Top ten: 400bhp for £10,000

Top ten: 400bhp for £10,000
Top ten: 400bhp for £10,000

Supercar prestige for supermini money

Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG (2001-2006)

Range £7000-£13,000 
Sweet spot £9950 
This was the car that pushed AMG mainstream, from a small specialist to a mighty manufacturer working with one of the biggest car brands in the world. The SL55 of 2002 led on to supercharged variants of the E-Class, S-Class and CL Coupé. The CL55 has a marvelous 493bhp and is really the most affordable of the bunch. Watch out for cooling issues with the supercharged V8.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo (2002-2010)

Range £6500-£20,000 
Sweet spot £9500 
For a while in the early 2000s this was the only big car that Porsche made, a monstrously fast and powerful – 450bhp – large SUV. With as much power as the company’s 911 Turbo made back then, this is fairly epic, but repair bills can be too, which is why we’re looking at models starting way under the £10k limit.

BMW M5 (1998-2003)

Range £8500- £14,000 
Sweet spot £9500 
This was the first M5 that could be truly described as modern. Gone were the straight-six engines, replaced by a mighty 4.9-litre V8. Officially the car made 394bhp but simple tweaks to the ECU and induction/exhaust will release another 50 horses.

Range Rover Sport 4.2 Supercharged (2004-2009)

Price range £7500- £18,000 
Sweet spot £9500 
The L320 Range Rover Sport Supercharged is a lot of Range Rover for the money, but we should include a health warning. Major problems include issues with the compressor for the suspension and problems with the steering vibrating. But mostly you’ll have low-grade electrical irritations to sort out. And then you’ll enjoy the 4.2-litre supercharged monster.

Lexus LS600h (2007-2012)

Range £10,500- £36,500 
Sweet spot £10,500 
This luxury limo should be supremely reliable, yet it can also hoof out 438bhp when the Hush Puppy hits the Wilton. It’s at the very top of our price range, but for that you get hybrid power, entertainment screens in the backs of the front seats, a DVD changer and all manner of toys.

Jaguar XKR (1996-2006)

Range £5500- £15,000 
Sweet spot £9000 
This isn’t quite yet into classic territory, yet it’s already looking like a lovely old Jag. A lovely old Jag with what can be a surprisingly low price tag. The brand had yet to be rejuvenated, so you can see echoes of the C-Type and D-Type in its torpedo lines, but underneath was a 390bhp 4.2-litre engine with a six-speed ZF transmission.

Vauxhall Monaro CV8 (plus Monkfish Performance upgrade) (2004-2006)

Price range £7500-£10,000 
Sweet spot £8000 
You gotta have a small-block Chevy. The 5.7-litre V8 may ‘only’ make 335bhp but tuners like Monkfish Performance can kick things over the 400bhp barrier quite easily and for relatively sensible money. These Holden Monaro CV8s, badged as Vauxhalls, are getting rare, particularly the early ones, and you know what that does to prices. Watch out for damaged body panels as getting them over from Australia is a horribly expensive business.

Nissan Skyline (1995-1998)

Range £6000- £15,000 
Sweet spot £9000 
Godzilla is a cult car, and this R33 generation is pretty rare in the UK, but you can still get one for well under the £10k limit. That gets you a standard 280bhp car but the 2.5-litre twin-turbo six-pot can be fairly easily induced to make 400bhp without major revisions to stuff that would push it over the £10,000 limit.

Audi S6 (2006-2011)

Price range £6000- £15,000 
Sweet spot £9500 
An Audi A6 with a Lamborghini engine – how does that sound? That’s obviously a rhetorical question, isn’t it? The V10 squeezed under the executive bonnet, and pumped out 429bhp, good for a dash to 62mph in 5.2sec. This is classy but can also be expensive if it goes wrong – think Lambo not Audi. Check it has FSH and watch out for dodgy ignition coil packs.

Chrysler 300C SRT-8 (2005-2010)

Price range £8500- £14,500 
Sweet spot £9000 
Let’s not mess about, this is a civilized looking car that has 425bhp right out of the box. The rush to 62mph doesn’t even take 5sec. The 6.1-litre hemi V8 is the star of the show, with performance outstripping the rest of the package, but the car should be reliable. Watch out for the effects of speed, like warped discs and tired front suspension.

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