for the Z4 sDrive30i, and under the hood is a 255 hp 2.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

However, if you want something extra, you can opt for the 3.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged six-cylinder, which provides 382 hp. In addition to plenty of power, the 2023 Z4 offers excellent luxury and comfort for a fantastic sports car experience.

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

S550 Ford Mustang
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

If you want to burn rubber and have fun on the drag strip, you can’t go wrong with a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. The new 2024 Mustang generation will not include a GT500, so buying a previous-gen GT500 is an excellent investment, as it will likely become a future classic.

The final GT500 from 2022 provided plenty of power thanks to the 5.2-liter 760 hp and 625 lb-ft of torque supercharged V8 engine, which ensures the coupe launches off the line in an eye-watering fashion. To put the power into context, this was more than the 650 hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE and just shy of the 797 hp Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

Fifth-Generation Toyota GR Supra

2024 Toyota GR Supra
Image Credit: Toyota.

While many see the modern Toyota Supra as a newly clothed version of the BMW Z4, the Toyota sports car has won admiration for its speed and handling prowess. Adding a manual Supra only added to the appeal of the revived sports car.

Under the hood, various turbocharged engines sit, from the 2.0-liter inline-four to the 3.0-liter inline-six, with the Supra producing up to 382 hp. The Supra is the flagship sports car in Toyota’s current range and will likely remain so for a few more years.

Alpine A110

Alpine A110
Image Credit: Alpine/Renault.

The Alpine A110 is often overlooked due to some of the bigger names and more extravagant sports cars on the market. Yet the revived Alpine sports car that arrived in 2017 has received hugely positive reviews from critics and owners alike, and it has gotten better and better as the years have passed.

The top-of-the-range model is the A110R, with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood producing 296 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. But it is arguably the base A110 that provides the best value for money and the most fun. With Alpine expanding into the United States, more and more people will soon experience just how good the A110 is.

Toyota GR86

Toyota GR86
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

The Toyota GR86 is a second-generation model that evolved from the earlier GT86 that Toyota co-developed with Subaru. That partnership also saw Subaru build the BRZ, their version of the GT86. The current GR86 provides some of the best value for money in the sports car world, with the GR86 being great to live with daily and having all the power you need for a daily sports car.

Under the hood, you will find a 2.4-liter flat-four with 231 hp, an increase of around 16 percent over the previous GT86. Peak torque is now developed at a lower rev range of 3,700 rpm from the 6,400 rpm of the GT86. The GR86 now handles better, too, thanks to a stiffer chassis, while an aluminum roof, hood, and front wings lower the center of mass by 1.6mm.

Nissan GT-R

Nissan GT-R Nismo
Image Credit: Nissan.

If you want to splash a bit more cash and get something closer to a supercar, the Nissan GT-R still provides one of the best driving experiences. Under the hood of the 2024 GT-R, you will find a twin-turbocharged V6 engine producing 565 hp and 467 lb-ft of torque, and the starting price is $121,090.

The GT-R still looks as exceptional as the day Nissan launched it, and thanks to the ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system, the GT-R has phenomenal poise and grip as you hurl it through the corners. Nissan is to bid farewell to the GT-R in the not-too-distant future, and we will sorely miss it when it is gone.

Lexus LC500

Lexus LC500h
Image Credit: Tangjunwen CN/WikiCommons.

We all miss the sensational Lexus LFA, but Toyota’s luxury division still has a few performance tricks up its sleeve. The LC500 is arguably the best car currently in the Lexus range, and it is hard to argue with the 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 471 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.

However, as a Lexus, the LC500 also offers a lot of luxury and is, in effect, the spiritual successor to the incredible LFA. For the current LC500, Lexus has introduced a 3.5-liter hybrid version with the LC500H, showing that Lexus intends to keep the car in its range as we move towards an all-electric future.

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
Image Credit: Aston Martin.

Few cars in the world look as good as an Aston Martin, and even in their trickier years, the British company knows how to produce a brilliant performance vehicle. The DBS Superleggera is the perfect example, with some of the biggest power and speed numbers ever seen on an Aston Martin sports car.

A 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12 powers the DBS Superleggera, producing 715 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque, which propels the DBS to a top speed of 211 mph, firmly placing it in supercar territory. But Aston Martin has also worked on the handling to ensure the DBS feels excellent in the corners while retaining the luxury and comfort of a great grand tourer.

Mazda MX-5

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Image Credit: Mazda.

No matter who you are, you can’t go wrong with the fabulous Mazda Miata MX-5 from whatever class or generation. The MX-5 is the quintessential roadster, and each generation seems to get better and better. Mazda has resisted making the MX-5 large and cumbersome, and the current generation is lighter and shorter than the previous one.

Mazda tweaked the MX-5 for the 2023 model year, and under the hood is a 1.5-liter engine producing 130 hp and a 2.0-liter engine producing 181 hp. Whichever version you choose, you are getting one of the best sports cars in the modern world.

Honda S2000

Honda S2000 Ultimate Edition
Image Credit: SAUD AL-OLAYAN/Flickr.

For those who can afford to splash a bit more cash, look no further than the Honda S2000. The Japanese sports car is only rising in value; Honda first produced the S2000 in 1999, with production running until 2009, and despite persistent rumors of a comeback, there has been no new model since.

Under the hood were the F20C and F22C1 inline-four engines, some of the best to ever grace a sports car, producing up to 239 hp. The highlight of the S2000 was its six-speed manual transmission, which provided smooth and crisp gear changes. The sports car performed at its best as the revs increased. It’s a sports car that needs to return to fill a big hole in the Japanese sports car market.

1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato

1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Image Credit: Rex Gray/WikiCommons.

If you fancy something a bit classier and more classical, look no further than the gorgeous 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato. Zagato is famous for its coach-built bodies for existing cars, and Aston Martin has worked with Zagato multiple times over the years.

The Zagato DB4 is shorter and lighter than the regular DB4, with most sold to gentleman racers who used them as daily drivers Monday through Friday before taking them racing at the weekend. Under the hood, each DB4 Zagato had a 3.7-liver double-overhead-cam straight-six engine producing 310 hp. Zagato produced just 19 D4s; one sold for $9,520,000 in 2021.

Lotus Esprit

Lotus Esprit
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

No matter what generation of Esprit you buy, the British sports car is an icon and one of the best-looking vehicles to leave the Hethel factory. Lotus produced over 10,600 examples of the Esprit from 1976 to 2004, and it reached its ultimate form with the Series 4 in 1994. 

Performance gradually increased, from around 148 hp when Lotus first launched the sports car to the twin-turbocharged V8 model that produced 350 hp. The Esprit has the honor of being one of the last cars made with pop-up headlights, along with the Chevrolet C5 Corvette. The last Esprit rolled off the production line on February 20th, 2004, before Lotus shipped it to Chicago.

Lotus Europa

1969 Lotus Europa
Image Credit: Mecum Auctions.

One of Lotus’ best but less well-known models is the stunning Europa. Lotus first took the covers off the Europa in the 1960s, and it had an unusual exterior resembling a bread van, something seen on very few performance cars. But underneath that unusual design was a true Lotus, with a mid-engine layout and an exceptional chassis.

Various engines were available, from the 1.5-liter Renault A1K inline-four to the 1.6-liter Renault 807 inline-four to the 1.6-liter Lotus/Ford DOHC inline-four. The Europa initially produced 63 hp, which rose to 126 hp with the big-valve version of the Lotus/Ford DOHC. Production only ran from 1966 to 1975, and the Europa is now one of the British manufacturer’s rarest products.

Henry Kelsall

Author: Henry Kelsall

Title: Writer

Bio:

Henry has freelanced for over eight years now, mostly in automotive matters, but he has also dabbled in other forms of writing too. He has a lot of love for Japanese classics and American muscle cars, in particular the Honda NSX and first-generation Ford Mustang. When not writing, Henry is often found at classic car events or watching motorsports at home, but he also has a curious passion for steam trains.

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