5 Cheap Cars That Will Go Over 155 MPH

The word "cheap" is an altogether relative term. What it means to one person, say a shoe salesman – we're looking at you, Al Bundy! — will mean something entirely different to a wolf on Wall Street who rolls around with a Rolex.

A car loses about 10% of its value the moment you drive it off the lot. It will lose approximately 20% of its value by the end of the first year, and within five years, will lose 60%.  Despite the never-ending barrage of car commercials enticing us to buy the latest and greatest model, purchasing a new vehicle doesn't add up for most consumers.

But suppose you're like Sammy Hagar, who can't seem to keep his foot off the gas and drive the posted 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. In that case, a surprising litany of fast cars available on the secondary market can scratch that itchy need for speed and do it at a price point that fits squarely within almost everyone's definition of "cheap."

Not only that, but our list of quick and nimble speed racers also falls into just about everyone's definition of "need" because they run the gamut from luxury sedans to family trucksters, economy cars to high-end sportsters.

Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is considered one of the best luxury midsize sedans ever. Throw the Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach (AMG) badge on, and it turns the E55 into a high-performance luxury midsize sedan.

According to Car and Driver, AMG strapped the E55's 5.0-liter V8 engine with "hotter camshafts," a new two-stage intake manifold, a dual-intake air cleaner, and an exhaust system. This boosted the 5-speed automatic — which in 2000 the same publication called "the best automatic-transmissioned high-­performance sedan you can buy" – into a 5.5-liter V8 kicking out 349-hp (at 5500-rpm) and 391 lb.-ft. of (at 3000 rpm). With all the new goodies under the hood, the E55 AMG gets up to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds and does the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds at 103 mph, all with a top speed of 157 mph.

The 2000 model had an MSRP of $73,065. According to J.D. Power and Kelly Blue Book, you can pick one up for less than $7,000 — 10% of that original sticker price, making an AMG badged Mercedes E-Class a steal in anyone's book.

Nissan 350Z

Nissan has made some mighty impressive sports cars over the years, including the 350Z. When it dropped in 2003, Nissan was still adjusting to the 1999 merger with Renault, a move that eventually benefited both companies.

The 350Z was meant to fill the gaping void of the discontinued 300ZX. The 350Z has a naturally aspirated 300-horsepower engine but had a base MSRP of just $26,809. If you're curious, that's not much less power than what a Porsche 911 from the same era was kicking out — at the cost of over $67,000.

It was a feat Nissan obtained by using mass-produced parts. The V6 under the hood was the same aluminum 3.5-liter, 24-valve quad-cam used in many of its other vehicles. Engineers designed the 350Z with hotter cams, a "freer-flowing" intake, and a new exhaust system.

With the finer tuning, the Z can zip to 60 in 5.4 seconds, get up to 100 mph in 13.9 seconds, finish the quarter-mile in 14.1 sec (at 101 mph), and top out at 156 miles per hour. The Z definitely has some zoom. Despite the speed and sporty looks, the 350 with some higher miles on the odometer can be purchased on the used car market for as low as $8,500,  but typically around $11,000 – $12,000 for ones with lower mileage.

Volvo V70 R

It may be reminiscent of the Griswold's family truckster (especially those with a green paint scheme), but this wagon can scream down any Holiday Road. 

Volvo's V70 R is an all-wheel-drive rocket sled of a wagon – available in a 5-speed automatic with lockup torque converter or 6-speed manual — that was packaged with a revamped version of the turbocharged 2.5-liter DOHC 20-valve cast-aluminum engine it was putting in the XC90. Wherein that 154-cid engine was only capable of 208 hp, the one Volvo dropped into the V70 R kicked out 300 horses (at 5,500 rpm).

They accomplished that by forcing a metric ton of air through the engine by replacing the relatively low-pressure Mitsubishi turbocharger for a bigger, badder KKK unit, which effectively doubled its peak boost. The 300 hp came at 5500 rpm, with 295 pound-feet of torque (in the 6-speed, only 258 lb.-ft. was managed in the 5-speed) at just 1950 rpm. This family truckster has a maximum cargo capacity of just over 71 cubic feet and can get from zero to 62 in  5.9. The top speed of 155 mph was electronically limited at the factory by Volvo, so it has the potential to go even faster.

It had an original MSRP of approximately $40,000 but can be routinely had for less than $10,000 today.

Dodge Neon SRT-4

When you think of a Dodge Neon, you probably imagine a tiny compact economy car known more for its poor side impact test rating than its performance. Slap on the SRT-4 badge, though, and it goes from a meek, mild mouse to a rubber-screeching howler monkey.

Technically, the top-end speed of the front-wheel-drive SRT-4 is listed at 153, but it's close enough to put on our list because maybe if you do a thing here, tweak a thing there, add some octane booster and let 'er rip downhill with a tailwind the needle hits gets past 155 miles per hour. Maybe.

The five-passenger, four-door sedan is powered by a Mitsubishi TD04-L-16GK turbocharged 2.4-liter inter-cooled DOHC 16-valve engine. All told the inline four-banger kicks out an incredible 215 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, this little Neon gets up to 60-mph in 5.6 seconds and 100 in 13.8. The quarter-mile is done in 14.2 seconds (at 102-mph).

When it came out, the SRT-4 had a base MSRP of $19,995. Surprisingly, and despite the usual depreciation of most cars, this one has maintained its value better than most. While you can find some SRTs under $10,000, you'll need to perform your due diligence because most with lower miles sit well north of that price tag.

Porsche Boxster S

A cheap Porsche? Yes, but as one might expect, this tops the list as the most expensive of the "cheap" options. It's a Porsche, so stop complaining.

The Boxster first came out during the summer of '96 and could "only" get to 149 miles per hour by way of a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated flat-six. Not good enough to make the list given the 155-mph requirement. However, in 1999 Porsche released the S model with a 3.2-liter engine kicking out 249 hp.

The DOHC 24-valve flat-6 had an aluminum block, heads, and a Bosch Motronic ME7.2 engine-control system with port fuel injection. Car and Driver said the S's water-cooled engine was closer to the 911 Carrera's than to the Boxster's. The first-year S can go from zero to 62 in 5.9 seconds, and up to 100 in 13.8 seconds, with a top speed touching 161 mph. In 2003, Porsche upped the ante and increased horsepower to 260, making it even faster.

The Boxster S had an MSRP of around $48,000 when it came out in 1999. Today you can find one for about $15,000. Like all cars, the lower the miles, the more you're going to pay. But it's a Porsche — a convertible one at that.