Most exotic cars are out of the realm of mere mortals, with six- or even seven-figure price tags. But a handful of models from past decades can be had for under $50,000 -- about the price of a brand-new BMW 5-Series or Mercedes E Class.
Any Mulsanne from the '80s -- even the Turbos -- will set you back a mere $25,000 or so for the best of 'em. This was built during the Rolls years, so it's basically a Silver Spur with a flying B stuck on it. But if you don't mind that kind of cross-pollination, the Mulsanne of the 1980s is a big, cheap, luxury vehicle.
The best of the best surviving DeLoreans will set you back $35,000-$40,000. If one of the previous owners had the stainless-steel body painted, you can get away with paying even less. In the plus column: they're distinctive and have movie provenance. Minuses: built in Northern Ireland for fewer than three years by a guy who went bankrupt and got arrested (and acquitted).
After 2010, all Dodge Vipers are used. Since they could be had new for just under $100,000, it's no surprise that one of the early cars goes for less than half that. Vipers from the early '90s are selling at auction for about $40,000 -- or $4000 per cylinder.
This was Ferrari's top-of-the-line V8 for the 80s. It was the first prancing horse to have fuel injection, electronic ignition, ABS, and power steering, among other techy bits. Despite all these innovations, it doesn't scream "Ferrari," so it can be found these days for $25,000-$35,000, depending on the year and the condition.
An iconic Ferrari Testarossa from the late '80s, the one with the deep side strakes that graced many a bedroom wall, can be had for as little as $35,000 or so. The best used Testarossas, by which I mean the ones that were driven kindly by little old ladies who had crushes on their mechanics, can cost more like $60,000.
Really nice Series 1 Esprits from the late 1970s are out there for less than $20,000, if you can believe it. An early-80s Turbo coupe like in the James Bond movie is more like $27,000. But no Esprit, not even the anniversary edition of 1989, will take more than about $35,000 out of your bank account.
The Porsche 911 has run like a German top for more than 40 years, and it will likely run for another 40. Porsche keeps upgrading, revising, and restyling the 911, which means there are plenty of used ones in the world. Make that heavily used -- these cars can take a beating, and often do. If you're thinking new-ish, like a '90s 911 Carrera rather than vintage, you can find a good one in the $40,000 ballpark.