Flipping cars at the lower end of the market is always easier. But we can understand the appeal of dealing in more interesting cars. As always you will need to do lots of homework, and carryout a thorough inspection before buying, but there are definitely some good opportunities are out there to make a profit.
With that in mind and in no particular order, we’ve picked out our 40 performance car flips.
01. Porsche Boxster (987)
The 2nd generation Porsche Boxster ticks all the boxes, performance, desirability, dynamics, practicality and value. These cars have largely stopped depreciating and make a great flip. Launched in 2005 the Boxster may have been the entry level Porsche, but it was no poor relation.
So what’s so special about the Boxster? Earlier 1 generation Boxsters can be found for less money and are also great to drive, but can give more problems mechanically. The earlier 2.5 cars are also sluggish by modern standards. The entry level 2.7 cars pack 237BHP as standard (241BHP from 06) and do 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds. But it’s worth seeking out an 3.2 S model. The extra half a litre of capacity jumps the pier up to 276bhp, reducing the 0-60 time by 0.7 seconds, while the later 3.4 version has 291 and is quicker again.
The cars have varying spec’s with lots of factory options available including, sat/nav, upgraded alloys, active suspension, sports exhaust, ceramic brakes, PDK and Tiptronic gearboxes. Personally I find the manual cars sell the best but late cars with the PDK gearbox are highly desirable. The various special edition cars like the RS60 and Sport Edition cars are also good news.
The internet is full of Boxster reliability stories. But in truth the 987 Boxster is fundamentally a reliable car. Just make sure you buy a car with full service history and have it inspected before you buy and you can’t really go wrong.
The Porsche Club GB have a great buyers guide that you can find here.
02. Audi R8 4.2 V8
The first generation R8 isn’t exactly going to be on the radar of most car flippers. But the early V8 manual cars are incredibly desirable these days and a bit of a bargain. The clunky R-tronic gearboxes are rubbish and should always be avoided and a full Audi or specialist service history is essential.
What I really like about these cars and the reason I rate them is the solid prices and the almost total lack of depreciation. So if you can buy one correctly you can just sit on it safe in the knowledge that the prices are rock solid and may even start moving upwards. But as with the Boxster above make sure you have an inspection carried out before you buy.
Find a buyers guide here.
03. VW Golf GTI (05-06)
The Mk5 Golf GTI was a bounce back car for VW after a decade of soft and lack lustre GTI’s. The MK5 referenced the older cars with cool touches like the tartan seats, but also added modern touches with the flat bottom Lamborghini inspired steering wheel and dual-clutch DSG gearbox option. Full leather was an option as were bigger wheels, the Edition 30 models are also worth searching out.
Standard cars make the best flip. Make sure the car has full history and that the belts have been changed. DSG boxes are getting older and are not without issues so manuals are best. Also make sure the aircon is working properly as this is a common fault that can be expensive to fix.
Pistonheads have a great buyers guide covering the MK5 GTI find it here.
04. Clio 172/182/Trophy
The ultimate old school hot hatch and in Trophy form perhaps still the benchmark against which all others are judged. All of the Mk2 RenaultSport Clios are amazingly nimble, wonderfully tactile and genuinely quick on the right stretch of road with a cult following with both road and track day drivers. Early pre facelift cars are getting rarer and unmodified 172 cups are sought after. The Trophy is the halo car of the range but finding a good car is tricky and the fancy Sachs dampers are expensive to refurb.
Learn what to look for when buying here.
05. Alfa Romeo 156 GTA
Risky but rewarding front wheel drive Alfa isn’t the most dynamically brilliant car, or a bombproof super reliable no-brainer. But the GTA has character in spades and manages to feel genuinely exotic. Performance is good and the V6 sounds amazing. Prices are firm and in some cases rising, avoid the Selespeed gearbox, also make sure it’s had a recent cam belt change and everything is working correctly.
The darker colours seem to sell the best but Alfa Red sells well for obvious reasons. Upgrades suspension and diff upgrades are expectable if carried out by a reputable garage.
Buyers guide – here.
06. Honda Civic Type R
Nothing makes a safer second hand car than a Honda Civic, and few hot hatches are as exciting as a Type R. Screaming VTEC engine, short shift gear box great handling have created a cult following for these cars. Used prices are strong for good clean unmodified cars and they make an excellent flip. Honda service history is essential.
Autocars comprehensive buyers guide can be found here.
07. Ford Focus ST
The Ford Focus RS’s baby brother offers great value and offers a 1980’s Audi Quattro soundtrack in a modern package. Offering amazing standard performance and can easily be boosted to over 300bhp. All these points make the car very popular secondhand so they are a great opportunity to make money.
The fast ford fans will pay top money for the right car and prices hold up well. Mildly tuned cars are ok but avoid body mods and cars without a good history.
Buyers guide – Pistonheads.com
08. BMW M6 V10
Great praise was heaped on the V10 M5 at launch. So a carbon roofed coupe with the same engine and gearbox should be a winner. But the M6 wasn’t as well received when new and now is a bit of a bargain that is gaining a following. The V10 needs working hard to extract its 500bhp so a full history is essential with these cars.
EVO have a spec and buyers guide here.
09. Audi RS4 Avant 2006-2008
Q-car Audi with a scintillating 4.2 V8 that revs to 8250rpm with a sweet manual gearbox and keen chassis. These cars have never been out of favour and most come with full Audi service history. The cars are affordable and values are strong so all you need to do is find a good cars and it’s hard to go wrong. Get it inspected before purchase, but don’t be put off by a quality aftermarket exhaust system, the sound on these cars is a huge selling point.
Find a B7 RS4 buyer’s guide here.
10. Skoda Octavia VRS
Not the most desirable badge on the market, but the Octavia VRS shouldn’t be overlooked in either saloon or estate bodies. As the cars are getting older the DSG gearbox is best avoided and a good preferably Skoda service history is common, so it’s important that your car has all the right stamps.
A buyers guide can be found here.
11. BMW M Coupe
Unique BMW ‘skunkworks’ special thats as interesting to drive as it is to look at. The cars had a large following from the off and were always set to be a classic. Values are strong and good clean cars with good service history will sell for a premium. But again it is very important to buy a good car and get it inspected. Later S54 engined cars are more powerful and more desirable.
Learn what to look for when buying an M Coupe here.
12. Toyota MR2 2000-2007
Much better driving than the MX-5 with fewer cars available, so you have less competition when flipping. The third-gen MR2 case is further helped because of a strong fan base and it’s popularity on the track day scene. Reliability is good but rust and faded lights can be a problem.
Black and silver cars sell best and hardtops can be a good selling point. Don’t buy the horrifically jerky paddle shift transmission regardless of the price, it’s a manually box every time if you want to make profit flipping an MR2.
Autocar have published a great buyers guide. Find it here.
13. Jaguar XJR
The BMW M5 maybe the default choice for a large super saloon, but its nor for everyone and the massively underrated XJR is interesting option. The R has massive amounts of power and torque from its supercharged engine, making it a performance car bargain. Stick to dark colours and look for cars in top condition with full Jaguar service history.
Learn more about the XJR with this buyers guide – here.
14. Nissan Skyline R34
The halo car for the Playstation generation! Not massively quick in standard tune but the trick chassis and cult car status makes the Skyline an excellent performance car flip. Prices are firm or rising across the board, with standard cars being in highest demand, making the Skyline a safe place to put your investment.
Nissan UK only imported 90 official UK cars. These official cars will always make a premium in the longterm over unofficial grey imports.
Buyers guide – Autocar.
15. Lotus Elise
Both the original and S2 Lotus Elise are rock solid performance car flips. The cars stopped depreciating along time ago and the values keep creeping up year on year. The later S2 Toyota engined cars are more reliable and better built, but the original car has a strong following regardless. Cars to lookout for are the VVC engined S1 111s and any of the track focused high performance derivatives. Head-gaskets issues can still be a problem on K-series engined cars and lookout for crash damage. But if you buy a good car you will make a profit.
Classics world covers the buying of both models here.
16. Porsche Cayman (987)
Exquisite tin-top Boxster is usable, fast, fun and almost affordable to run. Go for the later models equipped with either the PDK or manual gearbox, tiptronic cars are much harder to sell. 2.7 cars are reliable and have a good reputation in the forums but from a sales point of view its the more powerful 290bhp S that you want. Standard spec was mean so cars equipped with sports chrono and other desirable options will sell quickly and for a premium.
Find a comprehensive buyers guide here.
17. VW Scirocco
VW’s iconic coupe made its comeback in 2008 and followed the same recipe of Golf bits in a sportier shell. Engines ranged from the small 1.4 petrol to a torquey 2.0 Diesel, but the best selling option is the Golf GTI engined GT model. Blues and black are the best selling colours and residuals and demand is strong. The R model is also worth a punt if it can be bought right. Service history is a must and modified cars should be avoided.
The best buyers guide can be found here.
18. Renault Clio V6
Taking the original 5 based turbo as its inspiration. The Clio V6 is a unique in the interesting car flip that has a wide appeal and following. Early Mk1 cars had poor build quality and dynamics, so unless you are experienced it’s best you look for a good MK2 example. Service history is a must and look for a recent cam belt service or but away enough money to cover one as it’s a big job. Values are on the up and should keep climbing.
Learn more about buying a Clio V6 here.
19. Mercedes SL350
Fantastic boulevard cruiser with smart folding hardtop. The SL should be better regarded and is a bargain at the moment, prices are firm but aren’t climbing. It’s easy to be tempted by the higher performance models but your money is safest in the 350, due to better reliability and the lack of any ABC pump issues that plague the more powerful cars. Stick with low milage cars in traditional colours with full specialist or Mercedes dealer service history and you can’t go to far wrong.
20. BMW M3 (E46)
The E46 M3 has a huge fan base and good cars sell really well. People like the handling and the crazy engine note and the cars are much better value and more usable than the equivalent E30. The CSL commands big money but if you can find a good car I wouldn’t put you off. But as with any M car an inspection is essential as these cars are not without their issues and lots have been abused. SMG gearboxes are to be avoided at all cost as they are unpopular and problematic.
Classic and sports car cover everything you need to look for here.
21. Mercedes E55 AMG 2003-2006
The original E55 is a great bit of old school kit. But the supercharged model was in a totally different league, boasting 470bhp and 516lb of torque. Both saloons and the estate sell well. The cars can and do rust so make sure to inspect the bodywork carefully and full comprehensive service history is a must. Prices aren’t high but they are no longer depreciating. The biggest issue will be finding a good clean example.
Learn more about the E55 here.
22. Jaguar XK & R 2006 – onwards
The later XK’s and XK R’s are superb cars and offer great style and performance for the money. The newer 5.0 versions are the pick of the range but any model will make a good flip. I have never found them to be the fastest seller but you can always buy them right and make a good wedge of profit if you are prepared to hold out. Similarly to most of the cars above a full service history is essential and preferably from Jaguar dealers.
Find a buyers guide here.
23. BMW 6-series 2003-2006
The big BMW coupe and cabriolets styling have aged well over time and are a bit of a used car bargain. Diesel engined cars are best avoided, but all the petrol engined models are good sellers, the rare 645Ci with a manual gearbox is worth buying if you can find one. Cabriolets tend to make more money than the coupes and they also sell better/faster. A future classic?
24. Mercedes SLK 2004-2010
The original SLK was a great seller and the folding electric roof was a genuine game changer. The second generation SLK was an even better car with a stronger engine lineup and improved driving experience. The refined 350 is the pick of the range but the 55 AMG is a great option and seller. A bit like the 6-series above these cars are inexpensive and easy to flip, just make sure you buy a good car in a good colour.
Learn more here.
25. VW Golf R32 MK4 & 5
VW has abandoned the six-cylinder Golf now, making the older cars sought after and highly collectable in VW circles. Early VR6 cars have a cult like following and the MK4 and 5 R32’s have gone the same way. All of the cars are good news but I would advise looking for low mileage examples with good VW history. Aftermarket sports exhausts are commonplace and I wouldn’t let that put you off. But you would be best avoiding cars that are modified or tuned much beyond that.
A good standard MK4 with FSH and low ownership could turnout to be a good short to medium term investment, with depreciation being none existent on good cars. The MK5 is a good seller in either manual or DSG form. Leather is a must and the 3 door is best avoided if you want a quick sale.
Find lots more information here.
26. BMW M5 E39
The E39 M5 was the first of the V8 M cars and with 400bhp, a manual transmission and talkative chassis it was always destined to be a modern classic. 400 horsepower isn’t a lot today but the M5 is still a great drive and is plenty fast enough. Values are strong and good examples always make their money. Scruffy cars are to be avoided and a good service history is an absolute must, trouble with the VANOS units isn’t uncommon, oil consumption, worn tried suspension and clutch’s are also thing to lookout for. But if you can find a good car thats been well cared for you really can’t go wrong. Values are on the up and the future values look promising.
Drive tribe cover the E39 in greater detail here.
27. Mini Cooper 2001-Onwards
These cars were destined to be great news secondhand before they were even launched and they didn’t disappoint. I have lost count of the number of Mini’s I have flipped or traded over the years and the tens of thousands of pounds I have made. Values have softened over the years and there are lots to choose from now. But make no mistake, Mini’s are still among the most popular used cars out-there. Spec is important and every buyer wants a Chilli Pack optioned car! Colour is less important on a Mini and it is one of the few cars you can confidently buy in retail red.
History and condition is still important and they don’t wear high milage well, especially the earlier cars. Google will provide you with a long list of well document and sometimes expensive problems. So make sure you do your homework before jumping in, but there is good money to be made on these cars.
Lightly tuned cars are ok but standard is always best. Rare Recaro seat equipped cars and the more expensive special editions are sought after and worth picking up. Convertible can sell well in the spring but aren’t worth paying a premium for.
If you want to learn more the best buyers guid can be found here.
28. BMW 335d E90
The 335d is just such a well judged car with a great balance of performance and comfort with stealthy Q-car packaging. It’s nearly as quick as the previous generation M3 and much more economical. The ZF gearbox is the perfect match for the torquey engine and the reliability is good even on chipped and tuned examples. Good cars are getting harder to find but if you can fine a low mileage example in a good colour you simply can’t go wrong.
If you can’t find a good example the petrol powered 330i is also great news and can sell well in coupe M-sport trim.
A complete guide can be found here.
29. Jaguar S-Type R
The S-Type is a bit of a forgotten gem in the performance car world. It won’t suit everyone and isn’t as sharp as the equivalent M5, but it is quick, refined and has a supercharged soundtrack. The later the car the better and as with the equivalent M cars a good service record is paramount. Don’t forget to make sure everything is working and lookout for rust and paint imperfections. People will pay good money for the right car.
Learn more here.
30. Subaru Impreza Turbo
The WRC championships were a big thing back in the day and when the Impreza Turbo officially arrived in the UK the road cars sold in big numbers. However lot’s of cars were crashed and tastelessly tuned so good standard cars or close to standard cars are rare and highly desirable today. The UK 22B, RB5, STi and various other special models can make mega money these days and are starting to drag the values of the more normal cars up. So now is a great to buy a good car if you can find one. The cars used to have a reputation for almost bullet proof reliability, but age has shown the cars to be less than faultless and poor maintenance has also been an issue, so be sure to do plenty of internet research before taking the plunge. Rust is also an issue if the cars not been stored correctly.
During the early 2000’s scores of these cars were imported from Japan. These grey imports shouldn’t be ignored and again some models are rare and highly collectable. The more motorsport focused and sough-after 3 door models especially.
Classic world has a great buyers guide here.
31. Mitsubishi EVO
If you don’t fancy an Impreza then it’s nemesis the Mitsubishi EVO is probably more your thing. The cars were rivals on both the rally stage and in the showroom. But where as the EVO was arguably the better rally car, the Impreza sold in much bigger numbers in the showrooms with Mitsubishi UK being late to the party and offering cars in limited numbers.
This rarely has made the EVO models a great investment. Most of the cars you will find will be grey imports but if you can find a clean UK car that is where you should put your cash. The Tommi Makinen Edition cars have always been collectable and the later FQ and MR cars are also highly desirable. Just make sure you find a car that has at least good recent history and check for the all important cam belt service.
Every generation is covered in detail here.
32. Audi TT MK1
When launched in 1999 the Audi TT’s avant-garde styling made it one of the most interesting cars on the road. The shear numbers sold meant prices eventually dropped to the point that cars could be bought for banger money. But that has changed in recent years with the TT now being appreciated for both it’s interior and exterior design. Values are now on the rise for good lower mileage cars with history. The 225bhp coupe is the pick of the range, but good V6 cars are worth a look, just make sure the DSG gearbox is shifting correctly. The lower spec 150bhp cabriolet isn’t as bad as it sounds and sell well. The baseball stitched leather optioned cars are desirable and silver is probable the most iconic exterior colour.
Find a helpful buyers guide here.
33. Lotus Exige S1/S2
The Lotus Exige is a mini-GT car come road racer, a Lotus Elise turned up to 11. Offering more power, more noise, more rigidity, more grip, and more excitement than you found in the Elise. The original cars offer crazy race car looks and the high performance K-series engine is sensational. The later S2 cars offer slightly more refinement but even greater performance with improved reliability.
S1 cars are rare and good cars that haven’t seen lots of track use are even rarer. But prices are rock solid and rightly so. The S2 cars sold in bigger numbers and were available in lots of different configurations. But all the special editions are great and both the supercharged and earlier naturally aspirated cars are good news.
34. Bentley Arnage
The Arnage might not be the most obvious performance car flip but 400bhp and 600lb of torque make them lots of fun. Plus low mileage cars with good history can be found for the price of a well used 5-series so they are unbelievably good value. Later cars with the upgraded engines and chassis are best but condition is everything with these cars, so that should be your focus here.
Check out the buyers guide here.
35. Peugeot 106 Rallye
Both the original 1.3 and the later 1.6 cars offer paired back old school hot hatch fun. Prices had dropped as low as £1500 for a good car but values have been rising steadily as the cars have become more appreciated. The earlier S1 is a genuine homologation special and is a fantastic drive offering a great level of performance from its 100bhp 1.3 engine. The later 1.6 S2 cars are a little softer but are still great cars and sell well. Both cars are mechanically simple by modern standards with little to go wrong. You do however need to look for general abuse, crash damage, and rust can be an issue.
Learn what to look for here.
36. Porsche 911 (996) Turbo
The 911 Turbo has alway been a great seller and the 996 version offers great value and is basically depreciation proof. Unlike the 996 Carrera the Turbo and GT cars make use of the bulletproof Mezger engine. So you don’t have to worry about the issues effecting the lesser models. Both the coupe and cabriolet sell well. A manual cars is the way to go and full Porsche or specialist history is a must. Servicing and parts are relatively cheap these days so there isn’t a huge amount to worry about. Cars fitted with the X50 performance pack and other rarer options will make a premium as will ultra low mileage examples. The cars have a fairly large spread value wise but they are rock solid and great cars are only be going up in value.
Elfersport have a great guide to buying a 996 turbo here.
37. Ford Racing Puma
The Puma was developed with a focus on handling rather than power and wasn’t as well received as Ford had hoped. Ford spent a fortune on development making the car expensive when new with little benefit over the already great standard car. However the car is now better appreciated and understood and the rarely is now a large amount of the cars appeal. Prices have always been above the standard Puma’s and are surely set to rise.
38. Vauxhall Monaro 2004-2007
The largely forgotten Monaro offers old school V8 performance with rear wheel drive in a coupe body. The Monaro was never cutting edge when new but it was great value and still is now. Introduced in 04 with 329bhp power or 377 in VXR spec rising to 493 for the later 6.0 cars it was a whole lot of power for the money. values are firm on good cars and they do have a following.
Learn more here.
39. Toyota Supra MK4 Turbo
Finding a good Mk4 Supra isn’t a problem. But finding a good Mk4 Supra thats turbocharged and manual is slightly harder work. However its definitely worth the the time and effort. The big Supra is actually a great drive and in most situations feels more sports car than grand tourer. Most cars have been modified and this isn’t necessarily an issue if its’s been done well, as the engines are super strong and relatability is very good.
There is a good mix of Uk and grey imports and both are well understood and equally desirable. Good service history is nice but most buyer care more about the cars current condition rather than worrying about the cars past. Rust can be a problem and imported cars weren’t undersealed from new.
The cars desirability stems from it’s movie appearances and it’s tune-ability. However prices aren’t sky-high and there is room for appreciation. Non-turbo cars may look tempting but are nowhere near as desirable and should be a passed unless they are super cheap.
Autocar cover the MK4 in detail here.
Honda Integra Type R (DC2)
The Integra is a stripped back tack weapon with a fantastic front wheel drive chassis and high revving 197bhp engine. The highlights of the interior are the red Recaro bucket seats and the titanium gear knob. Engines need regular servicing but are reliable if looked after, with a good service history being essential. The most common fault with the Integra is rust in the sills and arches. So inspect this area carefully. White is the most iconic colour but not the only option. Values are firm and the best cars are set to be big money in the future so the Honda is a safe bet.
Pistonheads cover everything you need to lookout for here.