Are you considering buying a car to customize and after a little inspiration? We have 10 suggestions…
For some, a car is just a tool, a form of transportation that doesn’t require them to queue at the bus stop. But for others, their car is an extension of their personality, a blank metal canvas ready to be transformed into something much more personal.
This is where car modifications come in. Automakers spend millions of pounds and countless hours honing their products, but their goal is to create a vehicle that will appeal to a wide audience.
This has created an entire industry catering to people looking for something different, whether it be a simple visual or mechanical upgrade or even a complete redesign of the entire vehicle. Now, not every car is tuner-friendly, so we’ve picked 10 of the best cars to customize, from tuner classics to the latest cars on sale.
Our pick of the 10 cars to be upgraded in the UK are:
- Toyota GT86 / Subaru BRZ
- Nissan GT-R
- Audi TT
- BMW 3 Series
- Toyota Supra
- Mazda MX-5
- VW Golf GTI
- Ford Fiesta ST
- Subaru WRX
- Honda S2000
1. Toyota GT86 / Subaru BRZ
The Toyota GT86 and its twin brother, the Subaru BRZ, arrived on our shores in 2012 and became an instant, if rather niche, hit. The front-engine, manual transmission and rear-wheel drive layout was specifically designed for car enthusiasts, and the somewhat understated looks and modest power were just an invitation to the modding community to make some changes.
Starting with some tackier tires and an engine remap, you can go to a specialist for a more powerful supercharger or track-spec suspension upgrades. The newer Toyota GR86 improves upon the basic formula and is sure to be another modder’s dream for years to come.
2. BMW 3 Series
The original sports sedan has been a great mud car for decades. There are plenty of specialists out there who can turn your family car into a track-ready machine and most things in between.
Some, such as BMW-authorized specialists such as Alpina and Schnitzer, offer a wide range of upgrades that have been extensively tested and still allow you to keep your manufacturer’s warranty. Get started with a mild remap to unlock the latent performance potential in your executive saloon.
3. Toyota Supra
Toyota’s sporty Supra nameplate was revived in 2019 when the fifth-generation model was finally released. BMW’s internals are proven components, and there’s a lot of latent performance potential hidden under the hood.
There are already plenty of body kits, engine upgrades and suspension mods available for these models. The previous generation Supra was one of the most modified cars in history and it looks like the latest Supra is following in its footsteps.
Driving pleasure distilled. That’s the Mazda MX-5 in a nutshell. The latest models have stayed true to this recipe of lightweight, affordable fun, and older MX5s remain highly sought after by enthusiasts.
These little roadsters have been converted into track toys, stripped-down rallycross cars and even converted to electric drive. The vibrant MX-5 owners club in the UK is a great starting point for everything MX-5, from replacing the factory radio to blowing up a V8 engine under that tiny hood.
5. Nissan GT-R
Readers of any age will remember the legendary Nissan Skylines of the 1980s and 1990s, all gigantic sports cars that combined an advanced four-wheel drive layout with a powerful six-cylinder turbocharged engine. The Nissan GT-R continued this fine tradition when it was released in 2009 and remains a formidable sports car 13 years later.
Initially considered “unhackable”, modified GT-Rs are now more common than standard versions. Some crazy builds produce up to 1600 horsepower, although you can easily get 650 horsepower+ out of them with relatively minor upgrades.
6. VW Golf GTI
The original 1974 VW Golf GTI was arguably the first true hot hatch, combining decent speed with a practical hatchback and affordable running costs, features that are still present in the latest GTI models.
All of this has helped create a huge fan base and an entire industry dedicated to modifying these great cars.
7. Ford Fiesta ST
In its many years as a sales favorite, the Fiesta has evolved from a simple urban run to an accomplished urban enthusiast. In ST trim, it’s pretty fast too. But in the world of modding, there is more and there are plenty of performance upgrades on offer.
Mountune has offered OEM approved tuning options in the past and continues to offer a huge range of mods to turn your Fiesta ST into a little road rocket.
8. Audi TT
The Audi TT looks sharp and drives well, but the top end models can be quite pricey, so why not opt for the base 194 hp Sport 40 TFSI and spend some of the savings on a few optional mods?
First of all, you need a remap to free a few more horses (up to 40 horsepower according to specialists) from the 2.0-liter turbo engine. Then a set of sporty dampers and springs to improve handling. Finally a performance aftermarket exhaust system to wake up the neighbors with. Now some mods can void a new car’s warranty, but you can always look at a used model if that’s an issue.
9. Subaru WRX
Subaru is now all about efficient hybrid and electric SUVs, but in its heyday, the WRX models were the halo cars. The latest generation WRX and hotter STI are no longer offered in the UK, but why not pick up a used one and turn it into a Colin McRae rally clone?
There are still plenty of aftermarket specialists ready to upgrade your turbos, ramp up the boost and rearrange your suspension to the level your wallet will allow.
10. Honda S2000
Out of production since 2009, the Honda S2000 has become more desirable than ever thanks to a puristic mechanical layout that will likely never be repeated. The high-revving naturally aspirated engine is hard to beat, but there’s plenty of suspension and cosmetic updates to choose from.
From carbon fiber aero kits to advanced exhaust systems, there’s a lot you can do to make your S2000 stand out even more.
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