Five Tips for Choosing a Better Used Sports Car


Let’s start with the obvious. Many of the sports cars we love are too expensive. That leaves many of us shopping for used cars to find something fun.  Here’s what you should remember if you want to get the best performer for your money.

1. Horsepower and Torque Expectations

You would be right to expect the horsepower and torque to be above the 300 mark. In fact, you want it to be in the 400s.  However, even with used cars, it may be hard to find these performers at a price you can afford.  Still, this is what you are aiming for.

2. Weight Matters

Next, you need to know how much it weighs. If your salesperson can’t tell you, the internet will.  Using your calculator on your phone, divide the weight by the horsepower.  That will tell you how many pounds each horse will have to move.  Then pick your dream car and do the same. How do they compare?

A lightweight car doesn’t need as much horsepower to move. Yet many sports cars don’t have a good weight-to-power ratio.  A 3,000-pound car will fly with 300 horsepower.  A 4,000-pound car needs another 100 horses to match.

3. Looks Aren’t Everything

There are some stunning cars that look the part but come up short—very short.  The Toyota 86 and its near-twin, the Subaru BRZ, are good examples.  They are fun to look at. One could even say they were sexy little roadsters.  Still, you cannot base your opinion of a sports car solely on how it looks. If you do, you’ll end up with something that doesn’t have the performance you want.  You’ll be wishing that you had held out for a better ride.

When you get wowed by a sports car, start asking the questions that are covered here.  You may be underwhelmed by the answers. If so, move on. There’s something better around the next corner.

4. Branding Can’t Be Trusted

With the exception of Porsche, most manufacturers tend to make a lower horsepower entry edition for their speediest cars.  More of these are bought due to the price difference. Therefore, more of them trickle down to the used car market.  When shopping, your first question should be, “what trim level is this?”  If it is the base edition, you should immediately find out its weight and get out the calculator.

You can apply this same logic to well-known names like Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro.  Just because they sound fast doesn’t mean they are the best performer you can get for the money.  Likewise, luxury sports cars may not be as fast as their names may sound.

5. Can It Ace the Test Drive?

When you take a used sports car for a test drive, you should ask to take it on the highway. That’s the only way you will have a chance to see what it will do. Beyond that, you should listen to see if the steering whines. You should notice if the steering wheel has to be held a bit crooked to make it go straight.  These are signs that the sports car wasn’t well cared for.  It’s only logical that some of these speedy rides might have been abused by overzealous owners.

What’s the history?

If possible, you want to buy a car whose history you know.  Again, sports cars are bought by people who enjoy driving and love speed. That makes it more likely to have been driven like a racecar.  You want to know that it has been well-maintained. After all, the only way that a speedy car stays speedy is by tending to its every maintenance need!

Now that you know more, get out there and go test driving. Just don’t get sidetracked by the looks or the familiar name. Don’t buy it until you have all the facts, even if it means you have to do the math.