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10 Mid-Engine Cars That Are Cheaper Than a New C8 Corvette 

The C8 Corvette might be a performance bargain, but most of us still can’t afford one.
Chris D'Alessandro
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Let’s get a few things straight.

First, “mid-engine” does not necessarily mean that the engine in a car sits behind the driver. All “mid-engine” really means is that the bulk of the engine sits between the front and rear axles, as opposed to directly on top of them.

You can have a front mid-engine car. And it’s more common than you might think. If we’re getting technical, a Ford F150 EcoBoost is, by definition, “mid-engined”. So was the old Corvette for that matter.

But when you say “mid-engine” what people commonly think you’re referring to is an engine which sits behind the driver. They conjure up images of exotic supercars like a Lamborghini or Le Mans-inspired racers like a Ford GT.

Which is why a rear mid-engine layout is so enticing to car enthusiasts and why the reveal of the new Corvette with an engine behind the driver was such a bombshell to the automotive world.

Which brings me to the second issue we need to clear the air on. There are problems with the C8 Corvette. Not mechanically speaking. More in the way it’s being touted.

We’re speaking about the C8 as if it’s as affordable and accessible as a Toyota GT86 or even Ford Mustang.

The C8 will start at just under $60,000 USD, which sounds great. Except that translates to about $79,000 CAD. Which is a whole lot less than a bargain. Start adding on options you’ll want like the $5,000 USD Z51 performance pack, a $1,200 USD performance exhaust system, $1,900 USD magnetic ride control, $2,000 USD competition bucket seats and congratulations… you just bought yourself a $100,000 CAD car after you factor in taxes.

That’s if the dealers don’t mark these things up the way they have the latest Shelbys and Supra.

Oh and don’t forget, that’s just the base model ‘Vette. Buy a standard C8 now and you can look forward to kicking yourself when Chevy launches the inevitable Z06 and ZL1 variants. Fun!

But I get it. You were excited to finally be able to own a car with the engine in the back. You want to live the fantasy of getting valet service at the Roxbury. Or of your old classmates fawning over your exotic machinery at the next high-school reunion. Samantha F. will totally regret not being your date to the prom when she sees your engine is where your trunk should be.

Can you still own a (rear) mid-engine car for under $79,000 CAD? Absolutely.

 

Toyota MR2

Mid-Engine Cars

These are obnoxiously cheap right now. In fact, I challenge you to spend more than $10,000 on an example from any generation. While its humble 1.6-litre DOHC inline-four may not be as infamous 2JZ-GTE inline-six, the tuner crowd will embrace you all the same.

 

Pontiac Fiero

Mid-Engine Cars

Again, if you spent $10,000 on one, I’d be impressed. Sure it’ll smell exactly like how you imagine Jim Hopper from Stranger Things smells. And it doesn’t have any horsepower. But how can your inner hipster resist?

 

Porsche 914

Mid-Engine Cars

Iconic. Exhilarating. Desirable. All things that the Porsche 914 is admittedly not. However, it is one of the cooler Porsches of the last 50 years for precisely all of those reasons. A joint venture with Volkswagen, the most horsepower it ever made was about 100. However, it’ll still make you look like Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. So it’ll be worth it. You can also buy one for less than $10,000.

 

Porsche Boxster 987

Mid-Engine Cars

“It’s the poor-man’s Porsche.” What a cool, interesting and original thought you had every guy at a bar wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs ball cap (which is a ridiculous thing to do when you think about it). The truth is the Porsche Boxster is and always has been a great performance bargain. If you spend up to $20,000, you should be able to find a very cherry example like this one.

 

Porsche Cayman 987

Mid-Engine Cars

Why is it that everyone hates on the Boxster but not the Cayman? It’s the same car with a roof. Maybe it’s because, while the Boxster has always been praised by journalists, the Cayman has been beloved for its overall driving experience. This one has under 50,000km on it and is still less than half the asking price of a new Corvette.

 

Acura NSX

Mid-Engine Cars

True, later generation NSXs have started to creep up into triple digit territory (particularly NSX-Ts). However, the earlier models still hover around the $50,000 mark, and while that might seem like a lot of money, this is arguably the most interesting, desirable and tunable car on the list.

 

Lotus Esprit

Mid-Engine Cars

Probably most famous for its role in The Spy Who Loved Me as a submarine. While not necessarily known for its reliability, the Esprit has a definite air of throw-back exotic cool about it. And that unique style alone makes it worth your consideration.

 

Lotus Elise

Mid-Engine Cars

As someone who stands at about 6’3” tall and weighs roughly 190lbs, I don’t exactly “fit” into a Lotus Elise. However, if you occupy a little less space than I do, you might consider yesterday’s Lotus as an alternative to the other guy’s sports car. Known for its nimble handling and lightweight construction over outright horsepower, you probably won’t win any drag races. But you will have a blast on back roads and road courses. And you could probably do it all for around $30,000.

 

Lotus Evora

Mid-Engine Cars

A brand new Evora will run you up in the triple digits. But a gently used one is much more obtainable in the neighbourhood of $45,000. An Evora is also much roomier than the Elise and has a solid Toyota V-6 to calm your nerves on the reliability front.

 

Ferrari 348

Mid-Engine Cars

This is probably the cheapest modern Ferrari you can buy right now. This one is for sale for a cool $50,000 and I promise, people will be much more excited to see this car on the road than they ever will a C8 Corvette. Also the average Joe will probably think you’re driving a Testarossa.

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