So, I am sitting in two feet of snow in DC with another foot to come this week. This, of course, means that I am thinking about the next vehicle to buy in the spring. I need to buy a first class, E ticket rocket for cheap $. I have decided that the next vehicle needs 400HP from the factory. Because I am not a big wig banker, looks like I am going to have to buy used. So here is the thing on which I am hoping to get some insight. What is the least expensive vehicle I can buy that has in excess of 400HP? I have been using KBB’s good trade in ratings, assuming around 10,000 miles/year. So far it looks like a 2000-2002 BMW M5 (around $14K) may fit the bill. It doesn’t have to be a sedan (would love a porsche turbo, but I’m afraid 50K+ is out o’ my league). Are there any 400+HP from the factory cars on which I should focus for less than $14K?
Thanks for your help
Sajeev Mehta replies:
Ever heard of the Terminator Mustang? That’s the 2003-2004 Cobra with 6-speeds, four independently sprung wheels, 32-valves and a big supercharger. It’s the poor man’s Ford GT. The Terminator’s (underrated) power figures were closer to 400 ponies than Ford shall ever admit, with plenty more available from a smaller pulley and ECU reflash. Not only are Terminators in your price range, they’ll stick to your budget for years to come. Once you get over the junk interior and vague steering. Then again, the E39 M5’s tiller is kinda dull: so the money saved on Ford-spec repair bills should go to M5-eating chassis and handling upgrades. Oh yes, you can have your cake and eat it too!
Hmm, a car with 400 horses for about 15 large: can I interest you in a late model V6 Camry with a huge bottle of NOS and a spare transmission in the trunk? Don’t get me wrong, the E39 M5 is the high watermark of modern performance saloons, still besting the average interior and steroid styling of today’s CTS-V. But your budget scrapes the bottom of the M5 barrel, high miles and questionable ownership records makes part and labor concerns even more relevant. It’s decision time, so pick one: be one to bask in the glow of a famous badge, or punish people like that with brute force.
Steve Lang replies:
400 horsepower is just a number. So is 500 pounds torgue. 600 pounds of thrust. 755 home runs (before Barry took to the juice)… and 30,000 pounds of bananas. Unfortunately, horsepower don’t mean a damn thing if the chassis is made out of parts bin remants and the interior is made out of cheap plastic. Please reference any Firebird with the name IROC on it.
But if you’re really looking strictly at the one dimension…buy a 2005 Pontiac GTO in Midnight Blue. It’s got 400 horsepower. It’s affordable to own compared with the BMW. Oh, and it’s not another Mustang.