Five affordable sports cars to buy now

Last month, we took a look at five muscle cars to buy now. This month, we take up the cause of the elbow-patch, tweed-jacket set with a look at five sports cars. There’s something for nearly everyone on the list: British, Italian and Japanese, V-8, six or four. With only five cars, we probably left out one of your favorite affordable sports cars, so let us hear from you in the comments.

1. 1962-65 Triumph TR4

The TR3 is well-remembered for its bulldog-tough looks, and there are enough TR6s still on the road that they’ve yet to fade from our collective sports-car consciousness. The car in the middle, the TR4, however, just doesn’t seem to resonate as much. Like all TRs, the 4 is rugged and handsome, the big 2.2 liter four has plenty of torque and power, and it’s as tough as a block of granite. The Italian styling courtesy of Giovanni Michelotti is a bit of an acquired taste, but nearly every part is still available. At around $15,000 for a decent driver, it’s one of the better British sports car deals around.

2. 1969-71 Jaguar E-type Series II

OK, it’s not the iconic Series I; get over it! You lose the glass-covered headlights and one carb, but you gain a much more livable car. Series II E-types had better brakes, cooling and options like power steering and A/C. The recent correction in the collector car market hit these cars quite hard. Perfectly nice coupes are now in the low 20s and roadsters in the mid-30s. The rather ungainly 2+2 coupes can be had in the teens – bargain basement prices for what is still a very sexy car.

3. 1967-70 Datsun 2000 Roadster

Most people assume the Datsun 2000 to be a Japanese copy of the MGB – that is, to the extent that these cars register with people at all. Not so! The Datsun actually pre-dates the B, and in 2.0-liter form, it kicks its butt. We’re talking 130 hp versus 96 hp. Datsun roadsters were raced extensively and successfully and their funky good looks with a broad hood scoop and stacked tail lights still look good today. Parts aren’t as easy to find as an MG, but Japanese reliability was top notch even in the 1960s. Chances are you’ll be replacing stuff much less frequently. About $10K will get you a reasonable driver.

4. 1981-82 Triumph TR8

We’ve been waiting in vain for some appreciation on this front to no avail. Yeah, we know they were built at the absolute low point for quality in the British car industry, but any cars left on the road at this point are likely sorted out. The thing that sets the TR8 apart from the other cars on the list is the fact that it has double the number of cylinders of most. The heart of the TR8 is the all aluminum ex-Buick, Olds, Pontiac 215 cubic-inch V-8. The extreme wedge styling looks better as a convertible than a notchback coupe, and the entertainment value of the V-8 can’t be beat for around $12,000.

5. 1982 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce

Fans of the movie “The Graduate” will instantly recognize the basic shape here as the one from the movie. Although it gained big rubber bumpers and Alfa chopped the graceful boat tail off in 1970, this is still a very handsome Italian sports car with a twin-cam motor and a slick-shifting five-speed gearbox. An added bonus is the fact that these cars sport one of the best-designed convertible tops ever. You can find one for around $8,000, and while they’re not as rugged or cheap to maintain as a Triumph, you’ll look like you spent three times as much. We like the ’82 because it’s the only year for the original, relatively unadorned body style and electronic fuel injection.

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