Ask any consumer about their favorite sports car and you’ll get a variety of responses, but ask about the best used sports car under $10,000 and you might get a blank look. If you’re in the market for such a car, do you have any idea what you might get for your money? Never fear, we’ve done some of the legwork for you (actually, with a little help from Consumer Reports “Best Used Vehicles for Under $20,000.”

To further refine our choices, we checked Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) pricing for each of these selections. We also add some comments from automotive experts as appropriate. Here, then, is our list of top picks for Best Used Sports Car Under $10,000:

2003-2004 Acura RSXDefinitely go for the Type-S Acura RSX if you’re looking for a budget-priced used sports car under $10,000. Edmunds TMV for the 2003 Type-S is $9,308, and the 2004 version will set you back $10,861 (although you may be able to negotiate it down). Edmunds Inside Line (“10 Great Budget Performance Cars”) says: “The Type-S is the one to go for here; the extra power and 8,000-rpm redline of the VTEC-equipped engine make it vastly more entertaining than the base car…Adding a free-flowing exhaust would add some rip-snort to the RSX’s personality and, if we could afford it, we’d upgrade to a limited-slip differential to improve cornering.”

    2000-2002 BMW Z3This stylish, fun roadster burst on the scene for the 1996 model year to instant – and long-running – popularity, all the way to the end of its run for 2002. Edmunds comments: “As a used sports car, its [BMW Z3’s] more reasonable prices place it within reach of those who may not have been able to afford its lofty pleasures had they attempted to purchase it years ago as a new vehicle. If you’re in the market for a stunning used coupe or convertible that handles even better than it looks, you owe it to yourself to investigate this talented Bimmer.” Edmunds TMV ranges from $7,207-$8,529 (2000), $8,348-$9,512 (2001), and base 2002 2.5i begins at $9,481.

      2001-2003 Mazda MX-5 MiataFor a drop-top roadster that’s been a pure consumer favorite for more than 20 years, consider the 2001-2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Edmunds TMV pricing ranges from $6,022-$7,446 (2001), $7,392-$8,262 (2002), and $8,447-$9,479 for 2003 base and LS models. AOL Autos summarizes: “Many sports cars deliver a lot more performance than the Mazda Miata, but few are more fun. The Miata is far from slow, and its agility measures up with the best for far less money. Like all pure sports cars, the Miata is a recreational implement rather than a transportation device. Practicality doesn’t apply here.”

      2000-2004 Ford MustangNothing comes close to the long-term iconic status and consumer popularity of the original muscle car Ford Mustang. Since its introduction in 1964, Mustang has been sold in coupe and most times in convertible form – and has had an uninterrupted run. In terms of best bang for the used car buck in sports cars, try an eighth-generation (1999-2004) Ford Mustang GT for 2003-2004, with Edmunds TMV ranging from $$7,902-$9,691 (2003 GT coupe/convertible), and 2004 GT coupe from $9,484 (GT Deluxe) to $9,942 (GT Premium). Here’s New Car Test Drive on the 2004: “Mustang GT models are a hoot to drive with their 260-horsepower V8 engines. The Mustang offers good grip when cornering hard, and you can really feel what the car is doing. Just don’t expect sophisticated ride and handling.”

        Other models you may wish to consider for Best Used Sports Car Under $10,000 are the 1998-2002 Chevrolet Z28 Camaro, 1985-1991 Porsche 944 Turbo, and 1990-1996 Nissan 300ZX. Each of these is recommended by Edmunds Inside Line.

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