Some solid choices, but also some bat-ish crazy choices.
“WITH A MERE $50k IN MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS, YOU CAN BE THE PROUD OWNER OF A $50k CAR FOR $25k PLUS REPAIRS!”
“MY CHOICE IS A TOYOTA SEDAN!”
So what you got, Oppo?
Personally, it comes down to three choices:
If you just want a cheap driver that you won’t have to dump much cash into, find the nicest, low mileage C6 Corvette private party from some senior that bought it as a reward to himself but has grown tired with it because it’s too hard to get in and out of. Z06 or other packages are nice, but probably not worth the premium. On public streets, the difference between 400 and 500hp is pretty trivial.
Completely biased, but if you can wrench a little and afford it, get a less than 50k Porsche 996, ideally an early 3.4L model without all of the tech gadgets, for $20k and spend $5k up front in preventative maintenance. I’m 7 years into 996 ownership and am amazed by how reliable it has been for a car that is old enough to drink with me at a bar (if they were open). Doesn’t mean I don’t have a huge maintenance bill coming up at 50k, but given the price of a new car these days...
If you want a weekend toy that you aren’t going to put a lot of miles, don’t want to deal with maintenance, and want to get as much money back as possible when you are done, Honda S2000. ~20k mileage examples continually pop up for around $20k. Pair that with a nice Toyota FJ Cruiser and you can probably drive for nearly free depreciation-wise if you aren’t a heavy commuter and take care of your cars.
Again biased as an owner - I’d rather take a BMW Z4 for 1/3 the price of the S2000, care less about its paint/interior/etc. (but NOT mechanicals/maintenance!), and have 2/3 the budget left for everything else - repairs, life, etc. But that, and a 986 Boxster S plus cash over a 996 kind of defeat the point of a $25k challenge.
Tons of cool options, but in real life I can’t stress enough avoiding the “coolest” option if it’s some high mileage, possibly salvage title, neglected car with high repair costs and questionable reliability. The tiny boost in one’s ego isn’t worth the countless hours working a job to cover the cost of repairs.