Looking to build your own hot rod but don’t want to spend big bucks on popular models? Fortunately for you, there’s the miracle of platform engineering: Most sports cars are based on common platforms, and that means plenty of parts compatibility between vehicles.
5. Chrysler K Platform
The K car may have been laughed at, but that didn’t stop Americans from buying millions of them. While the standard 2.2-liter engine produced just 93 hp, there were turbocharged versions producing as much 224 hp in stock form. With these cars trading for pennies, they make a great platform for FWD drag racing.
4. GM X-Body
This mid-size RWD platform struggled on through the ’70s with tepid engines, but that’s easily remedied with a modern crate motor. Add in bolt-on compatibility with Camaro suspension parts, and these Novas, Venturas, Omegas and Skylarks are low-price options for getting into muscle cars.
3. Chrysler/Mitsubishi DSM
The Diamond Star Motors partnership between Chrysler and Mitsubishi resulted in the Eclipse, Talon, Laser and Daytona. With models ranging from low-power convertibles to all-wheel drive turbocharged monsters, it’s just a matter of bolting together the right parts to build a car that can be used for anything from rally racing to open-top cruising.
2. Honda CRX
Honda’s cars are so similar under the hood that engine swaps have been a mainstay of the brand’s enthusiasts, but nothing lends itself to a transplant quite as well as a CRX. A double wishbone suspension at all four corners and low weight – barely more than 1,700 pounds in HF trim – make it an excellent track car. Although B and D series engines were originally available in the car, even newer K series engines can be fitted under the hood. Together with massive aftermarket support, these hatchbacks can be built to suit almost any need.
1. Fox Body Mustang
If Ford made an engine between 1978 and now, chances are someone has figured out how to mount it in Ford’s pony car. There were more than half a dozen engines used in the car during its production, and it shares enough parts with the SN95 ‘Stangs that more modern components can be used. Even Ecoboost motors are making their way into this car via aftermarket K-members.
Add in Ford’s 9-inch rear axle and a Ford small block, and the Fox Body Mustang makes for a great drag racer. Swap in the SN95 Cobra’s independent rear axle and add some frame supports, and it’s a superb track car.
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