What’s the Perfect Used Summer Roadster?

Toyota MR2

I have a new mission in life:

Find a roadster.

Summer’s here, and fun, fast open-top driving should arrive with it. I have some summer road trips coming up, and they would be infinitely more enjoyable behind the wheel of a rear-wheel-drive thrill machine.

I’m thinking something small, light and quick, but still masculine and powerful. So the Miata is out.

Something new is out, too, as finances currently dictate that I fill the garage with a pre-loved used model. Well, truthfully, finances also dictate that I wait until I have a garage, but that’s just a matter of logistics.

I started thinking about this after reading more about the upcoming Toyota/BMW co-developed sports car, which could either become a next-generation Toyota Supra or even a BMW M8 supercar. Regardless of what incredible machine is born as a result of the Toyota/BMW partnership, odds are I won’t be able to write a check for it. That’s true whether it costs $30,000 or $330,000.

However, thinking about the Supra made me think about the MR2 Spyder. If the Porsche Boxster is a poor man’s 911, then the MR2 Spyder is the poor man’s Boxster.

The MR2 Spyder’s last model year in the United States was 2005. The car uses a mid-mounted 1.8-liter, 138-hp 4-cylinder engine. It’s RWD and has a 5-speed manual transmission. Plus, it has looks that turn heads and have caused plenty of regular folk (not car enthusiasts) to mistake it for a Porsche.

Then again, a used Boxster would be a good candidate for a poor man’s Boxster as well. They cost more than the MR2 Spyder, but are more plentiful.

Maybe an older Audi TT Quattro Roadster would be a good choice, though the costs of repairs and maintenance on either of the German options might not be affordable.

Let me ask you:

What used roadster would you buy on a budget?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Mazda Miata
Used Toyota Supra
Used Toyota MR2 Spyder
Used Porsche Boxster
Used Porsche 911

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  1. Evan
    | #1

    S2000 is the best roadster out there. Its gonna cost you a bit more than the others (besides luxury brands) but its gonna be the best for power, handling, maintenance cost, and (IMO) looks. It has the F20/F20C engine which is the most powerful productive Inline-4 engine ever produced and provides endless amounts of fun, while sending it growling up to its 9000/8300 redline. Vtec baby!

  2. Brendan
    | #2

    What about the Honda S2000? Its more powerful than the MR2, and better looking IMO.

  3. Randy
    | #3

    Since I went through this process last year and found an MR2 Spyder, here’s what I found:
    Common but overpriced: Mazda Miata. I don’t know why owners seem to want so much for a car that’s a fairly unremarkable front engine-rear drivecar. Under 10K tend to be high mileage.

    Porsche boxster: Much more expensive as you would expect. Also tend to be expensive to insure and maintain. Couldn’t find anything near the cost of the MR2 that wasn’t a salvage vehicle and nothing under 10K.
    Honda S2000: Rarer than than the MR2 and more expensive than the boxster. I also found the car to have some poor handling characteristics. Definitely won’t find under 10K.

    Jaguar XKS convertible V12: Older, kind of large, and a look under the hhood will frighten the toughest mechanic. But it looks and sounds great. Easy to find under 10K.

    Cadillac Allante: Plentiful around here and fairly cheap for what was GM’s most expesive car. Big and posh gas hog with very daed styling and interior.

    Nissan Z car roadster: Kind of cool, expensive, very sophisticated mechanically.

    Old MG, MG Midget, Triumph 2-seater. Can be had cheap but can be a problem for repairs.

    Fiat Spider: Wow, cheap but really awful quality. Will look nice in your driveway or being pulled by a wrecker.

    MR2 spyder: Looks a bit like a Ferrari or Boxster in the back, but Toyota’s rather thick and clumsy front end. Excellent handling car, and remarkably fast for a 1.8 liter engine. Five speed model really needs a 6th gear for freeway driving. I bought a very clean, one owner 5 speed 2000 model year with less than 50K miles for seven grand, a bargain IMO. I tested one with the paddle shift tranmission, but don’t really care for them.

  4. Rob
    | #4

    Yea! S2000 is perfect. Go for it, if you can find a good one!

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