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Top 5: Budget sports cars
The summer might nearly be over but for us that means it's perfect sports car weather. What could be better than an enjoyable drop top to enjoy a drive on a crisp autumnal morning?
What's more you don't have to break the bank to do it. We've set our maximum budget at just £3,000 - that's not a lot of money for a lot of fun... Click the links to find what cars are currently available on Auto Trader, and don't forget we give you the chance to vote for your favourite from this list at the bottom too.
MGF from around £2,300
One of Britain's most popular roadsters, the MGF is a cracking little car. Being such a big seller there are loads to choose from too, the cheapest easily under our £3k budget. At this price expect mileages to be in the 80-100k category, so look out for cars boasting a full service history. The 1.8-litre engine offers decent performance, its mid-mounted location making for great balance, the result being that the MGF is a tidy handler. Look out for special editions which boosted kit levels and cars that come with the optional hardtop, too. With so many out there you can afford to be picky, and don't worry about servicing and parts supply following MG Rover's demise - there are plenty of specialists and parts are plentiful.
Buy right and you'll have an enjoyable sports car to enjoy all year round, all for less then £3,000.
Fiat Barchetta from around £2,800
This is something of a leftfield choice in this company; quite literally only being offered in left-hand-drive. But just look at it, if style is your priority then the Barchetta is undoubtedly the car of choice here. It's a beautifully proportioned car, the details like the slim chrome door handles and neat rear lights accentuating the Barchetta's neat lines. Unusually for a sports car it's front-wheel-drive, revealing its ties with the Punto hatchback. But don't let that put you off, the 1.8-litre engine is willing and sounds great when pressed and it handles competently, too. What's more its humble hatchback origins mean that parts prices and servicing is very good.
Never selling particularly well here due to its LHD configuration it does mean the Barchetta is a relatively rare car, making it the choice if you're after exclusivity and style.
Alfa Romeo Spider from around £3,000
Alfa Romeo Spider
This Italian classic just scrapes in under our £3k limit meaning you'll not be getting a car in mint condition. However, if you're keen to work on an old car then the Alfa Spider is the choice here. Revamped extensively over its long life the Spider is available in four different guises - from series one through to four. The earlier cars are the most coveted and way beyond our reach here, but a late series 3 or 4 car is possible. Left and right-hand-drive cars with 1.6 and 2.0-litre engines should be available within our budget, a 2.0-litre car preferable for its better performance. An iconic shape, the Alfa Spider will provide plenty of fun on the road over the next few months.
What's more it'll also give you something to spend some time working on in the garage over the winter months. Be warned though, Alfas can have a strange effect on owners; 'Alfaholic' a recognised condition among car enthusiasts...
Mazda MX-5 from around £1,100
The car that revived interest in the small, affordable sports cars is still revered as one of the best. Now available for well under our £3,000 budget there are plenty to choose from out there. Try to search out a British car over an imported Eunos model, and the 1.8-litre version is far more desirable compared to the 1.6. Super reliable, the MX-5 shouldn't present any mechanical problems, and as it's the sort of car owners tend to covet it should come with a comprehensive service history. An absolute joy to drive, everyone should try an MX-5 once in their lives - and at this price we can all afford to.
Suzuki Cappuccino from around £2,100
This miniscule roadster from Japan is built to a size for a reason - to confirm to Japanese K-class micro car dimensions (for lower taxes). But small here means big fun, the tiny Cappuccino offering real driving thrills with its willing 660cc turbocharged, three-cylinder engine. Rear-wheel-drive, like all the best cars here the Cappuccino is a nicely balanced car as able around town as down a favourite country road. Only around 1,100 were ever sold in the UK from '93 onwards in either red or silver. Red cars took around 80% of the sales - cars in any other colours will have been personally imported.
The three-position roof is ingenious, and it's a real giggle to drive, but it's not for everyone: some people just won't fit in it - it really is that small.
Any of our five sports car choices will deliver thrills behind the wheel roof up or down. The Cappuccino is interesting for its relative rarity, as is the Fiat Barchetta that wins here hands down for style. If a true classic is your calling and you're prepared to risk becoming an Alfaholic then the Alfa Spider is the perfect starting point. Ultimately though it'd be between the MX-5 and the MGF for us. Their sheer numbers making finding a decent one in our price range far easier. After all, it's all about getting out there and enjoying them on the road. And when it comes down to the business of driving the MX-5 remains unsurpassed, making it our sub £3,000 sports car recommendation.
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