Car Corner
Used Coupes for $30,000

May 1, 2012
By Scott Lewis

A friend asked me what I would get if I had $30,000 to spend on a used car. He was thinking about getting a new Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec with the 348-hp 3.8L V6 engine. This car has a base price of $29,625 with destination. My friend wanted to know if there was a used car I would consider that:

1) Had performance similar to the Genesis Coupe
2) Had a manual transmission

I gave it some thought. My first instinct was a previous generation (2001-2006) BMW M3. Or maybe even a 2011 Mustang GT with the 412 hp, 5.0 engine.

I guess it's time to take a look at Autotrader to see what's out there.

2005 - 2006 BMW M3

A quick search through Autotrader found 4 M3s in this year range with less than 60K miles in the state of Texas. 3 convertibles and 1 coupe. Not bad. But not plentiful. If you are willing to live with a car of this vintage as a daily drive I would seriously consider it. Keep in mind that repairs will be pricey.

2011 - 2012 Mustang GT

For starters... a new Mustang GT has a base price of $30,595. So this is slightly over a $30K budget. And that is the base price. With a few option... it would be higher. So we are looking for a low mileage 2011-2012. Since the Mustang is not a premium vehicle like the BMW, I would want one still under warranty. Back to Autotrader and I found 23 2011-2012 Mustang GTs with manual transmissions with mileage under 30K and priced under $30K.

NOTE: By accident... I saw a 2007 Mustang Shelby GT500 with 41K miles for $32K as a Certified Used Ford... with warranty. Nice.

Camaro & Challenger - Repeating the Mustang search for a Camaro revealed 2, and 0 Challengers. Removing the manual trans restriction (out of curiosity) brought in 5 Challengers, and raised the Camaro count to 6. This shows two things... the Mustang is more affordable than its Pony Car brethren and they are more common.

2008 - 2012 BMW 335i

The M cars are pricey. Yet the 335i has a lot of performance for quite a savings over the M. Let's expand our search for a 335i coupe with under 30K miles for under $30K with manual transmission. Bingo.... 2 found. Neither had the Sport package, but still... very nice cars.

Cadillac CTS Coupe

I would love to add the CTS Coupe to this list, but it is too new. The Coupe came out in 2010 as a 2011 model, and used they are in the mid $30K range. I could only find V editions with manual transmissions... in the mid $60K range. Yikes!


Wow... this list was a lot shorter than I had hoped. My friend definitely wants a coupe... definitely wants a manual transmission... and definitely wants rear wheel drive.

There is not a big market for cars that fit this mold. Of all the cars I looked at for this article I would seriously consider an E46 version of M3. (Note: the E46 version is from 2001-2006. The current version is the E92, in coupe, and goes from 2007 to present. Expect a new F30 version shortly.) I like BMW's silky smooth 6 cylinder engines, and would prefer this model to the E92's V-8. Trust me... I can get in more trouble with a 333hp 6 than the law will allow. I don't need a 414hp V-8. Unless we are talking the Mustang. That is some serious horsepower for the money.