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For the love of tinkering (Part I of II)

Some of us drive, some of us collect, some of us drive and collect, and then there’s a third group. The tinkerers. These are folks who might fall into all three groups, passionate gear-heads who love to take on projects, tinker to their heart’s content, and modify til the cows come home. You get the point.

Tinkerers need a good base with which to tinker. Lucky for them the auto world is replete with possibilities. But we also are cognizant that breaking the bank isn’t the idea, so we’ve compiled a list of makes and models that are long-standing favorites in the tinkering community. You will thank us later, we’re sure …

Lexus SC 300

A fantastic ride to kick off the list, but let’s be more specific here – the SC 300 from 1992 to 1997. Remember the days of the luxury coupe? The 90s were defined by this, rolling down your favorite city drag, blasting Tears 4 Fears, New Kids on the Block and who knows what else. While the SC 300 was a strong choice in the coupe market, it was basically a Supra MKIV in a different body. Featuring a 3.0-liter inline 6 2JZ-GE, some of you might be wondering why we didn’t select the SC 400 as well. The SC 300 was a more steady option and the only one offered with a manual transmission (that lasted for roughly 5 years). A base project here can be had in the $7,000 range.

Mitsubishi Lancer 

As aggressive as a 80s Chuck Norris flick, the Lancer is an underground tinker favorite. The Evo models especially have a rabid fan base, but even a more basic Lancer (with a turbo engine) plus the manual transmission is an awesome bet. The good news here is because the following is so rabid there is a lot of build threads out there to follow and key in on some invaluable information. 

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Before you simply read the title and run out to grab yourself a GTI, take a moment to read what’s coming – any generation except the Mk3. Well engineered, lightweight and driver oriented, the GTI is as malleable as they come (except the Mk3 generation). The aftermarket here is extensive, and cheap, which means the sky is truly the limit in how you can build a GTI out.  

Stay tuned for Part II!

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