While most people and their grandmothers are into vehicles with many inches between their bellies and the road, and generous cargo areas behind the seats, such rides will never kill full-blown supercars, like they almost did when it comes to minivans, wagons, mid-size sedans, and other body styles. It’s one thing to use a crossover or an SUV on a daily basis, and a completely different one to jump behind the wheel of a proper driver’s car on a calm weekend morning.
After yesterday’s venture into the world of sub-$30,000 used sports cars, today’s story is about the exotic class. The theoretical budget, in this case, is $100,000, and you’re looking at more fun-to-drive machines, with bigger and more potent engines. If you’re not into blue-blooded vehicles, then you should have your petrolhead license revoked. And with that off our chest, let’s move on to what we think are the best five proposals, presented here in random order.
Preceding the Huracan in the Raging Bull’s lineup as their entry-level supercar, and arguably one of the most exotic recommendations here, the Lamborghini Gallardo’s production spanned between 2004 and 2014. A little over 14,000 of them were made during this time, packing a naturally aspirated V10 behind the seats, with 5.0 liters in the older models, and 5.2 liters in the newer ones. Both rear- and all-wheel drive derivatives were launched, as well as other machines sharing its nuts and bolts, including the Egoista and Sesto Elemento, and the more mature Audi R8.
Before the second-hand market became so crazy these past couple of years, one could land a very affordable Lamborghini Gallardo. How affordable is that? Try in the region of $50,000 for examples that have seen a lot of action, and often a bit less than that. However, the semiconductor crisis, current economic situation, and other factors have left their mark on the value of this once-bargain supercar. Nowadays, you will have to fork out anywhere between $70,000 and $90,000 for one. The best copies tend to change hands for well over $100,000, and if you decide to spend your savings on a Gallardo, then make sure you can afford the maintenance, because it can bankrupt you.
Building on the legacy of its ancestors, like the F355 and 348, and paving the road for the F430, 458, 488, and F8, the Ferrari 360 came at the turn of the millennium. It was styled by Pininfarina, had a rear mid-engine layout, just like its direct rival mentioned above, and came with rear-wheel drive only. A fine six-speed manual was offered next to the automated one, for more engaging track sessions, and if you know a thing or two about Ferrari’s naming scheme back in the day, then you remember what powers it: a 3.6-liter V8.
Just like the Lamborghini Gallardo, the Ferrari 360 used to be an achievable dream until a couple of years ago, when some of the cheapest examples listed for grabs on the used car market fetched between $40,000 and $60,000. Mind you, that’s for the Modena, and not the more track-focused Challenge Stradale, obviously. If you’re patient enough, then you could still get one for a little over $60,000, though the best ones tend to fetch much more than that, reaching the $100k mark, and often exceeding it. Take into consideration the high maintenance when it comes to this model too, as it is very costly to keep in perfect running condition.
We had to bend the rules a bit in order to fit this (still great) British exotic supercar here, as it often tends to exceed the $100,000 price point, albeit not by much. Nonetheless, if you’re patient enough and confident that you can land one for a five-digit sum, then you just might. All you have to do is set alerts to notify you whenever one gets listed for grabs, and hope that it will put smiles on your face for many years, without too many things going bad. Hey, after all, it is a full-blown supercar.
Designed by Frank Stephenson, the man behind the 570S and P1 too, as well as a whole bunch of Ferraris, the MP4-12C was made at Woking, England, from 2011 to 2014. It was McLaren’s first road-legal machine after the iconic F1, and their first car designed and built in-house. Later known as the 12C, it was offered with rear-wheel drive solely, powered by a 3.8-liter V8 bi-turbo mounted in the middle, behind the seats.
The mighty Godzilla may be old, but it’s not older than the aforementioned models. Assembly has been taking place at the Tochigi factory in Japan ever since late 2007, and despite remaining the same bad-to-the-bone machine beneath the skin over the years, Nissan has constantly upgraded it, making the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V6 punchier with every occasion and expanding the family with all sorts of special editions. The mill rests at the front in this case, and it powers all four wheels.
When they initially launched it, almost two decades ago, Nissan marketed it as a Porsche 911 killer, and it could give it a run for its money at that price point. A brand-new Nissan GT-R will set you back a minimum of $113,540 nowadays, before factoring in destination, dealer fees, and options, yet you could turn to the used car market and save some $40,000 to $50,000; after all, who’s gonna know? A later model year, with not that many miles under its belt, will cost you very close to $100,000, and sometimes more.
Sure, it is not the most exotic proposition, but on a $100k budget, you could land a very fine copy that’s bound to make your days more fun. We could tell you about some of the derivatives that are truly worth it, but that could be a story for another time. Right now, we will put the hypothetical spotlight on the 991, which is the previous iteration that left the assembly line four years ago.
Since this is a relatively-modern car, you shouldn’t get your hopes up on scoring a Turbo S, a GT3, or a GT2 RS, as those tend to fetch much more. For nearly $100k, you will have to make do with a Carrera, the S or the 4S, in the coupe or convertible body style. Honestly, even if it is not as exciting to drive as some of the vehicles mentioned above, the 911 could be the smartest choice here. And this comes from someone who’s not really into Porsches.
After a series of unfortunate events put an end to Cristian's dream of entering a custom built & tuned old-school Dacia into a rally competition, he moved on to drive press cars and write for a living. He's worked for several automotive online journals and now he's back at autoevolution after his first tour in the mid-2000s. Full profile
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