[ Guest Post by Miles Walker ]
1. Honda Civic
Thanks to platform engineering, nearly any Honda engine and transmission can be placed in the Civic. The CRX HF remains the gold standard for racing with its dual-wishbone suspension and low curb weight. Those looking for something a bit more modern or luxurious have the option of newer Civics or Acura’s Civic-based Integra and RSX.
While exotic powerplants are popular, even a 4-cylinder out of an Accord can be made fast with the addition of a supercharger. Add to this the high-spec suspension systems in most Civics and you have a car that can easily be built for the track or the dragstrip.
2. Ford Mustang
The Fox Body platform and its update, the SN-95, underpinned Mustangs from 1979 to 2004. A favorite of tuner companies, nearly anything offered on high performance versions is still available for individual customization.
A 5.0L V8 can be dropped into a four-cylinder Fox body with ease, while V6 SN-95 ‘stangs are ideal donors for the 4.6L “Mod” motor. If the solid axle seems archaic, Ford still offers the independent rear suspension used in the Cobra as a direct bolt-on system for later cars.
3. Mazda MX-5 Miata
The Mazda Miata is the best selling roadster in history and has become a perennial favorite for both SCCA races and autocross. Chances are if you have a local track there’s at least one race dedicated to the marque, if not several for each generation of this inexpensive sports car.
While most car enthusiasts all about horsepower, Miata enthusiasts concentrate on weight. Information is readily available for the removal or exchange of every part on the car for improved performance. Supercharging and turbocharging kits are available for better straight-line performance, or the four-cylinder can be replaced with a Mazda rotary engine or even Ford’s 5.0L V8.
If you prefer the style of older British roadsters, guides exist to place the drivetrain and suspension from a Miata into an old MG or Triumph giving you a classic car with the reliability and drivability of a modern vehicle.
4. Subaru WRX
While the Miata rules autocross and track events, the WRX is the dominant force in rally racing. Power can be increased by changing the turbo’s boost pressure, although the transmission will require modification to handle the large amounts of power the boxer-4 can produce.
5. BMW 3-series
The 3-series is the most popular performance car in Europe with aftermarket support there matching the Mustang state-side. Tuner cars from companies like Dinan, Korman, and Alpina may be hard to find here, but their performance parts are readily available.