AutoGuide Answers: What New or Used Coupe Would You Buy For $50K?

AutoGuide Answers: What New or Used Coupe Would You Buy For $50K?

Do you ever scroll through eBay Motors and Craigslist posts and wonder “what if?” We certainly do, and decided to pitch that question to each of our editors. This week we asked what new or used coupe they would buy with $50,000.

Looking at the weary faces of our editorial staff, coming up with an answer wasn’t easy. Here are their answers. What do you think? Anything you disagree with? What two-door would you get for $50,000? Tell us in the comments below.


Acura NSX – Mike Schlee, Road Test Editor:

“For $50,000, there are probably 100 different cars I would buy. A used Porsche 996 911 Turbo fits within that window, as does a C6 Corvette Z06. But I have a thing for 1990s Japanese sports cars and here is where my attention turns. A Toyota Supra Turbo, Mazda RX-7 Turbo or Nissan 300ZX Turbo; which should I choose?

Ultimately, my choice would be a naturally aspirated supercar for the masses – the Acura NSX. Many early year NSXs in good condition now push upwards of the $50,000 mark across the country. That may seem like a lot of money for a 20-year-old car, but people love this car that’s destined to be a classic and prices for the NSX have actually begun to go up.

With a mid-mounted V6 engine, amazing driving dynamics and an understated but gorgeous exterior, the NSX really made the world of supercars sit up and take notice in 1990. Here was a car that wasn’t just fast, exclusive and fun to drive, but unlike a lot of the European exotics of the time, the NSX was also completely reliable.”

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392

Dodge Challenger SRT 392 – Jodi Lai, Managing Editor:

“What the eff kind of impossibly difficult question is this? $50,000 is a HUGE budget, especially when you bring used cars into the mix. I don’t even know where to begin.

Part of me wants something ridiculous like a Dodge Challenger. A used Porsche Cayman would be the obvious answer to this question, but everyone has one of those. A ridiculous muscle car could be far more entertaining, even if it is an unwieldy beast that’s inefficient and difficult to drive. You can’t get a Hellcat Challenger for under $50,000, but you can get a new SRT 392 for $46,695, which has more power than I’d ever realistically need. Just one trim line below the mighty Hellcat, the SRT 392 is powered by the same HEMI V8, minus the supercharger, and puts out 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque.
The other part of me wants something vintage, like a BMW 2002 Tii Alpina from the late 1960s or early ’70s. For $50,000, that will get me an epic one that’s in mint condition that’s been fully restored and has low mileage and a bunch of upgrades. Or I could get one that’s not an Alpina and a bit shabbier for around $15,000 and use the rest towards restoring it and also get a new Scion FR-S as a daily driver. Is that cheating?”


1952 Hudson Hornet – Craig Cole, Associate Editor:

Hmmm, with 50 grand to spend on a sporty two-door car, what should I choose? I basically have pick of the automotive litter, since this generous budget gives me access to a multitude of options. Should I go with a Cadillac CTS-V or a BMW M3 of the E46 generation? Audi’s S5 is an alluring choice, as is the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. However, I could also snag something like a BOSS 302 Mustang or even a Dodge Charger from the late 1960s, one with 440 big-block power.

But I’m not going to make an obvious selection. C’mon, you know me better than that! Instead I’ve decided to choose something relatively obscure from a manufacturer that disappeared ages ago.

A Hudson Hornet from circa 1952 is a coupe I’ve always lusted after and a machine I’d love to park in my garage. Even today, these over-built beasts look like they’re from the future, graced with slippery, tapering bodies and tasteful design elements.

But underneath that sculpted sheet metal is some serious engineering, real mechanical cleverness that made Hudson unbeatable on the racetrack for many years. These cars were powered by a 308-cubic-inch (5.0-liters for you metric weenies out there) flathead inline-six that provided buckets of power. In fact, with factory-designed “severe usage” components and a little tuning they could put out in excess of 200 hp, serious oomph for a side-valve engine.

When you throw in relatively lightweight construction afforded by the Hornet’s unibody construction and its “step-down styling” that providing a lower center of gravity these cars handled better than any of their peers, a major reason for their motorsports success.


2012/13 Porsche Cayman – Stephen Elmer, News Editor:

“Ever since a brief encounter with the Porsche Cayman two years ago, that car has been on my mind. $50,000 might not get me a brand new Cayman, but that’s OK. I would scoop up a 2012 or 2013 Cayman S. A back-to-basics approach from the famed German sports car maker delivers one of the most connected driving experiences I have ever had.

Everything about this car feels just right. There’s no massive engine under the hood trying to kill you while the blend between comfort and performance is bang on making this a decent cruising car. A gorgeous, contoured steering wheel provides a tactile sensation that helps your hands feel hooked to the wheels.

It’s not the fastest car I could get for $50,000, but it might be the most fun.”

BMW 1M Coupe

2011 BMW 1 M Coupe – Sami Haj-Assaad, Features Editor:

“Maybe it was that Guatemalan Insanity Pepper I had for lunch, but I think of all the cars I would snatch for under $50,000, I’d pick a 2011 BMW 1 M Coupe. There’s at least five of them I found around the country for that price tag, showing just how hot a deal this car is.

While I’d love to own a BMW purely for the ability to change lanes without signalling and to tailgate other drivers, it’s really worth mentioning that this car is already a collectors item just four years after its release. That means if I decide to hold onto it instead of driving it, I can probably make my money back! (Yeah right!)

But of course, this being a BMW M product, the whole point of its existence is to be driven. Sure, its turbocharged straight-six engine makes only 335 hp, but there’s something so satisfying about this driver’s car. Only available with a six-speed manual, the whole car is a swan-song to the enthusiast. It’s fast, hitting 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. It’s good looking, too, in that bubbly kind of way. And its immediately recognizable by the BMW purists out there.

This truth is that thing drives like few other cars out there, and marks the high-point for modern BMWs, making it one number one choice for me under $50,000.”


Toyota Supra – Jason Siu, News Editor:

“If I had $50,000 to spend on a coupe, I’d look for the best condition Toyota Supra Turbo I could find and spend the rest of the money restoring it to a like-new condition. Doing a quick search on Autotrader, there are a few in the $45,000 range, meaning a few thousand left over to either get a really good paint job and body work done, or to refresh the potent 2JZ engine under the hood.

Sure, Toyota is working on a Supra successor, but there are very few Japanese sports cars that demand the same attention the Supra does. Over the years, tuners have easily cranked out over 1,000 hp from the engine and the Supra has become famous thanks to The Fast and the Furious. But there’s a lot more to the car than just high horsepower and straight-line speed – it just has a look that very few cars carry even after all these years.

Now if I really wanted to troll, I would just say the CLA 45 AMG… because technically Mercedes calls it a four-door coupe.”

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  • smartacus

    oooh some good choices here

    i’ve narrowed my list down to three and a half choices maybe you guys can help me?
    2004 911 Turbo / or (996.2) GT3
    2008 Lotus Exige
    2014 Jaguar F-Type R

  • Mike Schlee

    Ohhhh, Exige

  • johnls39 .

    “Now if I really wanted to troll, I would just say the CLA 45 AMG… because technically Mercedes calls it a four-door coupe.”

    That is funny. I like that satire.

  • Craig

    Rare is the NSX that would be worth $50,000. Because it’s value drops like a ton of bricks if it’s not stock.

  • craigcole

    Good choices indeed. However, there’s only one BEST option and it’s the Hudson Hornet.

  • smartacus

    it certainly was a dominant racer with its modern unibody and 210HP inline 6 🙂