Every gearhead considers Germany to be one of the top three greatest automaking nations ever. German automakers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche are known for building cars with superb designs, powerful engines, and advanced engineering. For this reason, the best classic German cars are typically expensive and can easily cost millions.
Don’t worry, though. If you’re working with a tight budget, there are plenty of affordable German classic cars available in the used cars market for you. We did some research and found ten of the best.
10 Porsche Boxster 986 – $11,000
Porsche has enjoyed a lot of success throughout its 91-year history. However, the company hasn’t always been successful. For instance, the early ’90s were a terrible period for the German marque, as sales were dropping rapidly.
Porsche needed a way to save itself, so it came up with the Boxster in 1996. The Boxster was developed as an entry-level model to appeal to budget-minded buyers. It had a great design, advanced Porsche engineering, and, unlike the popular 911, it had a mid-engined layout that made it extremely fun to drive.
9 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – $10,600
The ’50s were hugely successful for Volkswagen, thanks to the Beetle. However, the German marque still felt it was missing something – a proper sports car to compete with the other top European manufacturers. As such, Volkswagen went back to the drawing board and developed the Karmann Ghia.
The Karmann Ghia was an instant hit, as it was the fastest and most luxurious Volkswagen model at the time. Despite costing twice as much as the Beetle, the Karmann Ghia still sold around 500,000 units.
8 Audi TT Mk1 – $7,300
The demand for affordable European sports cars was heating up in the ’90s, so Audi introduced the TT to take advantage. The TT was a huge hit, loved by many for its unique design, strong build quality, and power, particularly in higher trims. Thanks to these features, the TT is still in production to date.
Modern TTs are quite pricy, but first-generation models are still within reach. The first-generation TT is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder producing 222 hp, giving it great performance.
7 Mercedes-Benz SL600(R129) – $16,700
The SL600 R129 generation is one of those cars that are considered to be near perfect. This vehicle was praised for its over-engineered nature and innovative technologies like seat-integrated seat belts.
The R129 could also be quick, depending on the engine chosen. The top-of-the-range R129 was powered by a massive 6.0-liter V12 engine producing up to 390 hp, giving it great performance. With prices below $20,000, the R129 is one of the most affordable V12-powered sports cars.
6 BMW E30 – $15,100
The 3-Series has been BMW’s bread and butter since its introduction several decades ago. The 3-Series continues to offer great style, compact luxury, and reliability. Of all 3-Series generations, the E30 offers the most bang for your buck.
The E30 was so good that it shaped BMW’s engineering and design language for decades. With over 2 million examples built, it’s easy to find a good-condition E30 for around $15,000.
5 Porsche 944 – $8,900
The 928 was a vital car for Porsche, as its attractive price tag helped keep the company afloat during a tough economic period. However, many gearheads didn’t like the fact that the 928 was powered by a Volkswagen engine. As such, Porsche decided to replace it with the 944, which was powered by a Porsche engine.
The 944 was impressive. Gearheads loved its design, dependability, and low price. Porsche produced over 160,000 examples, which is why the 944 is still affordable.
4 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500E – $16,000
In the early ’90s, Mercedes-Benz needed a new high-performance version of the W124 to compete against the BMW M3 and other compact luxury sedans. But, since its engineering department was too busy working on a new S-Class, Mercedes-Benz asked Porsche to help with the project. The result was the magnificent 500E.
Porsche’s job was to modify the W124 to allow it to be equipped with the 5.0-liter V8 from the SL. With an output of 322 hp, the 500E needed just 5 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph and had a 160-mph top speed.
3 Volkswagen Golf GTI MkII – $8,000
The Beetle sold millions of units since the post-war period and single-handedly kept Volkswagen afloat. However, sales were dropping sharply by the ’70s, prompting Volkswagen to develop a new cash cow – the Golf. The Golf was a fantastic Beetle replacement, but what turned it into the icon it is today was the high-performance GTI version.
The Golf GTI was small, practical, affordable, and extremely fun to drive, which is why it’s still in production almost a half-century later.
2 1983 Audi Quattro – $18,200
The Quattro is an absolute icon in the rallying world. When it debuted in 1980, the Quattro instantly turned the rallying world on its head with its advanced technologies.
The Quattro had a lot of cool features. For one, it’s one of the best-looking wedge-shaped cars of the ’80s. It also had plenty of power to match, thanks to a turbocharged five-cylinder engine with 302 hp on tap. The best feature of the Quattro – and the main reason why it’s one of the most successful rally cars ever – is its clever all-wheel-drive system.
1 Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140 – $13,100
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is arguably the greatest full-size luxury sedan ever built. The S-Class has always provided a level of elegance, luxury, comfort, technology, and safety that few cars can match.
If you want an affordable S-Class, you’ll have to settle for the W140. Don’t worry, though, as the W140 is great. The W140 received a lot of praise for its design, engineering, and power, particularly the V12-powered versions.
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