5 Best 500 HP Cars Under $20,000: A Detailed Guide

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If you’re a car enthusiast on a budget, the idea of owning a powerful vehicle with 500 horsepower can seem out of reach. However, the market is full of surprises, and with careful research and patience, you can find high-performance cars that won’t break the bank. This guide aims to help you navigate the options available and find the best 500 hp cars under $20,000. 

We will cover various models, their strengths and weaknesses, and what to look out for during your search. Whether you’re seeking a muscle car, a luxury sedan, or a sports coupe, there’s something out there for every type of driver. Let’s dive into the details and get you one step closer to your dream car.

Why Consider a 500 HP Car?

A car with 500 horsepower delivers an exhilarating driving experience, with incredible acceleration and top-end speed. These vehicles are often equipped with advanced engineering and technology to manage their immense power, providing not only speed but also precision and handling. Whether you’re a speed enthusiast or someone who appreciates finely tuned machinery, a 500 hp car offers an unmatched thrill.

Finding a high-performance vehicle at a budget-friendly price involves looking at older models or those with higher mileage. Here are some of the best options to consider:

Note:- The prices of all the used cars listed here have been confirmed using top automotive websites like Kelley Blue Book (KBB), TrueCar, Carfax, Cars.com, and CarGurus. The specifications and engine power were checked on the Ultimate Spec website. 

Few of the reviewed vehicles have horsepower ratings below 500. You can enhance these vehicles to achieve the 500 horsepower mark by following the guidelines provided below for high-performance modifications. You must analyze the condition and maintenance cost of used vehicles before buying. 

1. Cadillac CTS-V (2009-2010)

The Cadillac CTS-V combines luxury with high performance, featuring a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 556 horsepower. This makes it one of the most powerful sedans available in the used car market.


  • Luxurious interior with high-end features.
  • Excellent balance of performance and comfort.
  • Versatile as a daily driver.


  • Higher maintenance and repair costs.
  • Older models may require significant upkeep.

2. Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 (2007-2011)

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is a high-performance variant of the Mustang, equipped with a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine that produces 500+ horsepower, depending on the model year.


  • Iconic muscle car design.
  • Strong aftermarket support for performance upgrades.
  • Impressive straight-line speed.


  • Handling can be challenging compared to newer models.
  • Interior may feel outdated.

3. Dodge Charger SRT8 (2010-2012)

The Dodge Charger SRT8 is a powerful sedan featuring a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine that delivers 470 horsepower, which can be tuned to reach 500 horsepower with relative ease.


  • Spacious and practical for a high-performance car.
  • Strong acceleration and top-end speed.
  • Comfortable for long-distance driving.


  • Fuel economy is poor.
  • Heavier than some competitors, affecting agility.

4. BMW M6 (2006-2010)

The BMW M6 offers a blend of luxury and performance with its 5.0-liter V10 engine producing 500 horsepower. It’s a grand tourer that combines power with high-end comfort.


  • Luxurious interior with advanced features.
  • Excellent handling and ride quality.
  • Powerful V10 engine.


  • Expensive maintenance and potential repair costs.
  • Higher mileage models may require significant upkeep.

5. Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06 (2001-2002)

The Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06 is a true American sports car legend. Powered by a 5.7-Liter V8., the 2001 model produces 385 horsepower, delivering raw performance and an exhilarating driving experience, but with some aftermarket modifications, you can easily boost it to 500 horsepower.


  • Exceptional performance and handling.
  • Iconic design and strong aftermarket support.
  • Relatively affordable maintenance compared to other high-performance cars.


  • Limited practicality as a daily driver.
  • Interior quality may feel dated.

Modifying Your Car to Maintain 500 HP

If you buy a car that already meets the 500 hp mark but want to ensure it stays at peak performance, consider the following:

Regular Maintenance

Keep up with regular maintenance tasks, such as oil changes, filter replacements, and fluid checks. High-performance engines need more frequent servicing to maintain their power.

Upgrading Parts

To ensure longevity and performance, consider upgrading critical components like the cooling system, suspension, and brakes. High-quality aftermarket parts can improve reliability and performance.

Performance Tuning

A professional tune-up can optimize your car’s engine for better performance. This may include adjusting the ECU, improving fuel delivery, and ensuring optimal air-to-fuel ratios.

What to Look For When Buying

When searching for a truly 500 hp car under $20,000, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure you get the best value:

Condition and Mileage

High-performance cars often experience more wear and tear due to their powerful engines. Look for vehicles with lower mileage and a history of proper maintenance. Check for signs of excessive wear on critical components.

Service History

A complete service history is crucial for high-performance cars. Ensure that the car has been regularly serviced and that major maintenance tasks have been performed on schedule. A well-documented service history indicates a well-cared-for vehicle.

Previous Modifications

Be cautious of cars that have undergone extensive modifications. While some modifications can enhance performance, others may compromise reliability. Verify that any modifications were done professionally and with high-quality parts.

Ownership Costs

Owning a 500 hp car comes with higher running costs. Factor in the expenses for insurance, fuel, maintenance, and potential repairs. Some models, like the BMW M6, have higher maintenance costs, so budget accordingly.

Remember to prioritize the condition and service history of any car you consider, and be prepared for the ongoing costs associated with maintaining a powerful machine. With patience and careful research, you can enjoy the thrill of a 500 hp car without spending a fortune.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of some of the best options available and what to look out for when making your purchase. Happy hunting, and may you find the perfect high-performance car to fulfill your driving passions.

Stephen Madison
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