Cheap thrills: fast cars for Aussies on a budget

Rapid Finance on 1 January 2022

Most of us will never experience the true speed potential of our vehicles. Not unless we have access to a racetrack or a disused airstrip. However, there is still prestige in owning a 'fast' car.

There's something special about knowing that the only thing keeping your car from tearing up the tarmac is the speed limit and your good sense.

With that in mind, here are ten cars that you can buy for less than $20k, which are sure to deliver that feeling of 'fizz and energy', even if you never push them to the limit.

Note: Rapid Finance does not in any way endorse driving behaviour which breaches Australian laws, or which could be considered dangerous or unnecessarily risk-inducing. Remember, always play it safe on our roads.

1. 2002 Holden Monaro SV8 V2

2002 Holden Monaro SV8 V2

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The Holden Monaro is one of the quintessential fast and affordable road cars. It's a sports coupe with two doors, a big V8 engine at the front and rear-wheel drive in the back. And, best of all, it's Australian.

While the Monaro SV8 V2 went for around $60k when it was new, you can now pick one up for between $15k and $20k. Do so, and you'll be purchasing more than a fast car, you'll be buying an Aussie icon.

2. 2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI VI MY12.5

2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI VI MY12

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No list of cheap, yet fast cars would be complete without the inclusion of at least one hot hatch. And, there is no hot hatch quite like the granddaddy of them all, the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Shop around and you could find a 5-year-old GTI Mk. VI for less than $20k. Not only will it be fast, but because it's a Golf it will also be practical, easy to park, and not bad when it comes to fuel consumption.

3. 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX G3 AWD MY10

2010 Subaru Impreza WRX G3 AWD MY10

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The Subaru Impreza WRX is known for being a rally car (marginally) stripped-back for everyday driving. It's essentially a practical four-door sedan with huge turbo, bonnet scoop and real racing pedigree.

The WRX is a combination of Japanese electronics, slick body-shape, and turbocharged grunt. It's that combination which has earned the WRX a myriad of fans the world over.

CarPower (when new)Estimated Top Speed*Private Price Guide**

Holden Monaro SV8 V2 (2002)

225 kW

261 km/h

$15,200 - $18,400

Volkswagen Golf GTI VI (2012)

155 kW

240 km/h

$18,400 - $20,600

Subaru Impreza WRX (2010)

195 kW

209 km/h

$17,200 - $19,400

*Estimated top speed based on available data, actual top speeds may vary

**Valuations as per

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4. 2009 Nissan 350Z Touring Z33

2009 Nissan 350Z Touring Z33

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Older Nissan 350Z's can be a real find. While they retailed for around $70k when new, they can now regularly be found for below $20K. And, that sure isn't because they're lacking in power or performance.

The 350Z may not have the refinement of Nissan's German rivals, but for pure grunt and presence, as well as value for money, it's hard to deny that the 350Z is a seriously strong contender.

5. 2011 Ford XR6 Turbo Ute FG

2011 Ford XR6 Turbo Ute FG

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Long a favourite of Australian tradies, the XR6 Turbo Ute brings the power in spades while also retaining the practicality and capacity of a traditional ute. It's a workhorse that isn't afraid to run on Sundays.

Sadly, the last ever XR6 Turbo recently rolled off of Ford's Broadmeadows production line. However, that won't stop you from picking up one of these classic work utes, used, for less than $20k.

6. 2012 Toyota 86 GTS

2012 Toyota 86 GTS

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Okay, admittedly, you'll be lucky to find a Toyota 86 under $20k, and, yes, the 86 isn't the fastest in terms of straight-line speed. It's a great handler, though, and hard to beat when it comes to sheer fun.

The Toyota 86 is known for being one of the most exciting coupes available today, and because it's a Toyota, you know it's built to last. It's sister-car the Subaru BRZ is also a great-value option.

CarPower (when new)Estimated Top SpeedPrivate Price Guide*

Nissan 350Z (2009)

230 kW

249.4 km/h

$17,700 - $20,100

Ford XR6 Turbo Ute (2011)

270 kW

272 km/h

$18,800 - $21,100

Toyota 86 GTS (2012)


226 km/h

$22,100 - $24,500

"The Holden Monaro is one of the quintessential fast and affordable road cars."

7. 2011 Mazda MX-5 MY09

2011 Mazda MX 5 MY09

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The Mazda MX-5 may not be as fast as many of the cars on this list, yet what it lacks in raw speed it more than makes up for in style. It's a compact, convertible rocket, which always looks best in red.

Credited with kicking off the resurgence in two-seater roadsters, the MX-5 delivers a fun and relatively inexpensive option for those who prefer to drive with the top down.

8. 1998 BMW M3 E36

1998 BMW M3 E36

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New BMW M3s retail for well in excess of $100k, therefore if you want one for below 20k, you are most definitely looking at older models. How old? Generally, late 90s or early 00s.

Make sure you do your research, a lot can happen to a car in 17 years, so examine your prospective buy, inside and out. Do so, and you may be able to secure your very own BMW M Series for less than $20k.

CarPower (when new)Estimated Top SpeedPrivate Price Guide*

Mazda MX-5 (2011)



$16,600 - $18,700

BMW M3 E36 (1998)



$14,200 - $17,700

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9. 2010 Ford Falcon XR8 FG

2010 Ford Falcon XR8 FG

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At one time, Australians could be broken up into two distinct groups, aka Ford people and Holden people. It was a rivalry that culminated each year in an ultimate showdown; the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama.

The hero of Bathurst for Ford fans was, of course, the Ford Falcon V8 supercar. The Fold Falcon XR8 shares its DNA with that vehicle, as well as more than a little of its racing pedigree and panache.

10. 2010 Holden Commodore SS VE MY10

2010 Holden Commodore SS VE MY10

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It wouldn't be a list of Australia's favourite fast and affordable cars without a mention of the Holden Commodore SS. Like the V8 Falcon, the V8 Commodore is a classic Australian speed king.

While the standard Commodore is certainly no slouch, for Holden diehards there is only one SS. Shop around, and you could find a well-equipped used model for less than $20k.

CarPower (when new)Estimated Top SpeedPrivate Price Guide*

Ford Falcon XR8 FG (2010)

290 kW

277 km/h

$16,200 - $18,600

Holden Commodore SS VE (2010)


275 km/h

$14,200 - $17,700

"The Ford XR6 Ute is a workhorse that isn't afraid to run on Sundays."

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