Top 5 Compact Sports Cars for the Home Tuner

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Not everyone can go out and plonk down the cash for a Porsche 911 or even a top of the range BMW M3 but, as home tuners have been proving for decades, that does not have to be a bar to owning and driving an affordable, high performance sports compact that really goes. The trick is starting off with the right base car. These five compact sports cars have been winners since the first day they hit the lots but have also proved to be exceptionally fun to modify and in the hands of a dedicated tuner can become something even more special.

Honda Civic

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Despite all of the competition somehow the Honda Civic has managed to hold onto its crown as the tuner car of choice for years now. All of the big name tuning shops do a few versions, even Honda’s own Mugen Division – and in garages and sheds the world over you can find a countless number of Civics in various stages of transformation.

The fact that the Civic has such a rep for longevity helps as does the fact that usually they respond well to all kinds of engine swaps (a big favorite right now is a CR-V and RSX mashup that can pack a real punch) And in the right creative hands you make a Honda Civic look as cool as any other high performance compact even though you may have only paid a fraction of the price initially.

Acura Integra

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Before it was rechristened as the RSX the third generation Acura Integra may have been the most faked car of all time. The number of tuner kids who tried to get away with slapping an Type R sticker on a regular Integra to gain extra street cred was massive. But the simple fact is you don’t have to resort to that kind of fakery to get a truly great car. From the base model to the much coveted Type R itself these cars are flexible, easy to work with and can be used as the base of something truly great.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

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This is a car that looks like it’s dying to get out and race from the get go and it’s seemingly indestructible nature makes it a tuner’s dream. A great example of a carmaker actually listening to its fans and customers the Evolution was once a Japan only offering but pleas from the masses saw the company bring it to the US. With even just light to moderate tuning this baby can keep with the best of the ‘Vettes and look sharp doing it to boot.

Subaru Imprezza STI

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As good as the Evo is it has serious competition in the form of the WRX STI. Benefiting, as all Subaru models do, from standard AWD it’s a beast on streets and rally circuits alike. If you happen upon one of the originals with those rather strange bubble headlights you might want to swap those out but do us a favor please WRX dudes? No more bronzed out wheels? They really do kinda kill the naturally sleek and sexy vibe.

Mazda Miata

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Although it will never set any speed records the Miata is some of the best fun you’ll ever have driving a smaller car. Sure it’s pretty minimalist but that’s part of the appeal and the fact that it enjoys such a huge aftermarket presence means it’s really not hard to get your hands on one of these. And for those who scoff this one of as too lightweight and superficial? Drive one and then try to tell us that you don’t have a change of heart.

First Drives: The Return of the Honda Civic Type R

We almost fainted when we discovered a while ago that Honda is going to bring back the Civic Type R to the States as a part of its big September launch of a new generation of Civics in general. It’s a nameplate that is an absolute legend in tuning circles and so its return should cause plenty of excitement. Honda say it’s their most ‘extreme’ Civic ever, but is that really the case? In anticipation we have complied a series of videos that showcase and tease just what’s in store when the car finally makes it back to the US for a new generation of tuners to play with.

Top 5 Supercars that Were Actually Super Disappointments

Supercar is a phrase that’s thrown around a great deal these days but as we all know not all supercars are created equal and yes, even those companies whose vehicles are usually considered to be the very definition of the word have, at one point in time, created a car that it not so much a supercar but a super crap car.

In compiling this list we did not simply choose the fugliest cars but fugly cars that also had some serious difficulties in the actual engineering department, truly making them duds of the super car world.

1980 Lamborghini Countach

Countach

In actual fact back when it hit the showroom in the early days of the Eighties this ‘futuristic’ Lambo was quite a hit; but many only with teenage boys who thought a poster of it looked uber cool next to Farrah Fawcett’s or some similarly busty blonde.

In real life though it was a real clunker. The clutch could only be properly depressed by someone who had recently been in training for the World’s Strongest Man, maneuvering the shifter required a degree in physics and the ride was so rough that the term ‘spine tingling’ can’t be applied but ‘spine crushing’ would be highly appropriate. On the upside though the few remaining examples of the Countach still around today have aged a lot better than many other 80’s pinups..

1980 Ferrari Mondial 8

Mondial

Another child of the very early 1980s, the Ferrari Mondail 8 was a very half heated attempt on the company’s part to ‘reach out’ to the lower income market they usually never served. So the fact that the engine was 7-year-old 214 HP squib shoved into a badly redesigned 308 body is perhaps no surprise. Weird looking (even for the 80s) and a bad performer the Mondail 8 failed to impress anyone and Ferrari went back to doing what they do best; making cars you won’t be able to afford until you hit the lottery.

1990 Aston Martin Virage

Virage

Good old James Bond may love his Astons but we guarantee he’d never been seen dead in this one. A rare misstep on Aston Martin’s part produced a mutated Frankencar that ‘boasted’ Audi headlights and VW Scirocco taillights and an interior filled with parts salvaged from GM, Ford and Jaguar. Even the automatic transmission was from Chrysler and the actual styling was pretty awful by Aston standards to boot. Not even badge prestige could save this one and it (mercifully) died a quick death so that the company could get back to better things.

2006 TVR Sagaris

Sagaris

It’s a real shame that this is how iconic British automaker TVR – famous for cramming huge engines into wild bodies with gleeful abandon but somehow making it all work – had to go out. The Sagaris was not really ugly at all, but its handling was, laughably so. Add to that the fact that the build was truly shoddy and the reliability was zero the last car the company made was, sadly, really not one to remember.

2003 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

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Technically this should have been a sure fire winner. One of most successful teams in Formula One history in bed with one of the most iconic European automakers, on paper it sounded like the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren would be a supercar fan’s dream come true.

Sadly though it was not to be. The made for the road not the track body was bloated and awkward and the face almost downright ugly. The handling was poor, hampered by the fact that the car weighed a whopping for its class two tons. Constant disagreements between the two teams also resulted in a clumsy, poorly designed interior and overall the potential of such a stellar partnership was just never realized and it’s offspring died a quiet death very quickly.

Five Future Classic Cars That Are Great Investments Right Now

Still stunned by the prices some of those classics fetched at the Pebble Beach Auctions? What if you could pick up a used car right now that may one day hold a similar value, or at least be worth a lot more than you pay for it right now? And an investment in a car is obviously far more interesting than boring old stocks and shares and one with the potential to offer a higher – maybe far higher – return. And if nothing else you’ll have a beautiful car to show off with. Here are just five potentially high value suggestions:

Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider

Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider

The early 1600 series Duetto Spiders are truly fabulous cars in every way, from their ‘summer romantic’ looks to it’s delicate but nifty handling and excellent twin cam engine. They tend to be priced at around $20,000 – $25,000 right now (although we have seen them cheaper if you’re willing to put in a little work) but have the potential to be worth a great deal more in the future while also looking very pretty in or out of the garage.

BMW E46 M3 CSL

BMW E46 M3 CSL

This is a car that is already considered a ‘collectible’ as a mere 1,400 rolled off the line in a single model year – 2004 – and then were never produced again. The M3 is almost always a good bet and the E46 was certainly a very fine example of the class and the CSl was the very best of bunch. It is exceptionally lightweight and the paddle shift givers it a racing edge that is rather exhilarating. Finding a low mileage version of one of these babies might not be easy, but if you can you’ll be investing in pretty much a sure fire future classic.

BMW 3.0 CSL

BMW 3.0 CSL

Sticking with the Germans, this Seventies gem is another classic in the making well worth keeping an eye out for. Great looks, great engine and fabulous performance, along with quite the impressive motorsport track record all set it up for a bright future on the classics market. Once again it was produced in limited quantities – 1,200 at most – mainly because it comes from an era when motorcars were still sold on a walk in basis – but good condition models are out there for $50,000 or so and while that sounds like quite a bit they have the potential to be worth a great deal more not too long from now.

Porsche 996 Turbo

Porsche 996 Turbo

Yes, the Porsche 996 Turbo does suffer a little perhaps, reputation wise anyway, right now for the fact that it has very Boxter-esque front end styling but as a great example of a well engineered, does what its supposed to Porsche the 996 Turbo is currently highly underrated. And as the 930 and 993 Turbos continue to climb the value ladder into the stratospheric range a 996 would be a great investment to hedge your bets on right now.

Ferrari 365 GT 4 2+2

Ferrari 365 GT 4 2+2

We all know that Ferrari still dominates the high value classic car market – you only have to glance at the 2015 Pebble Beach Top to see that – and this four person may be one of the best ‘sleeper’ investments that can be made in a Ferrari right now.

It’s styling is something that some may raise a bit of an eyebrow at but it is a front-engined V12 from the classic Ferrari GT era and some huge sellers already carry that GT badge. You can also still pick up a decent model for less than $50,000 so if you wanted to get in on what may end up being quite the investment in Italian greatness then now’s the time to do it.

In Pictures: Top 10 Bestsellers at the 2015 Pebble Beach Auctions

There were certainly plenty of cars up for grabs at the recent Gooding’s Pebble Beach auctions and the company – and the cars original owners – certainly made quite a pretty penny. In fact Gooding & Co. managed to smash a long standing company record by moving over $128 million in to die for classics over the course of the two day event. Of the 115 lots that sold, three brought over $10 million, and 26 more went for over a million. And yes, in a surprise only to those who live under a rock, the top seller was a Ferrari. An absolutely gorgeous one that raked in an eyeopening $17,600,000.

What was it and what else cost an awful lot when the gavel finally came down? Here are the Top 10 Bestsellers at the 2015 Pebble Beach Auctions. Which one of these beauties would you most want to give some garage space to?

RM Sotheby’s: 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, $17,600,000

1964 Ferrari 250 LM

Gooding & Co: 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, $16,830,000

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

Gooding & Co: 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale, $16,500,000

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale

RM Sotheby’s: 1998 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’, $13,750,000

1998 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’

RM Sotheby’s: 1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight, $13,200,000

1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight

RM Sotheby’s: 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France, $13,200,000

1956 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France

Gooding & Co: 1982 Porsche 956, $10,120,000

1982 Porsche 956

RM Sotheby’s: 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider, $8,500,000

1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider

RM Sotheby’s: 1950 Ferrari 275S/340, $7,970,000

 1950 Ferrari 275S/340

RM Sotheby’s: 2005 Ferrari Enzo, $6,050,000

2005 Ferrari Enzo