Top five performance bargains

| 30 Oct 2014

Whatever goes up must come down – it's a saying that holds true for most things, including sports cars. For every appreciating classic that increases in value beyond our reach, there's a sports car hitting the bottom of its depreciation curve – and looking mightily tempting as a result.

You have to tread carefully, of course: with great power comes great responsibility, and big bills. But bargains still exist if you carry out due diligence and buy wisely.

Here's our round-up of the top five performance bargains. 


 Budget Ferraris have long been derided by Tifosi, none more so than the Mondial, which hit the showrooms in 1980.  The first models were horribly underpowered, offering just 214bhp, but hat wasn't the worst of it – the initial batch of cars was poorly received by the press and quickly gained a reputation for mechanical problems. 

It sounds a damning report of a bargain supercar so far, but take heart – the problems suffered by early cars and the reputation for poor build quality has resulted in low demand, even for later versions.

It's the original Mondial's replacement – the 3.2 – that offers the best value for money. The uprated engine produces 266bhp in quattrovalvole guise, and is much more reliable thanks to sharing its drivetrain with the 328. 

What should I pay?

Older Ferraris can be a real drain on your resources, so look for an example that has been well maintained throughout its life – preferably by a Ferrari main dealer. Not only will a thick history file give you peace of mind, it will also give you an indication of expected running costs. 

They come up for as little as £20,000 these days, but you'll want to avoid those cars. Doubling your budget to £40,000 will buy a much better example. 

Click here for a list of Mondials currently for sale

Ferrari Mondial


If you're looking for the greatest bang for your buck, look no further than the 3200GT. The car hit the showroom in 1998 and was an immediate success due to its attractive styling and boomerang rear lights, but also because it packed a 3.2-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine capable of producing a whopping 365bhp. 

A dizzying top speed of over 170mph and a 0-60mph sprint time of as little as 5.1 seconds makes the Maserati a real screamer, especially in six-speed manual guise, which was available until 2001. 

As with most of the cars on our list, the downside of the 3200GT is the cost of repairs and maintenance. You'll easily get through £2000 a year looking after it, assuming nothing major goes wrong, which is why they come up for sale for less than £10,000. 

What should I pay?

Buying a sub-£10,000 Maserati is a recipe for disaster – don't do it. It will take more like £15,000 to buy a decent car with low mileage and plenty of history. The extra investment will be worth it in the long-run. 

Click here for a list of Maserati 3200GTs currently for sale

Maserati 3200GT


The DB7 was one of Aston Martin's main success stories during the 1990s, its 10-year production run (1994-2004) illustrating its popularity with the motoring public. The Ian Callum-penned grand tourer was an instant hit thanks to its sleek and elegant profile, hiding beautifully the fact that, beneath the skin, it was based on the Jaguar XJ-S. 

The Jaguar DNA was plain to see. The DB7 shared its chassis – as well as a striking resemblance – with Jaguar's XK, along with the same steel unitary construction methods. 

As a result of the Jaguar connection, it lacks the same caché of more expensive Astons, but that didn't put off 7000 of the firm's customers, and nor should it you.

What should I pay?

Prices start at around £15,000 for early 3.2-litre cars, working up to around £40,000 for 5.9-litre V12 models with fewer miles on the clock. There are still plenty of DB7s on the market, so you can afford to be choosy. Opt for a straight-six example and budget around £25,000. 

Click here for a list of Aston Martin DB7s currently for sale

Aston Martin DB7

PORSCHE 911 (993)

The Porsche 911 has set the benchmark against which most aspirational sports cars are measured ever since it came on the scene in 1963. A lot has changed in that time, with the biggest shift taking place in the late '90s, when the traditional air-cooled setup was thrown out in favour of water cooling. 

As the last air-cooled 911, the 993 represents the end of an era for Porsche with many enthusiasts seeing it as the last true 911. Prices have risen as a result, but the 993 is still a bargain buy – especially when you consider than booming values make it a copper-bottomed investment. 

What should I pay? 

A huge spike in values in recent years means that the turbo model hasn't made our list, but the naturally aspirated variants still offer plenty of performance. Prices for private sale early cars start out at around £25,000, and there's so much choice that you shouldn't have to spend a great deal more.

Click here for a list of Porsche 911s currently for sale

Porsche 911 993


Convinced that all 'proper' supercars come from Italy? Think again. The mid-engined NSX caused shockwaves when it was launched in 1990, and the Japanese firm had Ferrari's 328 firmly in its sights. Stunning looks were allied to cutting-edge electronics, making the NSX a technical tour-de-force and potent street car – and more than a match for Maranello's finest.

None other than Ayrton Senna was involved in fine-tuning the suspension, ensuring that the NSX goes as well as it looks. By today's standards, the naturally aspirated 3.0-litre engine isn't powerful enough to be considered a true supercar, but in its day the NSX was right up there. 

The NSX can still be considered a bargain but, with prices on the march, the time to strike is most definitely now. Early cars represent the best value for money and are the most likely to increase in value – owing much to the charm of the pop-up headlights. 

What should I pay?

Prices for early cars start at around the £25,000, and it's these models that present the best investment opportunity. Ten grand more will get you an excellent example, with even more being asked for the very best. The manual transmission offers a more involved driving experience, and should hold its value well. 

Click here for a list of Honda NSXs currently for sale

Honda NSX