T Nation

What Kind of Car to Tinker With?


Ok Car guys/gals...

Say you had maybe $4-5,000 to spend on a 'project car' to which you would play with and modify for anything from autocross, to drag racing or to just have a sweet ride.

What would you pick?

..I ask this mainly because next spring I may go this route (and also buy a daily driver) or put all my eggs in 1 basket and snag a singular sick car.

So far my list is:
Integra GSR
Civic Type-R
Early 90's BMW 3 series
Mitsu GSX
Honda Prelude
944 Turbo
Early 90s' Supra Turbo

I'd like something pretty easy to work on that wouldn't be too difficult to find parts for as well so I wouldn't be waiting for months for a bolt to be manufactured lol.



So this will be a project car, but not a daily driven project? Imo, go with the 240sx or Civic/Integra. Alot of things you can modify on both and fairly cheap iirc. BMW's are spensive, same with Porsche's but if you have the cash they make sick street cars. You can get a Sylvia conversion front end for the 240 sx btw. and put a sr20det in it if you wanna go real fast...


An rx7 with a v8 conversion.



Holy shit, a v8 in an rx7? My Cobra pulls hard, but those rx7s must be insane!


I'd go with another 3rd Gen IROC. never should have sold mine.

I'd love to get a 67-69 Camaro some day, but due to finances probably have to go the cheaper route


That is wholly against nature and sacrilegious. And proof you can do anything with enough money.


I say go with the BMW, only because I myself drive a 97 e36.

Besides those cars modded up look SICK




from a different perspective...

FJ 40 or Jeep

both are easy to work on and both have highly available parts and mods


I am seriously tempted to buy an old jeep to play with. My Dad has a world war 2 classic jeep that he puts into car shows and the like.


I'd be all for a big ass truck/jeep, but where I live there isn't much for trails. Plus I enjoy high speeds.


90's Supra, without question. My buddy bought one and hooked it up with turbos, exhaust, intercooler, you name it. Too bad he flipped it while in Spain.


Unless you have all the tools and scanners needed to work on a bmw I would tell you to stay away and I have owned 4 different bmw's (but I am also certified by bmw and still have all my tools laying around)

On your list the only easy to work on would be the civic or acura since it is really the same car.


Your budget is going to be a problem for some of these.
The Supra you want is the twin turbo and you are short $15-30k+ depending on condition.
The Honda / Acura option might work but I am personally opposed to front wheel drive in a driver's car (I had an Acura way back when). I know there are lots of decent FWD cars but that is not what I would choose as a project.
Not sure what BMW would fit your budget.

I was thinking of an early WRX. They are ugly but very tunable (had one). But budget is a problem.


I had a WRX, should have kept that fucker. It was awesome.

I am leaning more towards the honda/acura route.

Oh also, the supra thing. my bad, i should have wrote late 80's/early 90s' supra. Not the final model that went from 93-98. the previous model had about 240 hp from the turbo'd ones. tons of fun.


Camaro or nothin. None of that foreign tuner crap, unless you want to fit in, that is.


Anything up to 1973


You could get a cheap ass Miata and look at the Flyin' Miata upgrades. I've considered doing this as a project.


Yup. The performance to cost ratio is unbeatable. Mustang comes in second :stuck_out_tongue:

You can put a small block chevy in just about anything. Unbeatable bang for the buck. Probably the most common engine on the planet.

I have a 3rd gen camaro with a beefed up 350 (actually 383 ci now). It's hella fun to drive and almost scary fast. Think about that, that's like 6.3 liters. The biggest motor you have on your list is prob half that. Truth, "there is no replacement for displacement", the import guys will tell you "except a turbo" but watch how fast you v8 will go with a turbo (just look what kind of motor all the 10.5 outlaw cars are running (most of them turbo v8s).

I'm not saying you can't make an import "fast" which is a relative term anyways, but if you want to spend less than $10,000 you will want to get a domestic. Just my opinion.

Under the hood of my IROC-Z28...


You can get one like this for under $3000 if you look around. Then you can get an LS1 corvette engine and transmission for around $2000-3000. For 7 grand you can have a kick ass car. People think I'm rich bc of what I drive... little do they know it cost less than their honda civic.