21 October 2016

Five sports cars that are cheaper than a Porsche 911 but outperform it

It’s no secret that Porsche 911 values have plateaued. And some model years are now depreciating following their spectacular run-up after the Great Recession. But don’t expect prices to drop to $5,000 any time soon. According to Hagerty’s Valuation Tools, a 1977 Porsche 911S with a whopping 160 hp is still worth more than $16,000 in #3 condition (good).

And this model year is arguably among the least desirable due to its low output, ugly 5-mph bumpers and emissions compromises – take it from this former owner. So what’s a sports car fan to do? Look elsewhere. There are plenty of sports cars that may not enjoy the 911’s humble-brag cache, “Oh, that old Volkswagen?” but are cheaper and actually outperform the German six-cylinder. Here are five, listed alphabetically, for your consideration:

1984-1996 Chevrolet Corvette – The fourth-generation Corvette was the first complete platform redesign since 1963, but the formula remained the same. It featured a big V-8 up front, two seats and rear-wheel drive. Brock Yates praised it in 1983 for being “capable of 140 mph top speeds, 0-to-60 times under seven seconds and 15.2 second quarter-mile forays.” He also commended its braking from 70 mph to a dead stop for besting a Porsche 928. Better yet, every model year that followed the ’84 improved on those stats. And yeah, all but the most perfect and limited production C4s (ZR1s and Grand Sports) are cheaper than 911s.

1990-98 Eagle Talon – If you’re interested in performance, you’re definitely going to want the TSi AWD version. Like its Mitsubishi and Plymouth cousins, the Talon TSi AWD was turbocharged and, as its name suggests, equipped with all-wheel drive that allowed the 195-hp pocket rocket to accelerate to 60 in less than seven seconds and also decreased torque-steer. Skip the automatic though, as it only produced 180 hp. The second generation debuted in 1995 with updated styling and even more power. Although finding a clean, unabused Talon might be tricky, it shouldn’t cost anywhere near a mid-’70s Porsche and will be much more rare too.

1985-91 Mazda RX-7 (FC) – A bit unconventional due to its rotary engine, the naturally aspirated (NA) version of this car initially only produced 146 hp. But updated in 1989, the RX-7 received lighter rotors, better engine management and a higher compression ratio that produced 160 hp in the NA version and 200 hp in the turbocharged model. Four-piston front disc brakes were available on some models, too. The turbo hustled 0-60 in just over 6 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in under 15.

1983-89 Nissan 300ZX (Z31) – The Z31 is a direct evolution of the Datsun 240Z, but it also helped introduce Japan’s first mass-produced V-6, a transition from the inline-6 that the series used until this generation. Like other cars on this list, there were naturally aspirated and turbocharged variants. You’ll want a turbo, and to be honest its performance isn’t much better than a mid-1970s Porsche 911 (although it is better). The entry price, however, is much lower.

1989-99 Toyota MR2 (W20) – Blessed with a mid-engine drivetrain and a naturally aspirated or turbocharged four-cylinder, Automobile compared the previous generation to Ferrari’s 308. A turbocharged MR2 will sprint to 60 mph in about 6.1 seconds, roughly one-and-a-half seconds faster than a mid ’70s Porsche. Additionally, maintenance is far cheaper, and decent examples can be found for less than $10,000.

12 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Bill Conway Austin, TX October 27, 2016 at 14:12
    Sorry, but if any of these five cars would make you happy, you have never spent any time behind the wheel of a 911, on the open road or on a track. Not even close
  • 2
    Clarence Ct October 27, 2016 at 18:30
    The watercooled 911's from 1999 to 2004, have performance that beats your alternates, and are priced right.
  • 3
    Henry Heidinga Ontario, Canada October 27, 2016 at 10:38
    The Chrysler crossfire out performs all of them. 340 HP supercharged with zero to 60 in under 6 seconds sub 15 quarter mile times
  • 4
    Jim South exas October 27, 2016 at 10:40
    Why is the 2006-20010 Saturn Sky Redline not mentioned? About $8,000, 260HP turbocharged, top speed 161 mph, looks great (coupe convertable). 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. Add a Trifecta tune and get another 50 HP
  • 5
    Peter Graham Black Mountain, NC October 27, 2016 at 10:50
    Out-perform? Only in a drag race. How about in the twisties, fuel economy, or even in longevity? And the air (oil) cooled Porsches are only increasing in value! Lets make it a fairer fight and use an 84-89 Carrera and a track like Lime Rock or Road Atlanta to fight your selection of normally aspirated cars as they sit today!
  • 6
    Jose Florida October 27, 2016 at 10:59
    THE MKII MR2, second generation Turbo, especially the 1993-1999 models with improved handling could give any Porsche 911 a good run for it's $$$. Reliable, affordable and inexpensive maintanence and upgrades turns the mid engine Japanese coupe which was way ahead of its time into a great contender. Japanese spec, had 245Hp if I remember correctly, and could easily be tuned into a super reliable 300hp little beast! Still to this day the MR2 Turbo is one if the best midengine sports car ever built. If it came with a Ferrari or a Porsche badge it would wow the phsycological mindset of wealthy car enthusiast and justify it's high price tag when new! But because it wore a Toyota badge, those who have never owned one or driven one modified would dismiss it's price tag and as a wanna be world class performer. Motor Trend's July 1995 issue tested the 95 MR2 Turbo with a top speed of 144mph, with hard wired to your brain handling and impressive all around performance! HAGERTY, it's nice to write up an article like this, but you should reconsider adding agreed value coverage to the MR2 Turbo. I think it's time you did!!! That is the reason I sold mine 9 years ago for $9,200, because no one would insure it for agreed value, and so i bought a Porsche and now own two. Book value then was $2k or so, but the actual enthusiast market was $8k-$10k. Why insure a $9k car so when it is totalled by the insurance co. I would get $2,000? Not smart ,so I sold it ! Now Hagerty insures older Toyota Supras which frankly in performance and looks, the MR2 Turbo outperforms it ! Hope Hagerty reconsiders adding it to their list of cars as many true enthusiast of the MR2 Turbo would line up for a policy!
  • 7
    Charles Maine October 27, 2016 at 23:05
    Why are you comparing mid to late 80's and 90's cars to a 70's Porsche? The price? The 84-89 911 Carrera has better stats than any of those cars you just mentioned and it was not turbocharged. 0-60 in 5.3 seconds sounds faster to me than 6.1 for a turbocharged Toyota. If you're going to compare these cars to a previous generation of other cars, why not say so in the headline? And while these cars may be faster than a 70's Porsche, they will not out handle one. Not by a long shot. An Eagle Talon? Put an Eagle Talon and a 70's 911 side by side and guess which one someone is going to pick?
  • 8
    Mark SAN Diego October 27, 2016 at 11:22
    Sure compare one of the more anemic 911s hit hard by smog requirements with cars from the 1990s a full 13 years later and you get a headline that makes the low budget guys feel good. Truth is you remove the smog equipment in a 1977 911 and fix a couple limiting issues and you have a car that outperforms these budget rides and attracts good looking women rather than heffers. Imagine pulling up to the vallet at the hottest venue in town in your 80svette/talon/RX7/300zx, the vallet embarrassingly puts you car way in the back of the garage and you look cheap walking in, the guy with the 911 Turbo pulls up and the vallet says park it right by the front door. The only way to knock a 911 is to say it costs too much, it's still half the price of a Ferrari and has the reliability of a Toyota.
  • 9
    Scott Allred California October 27, 2016 at 12:19
    What? No Viper on this list? It will outrun all of these cars and is also cheaper to buy than a 911.
  • 10
    Bob Mi. October 28, 2016 at 07:41
    Ah yes! But there not a Porsche.
  • 11
    Todd FL December 1, 2016 at 09:03
    How 'bout a Boxster? That's a Porsche, not too far off the power from 911 in any given year, and a quarter the price.
  • 12
    Paul NY December 3, 2016 at 11:15
    To everyone complaining in the comments about how the list wasn't populated by other Porsches - the whole point of the article was to list CHEAPER cars that offered similar performance. So what if they listed newer model cars? The newest car on this list is still around 20 years old. Not everyone will think you are a complete embarrassment if you drive up somewhere in something other than a 911. I actually like Porsches. It's meant to be a fun article, but it's the butt-hurt fanboys that can't take any form of perceived criticism about the brand that suck the joy out of everything.

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