Who says you have to spend a lot for big horsepower?
$20,000 doesn't buy you a lot these days. For that price the best new performance car that you could get would probably be the Fiesta ST. However, when you think about it, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with less than 200 horsepower is not a ton of car for $20,000. However, what would that money get you on the used market. A V6 perhaps? Maybe 300 horsepower? How about a V8 with around 400 horsepower? We have compiled a list of five V8 cars with around 400 horsepower that you could buy for less than the price of Ford's baby hot hatch.
Today, to get an Audi S6 with a 4.0-liter 450-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 it will cost you $70,900. However, why spend that much when for less than $20,000 you can get the same power? Back in 2003 you could buy the Audi RS6 for $82,000. For that price you got a 4.2-liter V8 with twin-turbochargers making 450 horsepower. Now you can buy this German masterpiece for less than the price of a new Fiesta ST! The new S6 may have a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, much better than the old five-speed automatic in the 2003 RS6, but for around one fourth the price you are getting the same amount of horsepower. Even with the automatic the RS6 could hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Not bad for less than $20,000.
This next car is another great example of why new cars aren't all that. A new Cadillac ATS-V will cost around $60,000 for a base model. For that you will get a 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 464 horsepower. For less than one third of that price you could get a first generation CTS-V. This car was produced from 2004 to 2007 and came with the LS6 V8 from the Z06 Corvette. While this engine may be down 64 horsepower to the new ATS-V it has the advantage of sounding like a V8! Cadillac claims that the turbocharged V6 engines are the future because they are lighter and more efficient. However, the ATS-V gets 23 mpg on the highway, the same as the CTS-V, and weighs around 3,800 lbs which is also the same!
We recently did an article about how the new Chevy SS was one of the most underrated cars of our time. If that's true then the Pontiac GTO must not even have a rating. For $46,000, the SS comes with a 6.2-liter LS3 V8 with 415 horsepower. For around $15,000, the Pontiac GTO has a 6.0-liter LS2 V8 with 400 horsepower. That means your $30,000 is getting you only 15 more horsepower. We get that the GTO is a very different car and only has two doors where the SS has four. The SS also comes with nice features like heated and ventilated seats and navigation. The GTO may not come with fancy equipment, but for less than half the price you might be able to live without them. Just make sure you get a manual!
The new Shelby GT350 is an astonishingly good car. However, the $47,795 can be pushed as high as $80,000 with dealership markups. If you want an insanely fast Mustang but don't want to spend a ton, the SVT Cobra is the best car to buy. In 2003 the Cobra came with the same 4.6-liter supercharged V8 from the F-150 Lightning. The car made 390 horsepower and could hit 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. However, these numbers could easily be increased through simple modifications. The SVT Cobra, also known as the Terminator, could easily be tuned to insane horsepower figures. Like the newest Mustang, the Cobra even came with independent rear suspension. Take that, Europe!
The final car on this list is one of the best. The E39 M5 had a 4.9-liter V8 with 394 horsepower. At the moment you can still buy one of these for less than $20,000. However, good ones are becoming exceedingly rare and expensive, so we suggest you go find one of these as soon as possible. For $66,000 you can buy a new BMW 550i with a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 with 445 horsepower. In three years, you will be lucky if the car is worth half of that. However, if you are willing to shell out the same money for a collector condition E39 we guarantee you will make money when you go to sell it. The E39 was the last of the "pure driving" M5s and prices are starting to soar.