Do you have a tight budget and want to find the best used sports car under $20,000? There are some contenders out there that just may be the perfect fit for both your wallet and your needs. But you’ll need to do your legwork to wind up with the best deal.

We’ve done some of the preliminary research for you, using Consumer Reports “Best Used Vehicles for Under $20,000” as a starting point. Then, to check pricing, we used Edmunds True Market Value (TMV). Here, then, is a list of potentials for Best Used Sports Car Under $20,000:

  • 2005-2006 BMW Z4The first-generation BMW Z4 was introduced for 2003 with two roadsters available: the 2.5i and the 3.0i. Updates occurred for 2006, making Z4’s from this year on a better choice. But don’t let that deter you from a 2005 model, especially if price is a big factor. Edmunds remarks: “Even in its basic trim, the first-generation BMW Z4 rewarded drivers with an engaging driving experience. In reviews, editors praised the car’s sharp reflexes and quick acceleration, though the ride could be a bit rough and the steering wasn’t as communicative as some competitors. Edmunds TMV for the 2005 BMW Z4 ranges from $15,416-$17,439. Starting TMV for 2006 models is $18,885 for the 3.0i roadster.
  • 2001-2002 Chevrolet CorvetteWho can think of a sports car without considering a Chevrolet Corvette, a legendary icon and long considered America’s only true sports car? Consumer Guide named the 2001 a Best Buy, saying: “The Chevrolet Corvette is fast, comfortable, and reasonably affordable. Unlike previous models it doesn’t beat you up with a hard ride, and it will cruise quietly at highway speeds…Expensive, but if you like your high-performance sports cars big, bold, and brawny, there’s no better all-around performance value.” Edmunds TMV for 2001 Chevrolet Corvette ranges from $15,765 (base) to $18,620 (Z06 coupe), and $16,341 for base convertible. For 2002, TMV starts around $16,579 and $20,492 for base and Z06 coupe, respectively, and $17,768 for base convertible.”
  • 2005-2007 Ford MustangPony car, muscle car, or affordable sports car – whatever you call the Ford Mustang, you need to seriously consider this car from the Dearborn, Michigan automaker. Completely redesigned for 2005 (the start of its ninth generation), Mustang offers consumers considerable bang for the buck. Edmunds TMV runs the price gamut from $9,001-$14,710 for 2005 Mustang coupe and convertible, to $10,417-$17,230 for 2006 models, and $11,960-$19,324 for 2007 versions. Edmunds remarks, “Ford Mustang wears its heritage like a badge of honor,” and hails the [2007] car’s “solid V8 power in GT models, about as well-mannered as a car with a solid-axle rear suspension can get, slick retro interior, good cabin ergonomics.”
  • 2007-2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata Mazda’s little roadster has won a lot of accolades throughout its 20-year history – all well-deserved. This zippy sports car, in 2008 guise, was named Consumer Reports “Most Fun to Drive,” with editors commenting: “With its balanced handling, quick and precise steering, and crisp-shifting six-speed manual transmission, the Miata is a true sports car.”  Edmunds TMV for the 2007 MX-5 Miata ranges from $13,312-$19,091, while 2008 models go for around $15,722-$21,082.

Of course, you can always go further back with these models – or look for others, including Audi A5, Chevrolet Camaro, Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Nissan 370Z, and Porsche Boxster. Be sure to have any best sports car under $20,000 you’re considering thoroughly inspected by a professional mechanic and obtain a vehicle history report. Many sports cars have been wrung out pretty well. You need to know what you’re getting for your money.

See a list of currently available used cars under $20,000.

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