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When people think of dream cars, the image that pops up in their head is likely a car that has an elegant body, powerful engine, and maybe even an exotic brand name. But not many people know that many sports cars are expensive to maintain, partly because a lot of them are unreliable. 

One reason for this is because they’re not always built to be reliable. Sports cars are built for performance, and manufacturers deliver based on that promise. That said, there are a few vehicle models that have managed to rise above the rest and balance both performance and reliability. 

Over the years, car enthusiasts have developed a following for these reliable sports cars because they can treat them just like any other vehicle. These cars have the performance to be a fun weekend toy but also have the reliability of a daily driver. 

5 Most Reliable Used Sports Cars

Most of the cars in this list aren’t something you can buy in dealerships. Many of them aren’t even in production anymore. They’re only sold by private sellers and independent car lots. 

Here are the five most reliable sports cars that you can buy in the used car market. You’ll probably notice that most of the vehicles are from Japanese brands. While they’re typically known for making reliable economy cars, it seems that their reputation for reliability also extends to some of their sports cars. 

first gen mazda miata
The first-generation Miata has been out of production for more than 20 years, but its reputation for being reliable and very fun to drive still remains. Image source: Francigf | Wikimedia Commons

First-Generation Mazda Miata (1989-1997)

Simply put, the first-generation Mazda Miata is one of the best sports cars ever. Even though it didn’t have a more powerful engine than a conventional sedan, it was still decently fast. This is due to the Miata being exceptionally light, weighing only 2100 lbs. The first generation has been out of production for more than 20 years, but its reputation for being reliable and very fun to drive still remains. 

According to RepairPal, the Mazda Miata is excellent when it comes to reliability because it has low annual ownership costs. Because of its desirability, the Miata has even retained its value very well. Thus, getting a 20-year-old sports car may not be all that cheap. According to Motortrend, a Miata that’s still in good condition typically costs around $6000. 

2017 toyota 86
The Toyota 86 was initially sold as the Scion FR-S in the US.

First-Generation Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ (2012-2020) 

The Toyota 86 (which was initially sold as the Scion FR-S in the US) and the Subaru BRZ were co-developed by the two carmakers. The two cars are essentially the same vehicle with very minute differences between the two, like the front bumper.

Both carmakers are generally known to make reliable vehicles. Thus, it’s only natural that the 86 and BRZ inherited Toyota and Subaru’s signature reliability. Consumer Reports even gave the 86 a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0 rating for overall dependability. 

The 86 has a five-year or 100,000-mile warranty, which speaks volumes about Toyota’s confidence in the sports car’s reliability. 

ap2 honda s2000
The AP2 Honda S2000 is one of a kind because it has a small compact body, while having performance comparable to the more expensive Porsche Boxster. Image source: Rich Niewiroski Jr. | Wikimedia Commons

AP2 Honda S2000 (2004-2009)

The Honda S2000 is a speedy roadster that’s also incredibly reliable. There are reports of Honda S2000s easily reaching a mileage of 300,000. Most owners have also reported that they didn’t encounter issues with the model as long as the oil was routinely changed and components were regularly checked. The AP2 generation also fixed the oil loss problem that was present in the earlier generation. Cars.com drivers even gave the 2005 Honda S2000 an average score of 5.0 out of 5.0 for reliability. It’s safe to say that the S2000 inherited Honda’s incredible reliability. 

The Honda S2000’s value has been steadily rising over the years. Since it was discontinued in 2009, people are starting to realize how good it is. The S2000 is one of a kind because it has a small compact body similar to a Miata, while having performance comparable to the more expensive Porsche Boxster.  

2014 nissan 370z
The Nissan 370Z is a short car with a wide body and has a ton of aftermarket options, which makes it endlessly customizable.

Nissan 370Z (2009-2020)

The Nissan 370Z is another benefactor of reliable Japanese engineering. The 370Z is a short car with a wide body. Its V6 engine makes about 350 horsepower and can be tuned to pump out a lot more power. This car has a ton of aftermarket options, which makes it endlessly customizable. Many 370Zs have even been turned into drift cars. 

The 370Z is so reliable that owners in forums have reported having driven more than a hundred thousand miles while only encountering minor issues, like an occasional overheat. 

RepairPal gave the 370Z an overall reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, which is above average. 370Z owners are expected to spend less on repairs and go to mechanics less frequently. 

2011 ford mustang
The Ford Mustang’s 5-liter V8 engine will deliver smile after smile without compromising reliability.

Ford Mustang (2011-2015) 

Last but not least, we’re including the original pony car in the list. While modern Mustangs certainly aren’t cheap enough to be called a pony car anymore, they still have the necessary looks and performance. 

The Mustang did have a few recalls, which fixed issues like an improperly closing door and a fuel leak. But its 5-liter V8 engine will deliver smile after smile without compromising reliability. It’s able to do this because the Mustang uses the same Coyote V8 present in the F-150 truck. 

Older Cars Will Need Maintenance 

Even though we’ve listed these cars as some of the most reliable sports cars, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to need replacement parts down the road. Older cars are more likely to have more worn-out parts that will start to show symptoms. To keep these cars running smoothly, their old components will need to be replaced. 

All vehicles need oil changes, but it’s especially important for the cars on this list, because good oil is a necessity for high-performance vehicles. Oil not only prevents wear from friction, it also helps cool the engine properly. 

Many of these sports cars may cost more than your usual used car, but they’re definitely more fun. Also, some of these models might appreciate after a few years, so they may turn out to be a good investment.

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