Fast Cheap Cars

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Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX (1990 – 1994)

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Dollar for dollar the first generation Eclipse GSX has the power and performance to blow away its competition. No other car offers so much technology for such little money.

The first generation Eclipse originally came with a 2.0L 190hp turbocharged engine coupled with all wheel drive and four wheel steering.

Simply put, it had the power and performance to keep up with the best of Detroit’s muscle cars.

These days 190hp isn’t considered a lot of power but many performance tuners are able to create a beast by only a few modifications. It doesn’t cost much to take this car to 300hp.

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I remember how impressed I was when first test driving a stock Eclipse turbo in the early 90s. The car felt lightweight and accelerated like it had much more power.

For the price of a Honda Accord you had a car that could easily keep up with a Porsche 911.

The feeling of the turbo pushing you back in your seat is what initially got me hooked to the car.

In the late 90s I bought a used 1991 Eagle Talon TSI. It was basically the same car as the Eclipse GSX except with slightly different body panels.

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A few years later I bought a used 1991 Mitsubishi Galant VR4. Read my experience with that car here.

The bad news is that many owners tend to test the upper limits of the car which can place premature wear on the engine and transmission.

If you’re in the market for a used Eclipse turbo make sure you get the car inspected by a certified mechanic. The cost to replace the transmission can easily surpass the value of the car.


Ford Mustang GT (1979 – 1993)

mustang-gtIf you’re a muscle car fan then you already know the potential of the Ford Mustang.

Fresh from the factory the third generation Mustang GT came with a 5.0L V8 engine producing 225hp and tons of torque.

Though performance wasn’t up to BMW M3 levels, the Mustang was known to blow away the competition in a straight line. It was and still is the perfect recipe for drag racing.

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The Mustang isn’t a complex car with fancy gadgets. This is a no-nonsense car that goes fast, really fast.

Parts are relatively cheap and fixing the car isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg.

The roar of the V8 engine is what muscle cars are all about. There simply is no replacement for displacement.

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While the Mustang GT is a relatively cheap car to buy and maintain, the V8 engine can be quite thirsty especially at full throttle.

You’ll be lucky to get 25 mpg on the highway, and at over 3 dollars a gallon you can be sure most of your hard earned money will be spent at the pump.


Dodge SRT (2003 – 2005)

dodge-neon-srtThough the Dodge SRT looks like your ordinary everyday Neon, it’s anything but ordinary. These are limited edition pocket rockets.

The SRT was made from 2003 to 2005 and came equipped with a 2.4 liter turbocharged engine producing 230 hp.

Independent tests have shown this car produces more than 250 hp. There is only one word to describe this car: fast.

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Though the car weighs in at a hefty 2900 lbs it performs and accelerates like no other car in its class.

The fastest top speed recorded on a stock SRT was 153 mph by Car and Driver Magazine.

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There aren’t many of these cars on the road any longer. If you’re looking to buy a used SRT it will be hard to find one that hasn’t been abused.

The good news is that these cars are relatively cheap to buy on the used car market.


Toyota Supra MK3 Turbo (1986 – 1992)

supra-mk3The Supra MK3 was in production for the 1986 to 1992 model years.

The naturally aspirated model came with a 3.0L 6-cylinder engine producing 200 hp. The turbo engine produced 232 hp.

Most people consider the Toyota Supra as a touring car rather than a sports car because of its relatively large size.

supra-mk3-interior

It’s quite impressive that the 232 hp engine is able to push this car to 60 mph in under 7 seconds with a curb weight of 3400 lbs.

Whether or not you call this a sports car you can’t deny this car is fast, and it looks good too.

The 1989 model year Supra received a minor face lift with its front and rear end looking more smooth and refined.

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When given routine maintenance these cars can be extremely durable.

As with any old turbo car it can be a challenge finding one in good condition.

I can hardly remember the last time I saw an Mk3 Turbo on the road. You’re best bet would be eBay to finding one.


300ZX Z31 Turbo (1984 – 1989)

300zx-z31-turbo2While it never gained traction like its successor, the 300ZX Z31 offered enough power and performance to keep up with most sports cars of its day.

The Z31 Turbo came from the factory with a 3.0L 6-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 205hp.

Weighing in at just under 3000 lbs it wasn’t a light car. But the Z31 was always known for its performance rather than its power.

300zx-z31-interior

300zx-z31-turboIn 1984 Nissan brought out a 50th Anniversary edition which came fully equipped with embroidered leather seats.

It was easily identified by its Anniversary badge and its black and silver color scheme.

In my opinion the Z31 is the most attractive looking car in this list, especially the Anniversary Edition pictured on the right.

These cars are becoming very rare and finding a turbo model in good condition is almost like striking gold.

If you ever come across a pampered Z31 Turbo for sale I suggest you consider taking a test drive.

These cars may one day become a collectible especially the 50th Anniversary Edition model.