As we look to buy a new car or a “new-to-us” car, there are a lot of things that we need to consider, like; what’s most important in this car purchase? Do we need fuel efficiency and a comfortable ride? Are we looking for cargo or passenger space that leans towards an SUV or a pickup? These are all great questions but this article isn’t about fuel efficiency, comfort, or cargo space. No. This 3-part article is about performance addons for tuners and what cars are the most desired to tune and modify for speed and handling. Yes, we are going full tuner-friendly.
PartsHawk.com is your one-stop shop for repair and performance car parts and should be your first stop when looking to tune your car for speed and performance.
Most Tuner Friendly Cars
So if you are looking for the most tuner-friendly cars and most popular cars for high-performance parts and modifications, this article is for you. Our first installment, in a three-part blog, of the most popular cars for performance tuning covers; Honda Civic, Volkswagen Golf GTI, Eagle Talon TSi, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Ford Escort RS Cosworth, and Toyota Supra.
The Honda Civic is easily one of the most influential tuner cars that has ever existed. Some may say that “it IS the most influential tuner car ever made.” We can neither confirm nor deny this statement, but it holds water. Whether or not you’re a fan of this import, the facts are that since it was released in 72, the Honda Civic has become one of the best-selling models in the automotive industry, making it an absolute dynamo in its aftermarket presence. Honda, as one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cars and other equipment, they have a nearly unlimited supply of experience and technology at their disposal. Keeping that in mind, the compact Civic two-door has survived and thrived for over 10 generations of changes and upgrades. From its less than explosive start with a 55-horsepower engine to the 306HP turbocharged four-cylinder of today.
This beast can be found in the 2021 Honda Civic Type R trim. The reliability and tunability of Honda’s engines have maintained and even cemented their place in automotive history for racing tuner cars and the general trustworthy grocery-getter, alike. With an affordable “starting at” price point, ease of use, readily available Civic repair parts, and model popularity have all added to the Civic’s role as a top choice of the aftermarket car tuning community. Did we mention that it’s not unusual for this little car to achieve 600+ horsepower with proper tuning and performance car parts?
Volkswagen’s Golf was released in 1974 as a compact gas-efficient vehicle designed for long commutes. Its initial purpose was to take over the iconic rear-wheel-drive Volkswagen Beetle. This came on the heels of the industry’s decision to start normalizing front-wheel drive vehicles. Surprisingly, the Golf did manage to win a large portion of the Beetle fanbase as a 2-door hatchback with a rather sleek look and feel. Over several years the Golf’s sleek and driver-friendly design lead to many awards and honorable mentions in the European market.
In 1985, the first GTI trim was released to consumers along with its performance-guided design and handling. The GTI would later adopt Volkswagen’s first Turbocharged Direct Injection diesel engine or TDI as it is affectionately called by the VW fans. Released in conjunction with Turbocharged versions of the 2.0-liter FSI, this allowed the Golf to achieve 240+ HP from the factory. This evolution of the Golf as a perfect tuner car lead to its acceptance to various race leagues and would further promote the VW’s popularity with drivers who wanted to give the Golf a more sporty look but as a daily driver. With the VW Golf now trending to become the best-selling model for VW in the category, it was no surprise that aftermarket companies jumped on the chance to market performance tuning parts for this dynamic little car. And as we have witnessed for the last several years, they were right to push the envelope and open up the Golf to the world of tuning possibilities. The Golf is now in its eighth generation of evolution and is one of the world’s top cars of all time.
The unexpected Eagle Talon is next on our list. Unexpected? Why? Well, not everyone is familiar with the slightly older models or car companies that made them, which may confuse when it comes to the aftermarket and car tuning community. “What’s the make?” “What parts do I need to tune this car?”
The Talon was Eagle’s early version (1989 to 1998) of what was later rebranded by multiple Mopar companies, including Plymouth (Laser), Mitsubishi (Eclipse). The Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse both featured the sought-after DSM or Diamond Star Motors engine that ranged from 135-horsepower which was the naturally-aspirated version through the 210-horsepower DOHC 2.0-liter 4G63 Turbo I4. The 4G63 Turbo emerged in the second-generation TSi. This factory upgrade made the Talon a huge hit in the aftermarket car tuning community. The car’s relatively low “starting at”, price left a lot of room for upgrades and tuning investments.
With the Talon’s remarkable DSM engine, the factory (TSi) turbo, and virtually unlimited customization options through the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) it became a real standout in the aftermarket with car tuning enthusiasts. This tuner-friendly car would become a real road rocket with the right aftermarket parts.
SUBARU IMPREZA WRX / WRX STI
It could be said that the Subaru Impreza WRX inspired and was even responsible for the production of the Mitsubishi Lancer EVOLUTION. Mitsubishi had hoped to stand up to the iconic Impreza WRX platform and it was no slouch in its rights but we will talk more about the EVOLUTION later.
The popularity of the WRX sedan and hatchback trims couldn’t be touched within its category and dominated the global market for smaller factory-tuned performance vehicles. This Subaru’s popularity was well-deserved. The WRX boasts several sought-after traits that tuning enthusiasts have been looking for, including a rally-inspired parts package, all-wheel-drive capabilities, and an experimental and sleek aesthetic design that was unique and original in the automotive industry.
The Impreza WRX was introduced to North America in 2002 but its world-renowned STI model wouldn’t make its way to the states until 2004. This variation to the WRX trim was the high-performance ancestor to the non-Impreza WRX STI, which wasn’t released until 2015. With educated speculation of the rally-focused WRX STI, aftermarket tuning experts began to pay attention to the Japanese market looking for ideas and inspiration for powertrain upgrades, streamlining efficiency packages, and performance suspension designs. The Impreza WRX had a low-displacement, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that was regarded as one of the best, most reliable, and most dynamic in the car tuning industry. Since this little sleeper would arrive from the showroom with 280 to 320 horsepower, it caught the imagination and the eye of street tuners and racetrack enthusiasts who were interested in pushing the WRX’s all-wheel-drive format to the limit of its capability and beyond. And as it does, this led to an eruption in aftermarket performance parts and peripherals from expert tuners who chose to stick by this Impreza through all of its generations.
FORD ESCORT RS COSWORTH
And now the Ford Escort RS Cosworth… YES, it’s a Ford Escort. The Escort is, of course, a well-known vehicle for its longstanding history as an affordable and reliable car for the masses and was one of the most popular compact economy cars of its time, outselling most of its imported counterparts. However, this once mild-mannered economy car wasn’t the tuned forced of nature that we know today. In 1992, the Escort Cosworth RS began its life as a sports rally supercar that was specially outfitted to win the Group A World Rally Championship. This was achieved by adopting various performance-focused peripherals straight from the factory floor.
A version was eventually released in limited numbers to the public. This gave common drivers the ability to purchase the “homologation special” as a daily driver. Since the Cosworth RS came stock with several track-ready parts, including the whale tail spoiler, a 224HP turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and a racing suspension, the majority of the work had already been done for those looking to take it beyond factory specs. The hard to predict part was that the car would gain traction due to its easy-to-find parts. Because of this, the Cosworth was popular with several tuning companies who hoped who looked for continuous ways to push the car even further. Many builds reached outputs of over 1,000HP. That’s come a long way from being a popular first car for teenagers.
TOYOTA SUPRA (MK IV)
With its high price tag, the Toyota Supra wasn’t always seen as a tuner-friendly choice. The A80 program was first dreamt in 1989 and it took four years for the vehicle to start manufacturing. This gave tuners plenty of time to figure out what the Celica line might become. Introduced in 1978, the Celica would steadily transform into the Supra, dropping the Celica model name in 1986. That’s when the Supra was deemed Toyota’s premier sports offering.
In 1993, the fourth-generation, or Mk IV, would make its debut as a high-performance sports car, captivating its fans with its 2JZ engine. The 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged engine made the Supra a legend among sportscars and would carry the fourth generation until 2002. It was discontinued due to its non-compliance with modern emissions standards. This made the Supra an incredibly sought-after car by tuners and it caused the prices to skyrocket within the tuning community. If you pair that with the near-mythical ability to modify the power plant, you would begin to understand why aftermarket enthusiasts and expert tuners are willing to pay the hefty price tag on this 600+ horsepower unicorn… 600+ Unicorn Power? 600+UP? We might be on to something here!
Performance Car Parts and Mods
Whether your car made this list or not, when it comes to tuner-friendly cars and modifications you need a company you can trust for quality performance car parts and repair parts alike. That’s where PartsHawk comes in. We have the largest selection of performance car parts online at the best prices. Visit our online store to check out our expansive collection of performance modification parts from brands like Holley, K&N Filters, and Edelbrock.
Edit: Check Out the Next Blogs in this 3 Part Tuner Car Series.