The 8 Best First Cars For "Car Guys" (2024)

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row of flashy sports cars

Photo by Vinayak Sharma on Unsplash

Your first car will always be the most memorable out of all the vehicles you own. Thus, buying your first car is always an important decision after years of doing odd jobs and saving. This is even more important for future car guys or enthusiasts because you know what you want. You know that your grandparents’ old, hand-me-down Toyota Corolla, with all due respect, just won’t cut it.

Aspiring car guys and enthusiasts won’t settle for no less than a high-performance vehicle that will give them the adrenaline rush as they work toward the top gears. Thankfully, the thrill of speed and engaging drives is no longer confined to premium sports cars with exorbitant price tags. There are many affordable and more accessible vehicles for first-time buyers who are automotive fans.

For today’s post, we rounded up some of the best first cars for car guys. These affordable sports cars can provide a good dose of thrills without breaking the bank. Let’s get to it!

1. 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata ($28,050)

The preppy Mazda MX-5 Miata has been around for over three decades and is considered a classic for a good reason. With its 181 hp engine, the MX-5 Miata is no speed demon, but its lightweight profile and playful handling will undoubtedly put a smile on your face. The Miata is just so much fun to drive and is a solid benchmark for affordable sports cars. In addition, millions of Miatas are in the wild, so there’s a thriving spare part market for the Miata if you’re looking into upgrades and mods.

2. 2023 Toyota GR86 ($28,400)

The Toyota GR86 is arguably the most fun car by the Japanese automaker. And over the years, it’s also one of the market’s most improved affordable sports cars. This rear-wheel-drive coupe is now in its second generation, and Toyota made sure to address the GR86’s primary drawback: its weak engine.

With the 2023 Toyota GR86, you get a flat-four engine capable of 228 hp and a standard six-speed manual transmission (automatic available). The GR86 offers excellent balance, sharp steering, and ample cornering grip on the road. It’s also worth noting that the GR86 is a mechanical twin of the Subaru BRZ; both offer very identical experiences.


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3. 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost ($30,000 est.)

The iconic Ford Mustang needs no introduction and is undoubtedly one of the favorites for the best first cars for car guys. With the 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost, the storied sports car enters its seventh generation with a redesigned chassis, a new but familiar styling, an all-new interior, and two engine options. We’re explicitly recommending the model with a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine that produces 315 hp for first-time car buyers. While the 5.0-liter V8 engine packs more horsepower, it’s not ideal for beginners. The EcoBoost engine gives you surprising performance and lots of fun behind the wheel. Unfortunately, the EcoBoost configuration doesn’t come in manual transmission.

4. 2023 Jeep Wrangler ($30,295)

Of course, the best first cars for car guys don’t have to be speed demons. Many car enthusiasts love the great outdoors and off-road too. With that said, the Jeep Wrangler is the perfect vehicle to ensure your first car isn’t oppressively dull. While it may not be as fast or agile as many cars on this list, the legendary Wrangler provides its own dose of fun by letting you drive just about anywhere. The Wrangler also offers numerous body-and-roof configurations, giving you more freedom to customize. Just don’t expect the Wrangler to provide an engaging drive while on the pavement.

5. 2023 Honda Civic Si ($28,500)

When talking about Hondas, most people think of practical, efficient, and reliable vehicles – the fun doesn’t exactly come to mind. Well, not until you get behind the wheel of a Honda Civic Si. With more focus on affordability and driving dynamics, the 2023 Honda Civic Si is a compact charmer and fun to drive. It comes with a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four engine and standard six-speed manual transmission capable of 200 horsepower. Inside, the Honda Civic Si features black cloth seats with red stitching accents, giving it a sportier look inside and out.

6. 2023 Acura Integra ($31,300)

Who says you can’t have a luxury sedan for your first car? Fortunately, the 2023 Acura Integra hits all the right checkboxes, including an entry-level price point. While it’s easy to dismiss the Integra as a souped-up Civic, it’s arguably one of the most talented luxury sport sedans in years. It features the same engine as the Civic Si but with clever additions like available adaptive suspension, a stiffer body structure, and a practical hatchback cargo area. The cabin is also well-executed, with upscale interior materials and an Acura-specific infotainment system. Overall, the Acura Integra is a well-rounded, entry-level sports sedan that delivers thrills.


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7. 2023 Chevrolet Camaro ($26,400)

The iconic Chevrolet Camaro was a one-trick muscle car that eviscerated a straight-line road. However, the Camaro has evolved over the years into a proper sports car with more engaging road manners. Available in a coupe or convertible, the 2023 Camaro boasts a good selection of powertrain options, including a 275 hp turbocharged inline-four and a 335 hp V6 engine – both great engines for beginners. On the road, the 2023 Chevrolet Camaro offers a well-balanced ride and enough agility to tackle curvy roads.

8. 2023 Subaru WRX ($30,605)

Just to put it out there, we’re disappointed with the lack of a higher-performance STI model for this generation of the Subaru WRX. Luckily, car enthusiasts still get a great car with an excellent price-to-performance ratio. The 2023 WRX leaves its sport compact competitors with the largest turbocharged 2.4-liter engine that cranks out 271 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It has a standard six-speed manual, but a CVT automatic is also available. Overall, the 2023 WRX is a great callback to Subaru’s rallying roots but with a more conservative personality that’s perfect for beginner car guys. A worthy addition to this list of the best first cars for car guys.


The answer to this question isn’t as  simple as you’d expect. Let’s look explore the difference between gas and diesel engines and explore just how many spark plugs a diesel engine actually has.

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