BMW's E39 535i V8 has the performance to match its looks
Ten-year-old Volvo V70 T5 estates are still quick to this day
The Lexus LS400 luxury saloon is regarded as being very reliable, provided you can deal with expensive consumable items
This once £56,000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 can now be had for under two grand
The Fiat Coupe 20-valve Turbo is an achingly beautiful car, but brings with it reliability concerns
High-performance cars from the 1990s and early 2000s can be snapped up for family hatchback money. We highlight our favourite 150mph-plus cars for less than two grand.
1 - BMW 535i (1996 – 2003)
The E39 BMW 5 Series saloon has a timeless design, while possessing a superb ride and decent handling. It also has a fine range of strong engines and, in 3.5-litre V8 guise, the BMW 535i is capable of topping out at 152mph.
The 535i isn’t the most common of E39s on the market, but we found a tidy 2003 model with an automatic gearbox and respectable 112,000 miles under its belt, for £1,950. The motors themselves are strong, but look out for worn rear suspension bushes and electrical niggles with the ECU.
For Elegant looks and a fabulous mile-muncher
Against Electrical problems can flare up from time-to-time
2 - Volvo V70 T5 estate (2000 – 2007)
There’s a good reason why many police constabularies across the UK employed the Volvo V70 T5 as a motorway chariot – because they’re highly durable, practical and a genuinely fast estate car.Powered by a 2.3-litre five cylinder turbocharged lump kicking out 250bhp, it’s capable of 0-62mph in 6.8sec and will keep on accelerating to 155mph.
Being a Volvo, the V70 T5 possesses thick, comfortable seats and a high safety rating. There are some leggy examples in the classifieds, but look hard and you can bag a 2003 T5 estate with respectable mileage for £1,800.
For Spacious cabin, interior quality and safety rating
Against Not the sharpest-handling estate
3 - Lexus LS400 (1990 – 2000)
One of the most well equipped luxury saloons of the 1990s, the Lexus LS400 was arguably ahead of its time when it was launched back in 1990. The premium Japanese car firm spent six years developing the LS400, racking up US$1 billion in development costs.
It paid off, though. Six-figure mileages are a regular sight with these luxury barges and there’s even one example on record in America with 902,000 miles on the clock and still going strong. Opt for a post-1997 example and the 4.0-litre V8 engine pumps out 290bhp, helping the big Lexus hit 155mph.
For Superbly-built luxury saloon with plenty of kit
Against Expensive consumable items, such as exhaust and tyres
4 - Mercedes-Benz CLK430 4.3 V8 (1997 – 2002)
The first-generation Mercedes-Benz CLK430 is a rare beast, but a persistent scan of the classifieds can yield a genuine four-seater coupe, with all the toys and a thunderous 275bhp 4.3-litre V8 engine under the bonnet.
It’s good for 0-62mph in 6.4sec and a limited top speed of 155mph. Back in 2001, a brand new CLK430 Avantgarde would set you back £56,000. Today, the same car can be had for a fiver under two grand, with less than 100,000 miles on the clock. However, Mercs from this era are renowned for corrosion, so inspect carefully.
For Powerful engine and loads of equipment
Against Uninspiring handling, dull steering feel and some electrical issues
5 - Fiat Coupe 20v Turbo (1993 – 2000)
Designed by Chris Bangle, the Fiat Coupe was one of the controversial designer’s better-looking efforts. Launched back in 1993, it was aimed squarely at the Vauxhall Calibra and Ford Probe. With a sumptuous Pininfarina-styled interior and based on the Fiat Tipo platform, it was a sharp-handling coupe and one of the fastest front-wheel drive cars of its era.
That was mainly down to its boisterous 2.0-litre five cylinder 20-valve turbocharged motor, developing 220bhp. Buy a post-1998 Coupe with the six-speed manual gearbox and it will crack 0-62mph in 6.5sec and peak at 155mph. Clean, well-maintained examples can be had for £1,800.
For Stunning design, exploitable handling
Against Ropey build quality and engine issues
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