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10 Used German Cars Under $20,000 That Are Great for Tuning

Buying a fast car can be expensive. But there are ways to get a car that packs a lot of power for less money.

Used German Cars Under $20,000 That Are Great for Tuning

You don't have to spend a fortune to have a fast-performance car. If you start with a cheap used car, add some performance upgrades, and make some aesthetic mods, you'll have an awesome-looking street machine.

When choosing a car, most people often think about budget and performance. Cheap Japanese cars that are easy to tune are great choices. But German cars such as Porsche, Mercedes, Audi, and Volkswagen offer more powerful engines with tuning potential.

Here are the 10 best German cars under $20,000 grand that are perfect for car tuning.

10Volkswagen Corrado VR6

Volkswagen Corrado VR6

Price Range: $4,800 to $37,496

The Corrado VR6, with its 187 horsepower, accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds, reaching a top speed of 146 mph. A favorite among VW enthusiasts for its handling and driver's seating position.

Parts for VR6 Volkswagens are easy to find at a reasonable cost, which is why they’re so popular among tuners. Your creativity is your limit once you start modding these cars, so it’s up to you to make something unique.

RELATED: The 10 Greatest Hot Hatchbacks of All Time

9Audi B5 S4

Audi B5 S4

Price Range: $5,000 to $30,888

The used Audi B5 S4 is a car that should be on every man's shopping list. Thanks to its V6, six-speed manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive options, the Audi B5 S4 is one of the best cars for family use in the U.S.

A stock 2.7L V6 doesn't make much power, but with a little tuning and simple modifications like suspension and steering upgrades, it can easily be made to outperform many high-end sports cars. B5 S4s with reworked engines have been seen putting out over 700 hp! And these cars are dirt cheap too—you can buy an S4 for about what most people spend on their first car.

RELATED: Top 10 Best Audi Cars Ever

8Mercedes-Benz C230K

Mercedes-Benz C230K

Price Range: $5,000 to $9,000

The C230K comes with a 1.8L inline-4 engine that makes 189 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. With a simple stage-one tuning, you could get up to 230 hp and 231 lb-ft of torque. But that's just the beginning. You can make even more power with supercharger upgrades and other modifications.

The Mercedes C230 is a car that balances speed, power, and handling with comfort and safety. Although it may not be the fastest, prettiest, or most exciting car on the road, it is a very good car.​

RELATED: The 10 Best Mercedes-Benz Cars of All Time

7BMW 335i

BMW 335i

Price Range: $6,299 to $31,590

The 335i, with its N54 engine and forged internals, is one of the best tuner cars ever made. Because of its forged internals, similar to those found in legendary Toyota Supra and Nissan Skyline engines, it can produce tremendous power without expensive engine mods.

BMW understated this engine's true potential, claiming that it makes 300 horsepower. In fact, with simple modifications such as spark-plug upgrades and other stage one bolt-on upgrades, you can get well over 500 horsepower out of the engine.

The best year for a 335i with an N54 engine is 2009. The challenge is to find one that has low mileage and is well maintained by its previous owner.​

6BMW M3 (E36)

BMW M3 (E36)

Price Range: $5000 to $50,000

If you’re looking for a BMW that won’t break the bank, the E36 3 Series is an excellent choice. It’s fun to drive, looks good, and has plenty of aftermarket support. It’s also a bit of a throwback to BMW’s older days; its hydraulic steering is unlike any other system on the road today (and it feels amazing).

The E36 M3 came in a wide range of configurations, with options including over a dozen engine choices, four transmission choices, and six different body styles. A low-end 318i model would cost less than $5,000, while the highest-end M3 could demand as much as $50,000.

RELATED: The 10 Best BMW M Cars of All Time

5Porsche 911

 Porsche 911

Price Range: $13,081 to $1,000,00+

The Porsche 911 is a rear-engine sports car that offers a unique driving experience. Its engine is mounted behind the rear axle, which gives it excellent weight distribution. This means that skilled drivers can enter turns with more throttle than would be possible in other cars. Adding a few performance parts can increase power to 500+ hp, turning the 911 into a street weapon.

The price of a used Porsche 911 ranges from $13,081 to $1,500,000 on CarGurus. You should consider buying one if you want to beat supercars for less than the price of a brand-new one.

RELATED: The 5 Best Years for a Used Porsche 911

4Porsche Boxster 986

Porsche Boxster 986

Price Range: $3,268 to $40,500

If you have a budget of $20,000 for a used Porsche, consider the Boxster. A well-maintained 1999 model will cost around $20,000, while new Boxsters start at well above $100,000.

One drawback to these Porsches is that parts aren’t as cheap as they are on other cars on this list, such as the Volkswagen. They may cost a lot more money to modify into the sports car of your dreams. But they look great and have unlimited tuning potential to make serious power.

3Audi TT

Audi TT

Price Range: $3,400 to $59,991

The Audi TT is a great platform, but it borrows most of its glory from the Mk1 TT. First-generation TTs are priced very reasonably in today's market. They came in two varieties: a 1.8L turbocharged inline-four cylinder that could make 178 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque, or the same 1.8L engine but with a bigger turbocharger that made 222 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque.

The TT’s Quattro AWD system makes it a fun and flexible vehicle for enthusiasts. Although it does have a few reliability issues, the Audi TT is still a perfect tuner car.

2VW Beetle

VW Beetle

Price Range: $7,595 to $44,998

Volkswagen has produced some of the world's most iconic and popular cars. The VW Beetle and VW bus are among its most famous models, and the Beetle in particular is a common sight today—there are even numerous companies that specialize in modifying them.

Beetles are among the most affordable used vehicles out there. A $20,000 budget can get you a decent classic one and leave plenty for parts and upgrades. Beetles can be transformed into race cars, dune buggies, and stance cars.

1Volkswagen Golf R

 Volkswagen Golf R

Price Range: $14,800 to $28,550

The Volkswagen Golf R has been around for long years, but it's still one of the most fun compact hot hatches you can buy. It's quick, agile, and extremely well-balanced.

Golf R owners have a wide range of options for modifying the car, from minor changes like steering wheel upgrades to major modifications such as engine swaps. And it doesn't take a lot of money to make a Golf R go fast!

RELATED: 10 Used German Cars You Should Avoid and Why?

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Rank Company Country
#1 Volkswagen logoVolkswagen Germany
#2 Toyota logoToyota Japan
#3 Honda logoStellantis Netherlands
#4 Mercedes-Benz Group logoMercedes-Benz Group Germany
#5 Ford logoFord Motor United States
Rank Company Country
#1 Michelin logoMichelin France
#2 Bridgestone logoBridgestone Japan
#3 Continental logoContinental Germany
#4 Goodyear logoGoodyear United States
#5 Sumitomo logoSumitomo Japan