Hero Image Credit: motorz.jp
If your intention is to buy a fast car, this is not for you. This article is for those radical car enthusiasts and gearheads who, instead, want to buy a car and make it really fast, and, more specifically, those who are on a budget.
There is nothing as satisfying as seeing your fast car ‘creation’ come to life, and the best part about is that it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. The key is choosing the right tuner car.
Here is a list of some of the cheapest tuner cars to build in Australia:
Model Years: 1993 - 2002
Price (AUD): $9,000 - $40,000
The Toyota Supra is an iconic 2-door, 2+2 fastback coupe that quickly became famous when it starred in the first The Fast and the Furious movie. It’s a street-legal road-racing car that delivers outstanding performance.
The Supra employs a longitudinal front-engine, rear-wheel-drive body layout, and is powered by a naturally aspirated, or turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine. The 276-hp turbocharged variants are said to be capable of spiriting from zero to 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds. Thanks to its fame and its incredible performance, this car enjoys extraordinary aftermarket support.
In terms of modding, you would not go wrong with a front lip mod, because it makes the rather tame front fascia of this car look even more aggressive. In addition, once you get a taste of the power that this car offers, you will soon want more. One of the easiest ways to do that is to enable the engine to breathe better. You can do this with the help of a free-flow panel filter, a cold-air intake, and/or a cat-back exhaust system.
Model Years: 1990 - 1997
Price (AUD): $7,000 - $15,000
The Mazda MX-5 is regarded as one of the most fun-to-drive 2-seater roadsters on the market. It employs a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive body layout, thanks to which it boasts near 50/50 weight distribution.
The MX-5 adds a lightweight body and a peppy 1.6/1.8-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine to that mix; the result is a swift, nimble sports car that promises thrilling driving experiences. The Mazda MX-5 is also durable, and all of its models offer great performance potential. You can opt for the first generation models (1990-1997) as they are the cheapest.
Since the MX-5 already has really good handling, most people prefer not to touch the suspension, but good quality aftermarket sway bars can help to eliminate body roll. Other popular mods for this car are cold air intakes, aftermarket exhaust systems, and stickier tires with lighter wheels. If you want to take it further, you can install a turbocharger. Both the 1.6 and 1.8-liter engine options are robust enough to handle a turbocharger. In terms of aesthetic mods, the 1990 – 1997 Mazda MX-5 would look much better with an RS Style body kit.
Image Credit: gotuning.com
Model Years: 2002 - 2006
Price (AUD): $4,000 - $20,000
The Honda Integra DC5 is a high-quality, front-wheel-drive, transverse front-engine compact car that is also renowned for its inspiring handling and performance. It is available both as a 4-door sedan and as a 2-door coupe, but the coupe is most prevalent in Australia. Most Honda Integra DC5 models are powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine. The performance-enhanced Type R models feature a 220-hp version of this engine that delivers 0-100 km/h acceleration times of less than seven seconds, so they make an excellent base for tuning.
If you will be tuning a base non-performance Integra DC5, it makes sense to mod it with Type R parts, and then go from there. Other mods that would make a noticeable difference are an ECU remap, along with suspension, brake, exhaust, induction kit, and gearbox mods. If you want more significant power gains, you can opt to install a stroker kit. Stroker kits increase the displacement of the engine by increasing piston travel. In so doing, they improve the engine’s output. The Honda Integra DC5 is also capable of handling a low-boost supercharger, but it may have to come with a corresponding ECU remap, a more aggressive suspension setup, and a limited slip differential.
Model Years: 1992 - 2000
Price (AUD): $4,000 - $20,000
The Subaru Impreza WRX sedan/hatchback is one of the most popular tuner car options in Australia. Its first generation (1992 - 2000) offers an excellent base for tuning. It is renowned for its outstanding success in the World Rally Championship, and it also performs well in most street-racing competitions. Its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, sport-tuned suspension, all-wheel-drive system, and rally-inspired chassis give it an edge over most other similar cars.
In terms of mods, the Subaru Impreza WRX takes to body kits like it was always meant to have them. With the right front lip/rear diffuser/side skirts combination, you are sure to make your 1992 – 2000 WRX look absolutely stunning. When it comes to performance mods, one of the first things that you need to consider doing is getting the car’s ECU remapped. The Subaru WRX has been known to respond very well to ECU remapping; it transforms the car into a whole new car in terms of driving dynamics. You should also get a larger top mount intercooler. The stock intercooler is okay, but it is susceptible to heat soak, especially when the car is being driven at low speeds. A larger top mount intercooler would cure all that. You also would not go wrong with a downpipe, a cat-back exhaust system, and a cold air intake.
Image Credit: forums.nasioc.com
Model Years: 2006 - 2009
Price (AUD): $1,800 - $25,000
The Volkswagen Golf MK5 hatchback is a practical, compact hatchback, which also makes a great tuner car because it is honed to deliver precision handling. Its performance is commendable, thanks to its impressive 4-cylinder/ 5-cylinder/6-cylinder petrol engines and its Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engine.
The Volkswagen Golf MK5 hatchback is available in three performance models: the GT Sport, the GTI, and the R32. The GT Sport model offers the best balance between performance and fuel efficiency. It features either a twin-turbocharged 1.4-liter petrol engine or a 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, both of which make 168 hp. The GTI models feature a more powerful 197-hp 2.0-litre turbocharged inline 4-cylinder petrol engine that cranks up the performance. The range-topping R32 models feature an even more powerful 247-hp 3.2-litre VR6 engine. Therefore, depending on your tuner car aspirations, you can choose the model that best fits your needs and your budget.
The Volkswagen Golf MK5 also takes to body kits very well. An appropriate front lip, side skirts, a rear diffuser, a rear spoiler, and larger wheels can really transform the look of this car. The Volkswagen Golf MK5 has great aftermarket support in Australia, so you can get these mods easily and affordably. In terms of performance mods, ECU tuning is a good place to start. A good stage one tune on this car can yield up to 50 horsepower, without adding any other performance mod. You should also consider getting a turboback exhaust (an exhaust system that extends right from the turbocharger to the rear). This exhaust needs to have a high-flow catalytic converter if you want to drive it on the streets. A front-mount intercooler, a turbo outlet pipe, and lowering springs are also sure to improve its performance.
Model Years: 2005 - 2010
Price (AUD): $1,000 - $20,000
The Ford Focus MK 2 sedan/coupe/hatchback also has serious performance pedigree. It is also renowned for its outstanding success in the World Rally Championships (WRC) between 2006 and 2010. This car offers sharp handling and above-average composure when cornering, and it also comes equipped with peppy 1.6/1.8-liter 4-cylinder ‘Zetec’ or ‘Duratec’ engines.
The Ford Focus MK 2 is also available in two performance-oriented models: the XR5 Turbo and the RS. The XR5 Turbo 3-door/5-door hatchbacks come with a 222-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and a sport-tuned suspension system. The RS models take it a notch higher with an upgraded 301-hp XR5 Turbo engine, a specially calibrated transmission, more aggressive suspension tuning, and a limited slip differential. For obvious reasons, the XR5 Turbo and RS models would make excellent tuner platforms, but even the base Ford Focus MK 2 has a lot to offer.
If you will be working with a base, non-performance Ford Focus MK 2, some great mod ideas include a mesh grille, a front splitter lip, a rear diffuser, a rear spoiler, and side skirts. In terms of performance mods for these models, a catback exhaust system and an induction kit would be good places to start. You can also upgrade these models with parts from the XR5 Turbo and RS models. If you will be working on the XR5 Turbo models, you would not go wrong with a more aggressive body kit. For most people, the RS models look aggressive enough as they are, so you may not need to mod them externally. Performance mods for the XR5 Turbo and RS models can include an ECU remap, a front mount intercooler, a downpipe, a catback exhaust system, and a more extreme air filter.
You can get many of the different mods for these cars right here at AusBody Works. We have classified them by category in our inventory, so you can easily find the ones that you need. We pride ourselves in providing both locally made and imported aftermarket parts and body kits of the highest quality.