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10 Japanese Cars Under $10,000 With Endless Tuning Possibilities

Regular cars are boring, which is why most people spend tons of cash to get top-notch sports cars. The good thing is that it’s now easier than ever to turn an otherwise boring car into a street king with some performance upgrades and nice aesthetic tweaks. However, getting low-budget cars with endless aftermarket support is the most challenging part. Fortunately, the JDM There are some of the most affordable cars on the market that make really good project cars.


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Japanese automakers have a reputation for building reliable cars with unparalleled tuning capabilities. Although rare and creative used cars Like the Nissan GT-R and Toyota Supra MKIV that command higher prices today, you can still find a Japanese car that fits your budget. However, these 10 Japanese cars under $10,000 have endless tuning potential.

10 1997-2004 Lexus GS – $7000

The second generation Lexus GS had two iconic Toyota engines, the 1UZ-FE V8 for the GS 400 or the much-loved 2JZ-GE for the GS 300. The best candidate for the project car. However, we can’t rule out the 1UZ V8 engine because it produces 300 horsepower in stock form.

Both engines can produce 300 more horsepower than a standard bolt, but if you want some real power, look into an affordable 2JZ-GE turbo kit or swap the JDM 2JZ-GTE engine for a GS 300. Manual transmission.

9 2003 Honda Civic C – $7000

The seventh generation Honda Civic C was often overlooked when it came out at the same time as the RSX Type-S. Today, EP3 gearheads are considered one of the best entry-level tuner cars because you can get a long-distance unit for as low as $5,000, fitted with a tuner-friendly K20A3 engine.

For such a price, the Honda Civic is surprisingly reliable, easy to maintain, and aftermarket parts are readily available. You can also add significant power to the K20A3’s 160 HP motor with bolts or forced induction.

8 2003-2006 Subaru WRX – $10,000

The WRX is popular in the tuner scene and remains a solid choice for many gear heads. Sit behind the wheel The Subaru WRX reminds you that it is a car designed for rally racing, Besides being a practical everyday driver. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 227 hp looks like a speed demon.

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The beauty of the turbocharged WRX is that you can achieve upwards of 300 horsepower with a slight tuning. However, newer models command a higher entry price, making the second generation WRX the ideal choice for tuners on a budget.

7 2002-2006 Infiniti G35 – $10,000

Next on our list is the third generation Infiniti G35. While it comes with multiple body styles and shapes, the look you want is the 3.5-liter G35 sedan mated to a six-speed manual transmission – it offers great value for money and requires modification.

You can find a used Infiniti G35 for under $10,000, but that’s not all. The 3.5-liter VQ35DE V6 has a massive power supply, producing 298 horsepower from the factory. So, you can turn the Infinite G35 into a beast, as there is a heap of aftermarket support.

6 1990-1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse – $5000

The first generation Mitsubishi Eclipse (also marketed as the Eagle Talon or Plymouth Laser) was a joint effort between Mitsubishi and Chrysler called Diamond Star Motors. They cover a wide range of options for tuners, from dirt-cheap, non-turbo front-wheel drive models to GSX turbocharged all-wheel drive models.

It doesn’t matter which drivetrain you prefer, provided you get the tuner-friendly 4G63 engine. Aftermarket support is readily available, including the turbo kit for the 4G63. Sure, you can get an affordable eclipse mod, but you’d prefer to get the ones with little or no mods and enjoy the tuning process.

5 1988-1992 Toyota Cressida – $5000

Cressida was Toyota’s best model before the introduction of Lexus. Under the hood, the 7M-GE inline-6 ​​produced 190 hp. Yes, anyone would say nothing to get excited about, but the fact that the Cressida is rear-engine and shares the foundations with the Supra makes it one of the best project cars.

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This means you can slap it with a turbo setup and a five-speed manual transmission from the Supra. While the 7M-GE can generate nearly decent power, an engine swap is the way to go if you have the ambition. To get the best deals, opt for 6th generation models at lower prices since they are very old now.

4 1991-1999 Nissan 240SX – $7000

The Nissan 240SX is one of the most popular cars from the Japanese automaker. The 240SX is considered a classic today, popular with freelancers and tuners. Models produced between 1990 and 1999 are not only affordable, but also have the more powerful KA24DE engine producing 160 horsepower in stock form.

Elsewhere, Japan and Europe got the turbocharged SR20DET and CA18DET, which are the best engine swaps for many Nissan Silvia owners. But the most interesting aspect of the 240SX is the constant supply of new body kits – we can’t say the same about many sports cars produced during the 1990s.

3 2002-2009 Nissan 350Z – $10,000

The 350Z is another great project vehicle with plentiful and affordable parts and aftermarket support. Equipped with a 3.5-liter VQ35DE V6 engine, the 350Z delivers impressive power even with stock retention.

Later models produced up to 306 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque, but that doesn’t mean you have to increase your budget to get one. You can find earlier base models for $6000, which leaves you with enough to spend on parts and tuning.

2 2004 Subaru Forester XT – $9000

Being a compact SUV, the Forester XT isn’t your typical tuner car, save for one small part. The 2004 XT featured an EJ255 engine—the same engine as the Subaru WRX. While the stock Forester XT produced 173 horsepower, you can tune it to reach STI power levels.

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Tuning parts for the VF39 include turbo, exhaust, hood scoop, STI intercooler, fuel pump and cat-less tube. You can also perform an ECU reflash to unlock the full capabilities of the installed mods or directly swap out the STI ECU. Ultimately, these modifications increase power to over 250 horsepower while using all OEM parts.

1 1992-1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata – $4000

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is arguably the most popular car in the world. It also participates in motorsports events, with many chains built around the car, such as MX-5 . Cup. Although 181 horsepower was produced in the fourth-generation model, it was the car’s agile handling that maintained its appeal for decades.

With so many MX-5 Miatas on our roads, they are very affordable, and parts are readily available. Due to the Miata’s lightweight nature, every horsepower you add to the car makes a huge difference. Power upgrades include anything from standard bolts to induction power. Engine swaps are also common for the bold.

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