Everybody can remember that one car that got away. For some, it was a mint Ford Mustang, and for others, a rusted Isuzu Impulse—but the common thread is that someone else got to it first.
It's a situation you'd never wish on any enthusiast, and for that reason, we enlisted the help of CarDaddy used vehicles search engine and research firm iSeeCars to determine which lightly-used late-model sports cars are most likely to vanish from under your nose while frantically balance your checkbook. The resulting ten entries run the gamut of enthusiast vehicles, from muscle cars to hot hatchbacks, and some are among The Drive's favorite cheap thrills. You may quibble with the way the term "sports car" gets stretched here, but there's no denying every model on this list has a pulse.
Without further ado, these are the ten fastest-selling used sports cars as sold by dealerships in America, ranked by the average time spent on a dealer lot. The data comes from a pool of over 4 million listings for cars between one and three years old around the country.
#10: BMW M3/M4, 50 Days on Dealer Lots
Starting off the list are BMW's midsize sport siblings. The M3 is a classic sports sedan nameplate with a lengthy, successful racing history and a dedicated following, while the M4 coupe is much newer, debuting in 2014. Both have BMW's 3.0-liter twin-turbo S55 inline-six engine making 425 horsepower, which is put to the ground through the rear axle. Both are also prized for their sharp handling and sleek interiors.
These fraternal twins are tied for tenth, spending an average of 50 days on dealer lots before leaving for home with a new owner.
#9: Dodge Challenger, 49.7 Days
The throwback Dodge Challenger is a rarity today in that it's still a full muscle car, not a smaller, nimbler pony car like its Ford and Chevrolet rivals. In its rowdiest form, the 2018-only Challenger SRT Demon, it came with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 making up to 840 horsepower, no back seat, and drag radial tires (the first ever equipped to a mass-produced car). The Demon could hurtle from a standstill to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds and run a standing quarter mile in less than 10 seconds—fast enough to ban it from National Hot Rod Association drag races.
Not everyone was able to get their hands on a pricey, limited-production SRT Demon, however, as they were only built for the 2018 model year. Much more accessible are the Challenger SRT 392 models, which still have a colossal V8, and the Challenger GT, which has all-wheel-drive for owners that live in snowy climates. And let's not forget about the Hellcat. On average, Dodge Challengers spend 49.7 days on a dealer lot before disappearing, earning them the ninth spot on the list.
#8: Dodge Charger, 47.9 Days
In even higher demand than Dodge's retro muscle coupe is its brawny sports sedan, which offers almost all of the same engine options in a four-door format. It has no Demon variant of its own, but the gnarliest Charger—the SRT Hellcat—is nothing to sneeze at; its own 6.2-liter supercharged V8 gushes out 707 horsepower, good for a top speed of 204 mph.
As with the above its SRT 392 and R/T variants are more common but no less loutish, their Hemi V8s each slapping hundreds of horsepower on the table. V6 variants exist, some with rear axle-biased all-wheel-drive for controllable fun in slippery conditions. Because they're a tad more practical with their extra doors and usable back seats (not to mention the fact that there's less of them sold, period), Chargers are off the lot almost two days faster than Challengers.
#7: Ford Mustang, 47.4 Days
The Ford Mustang has been America's best-selling sports car for decades. Its sixth and current generation received some of the biggest updates to the model in its 54-year history, including independent rear suspension and more power than ever before on its beloved GT model: 460 horsepower from its 5.0-liter V8. All that grunt is good for a standing quarter mile in under 12 seconds, and there are even faster Shelby variants, such as the GT350 and the upcoming GT500.
The Mustang may not have all-wheel-drive options like the Dodges above, but it does offer a thrifty yet punchy 2.3-liter Ecoboost turbo-four. Between their better-than-ever performance and low cost, Mustangs hang around used car lots for an average of just 47.4 days, about half a day less than the Dodge Charger.
#6: Mazda MX-5 RF, 42.8 Days
The Mazda MX-5 Miata effectively ended the roadster argument with its debut in 1989, and now in its fourth generation, it keeps getting better in every way. Today's car is lighter, stiffer, and faster than any before it, significantly more so in the 2019 model, which gets a stupefying 26 horsepower boost and 700 more rpm to play with over its predecessor. When used 2019 Miatas start appearing at dealerships, we can probably expect them to drag the model's average lot time even further down from the current span of 42.8 days.
Surprisingly, the micro-exotic MX-5 RF with its fully-collapsible hardtop takes much longer to sell as a used model, an average of 58.1 days.
#5: Subaru WRX, 39.9 Days
Ever-popular with peacocking young men, the Subaru WRX sports sedan has survived many a challenge from rivals. Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution fell in combat against the WRX, as did the Ford Focus RS. Fans of the WRX love its unique turbocharged flat-four for the sound it makes and its low center of gravity, which aids handling. It even has a bigger, badder brother, the 310-horsepower WRX STi that has extra-aggressive bodywork and the option for everybody's favorite flourish: A huge wing.
#4: Volkswagen Golf GTI, 36.8 Days
The Volkswagen Golf GTI set the gold standard for hot hatchbacks in the late 1970s, maintaining its status as such for more than four decades. Today's seventh-generation Golf GTI is just as sharp, and with 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, faster than ever. Its front wheels can scramble away at the ground to get the GTI from zero-to-60 in as little as six seconds, rivaling some traditional rear-wheel-drive sports cars. Nimbleness at all speeds combined with its approachability make it an evergreen favorite—something that’s borne out by the car spending a little over a month on used car lots—and one that’s sure to delight for decades to come, whatever the propulsion source.
#3: Subaru BRZ, 36.1 Days
The Subaru BRZ was co-developed with Toyota, which first sold it as the Scion FR-S before dumping that brand entirely and calling it the Toyota 86. Regardless of the badge on the nose, the car is a tribute to the final generation of the rear-wheel-drive Toyota Corolla, which has since become a cult classic because of its minimal curb weight and sharp handling. The BRZ replicates those strengths with its low-mounted Subaru Boxer engine, and a standard limited-slip differential on manual transmission models. As one of the easiest cars to control mid-slide on the market today, as well as arguably the most modifiable, the BRZ is destined to be a classic—whether or not you think it has enough power. Used car hunters agree, pushing it to third place here.
#2: Hyundai Veloster Turbo, 36 Days
The asymmetrical Hyundai Veloster Turbo was never as well-received as its traditional Volkswagen rival, closer to a lukewarm liftback than a hot hatch in its first incarnation (the much improved second-gen model debuted this summer for the 2019 model year, but we’re focusing on the first one here). However, its sharp looks, sloping roofline, and excellent name (Veloster Turbo is kind of fun to say) make it popular with those looking to dip their feet into fun compact cars without going the traditional route.
Its 1.6-liter turbo engine makes 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, and because of a six-speed manual and a relatively light curb weight, the Veloster Turbo can scamper along with the best of them on back roads. It’s the kind of uncommon used-lot oddball that get snapped up quickly when the right buyer strolls past.
#1: Volkswagen Golf R, 34.4 Days
The Volkswagen Golf R is for people that want something a bit meaner and flashier than a Golf GTI. Its 2.0-liter turbo engine bullies the GTI into submission with 296 horsepower and a Haldex all-wheel-drive system, launching the Golf R from zero-to-60 in 5.1 seconds with a manual transmission, or in 4.9 with the dual-clutch automatic. In case that performance isn't distinguished enough for you, the paint can be, as Volkswagen now sells the Golf R in 40 custom colors for 2019.
It will take some time for those radioactive-looking Golf Rs to arrive on used dealer lots, but when they do, you'll have to move fast lest someone else sweep your darling off its tires. The Volkswagen Golf R is the fastest-selling used sports car in the country according to the metrics we’ve established here.
What This Means for the Car-Buying Public
While iSeeCars advises that a short time-to-sell does not necessarily reflect popularity of a vehicle—this list doesn't take private sales into account, which is how a large chunk of used enthusiast-focused vehicles end up changing hands—knowing how long your favorite cars tend to sit on the lot before selling can help you identify when a dealer might be willing to budge on a car's listed price.
Even if you're not in the market for a sports car, knowing some of the fastest sellers among commuter vehicles can arm you with information to help you get a better deal. It's also worth looking into the best time of year to buy a car from a dealer, as you can take advantage of a dealer's desperation to move product and save some cash.