1990 Ford Mustang Fox Body, front

10 American Cars Under $20,000 With Endless Tuning Possibilities

If you want a fast American car with the latest technology, you will have to spend a lot of money. Fortunately, there is another way for gear heads on a budget to get this type of car, and that is by working on a car project. With the right upgrades and modifications, you can transform a cheap old American car for the better.


Related: 10 cheap American flops you should keep away from

Quick search in used car The market will reveal a lot of great American used cars with endless tuning possibilities. If you’re running on a $20,000 budget, we’ve found the ten best American project cars you can buy right now.

10 Jeep Wrangler JK – $19,000

Jeep Wrangler needs no introduction, as it is one of the greatest off-road SUVs ever. Jeep developed the Wrangler in the 1980s and helped create a now popular segment of the off-road SUV that could double as a daily driver.

If you want a Wrangler under $20,000, you’ll have to settle for a JK generation. The JK was a big upgrade over its predecessors, as it had a new chassis, frame and suspension design. Lots of modifications are available on the Wrangler, including fenders, entry guards, wheels, and lift kits.

9 Ford Mustang – $15,000

Ford has built many great cars over the years, but the first car that comes to most people’s minds when the automaker is mentioned is the Mustang. The Mustang has been a staple in the American auto industry since the 1960s and is one of, if not the greatest, muscle cars.

Mustangs have been in production continuously for nearly six decades, which means there are plenty of affordable models out there.

8 Chevrolet Corvette C5 – $18,000

If we had to pick just one Chevrolet to own forever, it would probably be the Corvette. The Chevrolet Corvette was introduced in the 1960s to attract returning WWII soldiers, and it’s been a huge hit ever since.

RELATED: 10 Things We Love About the Chevrolet Corvette C5

The Corvette is now in its eighth generation and still offers the best value for money when it comes to sports cars. For less than $20,000, you can get a C5 Corvette with a base 5.7-liter V8. Some of the popular C5 Corvette modifications include cold air intake systems, turbochargers and superchargers, among others.

7 2008 Dodge Challenger – $19,000

When Dodge discontinued the Challenger’s plate for the first time in 1983, the gear heads were destroyed. Fortunately, Dodge listened to its fans and introduced a new generation Challenger in 2008.

The Challenger is still in its third generation and has kept the same general design elements, which is why you should settle on the early base models. With the right mods, you can turn the early 2008 Challenger into an obliterating monster Newest Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye.

6 4th generation Chevrolet Camaro – $13,000

If you are a fan of powerful cars, then Chevrolet Camaro should be at the top of your list of favorite cars. The Camaro is one of the few muscle car nameplates left, and with it Rumors that Chevrolet plans to eliminate it in 2024Now is the best time to get one.

Modern Camaros are expensive, but a fourth-generation model from the ’90s is still under $20,000. We think it makes a great project car because it has a modern design and many upgrade options.

5 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – $19,000

The Firebird may not get as respected as the iconic GTO, but it’s still a great muscle car from Pontiac. We especially love the late ’70s Firebird Trans AM, which remains one of the most elegant muscle cars you can buy—especially the one with the roaring chicken logo.

RELATED: These Are the 5 Best Pontiacs Ever Made (and the 5 Worst)

Firebird Trans Am 1977 is very expensive due to its role in Smokey and banditsbut the 1978 model is still under $20,000—though it looks nearly identical.

4 Ford F-Series – $15,000

The F Series has been Ford’s bread and butter over the past century, selling millions of units in the process. F-Series has always been a reliable, capable and affordable work truck, which is why it’s been around for so long.

There are many generations of F-Series to choose from if you’re looking for an affordable project pickup truck, from vintage F-100s from the 1960s to more modern F-150s.

3 Chevrolet Cobalt SS – $17,000

First generation cobalt was a hit when it debuted in the early 2000s, but many didn’t like its performance numbers. As such, Chevy returned to the drawing board and built the Cobalt SS in 2005.

The Cobalt SS was like regular Cobalt on steroids, equipped with a turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0-liter Ecotec engine that produced 260 horsepower. It also has new electronics, launch control, 18-inch split wheels, and performance tires.

2 Old Ford Bronco – $15,000

These days, SUVs are more popular than all other types of vehicles. The Ford Bronco is one of the main reasons behind this. The Bronco debuted in 1965 and was sold for five generations as a three-door SUV until it was discontinued in 1996.

After huge customer demand, Ford revived the Bronco in 2021 after a 25-year hiatus and it’s just as impressive as its predecessors. However, since they cost more than $20,000, the budget gear heads should settle for older Bronco versions that still galore and have plenty of upgrade options.

1 1961-1969 Lincoln Continental – $17,000

The fourth generation of the Lincoln Continental is an absolute symbol of the American auto industry. The fourth-generation Lincoln Continental was introduced in 1961, and is still considered among the most exquisite classic American cars.

The Continental’s low-slung body still looks as stylish as ever today, especially if you install one of the modern air suspension systems.

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