Growing up, many of us wallpapered our bedrooms with posters of Ferrari F40s and Testarossas, Lamborghini Countaches and Diablos, McLaren F1s, Porsche 911s, and of course the NSX. Some of us also lined our bookshelves with large scale models of these automotive legends as well as tiny Hot Wheels replicas of them and promised ourselves to surely own and drive one if not more of them one day when we grew up. Well, now that a couple of decades have passed and those posters are likely occupying a landfill, time has only made all of those cars [we used to dream of driving] even more unobtainable than they were to us when we were 9! However, not all hope is lost. There are still serious sports cars from our youth out there that are obtainable in price, delivering some serious thrills at a bargain and well worth investing in. Here are five vehicles to consider:

2000 – 2001 Acura Integra Type R:

The Integra for many is a car that defined the early years of import tuner culture. The base model Integra was the perfect foundation to start building your dream tuner car. It was sleek, semi-luxurious, quick enough and considered the baby brother to the iconic NSX. However, many that owned the entry-level cars merely swapped the wheels, added a cold air intake system, a rear spoiler and stuck on a few Type R decals on the rear quarter panels, to give their cars the appearance of a more desirable model. But, those that could afford the price difference, didn’t just get a loud paint and decals. They got an upgraded suspension, a 195 horsepower VTEC engine that held the record for most horsepower per liter for a naturally aspirated motor at the time of the car’s introduction, a crisp 5 speed transmission, Limited Slip differential, and bigger brakes. Today, the crème de la crème Integra Type Rs are nearly impossible to find unmolested, but if you want an extremely reliable, super rare and undeniably fun Japanese sports car that will likely yield a decent return should you ever want to sell it, barrier to entry is around $15,000.

Porsche 928 (1978 – 1995):

Allegedly planned by Porsche and feared by many to be the replacement for the aging 911, the Porsche 928 had all of the makings of a superb supercar. But, when debuted, the 928 was greeted by Porsche purists with disdain as, to them, it was everything a Porsche shouldn’t be – a GT car with a powerful water cooled V8 up front, a rear transaxle, and incredibly well balanced handling, and a bit of calm and quiet! However, one drive in a 928 could very well make any 911 lover leave their thoughts about what a proper Porsche should be at the curb. Today, the Porsche 928 is beginning to get the recognition it so rightfully deserved when introduced in 1978, and the prices for prime examples of the most desirable models (GTS and S4) reflect that. However, if you want to invest in an incredible GT cruiser with iconic late 70s German design, great examples of the 928 can be picked up between $15,000 – $20,000.

Mercedes SL500 (1990 – 2002):

The 1990 model Mercedes SL (R129) when introduced had a sticker price higher than what most houses cost and rightfully so; at that time they were the the best grand touring convertibles to ever wear the tri-star badge. Today, the R129 SL500 is still an incredible car to drive with its precise German handling and more than enough power to shame many new sports cars. The SL came with numerous engine options ranging from a 2.8L inline six, to a fire breathing 7.3L AMG V12. While serious collectors are already buying up the AMGs, if you’re looking for thrills on a budget but want precise German engineering, you can’t go wrong with the SL500 powered by Mercedes’ uber-reliable 5.0L V8 which produced more than 300hp. Nice examples can be picked up today for less than $15,000.

1993-98 Mazda RX-7:

The Mazda RX-7 was a monumental achievement for Japanese automotive styling as well as performance. The sequential twin-turbocharger set up on the small 1.3 liter Wankel engine produced a mind-blowing 252 horsepower and maxed out at a screaming 8000 RPM, offering up nearly 200hp per liter. With its nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution, the RX-7 offered a driving experience that is breathtaking, even by today’s standards. The RX-7 was a true Japanese sports car without compromise and if you’re into modifying and personalizing cars, aftermarket upgrades for the car are plentiful. Though it was considered to be priced far too high when new, clean, moderate mileage examples of the early 90s icon can be found today quickly accelerating past a price point of $20,000.

Dodge Viper (1992 – 2002):

Looking back at the late 80s and early 90s, most of the vehicles being produced by American car makers just weren’t worthy of a second look. They were dull in design, lacking in creature comforts and innovation, and notoriously unrefined; an opportunity realized by Japanese manufacturers, which led to the advent of the import tuner counterculture. However, the management at Dodge wanted to prove that America could make an exciting world-class supercar and, in late 1991, the Viper began to drop jaws in showrooms around the world. With a design far ahead of its time and power derived from a Lamborghini inspired V12 engine, the car was beauty and brawn with a hood long enough to land a 737 on! From a performance standpoint, the Viper was certainly worthy of elite status. It could be launched to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds, hit the quarter mile in under 13, and nearly hit one lateral g in corners. The Viper is an American icon and now that it is coming up on classic status, its value is anticipated to steadily climb, making it a solid investment. A brand new viper today can cost more than $100,000, however getting behind the wheel of a first generation model in near mint condition would only set you back about $25,000 – $30,000.

So, if you have a small budget to invest in a car, want thrilling performance, timeless looks and to be able to turn it for a profit down the road, you couldn’t go wrong exploring any of the five cars listed above.

Alyson Yarberry