Best "Beginner Car" for Modifying/Tuning
Of course, the car you choose depends on what you want to do with it, but this topic will deal with the best choice or choices for the "first-timer", whether he/she is doing it to look good, just enjoy on the street, or to race in various types of motorsport.
Share your beginner success stories!
See Also: A Beginner's Guide to Modifying a Car
Share your beginner success stories!
See Also: A Beginner's Guide to Modifying a Car
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If, on the other hand, you're interested in winding up with something that's big fun to drive, I'd go with a Miata. Decent 1st gens can be had for cheap, they have great handling right out of the box, and you can be competitive in SCCA solo events without any mods. If you want to hod-rod 'em, they're tough and straightforward little beasts and have a good-sized aftermarket, including all sorts of reasonably priced forced induction setups. I've run with some of them on tracks, they're very hard to catch. And if you're totally insane, a Ford 5-liter fits under the hood.
If you want more serious track or autocross fun, C4 and early C5 'vettes are more money, but still can be had for reasonable bucks, and the SBC probably has the best choice of go-fast parts of *any* engine. But on a tight course, the turbo Miata guy will give you fits.
(though I would recommend the Miata too, to people who can afford to have a non-daily driver)
First off, it's a good daily driver. Four good seats, even in the coupe. Great manual transmissions. Great mileage if you shift early. Slow enough to teach car control more effectively. Good safety ratings for its class.
Second, the pre-'01 models take modifications very well.
Tons of suspension travel in the pre-'01's, and a high potential (well, theoretically) handling limit since the double wishbone front suspension doesn't lose its camber during body roll. They can be lowered a lot without hurting the car (though obviously, handling will suffer if the dampers don't match the springs). That's not true of the new ones; they have trouble if you change the suspension geometry and the only cheaper kits that don't do that are Honda's HFP and Mugen's SS, both of which are mild in drop and stiffness.
And there are lots of parts (engines, most importantly) from other cars in the Honda line that drop right in. Easy to find the parts and people who can do the work. Lots of tried-and-tested aftermarket parts too, including turbos and superchargers, that are a bit cheaper than others due to the sheer volume of Civic sales.
Third, you can tell people you're going to buy a Civic and they'll assume you're sensible, if a little boring.
On the downside, Civics have had lousy steering feel ever since they got power steering. And a lot of people (here included) are sick of seeing them.
And if you're racing on the street, then you're an idiot no matter what you drive.
That's a completely inaccurate statement, sorry. Not only is it easy to make a Mustang handle, it's pretty cheap, too.
Depending on the year, I can give you a short list of products and changes - I made my 1986 GT pull .93 on the skidpad, using z-rated street tires, not slicks or Hoosiers, for under $1300 in suspension components and two weekends at my house.
That's springs, struts, sway bars, bushings, braces (front upper, front lower, and rear upper) and a camber plate kit for less than the cost of a good set of coil-overs for a Honda.
Yeah, you can slap big bars, springs and shocks on it, but you'll trade an increase in grip and better turn-in for really skittish behavior on bumps, and the snap oversteer the stock car already has will be even less predicable. Your ride qualtiy will suffer (kind of an understatement). Throwing out the entire rear suspension in favor of a three-link or Griggs setup is good start towards giving it the predictability and compliance it needs to be "good handling", but I'd hardly call that "beginner" level mods.
If you want to explore good handling, why not start with a chassis that handles well from the get-go?
Even with cars that have independent rear suspension, once you slap on bigger anti-roll bar, you'll notice two things right away. One, you get more grip and oversteer, and two, your car will feel more nervous on bumps and during transitions.
There are a lot of good potential cars out there. I honestly would look towards the Grassroots Motorsports Magazine GRM challenge cars as proof that you don't need a lot of money to get above average performance from a broad range of vehicles.
But, if you asked for my vote, it would be the Merkur XR4Ti, Mustang GT, and the Mazda Miata.
Basically the internet will be your best friend for getting repair information and parts for the XR4Ti.
I had a Merkur and really liked it except for I'd say that the engine felt pretty rough and noisy. But it was a lot of car for very little money, and once I squared away a few things, it ran and handled very well indeed. I'm wondering if that engine can be smoothed out somehow or if aftermarket mods have been made to do this---better mounts or an engine brace or something.
Any SBC and Ford V8, too.
Lately, Subaru WRX is a popular choice. Turbos are easy/cheap to tune.
Intall ford ZX2SR struts with mild lowering springs, for not a lot of money you will have a little car that is so much fun and reliable you will smile every time you turn the key.
Btw, I am really into the idea of owning an STi or even an EVO sooner than later. I believe the STi will be a great replacement for my SVO. Though the new Audi A3 and the new Charger SRT8 has my attention as well. As you can see I am all over the map for my next vehicle, but one thing is for sure, performance will be the major purchase motivator here.
I do recall it was DOHC and turbocharged, but output was not all that high. But in a light car it would be a hoot.
EVO IX will get some tweaks, most notably more power, so these two really feed off each other. Ain't life sweet?
The mods I did this this car were mostly sound oriented and just changing parts to newer ones but it was a great way to get my feet wet.
I'm currently working on a Hyunday pony and I've added elwire, stearing wheel, stereo system, got the best spark plugs and points I could find, wired in a second battery and a buddy put in a system to detect when 1 battery is fully charged and switch the alternator to the other battery to charge (don't ask how it works, I have no idea)
So the best car to work on for your first car, is the cheepest one you can get to get an idea of what can be done. I think anyway.
My question: What can I do to my car to give it a bit more power? No fuel injections and it's a 4 cylindar. I have it tuned high so I can get off the line faster then most stock cars on the road.
Hyundai Pony - are you in Canada? I've seen those cars in other markets but not in the US.
Also try a Google search for "Corona Specifications" or something like that.
WELL THE THING IS LAST YEAR MY PARENTS GAVE ME A CAR FOR GRADUATION, IT WAS A 2.0 GOLF, THEY DIDN'T REALLY WANT A CAR THAT WAS FAST, IT'S NOT LIKE I CAN BUILD A HOTROD WITH A GOLF BUT I WOULD LIKE TO TWEEK IT UP BECAUSE IT IS, HONESTLY STUPIDLY SLOW.
WHAT CAN I DO, ANY IDEAS?
Your options are to swap it out for a GTI engine, or to give it some forced induction. Given the ideosyncracies of VW electrical systems, it might be hard to make the first one work.
Someone makes a supercharger for the base Golf engine. It doesn't make it fast though... I don't know if it's worth the money. Find some Golf experts, and look into the possiblity of using junkyard turbos and intercoolers.
As for drag racing, the Ford Mustang is a cheap and powerful option.
If it has anything to do with great handling, I'd go with either the Honda Civic, Mazda Miata, VW GTI, or a Dodge Neon for a cheaper, well handled option. If you have a lot of extra cash, the Porsche Boxter is an extreme, but quick, option. A few other cars tha tcould be useful here are the Nissan 350z, and the Subaru WRX STI.
For street racing, any of the above are great options. I would go with the vehicle with the most aftermarket options, most likely the Civic.
If you just want to look good, the 350z is a great looking car. The Mustang is a good lookign car as well, but it has more of a muscle-car feel, as apposed to the tuning feel of the 350z.
We do not promote street racing. Perhaps a bicycle is good for that!
Seriously though, innocent, non-involved people (not participants or spectators) often are the victims of street racing. Before you do it, think what you would do if your Mother, Father, Brother or Sister were to be killed by a street racer.
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Wow. There is an awful lot of mustang love going on in here... did the original post say that we were only supposed to consider cars that are currently in production?
If you want straight line speed (we'll talk about handling later) then forget about a Mustang GT. It requires way to many mods to make it go fast and you'll still get beat by the occasional ricer with a turbo.
For simple, straight line, affordable speed, there is nothing better than a 4th gen F-body. Get either engine you want (LT1 or LS1) they're both amazing and easy to mod. The LS1 is probably one of the best V8's ever made in terms of ease of modification and out of the box power delivery. In a straight line, the Camaro/Firebirds will flat out smoke the equivalent mustang stock for stock and once you get into mods, the mustang will need a pulley to beat an F-body with just bolt-ons.
If you buy a '98 Firebird Trans Am (or WS6 would be better, but for money's sake we'll say T/A) and just do bolt on mods, you'll have a car that will be in the 12 second range for far less money than it would take to get a fox body Mustang GT to do the same thing. If you buy a 2001 or 2002 it'll be even cheaper to get them to go fast because those cars had the LS6 intake manifold installed from the factory bringing base hp/tq on the T/A to 310/340 (325/350 in the WS6). The LS6 manifold is able to support upwards of 500rwhp so there's no need to worry about an engine swap to support more power. If cheap straight line fun is all you want, then you don't need to look any further than the 4th gen F-body cars.
They won't handle as well, but they're incredible as daily drivers (provided you stay street legal with your mods) and even stock you'll be running low 13's at the track with practice.
In terms of handling, I'm surprised the Mazda RX-8 hasn't gotten any love here. It's one of the best handling cars available (think Miata but better) and with a few mods it'd be a great beginner car, especially since you can get an '04 for ~$13K now.
Before you start working on tuner cars, you should get all the relevant information. There are several sources of information that you can consider. You could get your information on from online forums and other online resources. You could get the information by working with an expert, not necessarily a mechanic, for sometime.
I'd still guess the Sonic is more tuner-friendly.