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10 Cheap, Fast Cars: 150+ MPH on Tap

Cheap, fast cars are out there, but not always easy to recognize. Here are 10 fast cars, ones that can go over 150 mph, that won't break the bank.

2010 Chrysler 300C SRT82010 Chrysler 300C SRT8; (photo/Chrysler)
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As that latest tech hits the automotive industry, what used to be considered very fast in terms of top speed is now considered merely average. But years ago, cars with a top speed exceeding 150 mph were held in the same esteem as cars that can hit the 200mph mark today. Luckily, many of those vehicles that were once the cream of the high-speed crop are now cheap cars.

10 Cheap Fast Cars: 150+ MPH & Don’t Cost a Fortune

Nowadays, there are many vehicles with a top speed in excess of 200 mph. Granted, most of them fall into the realm of limited-run supercars or ridiculously priced hypercars. And unless you own a small (or large) fortune, most of these 200mph monsters are well out of reach.

But before you resign yourself to puttering along at pedestrian speeds, consider that there are plenty of older models that still have plenty of get-up-and-go. These 10 cars are just a handful of the best options if you’re looking for a cheap car that can go over 150 mph.

These cars are still relatively inexpensive, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on your budget. If you do a little legwork to find one in good condition (be on the lookout for prior accidents and ask for the maintenance records), you can expect a fun ride with a top speed you can boast about. Because, unless you’re on the autobahn or driving on track, you shouldn’t actually be seeing 150 on the speedometer on public roads, right?

Nissan 300ZX Turbo | Top Speed: 153 MPH

1992 Nissan Fairlady 300ZX twin turbo driving on closed course
Pictured is the “2×2” model, 1992 Fairlady 300ZX twin turbo; (photo/Nissan USA)

Available in the United States from 1990 through 1996, the Nissan 300ZX Turbo was powered by a 3.0L twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine producing 300 horsepower and 283 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph was reported to be in the range of 5.0 to 6.0 seconds. Its peak output of 300 ponies placed it ahead of sports cars like the C4 Corvette, Acura NSX, and the Porsche 944 Turbo. The top speed was electronically limited to 155 mph.

The Z32-Generation represented a complete redesign and a new generation of the 300ZX. The Z32-Generation featured wide and low styling, heavily slanted headlamps, cabin-forward form, and short overhangs. In this era, Nissan used the 300ZX to put forth four-wheel multilink suspensions, super HICAS (High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering), aluminum calipers, and opposing four-piston brakes.

Nissan’s recaptured mojo won Motor Trend’s 1990 Import Car of the Year award and made Car and Driver’s Ten Best list for 7 consecutive years.

1995-2003 BMW 540i | Top Speed: 155 MPH

2002 BMW E39 5 Series; (photo/BMW AG)

Sold in the U.S. between 1995 and 2003, the fourth-generation BMW E39 540i was overshadowed by its big brother, the legendary M5. Notwithstanding, the 540i was powered by the available 4.4L M62 V8 engine. It produces 282 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. Starting in 1998, the M62 was upgraded to produce 291 ponies and 340 pound-feet of torque.

It was also available with a five-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual transmission. The 540i had a 0-to-60 time of 6.1 seconds. It was able to accelerate all the way to an electronically limited 155 mph.

If you want a proper sports sedan with a V8, the one that is leaps and bounds more affordable and cost-effective points to the BMW E39 540i. A diligent search might uncover a V8-powered E39 540i with a six-speed manual gearbox. With fantastic looks and a near-perfect balance of driving dynamics and comfort, the E39 5 Series stirs the soul in so many ways.

2003-2007 Infiniti G35 Coupe | Top Speed: 155 MPH

It isn’t often that a car manages to pull the attention away from the luxury coupe market ruled by German automakers. Produced between 2002 and 2007, the third-generation Infiniti G35 is arguably the best-looking Infiniti ever made.

The G35 Coupe used a 3.5L six-cylinder engine producing 282 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The G35 Coupe could go from 0 to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds. And, it has a top speed of 155 mph.

Although the V35 generation of the Infiniti G35 sedan ended its run in 2006, the coupe version remained in production until 2007. The G35’s aluminum VQ-series engine received an upgrade toward the end of its life. It developed close to 300 horsepower in the “rev-up” edition. A luxurious interior, esteemed performance, consistent reliability, and low maintenance costs amounted to one of the better luxury coupes from this period.

2003-2005 Audi S4 | Top Speed: 155 MPH

red 2003 Audi S4 driving
2003 Audi S4; (photo/Audi AG)

The third-generation B6 platform Audi S4 was produced from 2003 to 2005. A 4.2L V8 engine produces 339-344 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 62 in just 5.6 seconds, and it’s capable of a 155mph top speed.

With such generous power on tap, the B6 S4 could accelerate quickly enough to meet or beat the times of most sports cars. Road tests conducted by American automotive magazines indicated that it could go from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds.

While it is not the sharpest sports sedan of the mid-2000s, it has a thoroughly capable all-wheel-drive system and comes standard with a six-speed manual. Unsurprisingly, the B6 S4 is an utter joy to row through the gears and is a wonderful cruiser, to boot.

1999-2002 Mercedes Benz S600 | Top Speed: 155 MPH

front view Mercedes-Benz S600 V12 W220
Mercedes-Benz S600 V12 W220; (photo/Wikimedia Commons)

As Mercedes-Benz’s flagship sedan, the S-Class consistently showcases the automaker’s best design, tech, and engineering. Equip it with a V12, and the S600 equates to the finest S-Class money could buy.

The fourth-generation Mercedes Benz W220, produced between 1999 and 2006, originally cost $100,000 when it first came out. That price tag has since dropped dramatically, in part due to the operating cost of the vehicle. Parts are very expensive to buy and install. Additionally, reliability is not all that great.

Between 1999 and 2002, the S600 was offered with several engine choices. At the top of the range is a naturally aspirated 5.8L V12 engine. It produces 362 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of twist. That’s about 10% less power than the older V12 engine it replaced.

However, the W220 platform was smaller, lighter, and more efficient than the previous generation W140. The weight savings and improved aerodynamics sufficiently propelled the autobahn-beast S600 from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds. It is electronically limited to 155 mph.

It was rumored that by removing the electronic speed limiter, the S600 could go all the way to 191 mph.

1996-2003 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS | Top Speed: 160 MPH

1996 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS
Polo Green 1996 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS; (photo/Mecum Auctions)

After a 24-year hiatus, Chevrolet offered the Super Sport (SS) badge as an optional performance package for the 1996 SLP Z28. In 1996 and 1997, Chevrolet produced a limited quantity of the Z28 SS that came with the 330-horsepower LT4 small-block V8 engine found in the Corvette. Starting in 1998, GM switched to the aluminum block LS1 used in the Corvette C5. It was rated at 325 horsepower and was built through 2002.

In addition to more power, it has a better brake system, tuned suspension, wider tires, and a custom exhaust. Furthermore, the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS had a 0-to-60 time of 5.1 to 5.2 seconds, depending on the year. It also has a top speed of right about 160 mph.

Owners mention that it is fun to drive, steers precisely, and has a forgiving suspension that can soak up the bumps on rougher roads. Plus, that unmistakable roar of that small block V8 is pure bliss.

1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S | Top Speed: 162 MPH

silver rose 1988 porsche 944 turbo s
1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S painted in Silver Rose; (photo/Porsche AG)

1985 was the year of Reagonomics tax reform, the debut of “Calvin and Hobbes” in newspapers, and the introduction of the New Coke formula. It also was when Porsche launched the 944 Turbo. It had a turbocharged version of the 2.5L engine producing 217 horsepower. That motor turned the 944 into a world-class performance car.

When tested by a major automotive publication, the 1986 944 Turbo achieved a 0-to-60 time of 5.9 seconds. And because it is a Porsche, the perfectly balanced rear-wheel drive sports car handles fabulously.

In 1988, Porsche released a high-performance version called the 944 Turbo S. Its 2.5L intercooled and turbocharged engine produced up to 250 horsepower due to its larger turbocharger. This was sufficient to propel the sports coupe from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds and achieve a top speed of 162 mph.

The potent power plant of the Turbo S became standard equipment for the Turbo from 1989 to the end of its life. In 1989 and later production years, the “S” designation was dropped, and all of the turbocharged models of the 944 included the Turbo S enhancements as standard. However, the M030 suspension package and the Fuchs Club Sport wheels were excluded as standard equipment.

2000-2004 Porsche Boxster S | Top Speed: 162 MPH

yellow 1999 porsche boxster s
2003 Porsche Boxster 986.2; (photo/Porsche AG)

Late 1996 set the stage for the launch of the 1997 Boxster 986. While not as glamorous as the legendary 911, the Porsche Boxster S is not anywhere near as expensive either. The first-generation Boxster received a major update in 1999 for the 2000 model year — featuring a bigger base engine and a more powerful S model.

The Boxster S is powered by a naturally aspirated 3.2L six-cylinder engine producing 250 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of twist. It has a higher 7,200-rpm redline, able to sprint to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. It can also continue on to its top speed of 162 mph.

In response to the competition from the Mercedes-Benz SLK and BMW Z3, the Boxster S received another refresh from Porsche in 2003. The output of the 3.2L car grew to 258 horsepower and 229 pound-feet.

Above all, it is a fabulous platform that is pure and simple and incredibly fun to drive. The simplicity of the car, together with its lightweight and mid-engine layout, has made it an icon. It’s almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face, no matter the year of 986 you drive.

2006-2010 Chrysler 300C SRT-8 | Top Speed: 173 MPH

2005 chrysler 300c srt8
2005 Chrysler 300C SRT-8; (photo/Chrysler)

Produced between 2003 and 2010 was the first generation of the Chrysler 300C. Powered by a 6.1L HEMI engine producing 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque the Chrysler released the SRT-8 version for the 2006 model year. This was sufficient to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, accelerating all the way to 173 mph.

The “banker’s hot rod” help set itself apart from the standard 300C with several added exterior features. Modified front and rear fascias helped direct airflow around and under the car. Unique ducts helped cool the Brembo four-piston brakes.

A specially designed functional rear decklid spoiler increased downforce by 39% without increasing drag. Plus, the unique SRT-8 badging identified the beastly power hidden underneath its gangsta character.

2004-2006 Pontiac GTO | Top Speed: 175 MPH

blue 2004 pontiac gto
2004 Pontiac GTO; (photo/GM)

Produced between 2004 and 2006, the Pontiac GTO is a rebadged, third-generation Holden Monaro. The same motor that powered the Chevrolet Corvette, a 5.7L LSI V8, is under the hood of the GTO. It was available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic transmission.

In 2005, the LS2 replaced the LS1. The next-gen motor produces 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. GM claimed that with the LS2 engine, the GTO could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds, with a top speed of 175 mph.

In 2004, only 13,569 of 15,728 cars were sold. In 2005, Pontiac added the LS2, together with standard hood scoops and split rear exhaust. But, it offered only 11,069 GTOs for sale. There were 13,948 GTOs produced in 2006, amounting to just over 40,000 fourth-generation GTOs ever made.

Own a Cheap, Fast Car That Can Go Over 150 MPH

You won’t find an abundance of these cars on the used car market. Keep your eyes peeled, though, and you might just score a deal on one of these oldies but goodies. In addition to top-speed bragging rights, you might just find that they also make fabulous all-around daily drivers, too.

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