Whoever said top-notch sports cars were unaffordable for the average Joe hasn’t looked hard enough in the pre-owned market. Sure, there’s a whole other charm driving straight off the showroom, but doing so with iconic brands like Mustang, Camaro, Porsche, and Audi will end up costing you an arm and a leg. In fact, many car enthusiasts specifically opt to look for these lean, mean driving machines in the used market. There are a few reasons for this, but most important is value; many of these cars depreciate quickly. Another reason is the love and care most enthusiast owners show their sports cars compared to more traditional family sedans and SUVs. In the end, while many modern cars end up having long-term issues with some of the bells and whistles associated with electronics, in most cases, engine life is retained for the long haul. When scouring the used market for used cars under $20,000, we find a fair number of options across makes, both foreign and domestic. While some are hallmark brands that offer the very best in engineering like the BMW 3-Series, others offer pure and raw performance like the Mustang GT and the Camaro SS. There are even a few options from an optics perspective with the Jaguar XF and the Porsche Boxster.
FORD FOCUS ST
Ford’s answer to the Honda Civic Si and the Volkswagen GTI was the Focus ST, based on the Focus coupe, which dates back to the late 1990s. The Focus ST is now in its second generation for 2018, and a new one can be picked up for about $25,000. That means you can easily source a low-mileage model, from say… 2015, for significantly less. Armed with a turbocharged and intercooled inline-four, the ST packs over 250 horsepower in a 104-inch wheelbase-sized package. While its 0-60 mph time is nothing to brag about, the ride quality is good, the fuel economy still decent at about 24 mpg in the city, and it has more room than the more diminutive yet zippy Fiesta ST.