Affordable exotics

Posted: January 1, 2007 in Automotive, General, Top List

aston martinSince the day that I discovered an Esprit could be bought for under $20,000 I’ve been interested in other affordable exotics. I’ve decided to start a list of other exotic and rare cars that can be considered affordable.

To make the list:

  • You should be able to buy a running vehicle for under $25k.
  • The car has to have a certain intrinsic rarity. (This is a bit of a judgement call, but in my opinion something like a Porsche 944 doesn’t qualify).

The List

Ferarri 308 GTS/GTB

Ferarri 308Made famous by Magnum P.I., the 308 was introduced as an inexpensive Ferarri in 1975. The car is a mid-engined 3.0L V8 producing 214-240HP (depending on year and model). Available as both a targa topped (GTS) and hard topped (GTB) versions.

12,000 308’s were produced in the ten year production run, so finding one shouldn’t be difficult. Your best bet is to find a pre-1980’s 308 (pre-fuel injection) or a Quattrovalvole version (although the Quattrovalvole cars tend to be more expensive).

The 308 was replaced by the 328 which has similar lines, but increased the engine displacement (and horsepower).

The 308 originally retailed for $50k+, but can be found for around $20k today.

Lotus Turbo Esprit

Lotus EspritThe Esprit became something special in the early 80’s when Lotus added a turbocharger to their 2.2 Liter 4-cylinder engine. Like any exotic, the Esprit is a mid-engine design without a whole lot of room for anything other than a passenger.

The Esprit was built using similar components for its 25 year production run (from the late 1978 through 2004). The first series Esprits tend to have mechanical difficulties, but Lotus had ironed out many of the issued by the early 80’s.

The Esprit was sold as a normally aspirated car into the early 90’s in the european market, however in the US there was only one model to choose from (the more powerful 215 horsepower Turbo Esprit).

Although Lotus built only 10,000 Esprits in 25 years, there are still many that can be found. Your best bet is to find an Esprit between 1983 – 1986 (before fuel injection). Or if you have more cash, look for a 1993 – 1995 car (the best of the breed is the 300 horsepower 1995 S4S). The 1983 Esprit retailed for just under $50k and can be found for $15k today.

Delorean DMC 12

deloreanThe DMC 12 was made famous by the Back to the Future movies. With it’s 0-60 time of 8.8 seconds, you won’t be buying a Delorean to win any races.

The DMC is actually based on the Esprit frame and many of the same suspension components. Unfortunately, with its heaver V6 engine, and stainless steel body the car weighs 500 lbs more than the Esprit.

That said, unlike the Esprit, the average Joe will recognize the Delorean instantly.

There were almost 10,000 DMC 12’s built and they originally retailed for about $25k. Today you can find them for under $15k. Most Deloreans are unpainted stainless steel, however there were many painted vehicles produced from the factory.

Maserati Merak

MerakLike the Ferarri 308, the Merak was Maserati’s entry-level car. The car hosts a mid-engined 190 horsepower V6. The car was introduced in 1974. Starting in 1976, an SS version was introduced a 220 horsepower version.

Interestingly enough, the Merak originaly sold for under $20k, and today you can find a 1976 Merak SS for under $20k.

Other Honorable Cars

A few other vehicles that can be found for under $25k:

  • A late 60’s Jaguar E-Type convertible can be found for under $25k.
  • You can find late 50’s Porsche 356 Speedsters for under $20k, and there are many replicas available for around $15k.
  • Shelby Cobra replicas can be found for as little as $15k (although better replicas are going to be $25k+).
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