10 Highly Tunable Japanese Cars That Are Surprisingly Cheap To Maintain

2022-06-07 07:20:10 By : Ms. Sunny Shin

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Japanese car manufacturers have managed to build some awesome everyday performance cars with serious tuning potential and great reliability.

What are the elements of a good project car? When asked this question, most gearheads will name affordability as the first key element of a project car, and we would agree. A project car needs to be affordable so that you're left with enough money for all the upgrades and modifications. Another key element of a good project car is reliability. After all, nobody wants to spend hours on a build that will keep breaking down when they're trying to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

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With these two key elements in mind, it's easy to see why many gearheads prefer Japanese project cars as opponents to European and American options. Japanese cars offer more value for money than others and are engineered to be as reliable as possible, making them excellent project cars. This list highlights ten of the coolest JDMproject cars you can buy that are also super reliable.

If you drive on any American road, you're likely to come across a few Honda Civic models. This isn't a surprise, as the Civic has been one of the best-selling vehicles in the US since its debut in 1972.

There's a lot we love about the Civic - it offers a practical, efficient, affordable, and reliable way for the masses to move around, and if you get one of the high-performance versions, like the Type R, it can also be fun to drive. Another reason why gearheads love the Civic is its ease of modification. There's a wide range of aftermarket parts available for virtually every Civic generation, making it a quick and easy build.

In 2013, Toyota and Subaru joined forces to create a new sports car, resulting in the Toyota GT86 and its twin - the Subaru BRZ. Although the sports cars were quite underpowered, they looked great and were very affordable.

Since the two vehicles were intruded, they've become some of the best modern project cars money can buy. Their affordable prices leave plenty of room for upgrades.

In the '60s, Toyota unveiled the awe-inspiring 2000GT and impressed everyone with its gorgeous design. Nissan knew it needed to respond with a worthy competitor, which is why it developed the 240Z.

RELATED: These Are The Most Beautiful Japanese Cars Ever Made

Like the 2000GT, the 240Z received a lot of praise for having a beautiful design that could rival anything from Europe. However, unlike the 2000GT, which was limited to just 337 examples, the 240Z was produced for the masses. As such, the 240Z is still affordable to date.

Honda's greatest decade in the auto industry has to be the 1990s. The Japanese marque started the decade with the iconic NSX and closed it out with yet another gem; the S2000.

There's a lot gearheads love about the S2000, starting with its superb design. The S2000 also has one of the greatest naturally aspirated engines ever made under its hood; a 2.0-liter or 2.2-liter four-cylinder with 247 hp on tap.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is, without doubt, one of the greatest things to come out of Japan. This tiny two-seater sports car is not the best-looking or most powerful in the world, but it delivers an exhilarating driving experience that few vehicles can match.

The Miata has been in continuous production since 1989, but it has always maintained the same winning formula. It's now the best-selling two-seat sports car ever, which means finding affordable options and aftermarket parts is easy.

The Corolla is Toyota's pride and joy, having sold millions of units since its introduction in the late '60s. The Corolla nameplate has spawned multiple models and versions over the years, and the AE86 is among the most revered.

The AE86 debuted in 1983 with a three-door liftback body style and the same 1.6-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine as the MR2, sending 128 hp to the rear wheels. To many, the AE86 is one of the greatest drifting cars ever.

Mitsubishi has largely flown under the radar in the 21st century, but it was among the top Japanese automakers of the 20th century. One of the greatest cars Mitsubishi ever built is the Lancer Evolution, which is a series of sports sedans produced from 1992 to 2016.

RELATED: 10 Times Mitsubishi Built Awesome Sports Cars

Although the Lancer Evo was discontinued after ten generations, it still has a huge cult following thanks to its tunability and its role in the Fast and Furious franchise.

In the early '50s, Toyota introduced one of its most successful models of all time, the Land Cruiser. Since then, Toyota has sold more than 10 million units, and it's easy to see why; the Land Cruiser has a long-standing reputation for longevity and reliability.

With so many used examples available, the Land Cruiser is one of the cheapest used SUVs you can buy. There are plenty of upgrades available on the aftermarket that you can use to turn the Land Cruiser into an off-road monster.

Subaru has always been one of the top dogs in the world rallying stage. So in 1992, the Japanese marque introduced the Impreza-based World Rally eXperimental - or WRX - to showcase some of its rallying technologies in a road-legal car.

The Impreza WRX became a huge success for Subaru and was produced until 2014, when it became a separate model from the Impreza. Gearheads love the Impreza WRX for its practicality, durability, reliability, all-wheel-drive system, and the vast number of aftermarket parts available.

The aforementioned 240Z was such a huge commercial success for Nissan that the company decided to make it a series known as the Z-car. The fifth car in the series - the 350Z - debuted in the early 2000s and impressed everyone.

It had many upgrades over the 300ZX, most notably in the design department. It also had a fantastic engine; a 3.5-liter V6 with over 300 hp on tap. Like other Z-cars, the 350Z is easily tunable thanks to a huge aftermarket.

Martin is a seasoned content creator who has been writing about cars for over a decade, and has been in love with them for even longer. Growing up, Martin was surrounded by gearheads who instilled a deep love and understanding for cars in him at a young age. He loves to learn and write about all the developments happening in the auto industry - especially in the EV space. When he's not writing about cars, he likes to spend quality time with his wife, kids, and fur baby.