5 Used Japanese Sports Car Bargains Under $10,000

by Gabrielle DeSantis

With the recent re-emergence of Japanese sports cars like the Acura NSX, Toyota Supra, and now, the Acura Integra, we’re sure there are plenty of enthusiasts daydreaming about owning any one of them. We don’t blame them, as we love the sound of turbochargers, the feeling of high-RPM power, and the thought of reliability all wrapped into one package as much as the next enthusiast. However, those aforementioned cars are very pricey.

For anyone that can’t afford a $50,000 to $100,000 Japanese sports car, there’s always the used car market to turn to. And in doing so, we found that there are plenty of deals to be had for certain popular Japanese platforms. As such, here is a list of five used Japanese sports cars that you can find for less than $10,000.

1. 2007 Mazda Miata – $7000-$9000

2007 Mazda MX5. | (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

A nationwide search on CarGurus reveals that you can still find 2007 Mazda Miatas for around $7,000 to $9,000, depending on the car’s mileage and condition. Hot Cars reports that the 2007 version of the Miata “checks all of the right boxes” when it comes to reliability, handling, and general driving fun. The Miata was updated for the 2007 model year and many of the kinks were worked out from the previous year, making it a good vintage to search for.

2. 2005 Toyota Celica – $3,000-$7,000

2001 Toyota Celica.
2001 Toyota Celica. | (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

The Toyota Celica was canceled after the 2005 model year, which is why we suggest looking for that particular vintage. In its final year, the Celica came in a GT and GT-S trim level. The latter was powered by a high-revving 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that produced 180 hp and 122 lb-ft of torque and can be found with either a four-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.

Those specs might not sound like much by today’s terms, but Edmunds called it a “distinctive and entertaining sport coupe,” which we thoroughly agree. Don’t knock it until you try it. Fortunately, you can still find them in your local classifieds selling for anywhere between $3,000 and $7,000.

3. 2013 Scion FR-S – $9,000

 A Scion FR-S is on display at the Denver Auto Show at the Colorado Convention Center.
A Scion FR-S is on display at the Denver Auto Show at the Colorado Convention Center. | (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

We admit that you might be a little hard-pressed to find a 2013 Scion FR-S for under $10,000, but rest assured that they do exist. The Scion FR-S was the love child that resulted from Toyota and Subaru working together. As such, it has a Subaru engine that produces 200 hp and sends it to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic or manual transmission.

That’s a recipe for a lot of tail-sliding fun in an attractive sports coupe. Just be aware that the FR-S is basically a two-seat car as its rear seat area is very cramped.

4. 2000 Honda Prelude – $2,000-$5,000

The Honda Prelude was around for a couple of decades before it was discontinued after the 2001 model year. A nationwide search on CarGurus revealed that many Preludes are selling for around $2,000-$5,000, which is a bargain for what you get. Sure, it’s front-wheel-drive, but the 2000 Prelude’s 200-hp, 2.2-liter engine is a blast to drive, especially when it’s connected to a five-speed manual transmission.

5. 2005 Acura RSX – $3,000-$9,000

Winner of the Tastiest Tuner award the Acura RSX Type-S onstage during the Spike TV Presents Auto Rox.
Winner of the Tastiest Tuner award the Acura RSX Type-S onstage during the Spike TV Presents Auto Rox. | (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)

Just like the Acura Integra that came before it, the Acura RSX provided plenty of front-wheel-drive fun with its high-revving engines and slick-shifting transmissions. If you’re OK with having a 160 hp, then the base RSX could be for you. However, if you crave the high-RPM fun that Hondas are known for, then we suggest looking for an RSX Type-S. That model came with a 200-hp, 2.0-liter engine paired to a six-speed manual transmission.

Running a nationwide search for any RSX should yield prices below $10,000. However, if you find a really clean one, then you can expect to pay closer to that budget limit.

Used Japanese sports cars can still be found for a bargain

While the re-emergence of some of the most popular Japanese sports cars from the 90s came with higher prices, it doesn’t mean that you need to pay an arm and a leg for some nostalgic fun. Instead, check out CarGurus or your local classifieds to find one of these aforementioned cars. You never know, you might just strike the deal of the century on one.

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