5 great roadsters for under $15,000


We’ve been thinking a lot about rear-wheel drive roadsters lately. BMW has finally unveiled the all-new 2019 Z4 Roadster (which shares its underpinnings with the upcoming Toyota Supra) and the two-seater will once again feature a folding soft top. And recently we reviewed the 2019 Mazda Miata, the most powerful and quickest Miata ever, as well as the 2009 Honda S2000 CR, which lit our world with its 8200-rpm redline.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/09/25/5-great-roadsters-for-under-10k


The Sprite you depict isn’t the bug eye and it has roll up windows. It is also much less expensive… don’t forget, it doesn’t have the tilt front end and shares virtually everything except the badges and hubcaps with the MG Midget.


I had an '89 Corvette Convertible for several years, pretty quick, and a lot of fun to drive. Also a lot of compliments from people you’d see out in the world. Remember, most non car people have no idea your pristine C-4 Corvette is only worth $10K or so, to them it’s “a really nice ride” (direct quote from a passerby). The other nice thing about these is they are simple to maintain. No mega dollar routine cam belt changes or pulling the engine to replace the spark plugs…it’s a Chevy. Keep the fluids clean and routine stuff like that, the car is dead reliable. Perfect example: had a friend with a German car about the same age as my Corvette, called one day, his thermostat went south, cost something like $500.00 to repair. I mentioned I’d just changed the thermostat in the Corvette, he said “Wow, what did THAT run you?” I said “$4.00 for the thermostat, $1.00 for the gasket and maybe 30 minutes worth of my time”, silence on the phone .As I said, a lot of fun for little money and few headaches.


Can’t seem get any love around here for the Toyota MR2 Spyder. Fun reliable and inexpensive mid engine fun. Love my 02. John


My 94 XJS red convertible with 17 inch dayton chrome wire wheels cost way less then $15k and looks and runs great. All the XJS models are very affordable in either 6 or 12 cyl versions in ragtop or coupe and are both good looking and quite reliable. My 4.0 liter all aluminum engine has 126,000 miles and I would drive it anywhere. Just took it 200 miles each way to the Hemmings Concourse weekend in Lake George, top down and ac on!


What? Can’t get a good TR6 for $15K? You’re not trying.


Don’t forget the Fiat 850 Sport or the Fiat barchetta - two Italian roadsters that can be purchased for well under $15 000.


I don’t think it will be too long before it starts to get its due. They are fantastic little cars.


The 84-88 Pontiac Fiero has its fans based on the classic car rags I check out. Inexpensive and available parts make could make for a fun ride.


Those C4 Corvettes are popping up on every car auction block you can think of…even some special editions low mile pace cars…but not drawing the dollars signs the owner might have hoped for…not even reaching $10,000 on some auctions…with so many still on the road and so many still on sale in the used car market the demand just isn’t there…the worry of when the bottom falls out was a long time ago…the low cost C5 and C6’s can’t even help the C4…with the new Vette going mid engine and the real reason why we need a 800 hp car from GM…just so these cars can go to the highest bidders and straight off the assembly line into the hands of private collectors… the other 4 I can’t fit in to begin with…


The C4s are performance bargains, no doubt. Even the base coupes had removable “targa” sections above the passengers to make them into semi-open top cars. However, that roof section is structural and held on by four long bolts (a little ratchet tool was included from the factory to remove them). With that top removed the whole chassis feels like a wet noodle with terrible cowl shake. Honestly, a C3 with t-tops has more structural integrity (I’ve owned both). Just a warning, if you want a C4 to enjoy open-topped, get the full convertible, they were reinforced to maintain some structure without the top.

Really nice BMW Z3s can be had for well under $15k these days, too. With a manual transmission and the optional inline 6 they offer stout acceleration and a great sound. These seem to be overlooked by the market, too.


Keep in mind repair costs and parts availability. These cars are senior citizens and will require some attention to maintain reliability. The C4 Corvette would be my first choice. I would also consider a C5 with removable roof as they are in the same price range but give you today’s engineering technology and outstanding reliability.
Repair costs are in line with normal cars and 0 to 60 under 5 sec with a 170 MPH+ top speed puts you close to super car performance.


Might I suggest a C5 Corvette convertible as well. The first convertibles arrived in 1998 and many of them with average mileage can be bought for $10,000 easily. And while I may be biased, I think the C5 is still a beautiful car. And it is leaps and bounds above any generation before it in features, technology, safety, fuel mileage and power.


Fiat 124 Spider. I have a later model. Comes with a 2.0, 4 wheel disc and a 5-speed transmission.


First and foremost been a “Car Guy” since my very first…I was going to say “Car”, but no it started with my first “Mini Bike” my Dad and I put together…probably in the late 50s…oh well; Just picked up my “first” Corvette…everyone in their life time should own a Corvette; didn’t need another car but seen the prices on the C4s, did my “due diligence”, found all the concerns and went out an picked up a beautiful Red (I think every Vette should be Red) 1995 C4. I LOVE THE CAR; it’s a blast to drive, its fairly quick; previous owner put a great sounding “Flowmaster System” on it…I suggest before you quit being a “Car Guy” (for whatever reason) you go out, get yourself a Vett and for the money; the later model C4s or even the C5s as many suggested are/is a great buy.


Reading this article, I felt very lucky to have owned a lot of the cars mentioned. A few weeks ago I sold a 1980 Alfa Romeo Spider, that needed some work. I owned several Triumphs from a TR2-TR8’s, a C3 and 2 C4 Corvettes, one was a low mileage ZR1, a few Jaguars, an XJ6 and a V12 XJS, a 99 Porsche Boxster I sold last March and a few other older cars and pick-ups. By know means am a wealthy guy and never was, I just like cars and found a way to buy them. I would only have 1 classic or fun car at a time, that’s all I could afford and my daily driver. I don’t have any classic cars at this time, but who knows. I wish I would have held on to a few of them. I’m 63, so it took me a while to acquire all of these cars.


Not only have I loved most of these cars for many years, I have published a large book covering most of these models and many more. You can find Daydreams in the Wind: Collectible Open Sports Cars of the Sixties at Amazon.My vote for the best deal of the bunch would be the 1975-96 Corvettes.


Yeah, agree somewhat on this C4. I had an pretty 86 Vette and the owner sold it to me right in the nick of time. Heck, I drove 5 miles down the road after I paid them and the window regulator went out! That was only the beginning, master cylinder, other window regulator broke, hood latch broke, on and on, etc., etc.… Anyway, only stating the C4’s will nickel and dime you to death if you happen to get one that needs this, that and the other. I ended up sinking over 3K into it before I could off-load it. Only good thing about it was I just about broke even on the sale. Moral of the story: Hopefully if you decide to go with this car, you’ll get one that don’t need tons of work as mine did.


LS1 Trans Am convertibles are under 15 Grand these days. Fast , beautiful, easy to maintain, and you’ll rarely see another one driving around.


I Agree. That Sprit is not a Bugeye and it indeed has roll up windows. I have a fully restored 76 Midget with is essentially the same car except for the addition of rubber bumpers and 1.5L Triumph engine. These cars are a lot of fun to dive on country type curvy roads for which they have plenty of power.


After 2 years of restoration work this same junk yard Midget tool 1st place in its class at the British Legends Car Show.