How to buy your first performance car

How to buy your first performance car
How to buy your first performance car

You’ve saved and dreamt long enough. But when you’re ready to buy, where do you start?

For those lucky enough to start living out the dream of buying a high-performance car, things can at first seem daunting. The pile of cash has taken years to save, and the penalties for getting it wrong can see it eroded in an eyeblink.

Yet despite the risks, the sheer excitement of owning a sporty dream car can be undiminished. For those to whom there’s no better time than the present, here are some of the best ways to realise the performance car dream for the first time – without breaking the bank.

Italian supercar

Ferrari 360
A Ferrari 360 is a great way into Italian supercar ownership

How could we not start with the peak dream performance car? The Ferrari 360 is, right now, a great entry point, although since nudging down to £50,000 a few years ago, prices are now starting to rise again. Which is all the more reason to buy one: they can surely only go one way.

Of course, owning one won’t be cheap: servicing alone is at least £500 a year, and quickly rises further when you add in engine belt replacement costs, something you need to do every three years. Then there’s the other costs that come with owning an exotic supercar, which is why owners say you should budget £3000 a year just for maintenance. But what a car to spend it on.

If you want to fork out less than that, you could spend it on a Ferrari Mondial or 348tb, but you’re better of spending it on a Lamborghini Gallardo. It actually feels more modern than the 360, and has the most amazing V10 engine.

Motorsport-spec Porsche 911

Porsche 911
Porsche has motorsports heritage to spare

Porsche prices are also only going one way, particularly the incredible GT3 cars. One of the most collectable is the original 996 GT3, which was launched in 1999. To enthusiasts, it’s a slice of motoring folklore, which could be yours for £60,000 – but, because it has essentials such as an original Porsche ‘Mezger’ flat-six engine, surely will soon start spiralling.

BMW M-car

BMW M Car

Porsches and Ferraris are expensive. BMWs are more affordable, but still brilliant performance cars. One of the finest is the E46 M3, which once cost as little as £5000. It’s going up now, but it’s still worth getting in there, as it’s only going to keep on rising.

That’s because it handles brilliantly, has an outstanding six-cylinder engine and looks sublime even today. The best cost £12,000 and we’d budget from £8000. Just make sure it’s not suffering from a cracked boot floor, and you’ll have a peach of a performance car.

Future classic

The smart money is on identifying cars that one day will be performance classics, but today are just outstanding performance cars in their own right. Cars such as the Lotus Elise, which is starting to gain collectable kudos in original Series 1 guise; we’d thus recommend picking up a bargain Series 2, from around £12,000, before that goes the same way.

Other top tips include two-door Subaru Imprezas. They’re almost certainly imports, such as the Type R, but you can pick up an official P1 if you’re prepared to splash the cash. Again, such is the rarity, price rises are guaranteed.

Nurburgring lap record holder

Honda Civic Type R
The Honda Civic Type R holds the front-wheel drive production car lap record round the Nurburgring

Perhaps the easiest way to get a performance icon on your drive is to pick out a car that’s dominated the Nurburgring recently. Cars that set Nordschleife records are respected amongst enthusiast, which is why the latest Honda Civic Type R, the current front-wheel drive production car record holder, carries such kudos.

If you have a bit more to spend, try an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, or even a Jaguar XE SV Project 8 if you really have a small fortune (and a big slice of good luck) to snare one with. Any of them will instantly secure bragging rights and respect amongst those who know.

Rob Adams

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