Every gearhead fantasizes of one day owning the best project cars. Whether it is a pickup truck that will go anywhere and do a tiny coupe that is ideal for canyon running, the single-car dream never gets too far from the thoughts of everyone who loves driving.
Much more of the procedure comes down to knowing a car inside and out, replacing parts as necessary, and making updates as they appear. Sure, purchasing a car off the lot makes for instant gratification, but the truth is it’s a fleeting enjoyment at best.
We review and compare the best project cars available on the market to assist you decide your next buy.
1. Honda Civic (any generation)
The Honda Civic’s compact size and reputation for reliability have made it among the best selling automobiles in the marketplace. The Civic 2021 includes many contemporary features to allow it to maintain this widespread recognition. The Civic is at home as a daily commuter or household car, because of the outstanding fuel economy and regular motorist security attributes. It’s also among the sportiest compact cars in its segment, offering nimble handling and also an optional manual transmission system.
2. Toyota Corolla (1984-1987)
Toyota has assembled lots of the longest-lasting vehicles to roll off an assembly line, also while the Corolla may appear to be a cut-and-dry commuter automobile to most. Following Super Street, models located between 1984 and 1987 give the very best chassis build options. Corollas were rear-wheel drive back then, and engine rebuilds are relatively straightforward since this automobile was naturally aspirated. Just beware of gearbox issues and be aware that their gasoline pumps are prone to rust, so eliminating them can be a real bitch
3. Nissan 240SX (1989-1998)
The Nissan 240SX (S13 generation) was released in 1989 to replace the 200SX in the preceding S12 generation. Between 1989 and 1991, the 240SX featured Nissan’s KA24E engine, a 2.4 litre inline 4 using a single overhead camera, effective at 140 hp. From 1991 to 1994, it updated to the KA24DE with dual overhead cams, capable of 155 hp. Power sent to the back wheels with a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. The 240SX was available in three different body styles: hatchback, coupe, and convertible (as of 1992), all of them with varying levels of trim. It replaced with the 240SX (S14 production ) for the model year 1995.
4. DATSUN 280Z 240z and 260z
While its predecessors — the 240z and 260z — may bring a pretty penny at auction, the Datsun 280Z is comparatively reasonable. The market has caught on its allure in recent decades, but it is easy to locate one prepared to be your next project with some diligent searching. If considering a classic Z car, do yourself a favour and check the body panels for rust — whatever that is likely to influence the structural integrity should signal a red flag.
5. The DSM (1989-1999)
Through an odd turn of events from the late 1980s, Mitsubishi and the Chrysler Group joined forces to generate a bevy of turbocharged performance automobiles. This odd union was called Diamond Star Motors (DSM), and popular vehicles included the Mitsubishi Eclipse, the Eagle Talon, and the Plymouth Laser. These cars were essentially the same thing. These cars are so unique that specific models were supplied with a manual gearbox, an all-wheel drive, and a turbo. And while discovering one in good working order may be uncommon, engine swaps are comparatively inexpensive, and many gearheads can reconstruct the automobile’s 4G63 engine for pennies on the dollar.
6. HONDA CIVIC 1972
The first generation Honda Civic is a car that Honda has produced in Japan from July 1972 to 1979. It had been their first actual market accomplishment, eschewing the air-cooling and costly engineering solutions of this slow-selling Honda 1300 and larger than the minuscule N-series.
7. Mazda Miata (1990-1997)
Twenty decades ago, I was the auto culture editor for a big arrangement”lifestyle” magazine – until”lifestyle” dripped with irony – called L.A. Style. It was mine to push through the Fourth of July weekend, even though”civilians” could not take delivery of their much-heralded new roadster until after the vacation. Now that time has passed, I am writing about the car as a collectible classic. As I cast my mind back into the first Bush era, I will make the argument that the Miata match that definition even at its beginning.
8. MAZDA MIATA MX-5
Granted, Miatas have experienced a slight appreciation in the last decade, but many model years nevertheless make for quite affordable project cars. Not only are they incredibly reliable and approachable learner-maintenance cars, but they are also enjoyable to drive and also ideal for updating. So while you may at first buy it as a budget repair, you’ll soon come to find you won’t be able to part ways with this bit of roadster.
9. Acura Integra (1994-2001)
The Integra has been Acura’s first compact coupe and sedan (before the RSX and TSX). The Integra theory goes back to 1980 using the JDM Quint. It came to America as an Acura for the 1986 model year; it had become the Integra. The name lasted for three generations in The States, retiring in 2002 when the RSX took over. While all generations of this Integra could be exciting and fun to drive, it was the third party most sought after from the performance enthusiast.
10. Lexus SC 300/400 (1992-1996)
As Toyota’s luxury line of vehicles, Lexus’ generally do not make good project cars, but that may change as specific models era. Case in point, the SC 300 and 400 were quite sleek and appealing in their heyday. These cars can be found for costs ranging from a few grand around approximately $7,000 and offer an engine bay that’s great for a V8 or a turbocharged Supra powertrain. Start looking for model years between 1992 and 1996 for the most bang for the dollar, and because most common issues with this particular chassis are superficial, it is an excellent car to consider.
11. CHEVROLET CAMARO
The Chevrolet Camaro is a mid sized American automobile manufactured by Chevrolet, categorized as a pony car and a muscle car with some variations. It first went on the market on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year and has been created as a rival version of the Ford Mustang.
12. CHEVROLET EL CAMINO
The Chevrolet El Camino is a pickup / coupé utility vehicle that has been made by Chevrolet between 1959–60 and 1964–1987. Unlike a standard pickup truck, the El Camino was adapted from the conventional two-door Chevrolet station wagon platform and incorporated the cab and cargo bed into the body.
13. Subaru WRX (2000-2007)
Few cars provide more pleasure for their owners compared to the classic boxer-powered, rally-inspired Subaru WRX. This car was in production for a while, which means that there is a good deal of aftermarket support readily available to us now. But because WRX owners are not always keen on letting go of automobiles, these cars can still be a bit steep. A super inexpensive WRX should immediately be a red flag — mainly if it’s decked out in STi trim like the one pictured.
14. DODGE DART
The Dodge Dart is a line of automobiles marketed by Dodge in the 1959 to 1976 version years in North America, with production extended to after years in various other markets. … The Dart nameplate was nominated to get a Fiat-derived compact car that has been introduced in 2012.
15. Nissan 300ZX (1990-1996)
If you’d like a fantastic street racer, the Nissan 300ZX is an excellent choice. Turbo versions came outfitted with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine, making around 300 horsepower, and it wasn’t too bad on the eyes. Just be forewarned that their engine bays are cramped at best, that they suffer from oil cooler line issues, which electrical issues are a royal bitch to deal with. But if you want to go the path less travelled and want to rebuild a speedster, the 300ZX may be what you’re searching for, and businesses like Stillen are a great go-to resource for advice and parts for this stage.
16. FORD MUSTANG
As a classic project car, the Ford Mustang has witnessed a monsoon of aftermarket parts and tech support through recent years. Since the Mustang has been in production for so many years, locating one for a fair price shouldn’t be unbelievably complex. Due to its broad history, many components and accessories could be used to build the ideal customer.
17. VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI
Secondly to the Beetle, the Volkswagen Golf is among the most widespread models the German marque produces. So no matter what body style you are contemplating, they’re incredibly inexpensive project platforms. In GTI form, they create lightweight, small hatchbacks offering tons of driving pleasure. Bag it, increase it, or deliver it back to factory state — the entire world is your oyster when it comes to the final result. Even a cursory search will reveal to you precisely how booming the VW wrencher neighbourhood is.
18. Chevrolet Impala (any generation)
The Impala, such as the Mustang, has a comprehensive history among automobile enthusiasts, meaning that there are many choices available to us and that you’re able to make it as quick as low as you want. SS versions are an excellent thing to do. Still, because those generally carry a premium price tag, it is often better to swap a beefier powerplant into an Impala with a fantastic shell. There are many examples to search for inspiration, and a quick Google search is guaranteed to inspire anyone looking to make the Impala their next project car.
19. VOLVO 240
Older Volvos have tons of attributes that make them ideal platforms for getting your hands dirty. For example, their spacious engine bays allow for easy access to elements come time for maintenance. When it comes to the ride, they’re built like tanks and are usually pretty reliable. Buyer beware — depending upon the repair, some parts can be challenging to find (as is the case with most Swedish imports).