In 1989, motoring magazine Quattroruote reported something that shook the motoring world. The Ferrari F40, the Italian supercar manufacturer's last car under the guidance of god-like founder Enzo Ferrari, had rolled out of the Maranello factory in 1987 resplendent in rosso corsa (Ferrari red, to you and me) with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V8 engine and a promise of breaking the 20omph barrier. When Quattroruote became the first publication to confirm the fact, clocking 202.687mph in its test, the F40 officially became the fastest production car in the world.
30 years later, 200mph is still the supercar benchmark. That's 90 meters, almost the length of a football pitch, every second. Unless you commute to work between New York City and Washington DC — let's pretend traffic and cops don't exist — it's unlikely you'll ever get to see the needle hit a three-digit number starting with two on public roads. But that's not the point. A car that can reach 200mph shows that you have reached the big leagues, the pinnacle of what four wheels can do. Your vehicle is no longer just a car. It's a status symbol.
So how much does it cost to hit that magic 200mph mark (or get damn near close enough)? Not as much as you'd think, as it turns out. With a budget of $50,000, we looked at the options just to see how much bang you can get for your buck. If you want to go fast (and cheap, relatively speaking), here are 10 secondhand options with all prices taken from carsforsale.com at the time of writing.
Porsche 911 Turbo (997)
Production: 2006-2013 Top speed: 193mph
If the idea of clambering out of a Lamborghini on Sunset seems a bit gauche, go for a Porsche 911 Turbo. The thinking man's supercar, 911s look sophisticated and serious — and there's no scissor door to knock the Oakley Razor Blades off your head.
Launched in 2004, the 997 addressed the blobby styling of the 996, with the 997 Turbo from 2006 onwards bringing a 3.6-liter flat-six with 473 horsepower and two fancy turbos whose electronically controlled turbine blades adjusted to allow the turbocharger to spool up faster while retaining a smooth power delivery. The result was a car that could stay up with the big Lambos, but with a level of comfort better suited to a luxury coupe. Early 997 Turbos won't get much cheaper now, and if you stump up another $15,000, you'll get a Turbo S, which can hit 196mph.
Porsche 911 Turbo (997) prices on carsforsale.com start at $50,000. The car retailed for $132,800 on release.
Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1
Production: 2009-2013 Top speed: 205mph
Since the ’50s, the Corvette had always been a car far more concerned with looking fast than actually being fast. As long as the driver could rev the engine a bit outside their local drive-thru, it was usually mission accomplished over at Chevy HQ. But in the late ’00s, the Detroit brand decided it wanted to sell sports cars in Europe to people who were more used to Porsches and Maseratis — and this meant making the Vette that little bit more serious.
Not only was the styling sharpened up considerably, the C6 ZR1 was wheeled out as a range-topper, with more horsepower than a Texan livestock show. The ZR1 has a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 638 horsepower — good for a faintly ridiculous top speed of 205mph.
Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 prices on carsforsale.com start at $45,000. The car retailed for $105,000 on release.
BMW M5 (E60)
Production: 2005-2010 Top speed: 155mph*
"Wait a minute," you cry, "the M5 can only hit 155mph!" Well, yes. But more on that later. BMW had gone from a six-cylinder engine to a V8, so the natural progression for the German giant's four-door, which could blitz you round the Nürburgring race track between management meetings, was a monster 5.0-liter V10.
The E60 was the craziest iteration of the M5 we're ever likely to see, with a seven-speed sequential manual gearbox, wide arches, and four tailpipes. Abiding by the gentlemen's agreement in Germany to limit cars to 155mph*, the M5 would hit the buffers midway through full-bore attack mode — but it wasn't long before rumors began circulating that the car was capable of an Autobahn-storming 205mph when delimited.
Packages and remaps emerged that let you shed the electronic reigns, so if you're in the market for an E60 M5, you can do the same for a couple of grand. However, before you go galloping off in your 13-year-old BMW to get it remapped, you'll want to invest in better tires, upgraded brakes, and possibly an entire overhaul of the car to make sure nothing will break. Because Germans don't just make gentlemen's agreements on a whim.
BMW M5 (E60) prices on carsforsale.com start at $14,000. The car retailed for $81,200 on release.
Bentley Continental Flying Spur
Production: 2005-2012 Top speed: 194mph
Things got a bit silly with the Bentley Continental Flying Spur. First, you could argue that it wasn't really a Bentley but a Volkswagen wearing dad's tux to the prom. But second and more importantly, that didn't really matter if getting somewhere fast was your priority because it was really, really quick.
Despite its barge-like proportions, the Flying Spur used its twin-turbo VW W12 engine to propel it to 60mph in 4.5 seconds and on to 194mph. And it depreciated with the same ferocity that it accelerated, losing about $120,000 of its MSRP to a current price of as little as $40,000 used.
Bentley Continental Flying Spur prices on carsforsale.com start at $42,000. The car retailed for $164,990 on release.
Production: 2007-present Top speed: 195mph
What the GT-R has over all of its rivals in this list is the fact it's still available to buy new — same engine, same body, give or take a few tweaks. This means that 11 years after launch, it still looks as fresh and cool as it ever did to my 15-year-old PlayStation-addicted self.
But while some of the GT-R's sheen might have been lost due to endless poor aftermarket modification jobs, the fact remains that this is still one seriously fast car. Way faster than you'd expect a near 2-ton, V6-powered, four-wheel-drive car to be. Expect to hit 60mph in 2.9 seconds and the car won't run out of fire-breathing Godzilla puff until it reaches just shy of 200mph.
Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Production: 2015-present Top speed: 204mph
Driving a Charger SRT Hellcat may have all the kudos of turning up to a Democrat fundraiser with Roseanne Barr as your plus one, but there's no denying the Detroit rocket's outright pace. Whatever the manufacturer says about high-tech, this is pure muscle-car philosophy: big engines make cars go fast.
So you get a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 and enough torque to rotate the Earth off its axis. A mind-boggling 707 horsepower makes it the most powerful sedan in the world. The result is a 204mph top speed and very, very sweaty palms. Bear in mind that a basic 2018 Hellcat costs $69,230 and you realize that around $50,000 will buy you a very new one with a few extras thrown in.
Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat prices on carsforsale.com start at $48,000. The car retailed for $64,990 on release.
Production: 2013-present Top speed: 189mph*
When the Audi A7 arrived in 2010, you could have easily dismissed it as a PR-led attempt by the German carmaker to create a more rakish A6 for the upper-management bro who thought himself a little groovier than the rest. Essentially that's what it was, but very quickly the five-door A7 morphed into something even the raddest equity sales trader might find a bit much.
Topping 2012's already-ballistic S7 was the RS7, a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V8 machine that when fitted with the optional Dynamic Plus Package* would be transformed from a 155mph-limited trundler into a 189mph beast that could hit 62mph in 3.9 seconds — supercar performance, in other words.
Don't expect much in the way of thrills or delicacy, but the RS7 can be found for somewhere around $50,000, with the Dynamic Package cars costing between $5,000 and $10,000 more or an aftermarket delimiting package available at about a quarter of that price.
Audi RS7 prices on carsforsale.com start at $58,000. The car retailed for $104,900 on release.
Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe
Production: 2005-2010 Top speed: 190mph
If any car were a protein shake, it would be the Dodge Viper SRT-10. This 8.3-liter, V10-powered two-seater is designed to look even faster than its 190mph top speed and has more cheap plastic than a dollar store. Oh, and dude, you're also likely to step out of it with your muscle shirt drenched in sweat thanks to a complex exhaust system that crisscrosses just under the seats. The price for all this? Just shy of $50,000.
Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe prices on carsforsale.com start at $48,000. The car retailed for $83,995 on release.
Production: 1994-1999 Top speed: 183mph
That the Ferrari is the slowest of this bunch, and just 14mph faster than a recent Honda Civic Type-R, misses the point entirely. Having created a rare dud with disappointing Testarossa mini-me, the 348, Ferrari went back to the drawing board and evolved it into the F355 — arguably one of its most effective cars in the last quarter century.
Not only was the styling sharper, the whole package was easier to drive, faster, more nimble, and devastatingly wieldable for a small mid-engined sports car, with a V8 soundtrack to die for. It may be 17mph shy of 200mph, but a good one has to be top of the shopping list — because speed isn't everything.
Ferrari F355 prices on carsforsale.com start at $50,000. The car retailed for $120,050 on release.
Production: 2006-2015 (first generation) Top speed: 187mph
Audi celebrated buying Lamborghini in the late ’90s by, uh, building its own rival supercar. In reality, the R8 shared the DNA of the Lamborghini Gallardo but offered it in a slightly cheaper, less showy package — it was the producer's edition to the rapper's Gallardo.
The first R8 had the same basic engine as the RS4 sedan but was lighter and had an exotic mid-engine layout. The good news is this is no supercar of yesteryear that only starts when it feels like it, but rather one that takes tried and tested parts from the VW Group, so reliability comes as standard. For true near-200mph performance, you'll need one with a V10, which will set you back north of $65,000.
Audi R8 prices on carsforsale.com start at $57,000. The car retailed for $109,000 on release.
Production: 2003-2013 Top speed: 192mph
If you can stretch your budget by an extra $25,000, you're in Lamborghini territory. Specifically the Gallardo, the first all-new car to come out of Sant’Agata Bolognese after control was transferred to Audi. Some Lambo purists balked at the lack of scissor doors and the choice of a V10 over a V12, not to mention the fact you could drive it down to the store without needing a new clutch, but the new-gen car became the company's biggest seller thanks to a winning combination of aggressive looks and ease of use.
While it didn't quite have the raw energy of a Ferrari F430 or the all-around effortless performance of a Porsche 911 Turbo, the Gallardo seemed to marry the two to create a car that appealed to everyone from hip-hop stars to the Saint-Tropez jet set (or yacht set). The looks will still be enough to attract a small crowd, and all for the price of a blinged-up custom Apple Watch.
Lamborghini Gallardo prices on carsforsale.com start at $76,000. The car retailed for $165,900 on release.