AP
The 2006 Pontiac Solstice offers a manual but acoustically padded top, tight steering, an aggressive wheels-at-the-corners stance and a simple but sophisticated cockpit.
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updated 12/9/2005 6:21:04 PM ET 2005-12-09T23:21:04

Never have so many sports cars been available at such a range of prices, from a $19,995 compact car to the $1,250,000, 253-mph Bugatti Veyron, and with performance capabilities extending from Spartan weekend touring to full race-track potential.

It’s a golden age of ever-increasing brute horsepower and extreme top speed on the one hand, and greater sophistication and dependability on the other. Gone are the cranky cloth tops, oil leaks, Prince of Darkness electrical accessories and the need for carry-on toolboxes that characterized the sports cars of the previous “golden age,” the pre-emissions and safety standards 1960s.

Still, the things that made a sports car great back then and hot right now haven’t changed, particularly some degree of high-performance capability and stunning looks. Some of the players from that previous era (Aston Martin, Chevrolet’s Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, Morgan, Porsche) are with us still, plus names unfamiliar back then (BMW, Honda, Lamborghini, Mazda, Nissan, Saturn).

We’ve chosen our 2006 Hottest Sports Cars list of eight current greats with an eye on value, extreme performance and sheer physical beauty. The Corvette Z06 manages to combine all three, but even if a six-digit Aston Martin or Ferrari can hardly be called a bargain, or a Pontiac Solstice won’t do 200 mph, two out of three isn’t bad.

© 2013 Forbes.com

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