Endless debates prove that defining what makes a GT car is a moving target that makes a solid definition hard.
Equally as challenging is defining the word affordable. But it’s not insurmountable.
GT is one of the most misapplied names in the entire auto industry. It stands for Grand Turismo (Grand Tourer).
Introduced by the Italians in the late 1920s, it categorizes a car that slots between sports and luxury which makes the confusion about its definition understandable.
Now, since the word affordable is relative, we’ve put together a list of the most affordable GT cars from different price categories.
1. Jaguar XK8 ($4,000)
It’s quiet at cruising speeds. It’s a desirable two door Jag. And you can get it as either a coupe or convertible for 20x less than what it cost new.
For all intents and purposes, this is the value Aston Martin. It shares the same drivetrain as the four door XJ. Step inside and you’re met with acres of wood trim and leather appointments.
But it’s not as cavernous as the Bentley. And the rear seat room is best left for your luggage than actual human beings.
It has an early model GPS system with a map of the United States on a single DVD in the trunk that will likely need upgrading.
2. Ford Mustang ($5,000)
What makes S-197 Mustang a good contender for a GT car is that it eschews the aged Fox platform for the one from the luxurious Jaguar S-Type.
Although this generation retains a solid rear axle, its upgraded to a three-link coil-over layout to add to your comfort. Like the Dodge Challenger you won’t be able to get a V8 at this price.
But the V6 is powerful enough to get out of its own way making 210 horsepower. The longer wheelbase compared to the outgoing S-197 means you get more interior room for a long road trip.
And the trunk is bigger to accommodate more of your luggage.
3. BMW 6-Series ($7,000)
The 6-Series is a large 2+2 coupe that can play host to four adults in a spacious and luxurious cabin wired with technology.
This one is from the Bangle era of BMW design, and it looks gorgeous.
Available as both a hard top and convertible you get both optional and standard variable-ratio steering, left-and-right swiveling xenon headlamps, active anti-roll bars and the infamous iDrive computer console.
It sits on a shortened version of the 5-Series chassis and uses its suspension components.
Rocketing you to your vacation destination is a 4.4-liter DOHC 32-valve V8 in your choice of a manual or automatic transmission.
4. Mercedes-Benz SL500 ($8,000)
When this car was first introduced it was love at first site for me. Fifteen years later and they still look just as beautiful.
Beyond its sexy silhouette, the R230 offers many improvements over the previous generation.
Among them was a new electrohydraulic brake technology and a folding hardtop that you have to watch in action to believe. The wheelbase was lengthened 1.8-inches from the previous SL500.
The result is more interior space for you and your passenger on your weekend trip to the lake. It also got a livelier rack and pinion steering to go along with the new chassis providing more steering feel.
5. Infiniti G37 Coupe ($10,000)
For a while Infiniti was really able to hold its own against German contemporaries like BMW and Mercedes with the G-Series. Now for less than $10,000 you can get your hands on a G37.
Built from 2008 to 2013, the G37 Coupe is an entry-level luxury car with a comfortable cabin that’s perfect for taking long trips with extensive technology features.
But GT cars tend to compromise something. In the case of the G37 that compromise is weight. The coupe is 100 pounds heavier than the sedan from which it’s derived.
Aside from that the G37 Coupe meets the sportier criterion of a GT car with a larger 3.7-liter VQ V6 with a sense of style that’s all Infiniti.
6. Dodge Challenger ($10,000)
Less than ten grand won’t get you a Challenger with a V8.
But it will get you an SXT model with a stouter 305 horsepower V6 than the 250 HP you get from the base SE model.
Plus, the SXT is arguably more comfortable to live with as a GT car than a Challenger with a raucous V8.
Of all the muscle cars the Challenger offers the most interior space which is reflected by the car’s bigger size compared to modern American muscle cars that aren’t the Charger.
But the silver-painted treatments don’t hold a candle to the more exquisite interiors of some of the GT cars on the list.
7. Cadillac XLR ($15,000)
Sitting on the same chassis as the Chevrolet Corvette’s rear-wheel-drive Sigma platform, the XLR was created during a time when Cadillac was reinventing itself.
The XLR sports the same creased-wedge styling theme as the CTS sport-luxury sedan. It’s a sexy, powerful two-seat convertible that’s lower and wider than both the Jaguar XK8 and Mercedes-Benz SL500.
And like the SL500 it comes with a folding hardtop. Under the long hood is a 32-Valve Northstar V8. Unlike the Corvette, the interior is awash in cowhide, anodized aluminum and eucalyptus wood.
As the driver you’re faced with a clean array of white-on-black gauges with a heads-up display.
8. Aston Martin DB9 ($36,000)
An exquisite exterior is the appeal of this car. It’s likely the best example (at least from our list) of a GT car that holds the principles of sport and luxury firmly in both hands.
Parent company Ford opened its pockets wide for the development of this generation DB9.
The VH (Vertical Horizontal) platform was all new for this generation DB9 unlike the previous generation which borrowed its chassis from the Jaguar XJS.
The DB9 also received a thoroughly revised Aston V12 engine with new crankshafts, cams, manifold and engine management system which is set way back in the engine bay like in a fourth generation Chevrolet Camaro for a 50/50 weight balance.
9. Bentley Continental GT ($40,000)
What a wonderful time we live in that for the price of a well-equipped Toyota Camry you can get a Bentley Continental GT.
When it comes to long distance driving, this is my favorite GT car.
It’s a large and sturdy car with a powerful engine. As part of the Volkswagen Group, it shares its chassis with the VW Phaeton.
To spirit you and your passenger away to desired locales, under the hood is a massive turbo charged W12 engine pumping out 552 horsepower. When it comes to comfort ingress and egress is effortless.
Once inside the interior swaddles you in luscious leather and acres of fine wood veneers.
10. Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe ($45,000)
If you’re looking for a GT car that’s as big and soft, take a look at the S-Class Coupe. It’s a two-door, four-seat version of the four door S-Class.
Formerly known as the CL it competes admirably with the likes of the Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9. Like the Continental GT its designed to cover long distances with your comfort receiving paramount attention.
It makes use of a column mounted shifter same as the four-door version. It also makes use of the same 5.5-liter V8.
Spending time behind the wheel you’ll be seduced by the soft leather seats that offer an array of adjustments and the clear sounding stereo system.
11. Lexus LC500 ($70,000)
The Lexus LC500 is the company’s flagship that transcends Toyota’s smooth, quiet and comfortable A-to-B philosophy to deliver an aspirational vehicle to engage the senses.
The Lexus LC500 rides on the GA-L (Global Architecture-Luxury) platform which it shares with the larger LS. From conception a lot of effort was made to get the basics right.
As such the LC500 has more steering feel than many of the GT cars on the list.
But even with all the weight savings the LC500 weighs about as much as the BMW 6-Series.
The interior is a special place with an excellent driving position that’s sporty and comfortable with rich materials and beautiful attention to detail.