If you want to drive fast and lose as little money as possible, these are the cars to choose from.
On average, a car's value will depreciate by 49.6 percent over its first five years on the road. For sports cars, that number is typically at 48 percent. Part of that reason is affordability when new, lower production rates than mainstream vehicles, and a niche market. It's no coincidence that most cars on this list can be had from a dealership for under $40,000. Unlike supercars, consumer-level sports cars aren't at the mercy of the collectors market just a decade or two down the line where they can start become valuable again after a large initial depreciation. The critical word there is "can," and while some supercars are all but guaranteed to become collector's items, that market can be fickle. On the other hand, sports cars tend to be used and enjoyed on the road a lot more and have willing customers on the used market just a few years after they initially sold. These are the ones that have been holding their value best over five years in the US.
If the answer is always "Miata," then it stands to reason that there would be a healthy market for used models. The Mazda MX-5 is also a car that tends to be well cared for from the showroom, and then used only at weekends and stored in the garage the rest of the time. It's not until the second or third owner that they tend to become daily drivers, or get modified, and start piling on the miles. It's not higher on the list because there's a lot of them out there, but because so many are kept in good condition for their second owners.
The current Nissan 370Z has been in production for over ten years now with little in the way of updates. However, it's still a capable sports car with a tunable 3.7-liter V6 engine and a healthy aftermarket, which makes it an excellent tuner car for a second owner and probably explains its strong resale value. Whether it will carry on holding its value like this with a new Z model on the horizon is hard to say, but it probably will until the new one starts hitting the used market.
It's not as popular as the Ford Mustang, but the Camaro remains a heavy hitter with American car buyers. The fifth-generation enjoyed a dramatic redesign, but the sixth generation was more of a sharpening up of the Camaro, so both models are holding their price well. Its popularity is what keeps the prices bubbling as second owners are keen to go to the aftermarket for new looks and to beef up performance. Still, it's mainly people that want a slice of modern Americana with sharp handling and plenty of power that's keeping the momentum going.
It's a curiosity that the Subaru BRZ is on the list while its twin, the Toyota 86, doesn't quite make it. This is speculation, but we suspect it largely comes down to the Subaru hardcore wanting the badge to go with the brand's traditional boxer engine configuration. Those Subaru fans also prefer a manual transmission compared to Toyota 86 buyers. In 2018 only 33 percent of 86 models were sold with a manual compared to the Subaru BRZs 78 percent. That's also higher than the MX-5's take rate of 76 percent.
When the Dodge Challenger made its comeback with its heavy retro styling, many people thought it was a fad that would go away quickly. However, 12 years later, it remains a solid staple on the roads, and people are happy to pay for used models - despite plenty being out there. The fact gas prices have held steady is a factor, along with a loyal following, competitive pricing, excellent straight-line performance, and bold yet timeless styling.
America's most popular pony car also holds its value better than its direct competition. The Mustang boasts a vast aftermarket for second owners to take advantage of, but the used market also offers a less expensive way into the more powerful and sport biased models.
The Mustang model that retains the most value is no surprise. Kelley Blue Book gave its 2019 Best Resale Value Award for a sports car to the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 by valuing it at 58.5 percent of its new price after 3 years and 46.5 percent at 5 years.
A Porsche 911 isn't cheap to drive off the dealer's forecourt in any form but, despite the initial depreciation hit, it holds its value very well. The bottom line is that a 911 is always desirable, whether it's for showing off in the parking lot at work or for exhilarating driving at the weekend. It also has the benefit of being reliable unlike the more highly strung supercars that you find at the next level in performance. Porsche enthusiasts are also a hardcore bunch, and used vehicles have the lowest barrier to entry into the expensive cult of the 911.
The Subaru Impreza WRX is a niche performance car in the fullest sense of the term, and that's also demonstrated in its high take rate of manual transmissions. It eclipsed the Subaru BRZ's 78 percent in 2018 with a whopping 90 percent of owners taking delivery with a manual installed. The fact that enthusiast owners are quick to buy and slow to sell also helps the Impreza WRX hold onto its value longer.
Despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth from enthusiasts wanting the next generation of GT-R to arrive, the current generation is still incredibly popular. Its mix of supercar levels of performance and Japanese sedan levels of reliability make it a smart choice for a used high performance car. In the long run, a well preserved GT-R could start regaining value in decades to come, and is probably the only car on this list that could become a real collectible in base model trim. The GT-R is the most expensive car to buy new on the list with a current start price of $113,540.
The king of the sports cars for resale value is the Porsche 911 coupe, losing only 37.2 percent of its value over five years. Having high-end performance, reliability, and a desirable badge is an unbeatable combination. We predict that the manual Porsche 911 Carrera S models will only help now they are available for the 997 generation. Those will certainly be a desirable option on used models for enthusiasts; in general, however, ticking more options tends to make for a quicker sale later rather than helping to slow down depreciation.
In second and third place, respectively, for the 2019 Best Resale Value Awards for sports cars is the 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman and the 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster. The hardtop Cayman edges out the Boxster with KBB giving the 2019 model a 57.7 percent resale value after three years and 44 percent after five years. The convertible Boxster holds at 43.7 percent after three years and 43.3 percent after 60 months.