Pick up a Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ for just over $10,000.
So-called "enthusiasts" love to beg manufacturers to build lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports cars instead of big SUVs and crossovers, then proceed to make fun of the cars when they are finally built. The 86 twins - the Toyota 86 (formerly the Scion FR-S) and the Subaru BRZ - are far from perfect, but they are fantastic sports cars that people need to learn to stop hating. Yes, a minivan can beat these cars in a drag race, and yes, a turbocharger may help solve the problem, but that doesn't mean we still shouldn't love them and buy them used.
One of the most common complaints for the Toyobaru twins, aside from a lack of power, was the price. Starting at around $26,000 new, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ aren't expensive compared to other new cars, but new cars in general have started to creep out of reach for many young buyers. Fortunately for young enthusiasts, depreciation has really taken a toll on both the Scion and Subaru versions of the 86 platform. Despite being developed by two manufacturers famed for their solid residual values, used FR-S and BRZ prices are now incredibly affordable. We ran a search for both cars, and found prices starting at around $11,000 for higher mileage examples (around 70,000 to 100,000 miles).
A well-optioned, new sports car for $30,000 that can be beaten by a minivan may not sound appealing, but a $10,000 to $15,000 used one doesn't sound like a bad proposition. For this price range, most of the cars we found were first-year 2013 models, though there were a few 2014 and 2015 models sprinkled in there. The Scion FR-S didn't become the Toyota 86 until 2017, so those cars are still a bit more expensive. Luckily, the changes Toyota and Subaru have made to the cars aren't drastic, so its worth saving the money on a used one. The brand new cars have slightly more power, some different suspension tuning, and some interior updates, but no massive changes to power have been made.
Even though these cars are now five years old, they are remarkably similar to brand-new models. The Subaru-built 2.0-liter flat-four engine produces 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, but the car only weights around 2,800 pounds. We found both six-speed automatic and six-speed manual cars in our search, both of which are fine options. We'd push buyers in the direction of the more involving manual, but the automatic does a fine job of not killing the fun. Even without a lot of power, the 86 twins are a blast to drive thanks to some of the most communicative steering found in any car at any price. Even BMW's M Division could learn a thing or two about steering feel from the 86 cars.
These are certainly not luxury cars, but even on this affordable budget we managed to find plenty of higher trim cars with push-button start and upgraded head units with navigation. The back seats may be downright unusable, but just fold those suckers down to carry tires for your next track day. With the money you save over buying a new one, you'll be able to afford a nice supercharger or turbocharger kit to help make you the envy of everyone at the autocross event.