$50,000 is a little steep for my blood.
By now, we’ve seen the 2020 Toyota Supra in the sheet metal. We’ve driven it and learned how it was built. We know it’s available with a turbocharged 3.0-liter straight six and a range of cool colors like Nitro Yellow and Renaissance Red, and that’s fine. At $49,990 and up though, the 2020 Toyota Supra is likely a bit steep for some.
But I want a rear-wheel drive sports car, damn it! That got me thinking — what should you buy if you want some oversteering action, but can’t stretch your budget to a new Supra? Fortunately, there are some fine options out there for everyone. I’ve included five new options and five used options to suit a wide range of budgets.
Not to mention I need to hold onto some home that I’ll be able to have a fun rear-wheel drive toy someday.
New choices (Under $50,000)
Naturally, the goal here is to spend a lot less than the $50,000 you would spend on a Supra. The pickings are getting slimmer, since all cars are getting more expensive. However, I feel these five cars are good alternatives that would put a smile on your face like the new Supra would.
Nissan 370Z Sport: $33,820
Yes, I know, the Nissan 370Z is almost old enough to apply for its own driver’s license. Still, the latest in the company’s line of Z cars is still a relatively cheap, few-frills way to a rear-wheel drive sports car.
Under the hood, you get a 3.7-liter V6 engine with 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. While its lack of turbocharging means it’s down on torque, its power figure is pretty close to a Supra. At around 3,400 pounds, it weighs about the same as well.
I would spring for the Sport model, as that nets you a viscous limited-slip differential and some cool-looking aero bits and 19-inch wheels. Even so, splurging a $2,330 over the base model puts you way under the $50,000 asking price for the Supra. That leaves plenty of room for tuning and upgrades, doesn’t it?
Ford Mustang EcoBoost: $26,395
You may still consider it sacrilege to buy a Ford Mustang without a V8 engine. After all, it’s a rip-snorting muscle car – right? Springing for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost changes the car’s nature more toward a sports car than an out-and-out tire-shredder. That said, even the 420 horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 GT is a capable handler in its own right with its MagneRide suspension.
Here’s the thing: You can kit out an EcoBoost-powered Mustang to handle for a lot cheaper than a brand new Supra. Even though it has a smaller engine, it still puts out 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the Supra, you can also get it with a six-speed Getrag manual transmission.
Spring for the $1,695 MagneRide suspension and the $2,495 EcoBoost performance package, and you have a capable package right out of the box for just a shade over $30,000. The EcoBoost Performance Package includes a 3.55 rear axle, larger 19-inch wheels, larger brakes, heavy-duty front springs, unique chassis tuning and a new rear wing.
Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LT: $26,495
Again, you may think it’s against nature to buy a Camaro with a four-cylinder engine. After driving the new model with the 1LE Track Performance Package, I’m inclined to disagree. Don’t get me wrong, the SS is a hoot with its 455 horsepower 6.2-liter V8.
That said, the 2.0-liter turbo engine with 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque is lighter, so it’s still reasonably quick. The $4,500 1LE package is available past the 1LT trim, and adds Brembo performance brakes, for a start. You also get more heavy-duty cooling, performance suspension, and 20-inch wheels.
Unlike the Mustang, you can still get the Camaro with a V6 engine. That puts the car closer to the Supra on power, with 335 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque.
Dodge Challenger R/T: $34,295+
Now I’m going to shoot myself in the foot by agreeing with the folks who say you do need a V8 Challenger. The SXT trim starts at $27,845 and comes with Fiat Chrysler’s ubiquitous 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine. It puts out 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque. That’s respectable, but the V8-powered R/T is more in line with what people expect from a Challenger.
This is a rear-wheel drive muscle car, and $34,295 gets you a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 375 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. If that’s not enough grunt, you can get the R/T Scat Pack with 485 horsepower and a 6.4-liter Hemi V8. On top of that, you still get a decent amount of technology on board, and a car that still makes a visual statement, even with its age.
Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ: $26,505+
If you aren’t flush enough to run out and grab a new Supra, there’s always its little brother. The Toyota 86 is down on power, offering 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque (with a manual transmission). However, it is still front-engined, still rear-wheel drive, and still fun to drive. What’s more, it’s only half the price.
The Toyota 86 also has a party piece, by way of its low-mounted Boxer engine. Toyota co-developed this car with Subaru, so the horizontally-opposed engine does add a pinch of uniqueness to the equation. The 86’s Subaru-badged cousin is ever so slightly cheaper, starting at $25,795.
Whether you decide to take a walk down the highway of history, or you just don’t want to break the bank, going used also presents an intriguing list of options. I wanted to include a few dirt cheap options that open the door for a bit of tuning, as well as some good options that split the difference between the $50,000 for a new Supra and still getting a decent, fun car.
Porsche Cayman S (987): $30,000+
If you want a balanced rear-wheel drive sports car, it’s tough to fault a Porsche. More specifically, the Cayman offers a good compromise between power and handling, without breaking the bank. Let’s face it, we can’t afford a Supra here, let alone spending a lot more for a 911.
The 987 generation ditches the egg-shaped headlights for a sharper look, and offers up a bit more power. The 3.2-liter flat-six powered Boxster S manages 276 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. Spending around $30,000 gets you a facelifted 2008 model that’s not too long in the tooth. Depending on the mileage, you could spend much more. That said, it’s fairly easy to find a 10-year-old Boxster for a little over half the price of a new Supra.
Honda S2000: $15,000 – $40,000+
When the Honda S2000 went on sale in 2000, it started at $32,000 — about $47,500 in today’s money. Now, almost two decades later, they’re still regularly changing hands for over $20,000. To say this car holds its value well is a massive understatement, and it’s a fun open-top alternative to the Supra, to boot.
2004 and later models have a 2.2-liter VTEC engine, dubbed F22C1, with 240 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Okay, not that impressive, but it revs to over 8,000 RPMs. It also comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, and it’s rear-wheel drive. As it should be.
While you don’t get it standard, the CR version pictured above does have a pretty cool-looking wing.
Mazda RX-8: $9,000+
Believe me, I’d love to say you should consider picking up an FD Mazda RX-7 in lieu of a new Toyota Supra. However, those are quickly gaining value, meaning you’d spend just as much, if not more, than buying a new Supra. So here’s a much less expensive compromise: the Mazda RX-8.
Mazda’s last rotary-powered car uses just 1.3 liters to make 232 horsepower and 159 lb-ft of torque. I would advise going for the manual here, as Mazda detuned the automatic to produce less power than that. Still, there are tuning options out there to get a bit more power, and the RX-8 does weigh a couple hundred pounds less than the new Supra.
There’s just one two-word caveat if you’re looking into buying a Mazda RX-8 — apex seals. That rotary engine offers up a smooth, free-revving experience, but enthusiastic drivers tend to push these cars hard. Hard use and poor maintenance can result in expensive bills, so make sure you know the car’s history as best you can. Bear in mind that rotary engines do burn oil, and they get meh-worthy fuel economy.
Nissan 240SX: $3,000 – $15,000
Yes, this car is practically ancient. However, even against the likes of the 370Z, this is dirt cheap. It’s also not as gawky as the later versions of the 300ZX — although that did have a twin-turbo V6 (that’s also a good option). Despite its age, the 240SX is still a hugely popular rear-wheel drive coupe.
Here’s why: Tuners love these cars. Nissan’s S platform has been a popular choice for drift setups. Even better, there are parts out there to push the 2.4-liter KA24 engine way beyond the 155 horsepower it originally produced. This car is also light, which will multiply the benefit of any power you do add.
And if that’s not enough, you’re saving so much money here you can always swap the engine. Maybe live a little bit of that LS life?
Pontiac GTO: $7,500 to $40,000
I feel this car is underrated, as far as fun rear-wheel drive cars are concerned. The Pontiac GTO is based on the Australian Holden Commodore, complete with a 5.7-liter V8 engine. That makes it good for 350 horsepower, as well as 0-60 times in the 5 to 6-second range. At least when it was new.
You can also find some Pontiac GTOs with a 6.0-liter LS2 V8, which manages 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. Is that enough power for you to forget that you couldn’t afford the Supra? Mind you, that particular GTO isn’t cheap.
The Pontiac GTO is something of an understated muscle coupe. What’s more, you can pretty much have one for whatever price you please. Higher mileage, older examples are around $7,500, while more powerful, rarer and lower-mileage examples can run as high as $40,000.