Just how far does £50,000 get you in the hunt for a usable supercar? Spoiler alert: not very – at least if you factor in fuel, servicing and repair costs. But you can stretch to some surprisingly exotic metal if you have got 50 bags of sand to spend on an initial purchase.
Take the Ferrari 360 Modena, now overshadowed by its increasingly potent F430, 458 Italia and 488 GTB successors but still a worthy bearer of the prestigious prancing horse. Built around a new aluminium spaceframe said to weigh around 40% less than the steel underpinnings of its F355 forebear, the 360 takes a punchy 390bhp from its mid-mounted 3.6-litre V8, which itself revolves around a flat-plane crank for that characteristic Modena bark.
The 360 gets from 0-62mph in a smidgen under 5.0sec – leisurely compared with Ferrari’s newer creations but quicker than most new £50,000 sports cars and can be pushed to 180mph. So you won’t be embarrassed on the autobahn and, because Ferrari installed independent suspension at each end, along with a trick damper control system and dual-mode traction control, it will hold its own at your next track day.
But it’s not the 360’s performance that marks it out as a canny used buy. It’s the fact that you could feasibly make it your daily driver. Leather seats, electric windows, power steering? These were luxuries not afforded to supercars that had gone before, but each was standard equipment on the 360. The lifted nose was a novel concession to practicality, too, making this the first Ferrari in which you could tackle a speedbump without cringing.
The F1 semi-automatic gearbox earned a reputation for jerkiness, but the 1999 car we found has the six-speed manual unit, filled with fresh oil and sitting on nice new mounts. Add to that selling point the beefier exhaust from the top-rung Challenge Stradale, a very recent respray, a new clutch and fully overhauled suspension components and you’re onto a winner. Time to chop in the family BMW 5 Series?
Porsche 911 Turbo, £49,750: Stuttgart’s finest may have had a bit of an off day with the ‘fried egg’ 996 generation. But this is the Turbo, so it avoids the worrisome IMS bearing issues and its 3.6-litre flat six sends 414bhp to all four wheels – in this case via a six-speed manual, pleasingly.