But could we buy the best car in the world if limited to a more down-to-earth budget of just £10k? Nope, don't be daft, that won't buy you a supercar, not even half of one, or indeed anything rare or exotic, not even some half-baked replica. But if you look through our classifieds you might be able to pick up a used example of what are generally regarded to be the best sports cars in their particular class for that sort of money. You might, in short, be able to choose from some of the best cars in the real world.
Next, you might want a similar drop-top, but smaller and easier on the pocket, something that's so highly regarded it's sold more than just about any other sports car worldwide. Gotta be the Mazda MX-5. It doesn't really matter which version of this diminutive drop-top you choose, you'll enjoy driving them all. A £10k budget will buy you this 2012 Mk3.5 car, and what you'll get is a quick-steering, sharp-handling roadster powered by a lively 158hp 2.0-litre engine, enabling 0-62mph in 7.6sec and a blowy top speed of 132mph.
But those figures tell only half the story. Even this largest of MX-5s feels lithe, and a quick roof-down punt along a sunny country lane will stir your senses, its unburstable quality matched only by its unbeatable charm. Reported problems are few, and there are plenty around. Another thought: shop carefully and you could probably have an example of each, Mk1, Mk2 and Mk3, for your £10k.
Now, as far as hot hatches are concerned, there are so many good ones to choose from it could make your head spin. Think Megane RS, Clio RS, Fiesta ST and Civic Type R, but of them all it's surely the VW Golf GTI that must be the best all-rounder in the real world. In fact it could be all the car you need wrapped up in one elegant and understated bundle. The Mk6 version packs a smooth 208hp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine under its bonnet, which means 0-62mph in a swift 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 149mph. There's strong grip and accurate steering and the handling is a joy: eminently chuckable, instantly recoverable and immense fun. No other hot hatch can match its overall competence, possibly no other car. For £10k, you'll get this 2009 five-door with desirable 18-inch alloys.
What about an ordinary size coupe? The Audi TT seems to have that category all sown up, and likewise you'll easily bag a good 'un for our chosen budget. Alas the GT86 is still just a tad too expensive, but personally I'd be half-tempted by an old Renault Alpine GTA, which you should be able to pick up for this money - check out Lewis Kingston's buying guide from earlier this week here.
Finally, what if you need a car to transport the family around while your sporty number's being serviced? Maybe you need the best 4x4, the best all-round SUV for £10k? The Range Rover has been ploughing its own furrow since 1970, combining the qualities of a smart and refined upmarket town car and a hugely capable and capacious off-roader. It can pull like a train and glide like a swan, although it still comes as a shock to discover that the chic, stolid and innovative Rangie handles like a boat. It also comes as a shock to learn that something so tough can be so fragile - its unreliability will make you weep. But for £10k, you could put this V8 diesel Vogue SE from 2006 on your driveway, and for perhaps 50 per cent of the time you would want for no more.
Words: Mark Pearson