Why deny yourself the pleasure of the McLaren experience when on a budget?
You have to love the Brits because if our ears serve us correctly, then Vicki Butler-Henderson can be heard calling a Mk3 Toyota MR2, the (very) not for America Smart Brabus Roadster, and the series II Lotus Elise "cheeky pups." Small and "cheeky" as they may be, Butler-Henderson is using this trio to convince us that it's indeed possible to own a car that's as fun as a McLaren without forking six-figure sums of cash over to an exotic car dealership for the privilege.
Okay so maybe a McLaren is a smidgen more powerful, boasting a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 making anywhere between 533 and 727 horsepower compared to the Toyota's 1.8-liter inline-four, a nearly identical version of that engine inside the Lotus, and an almost laughable 0.7-liter three-cylinder engine for the Smart Roadster.
At least that gets supplemented by a turbocharger that's kept in good shape by an intercooler. Butler-Henderson proposes using each of the three as a McLaren replacement, a sort of placeholder for those who haven't struck the lottery yet and need a fun car to hold them over in the meantime. Each of the three have their engines in the midsection, send power to the rear wheels, and can have their tops removed in order to better enjoy the scenery speeding by around them. Each is also considerably cheaper, but its hard to find an example without a bit of mileage on the clock, to which Butler-Henderson answers by going over the common issues to look for as well as how to remedy them.