10 Best European Sports Cars For Under ,000

10 Best European Sports Cars For Under $10,000

Europe has forever been the home of true focussed sports cars, offering two-door coupes and convertibles for decades that have sharp handling, rev-happy engines and buckets of charm. Over the last sixty or so years, manufacturers both large and small have been competing in this space to produce engaging little sports cars to be enjoyed on high days and holidays, and naturally the most famous and more favored examples in this bracket command high prices.


It is, however, still possible to snag a used car bargain when shopping for a European sports car, particularly if you’re happy to consider older models and offerings from lesser known brands. So for those looking to step into ownership of such a car, below we shall compare and discuss some of the most affordable entries into cheap sports car ownership.

10 1969 MGB GT – $7,500

10 Best European Sports Cars For Under ,000
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Apart from possibly the original Mini, there is nothing more British in the automotive world than the classic MGB GT – without a doubt this two-door icon is the best entry point to European sports car ownership, with huge owners’ club support groups, fantastic parts availability and of course, affordable pricing.

Hagerty peg $7,500 as a solid price for a good, used example that will be ready to drive away and improve over time, proving that this striking coupe can be had for used commuter prices. There’s certainly a lot more than just the price to enjoy about an MGB too, such as the striking Pininfarina designed body, raspy 1.8-liter engine and massive range of modification parts to truly personalize your car.

Related: RBW Resurrects 1960s MGB Roadsters Into Modern Electric Classic Cars

9 2003 BMW Z4 3.0i – $7,500

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If classic cars aren’t your thing, it may prove more difficult to find a genuine modern sports car within the budget – but not impossible. Remarkably, the ever-popular original BMW Z4 can be had within a modest $10,000 and even with room for change; not only that, but if you’re patient, 3.0-liter examples sometimes slip through the net for a very reasonable price too.

The 3.0-liter is certainly the example to go for, if you can find a nice one, as with 228 hp they are a seriously capable machine, powering from 0 to 62 mph in 5.9 seconds, and it’ll keep going all the way to a (limited) 155 mph too!

8 1978 Porsche 924 – $7,500

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If the Z4 has piqued your interest in prestigious branded German sports cars, then perhaps this next wedge is right up your street too. The Porsche 924 has led a difficult life, often overlooked and left unloved by marque enthusiasts, being dubbed as not a ‘proper’ Porsche.

While it may not have a great engine or blistering performance, it certainly looks the part and has one of the best badges of all adorning the hood – and thanks to its difficult past, good examples can still be found for well within our $10,000 budget.

7 1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500 – $7,800

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Another classic offering from England is the diminutive Triumph Spitfire, a popular roadster that spanned nearly two decades of production with various guises, the final (and cheapest) being the Mark IV 1500 we see here.

Featuring an unusual separate chassis design, tight two-seater cabin and dependable 1.5-liter engine, the Triumph Spitfire took sports cars principles back to basics. With only 72 hp, it won’t set the strip alight, or even get to 60 mph from a standing start in under 10 seconds, but get it up to speed, and it handles like a dream, thanks to its skinny steel wheels and stripped back curb weight of only 1,797 Ibs.

Related: 10 Things Only True Gearheads Know About Triumph And Their Cars

6 1998 Mercedes-Benz SLK 230 – $8,000

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This modern classic is quite a surprising little sports car, which has been trying hard for years to shake its ‘Barbie girl’ image, and be seen as a proper two-seater sports car. If you need some further convincing, it should be of interest to know that the small but mighty SLK 230 hides a 2.3-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine that produces 193 hp, and pushes all the way to 144 mph while achieving 0 – 60 mph in 7.6 seconds. Impressive, right?

Go for a pre-facelift as shown above to save money, and if possible, be patient and find one with a manual gearbox for the best driving experience. Act quickly, though, many examples are selling for over our $10,000 now, and good ones are sure to keep appreciating.

5 1997 BMW Z3 1.9 Convertible – $8,250

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Despite the Z4 being newer, faster and more technologically advanced than the Z3, it’s the older model that commands the premium – especially for six-cylinder variants, which is why we are restricted to the lowly 1.9-liter within our budget (unless you fancy a project).

This just goes to show that modern classics are hot stuff right now, and in serious demand. If you can find a Z3 with chunkier M-Sport bumpers, nice factory wheels and a tasteful color scheme, then you’re sure to be onto a winner. From excellent handling to well proportioned styling, there are plenty of reasons to love the Z3, especially if you’re looking for a budget European sports car.

4 1989 Saab 900 Turbo Convertible – $8,500

Red Saab 900 parked
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Wild card and left-field choices are available in this budget too, and the Saab 900 Turbo certainly fits that bill. In convertible form, the 900 comes in just under budget, with top-end examples creeping out of reach slightly, along with the pricier coupes.

While the 900 doesn’t benefit from sharp and sporty styling, it does make up for it by housing a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, mated to a five-speed manual transmission, so despite the fact it looks more like a comfy cruiser it certainly is a two-door sports car, and belongs on this list every bit as much as the rest.

3 1997 Jaguar XK8 Coupe – $9,000

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Now here’s a surprise. Never expected to find a V8-powered Jaguar coupe in this list, did you? But it’s true – base examples of this gorgeous XK8 model are available within budget, (just) although don’t go expecting to find a supercharged XKR unless you can find an extra $5,000 or so on top.

Not that it matters, as the standard XK8 has the largest displacement engine here with a healthy 4.0-liter V8 that develops 290hp and 290 Ib-ft of torque and if unrestricted, this stylish coupe will top out at a mighty 175 mph. Surely, the most handsome GT car available anywhere for this budget, this is about as cool as it gets for the money!

Related: The Jaguar XK8 Is A Bargain GT Car For Gearheads

2 2004 Audi TT 3.2 Quattro – $10,000

Black Audi TT parked
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Despite only just squeezing into our entry-level budget, the TT is a fantastic example of just how well-rounded a European sports car can be for under $10,000, and is perhaps the most complete offering in this list. A naturally aspirated 250 hp 3.2-liter V6 powers all four wheels and many were equipped with a hugely impressive DSG paddle-shift transmission, which enabled seamless gearshifts, perfect for enthusiastic back road drives.

The handsome styling has aged gracefully for the first-generation TT, and the V6 benefits from more aggressive bumpers front and rear with deep grilles and dual exhausts. Inside is just as special, with leather trimmed Recaro seats, aluminum trim pieces and a snug cabin which holds the driver tight through twists and turns.

1 1986 TVR 280i Convertible – $10,000

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Always save the best ’til last, and as such here is the ultimate sub-$10,000 cheap European sports car – the TVR 280i convertible. A true hand-built two-door from Britain’s craziest car brand with aggressive ’80s wedge styling, rear-wheel drive and an old school 2.8-liter V6 lump under the sloping hood – this is a super-cool convertible that just begs to be driven.

Normally exclusivity relates to expensive, but despite only 4 – 500 convertibles reaching the US, these 280i’s are available for under $10,000, if you can find one for sale, that is. An impressive 160 hp goes straight to the rear wheels, pushing the 280i along to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, so while it isn’t the quickest sports car in the list, it’ll feel more than lively enough thanks to the low seating position and ludicrous soundtrack.

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