With 2019 now upon us it’s time to pose that most essential question: will this be the year you finally buy your dream car? The truth is you needn’t wait for your numbers to come up before parking whatever hunk of exotica it is you’ve always longed for on your driveway. The used car market is awash with sports cars and supercars that now cost only a fraction of what they did just a few years ago.
Choose well and your dream car might lose only a small amount of its value in the coming years. Choose expertly and it will not lose any at all, while if you really do your research and identify exactly the right make and model, it will actually earn you money as its value rises.
Of course, it is undeniably true that any sort of performance car will cost a certain amount to run each year in servicing and maintenance – more, certainly, than a conventional family car – but by choosing the right model you will unburden yourself from the most ruinous motoring cost of all; depreciation.
We predict that the five cars listed here have either done all the depreciating they are likely to do, or have only a little way to fall from here. In at least one case you might even expect the car’s value to creep up over time. This is CarGuru’s guide to buying your (surprisingly affordable) dream car.
Alfa Romeo Brera – from £6,000
You’ll need only a short drive in the Alfa Romeo Brera to realise it isn’t quite the lithe, sweetly-balanced sports car it might initially seem to be. With four-wheel drive and a V6 motor up front that in a later life would be put to good use as a super yacht anchor, the Brera is both portly and nose heavy. Alfa Romeo’s 2005 coupe isn’t built to attack apexes, though. It’s actually a grand tourer, designed to deliver you, your significant other and your luggage from point A to point B hundreds of miles away in comfort and style, at speed. A Ferrari for those of us who’ll never be able to afford the real thing, and a bargain from £6000.
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Lotus Elise S2 – from £14,000
The cheapest Lotus Elise you can buy today is not the oldest one. You won’t actually find an original Series 1 Elise for anything less than £20,000, whereas the Series 2 that replaced it in 2001 starts at around £14,000. Eventually, the later model is sure to follow in its forebears footsteps and slowly climb in value. The wilfully stripped-back Lotus Elise driving experience isn’t suited to all tastes, while the body contortion one is required to achieve simply to climb into and out of its cabin does understandably put many people off. Once inside and on the move, though, there’s nothing quite like an Elise. It is the essence of driving rendered in aluminium and fibreglass.
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Porsche Cayman 2.9 – from £18,000
You’ll bag yourself an early Porsche Cayman for a high four-figure sum if you’re not worried about mileage or condition. You will soon spend half as much again on replacement parts and maintenance, though. The key is to search out a post-2009 facelift model with the 2.9-litre engine. It’s way more durable than the earlier 2.7 and 3.4-litre engines and the car that surrounds it is likely to be in a much fitter state, too. With 261bhp the car is plenty quick enough, but it’s the exquisite balance of the chassis and the precision of the steering that makes the Cayman such a joy to drive. It will depreciate a little from here, but only very slowly.
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Maserati GranTurismo – from £20,000
In terms of actual versus perceived value, the Maserati GranTurismo might just be the most deceptive used performance car out there right now. For the price of a top-spec Ford Fiesta ST you could instead by yourself an Italian grand tourer that still looks sensational and that’s powered by one of the most tuneful V8s of recent times. It’ll continue to lose some value from here, but the previous owners will have shouldered the bulk of the depreciation for you. Buying one of these cars today without getting burned is all about finding one that’s been fastidiously maintained. Scrimping on servicing and replacement parts will quickly prove to be a false economy.
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Audi R8 V8 – from £30,000
Thirteen years is how long it has taken for Audi R8 values to slip from £80,000 when new to £30,000 for the earliest cars today. The R8’s depreciation curve has been a steady one, but it’s possible that curve has now levelled out completely and values are no longer falling. The original R8 is so well regarded there’ll always be demand, particularly for manual cars that have been well-cared for. Despite being a mid-engined supercar with upwards of 400bhp the R8 is remarkably usable, but what really sets it apart is the way it tackles a tricky B-road – it feels light and agile, it shrugs off lumps and bumps in the surface and it is perfectly balanced.
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Dan Prosser is a motoring journalist who tests some of the world’s most exciting cars for publications including Pistonheads, Top Gear, Autocar and Evo.
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