Currently reading: Best used cars for £50,000 and under
Mustangs, AMGs, near-600bhp SUVs - even in 2024 £50,000 buys you a lot of car

There’s a good reason to get excited by the best used cars for £50,000. 

In a world filled with electric cars that start from £40,000 and the average price of new models generally going in one direction, it’s refreshing to learn that you can still buy into rapid, LEZ-dodging combustion territory for the same price as a Peugeot e-208.

And if it was between that car and the sort of machinery about to grace your eyes, we think it would be a foregone conclusion as to which one would end up on your driveway.

And that’s because £50,000 buys you some of the most nerve-tingling, grin-inducing, ear-pricking thrills from over the last 25 years - one of the best eras in motoring history. 

You’ll find a handful of tenable supercars, high-performance SUVs and a fair selection of desirable coupes that are, right now, on the less expensive rung of the modern-classic appreciation ladder. You can also expect a decent warranty at this level, unless you’re buying privately.

The forthcoming list includes cars with no more than 40,000 miles, raspy and characterful engines, stand-out looks and a distinct lack of batteries, apart from the one that powers the alternator.

The best used cars for £50,000 and under

1. Porsche 911 997 (2004-2013)

These are every bit as outrageously competent and delicate to drive as you'd imagine. Even the basic versions are just fabulous sports cars.

The 997 represented a lot of firsts for Porsche's crowning glory, not least because it came dripping with technology. It was the first Porsche to get its new PDK dual-clutch transmission - a welcome departure from the sluggish tiptronic torque converter that preceded it. It was also the first to have direct injection, torque vectoring and variable geometry turbochargers on (you guessed it) Turbo models, and the first to be offered in 'Sport Classic' guise, which sold out within 48 hours.

But the way it drove made it a datum point in the evolution of what was already a monumental lineage. With a measure of performance and drivability that borders on the freakish, it seemed impossible that Porsche could top it. And that’s before you get to the engines, which range from 3.6-litres in the standard Carrera to the simply astonishing 4.0-litre unit in the GT3 RS.

As a result of this brutally Germanic attention to driveability and desirability, prices remain high and are likely to stay that way. But many are within reach, from Turbos with around 60,000 miles to Targas with less than half that, so you aren't likely to find a dog in the upper reaches of this budget.

But if you do, you'll likely find that the dampers will start to leak - an issue that costs around £1500 to be rectified. Bore scoring has also been reported, which drains the engine’s oil and your wallet’s funds. Finally, make sure the oil itself has been changed twice per year, so it can stand up to the speeds and stresses required of it.

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2. Alpine A110 (2018-present)


Most car journalists from Adelaide to Zurich wax lyrical about the Alpine A110's ability to dance its way down a road. Most talk at great length about the Caterham-esque poise and deftness with which it carries itself, as well as its distinguished, raspy engine note.

We can attest to that. There's a very good reason why this car is one of few that Autocar has awarded five stars, and why our very own Steve Cropley was so impressed that he bought one.

Every significant component on this car, from the turbocharged torque of its engine to the hilariously immersive panache of its handling – is all about having fun.

But what about first-hand experience? Cropley filled us in: “I’ve been running my 21-plate Alpine Pure for two years and am delighted with it - to the extent that I never think of selling. That’s unusual; I don’t always stick with the cars for long. The A110 is special because it’s a delight to drive - not just quick and responsive but also simple and refined.

“It’s also very easy to own. Servicing costs are a fraction of Porsche prices (it’s a Renault) yet it annoys Boxster/Cayman types by sometimes getting more attention than them, on rarity grounds and because it’s so damned pretty.”

Desirability, then? Check. But what of its reliability? Some owners have been reporting issues with the fuel pump, for which a recall was issued, where the car will display a warning light and then run rough. But the good news is that, for this budget, you’ll find nearly new examples that are covered under warranty.

3. Jaguar F-Type (2014-2019)


Looking online it's so easy to imagine potential buyers sitting in front of their screens fidgeting with interest at the prospect of a nearly new Jaguar F-Type for less than £50,000. 

But that's exactly the case - if there is one car on this list that delivers value for money, it's this. The top end of the £50,000 budget will bag you 72-plate examples with less than 10,000 miles on the clock, a 5.0-litre supercharged V8, and a few grand still in the bank. Even if you spend half of the budget you'll still get V6-engined cars with around 40,000 miles - some with a manual gearbox.

Being designed by Ian Callum, the same man who gave us the Jaguar XK and Aston Martin DB9, the first time you clap your eyes on it you wonder why it took so long to come to fruition. It just looks so right. And it was exactly what Jaguar needed at the time, given the XK was getting long in the tooth and a spiritual successor to the E-Type is the automotive equivalent to a new Pink Floyd album appearing 10 minutes ago.

The lineage brought two facelifts: one in 2017, the other in 2019. The second was more thorough and brought redesigned front and rear bumpers, new thinner lights and an interior refresh which saw the analogue dials be replaced by a 12.3in screen. Happily, there are many examples of this slender successor available within our budget.

While it is possible to grab one with a warranty, some owners report problems. Check the valves in the active exhaust system close properly, else a new back box is needed which can potentially be fitted under warranty. Also look for any scratches to the windows, as original F-Types were susceptible to pebbles getting between the seal and the glass. Jaguar will rectify this on early cars, free of charge.

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4. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (2016-2023)


This car was a breath of fresh air when it first arrived. BMW, Audi and Mercedes had long-since been in a game of four-door oneupmanship with supreme executive saloons that felt like the real deal, even when stationary.

And when Alfa Romeo brought out the 503bhp, 191mph Giulia Quadrifoglio that dispatched 62mph in 3.9sec and adorned more carbon fibre than is strictly necessary, it seemed Italy finally had a credible contender for what was already a saturated, expensive market.

But as fresh as it may have been, it was under a lot of pressure. To keep it in check against the competition, Alfa Romeo garnished it with a Ferrari-derived 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6, a front splitter equipped with electric motors that can move its angle of attack by 10deg, and carbon ceramic brakes. All of this sounds tremendous, not least because its 7min 39sec Nurburgring time meant it was faster than a Bugatti Veyron. But what's it like to live with?

Well, it's still a Giulia. Which is to say it has a boot competitive with the 3 Series, C-Class and A4, seating for five, a dashboard whose quality was a noticeable step up from Alfas of old, and an infotainment system that worked well.

Popular problems that seem to crop up include failing turbo overboost valves, and a wiring system that would see every warning light appear at once. Oh, and some cars were plighted with an overly-sensitive alarm. To avoid these issues, have the car checked and certified by a main dealer before you buy, and make sure you’re buying from somewhere reputable.

5. Mercedes AMG GT (2014-2022)


Believe it or not, a few of these creep into our budget with middling mileages, full service histories, and high specifications. But choose wisely.

AMGs historically let their dynamic flourishes come to life with low-slung, top-rung GTs like this. And the AMG GT gets off to a good start, possessing all the hallmarks of a well-balanced driver's car that also wants to be a grand tourer.

Up front is a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 with cylinder deactivation, so it’s claimed to achieve 30mpg when you want to drive efficiently, and when you don't you get 503bhp, 479lb ft, a top speed of 193mph and 62mph delivered in a raucous, snarling 3.8sec. That power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

All utterly purposeful figures for a car which produced an equally purposeful, thundering baritone of noise to make you wince at the surging cacophany of soft limiters and catalytic converters that strangle most cars nowadays.

Is that character something you could live with? Well, it's not present everywhere. Owners complain of some interior fittings and finishes feeling too C-Class and a ride quality that feels more akin to Monza than the motorway. But it is generally usable and, as long as they are looked after, it shouldn’t become an enormous hassle.

Cheaper, poorly maintained cars are likely to suffer electrical/wiring issues. Check, too, for bad scuffs, scrapes or scratches because this low-slung machine is quite difficult to see out of. We strongly recommend you only buy one with a full service history, given the likely hard life some cars will have lived, especially at this price.

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6. Audi R8 4.2 V8 (2007-2014)


If you want an everyday supercar then the Audi R8 should be considered, because it's one that isn’t blighted by a lack of space, poor visibility, wretched fuel economy, or less-than-desirable interior quality.

But that doesn't mean that the supercar recipe has been lost. It used the same 414bhp 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 you got in the then B7 RS4 - an engine which made it seem far removed from even the best efforts of other manufacturers - together with a slick six-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel drive. All of this amounts to a 0-62mph time of 4.8sec and a top speed of 187mph; good enough to stay with a Porsche 911 Carrera.

But its road manners gave it an added sheen of impressiveness over admittedly tough competition, because it was one of the first performance Audis in a lineage of anodyne, numb propositions that had the sort of steering feedback and tactility you'd normally associate with Stuttgart's finest.

Is it all good news, though? When buying, check the car for any damage to the bodywork by standing at the front and running your eye down from the front wings to the back. If something is out of alignment, this can be very expensive to repair. Clutches will last a minimum of 20,000 miles and cost around £3500 to repair, with lower rear wishbones prone to failing and costing as much.

As a side note, many forums say the R8 is easier to modify than the equivalent 911, which is useful if you fancy an exhaust like the Channel Tunnel.

7. Ferrari 360 Modena (2000-2005)

The Ferrari 360 had a huge job on its hands when it was first launched in 1999, simply because it replaced the F355 - a car which changed the face of Ferrari and sold in unprecedented numbers.

To make sure the 360 didn't sit in the shadows of its forebear, Ferrari gave it a brand new 3.6-litre V8 developing 395bhp and made it lighter to the tune of 60kg, resulting in a 0-62mph time reduced to 4.5sec and top speed increased to 183mph.

Boldly, the F355's design was disposed of almost completely, with its chiselled bluff faces replaced by curvaceous, elegantly swooping panels and a much cleaner profile. The pop-up headlamps were also replaced with projector beams hidden behind perspex glass, as if they were tucked away in a trophy cabinet.

The results spoke for themselves. Production numbers shot ahead of the F355 with nearly 9000 coupes and 7500 spiders produced during the car's five-year lifespan. Of those, 646 remain in the UK, which means precious few are available even for our generous budget.

As tempting a £50,000 Ferrari may be, though, there are some flies in the proverbial to bear in mind. Check for excessive brake disc wear; buy cars with the standard exhaust if you plan to drive it day to day; the upgraded sports system is just too loud; and make sure the alarm sounds - some owners have reported problems with this critical function failing, costing £400-£500 to repair (or £50,000 if you lose the car.)

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8. BMW X5 M (2015-2018)


A 2200kg SUV with 567bhp, a 0-62mph time of 3.8sec and a three-ton towing capacity might not seem that bold anymore, but back in 2015 it was like driving a 2.0 TDI Golf to a Friends of the Earth reunion.

And yet despite the fact we find ourselves in such an environmentally-frenzied, waste-free time where the UK is slowly becoming one 80,000 square-mile low-emissions zone, the once £90,000 SUV is now available (and ULEZ compliant) for much less than £50,000.

But why should you care? Everyone has an SUV these days. But consider the owner’s forums, where the reviews are all but positive. Buyers say they’re impressed with the X5 M's mechanical grip, adjustable throttle response, distinct lack of build quality issues, and ease of use day-to-day.

It's also refined. Sure, you won't become so isolated to the fatiguing coarseness of wind noise and road rush that a motorway stint becomes sleep-inducing, because it has alloys at least 20in in size. But it's simply not as bad as you might imagine.

Nor is its reliability, because if the usual maintenance boxes are ticked, the M variant is unlikely to go wrong. But the X5 range as a whole has had some teething issues, including a child safety lock not fully engaging on cars fitted with soft-close doors and wheel bolts on cars manufactured between July and August 2018 that need to be checked because they weren’t sufficiently tightened at the factory.

9. Aston Martin V8 Vantage (2005-2017)


As soon as it launched, hell bent on usurping the Porsche 911, Aston’s baby suddenly became frighteningly easy to compare with Mount Vesuvius. You could buy it with a 4.3-litre, 380bhp V8 so loud you heard it before you saw it, and later models used either a 420bhp 4.7-litre V8 or a screaming V12.

Those engines combined with its generous use of aluminium and magnesium meant it weighed less than any Aston Martin of the period, and only slightly heavier than the current Audi A3. That allowed it to push to 62mph in 5.1sec for early V8s, or 4.3 for later 4.7-litre cars.

But engines and performance only tell half the story, because its design is all but an unqualified success. Sketched by Ian Callum and Henrik Fisker, the latter admitting to be responsible for 80% of the work, it was developed in tandem with the DB9. 

That means that, despite being 313mm shorter and 60mm lower, both cars ended up similar in form, which is to say it is as well proportioned as it is easy to live with.

What is there to look out for? Issues have been reported regarding the fuel vapour recirculation hose, corroded exhaust bolts, a sagging headliner, and a stiff-shifting gearstick caused by transmission oil no longer up to the job. An easy way to insure yourself against this is simply by finding a car that has been serviced fully and correctly, and hasn’t been run on a tight budget.

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10. Ford Mustang 5.0 GT (2015-2023)


A muscle car without a V8 is like decaffeinated coffee, or reduced fat cheese. In simpler terms, it doesn’t work very well.

That’s why we’ve picked the 5.0-litre supercharged version of the Ford Mustang, which produced 443bhp, maxed out at 155mph and dispatched 62mph in 4.7sec. You could also get this one, codenamed S550, with the choice of a 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine or the V8, with driving dynamics tailored for European tastes from the outset, so much so that it was originally developed for right-hand drive.

Fairly standard then for fundamentally not-so-standard car. The Mustang has long lingered in European car culture, shouting its way onto the scene in 1964 and in that time, never going off sale. It is a staple in the automotive world; much like its chief rival, then - the Audi TT

Trouble is that it’s a full 2ft longer and 3in wider than the TT, and in V8 form, up to 300kg heavier. But the Mustang’s willingness to stand out and make a statement is testament to its seemingly perpetual appeal. 

There are hundreds for your picking and choosing, ranging from 2022-plate V8s with under 10,000 miles to 166mph Mach 1 editions (which got an extra 20bhp).

Problems? Early 2015 cars could suffer from a rupturing oil cooler, which should cost around £700 to repair. And listen for a tapping noise from the engine when you first start it - this is caused by cables slowly working themselves free, or indeed bearings on their last legs.

Jonathan Bryce

Jonathan Bryce
Title: Editorial Assistant

Jonathan is an editorial assistant working with Autocar. He has held this position since March 2024, having previously studied at the University of Glasgow before moving to London to become an editorial apprentice and pursue a career in motoring journalism. 

His role at work involves writing news stories, travelling to launch events and interviewing some of the industry's most influential executives, rewriting used car reviews and used car advice articles, updating and uploading articles for the Autocar website and making sure they are optimised for search engines, and regularly appearing on Autocar's social media channels including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

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Add a comment…
Nick L 2 April 2024

I own two on the list - a 2009 V8 Vantage (4.7) which I've owned for well over eight years and a 2019 F-Type convertible (the 380 hp supercharged V6 with RWD) which I've owned for well over two.  Both have very comprehensive service histories and have been trouble-free and a joy to own.  I've also planned for some time to replace my Jag XE with an Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio when the time comes - so I feel that Autocar and I are very much on the same page!  Speedraser is right - cars of this type will serve you well if you look after them and keep them properly maintained.  With that in mind, as they get older there comes a point when they will fall into two categories - the very good ones and the very bad ones - and the values will reflect that.

Speedraser 2 April 2024

Why does Autocar continue to say the V8 Vantage is unreliable??? It's just not true. They're not cheap to run, but no expensive car is. They are, however, generally very reliable. I've had my 2009 V8 Vantage from new, and it's been nearly faultless. I know many owners, and the vast majority have also experienced excellent reliability. It's about time Autocar stopped perpetuating the notion that these cars are problematic - it's just not accurate. These are special cars that are great to drive, to look at and to own.

HiPo 289 2 April 2024

Running costs will be the Achilles Heel of most of these cars.  It's worth checking out the history files of exotic sports cars at auction.  Some cars with a guide price of £40k have files containing £60k of receipts!  The Mustang V8 and the Alpine A110 are probably the most affordable to run on this list.  Some of the others are just a liability, which is why there's a trend to convert old sports cars to electric, to make them cheaper to run, more reliable and more usable.