Top 9 Best Cheap Cars to Modify

You can spend between $3000 and $9000 to find some great cheap cars from the early 2000s to modify.
Written by Jessie Devine
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Car modification is a fun way to get creative and explore a vehicle’s potential. But if you don’t have a lot of money, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some ideas for the best cheap cars to modify, including the Honda Civic, Ford Mustang, and VW Beetle.
Car mods push the possibilities of a vehicle to their max. You can improve the speed, power, ride, appearance, and even sound of your car with some tinkering. And surprisingly, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get started!
Considering affordability, availability, and ease of modification, the
trusted broker
car insurance
has created this list of the best affordable cars to modify. You can find the best deals on these models from the mid- to early-2000s. Go get ‘em!
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9. Mercury Marauder—$8,000

Marauder is a great option for cheap modification. It’s #9 on our list because its base price is a little higher than other options, but the parts aren’t too bad. Additionally, the Marauder comes with over 300 horsepower. You can spend your modification budget on fine-tuning, looks, and other priorities since this sedan comes out of the gate roaring.

8. Dodge Neon—$5,000

Dodge Neon
is a sporty little compact car with some zip. With a low initial purchase price, the Neon can be a great option for someone looking for an easy financial entry into car modification. Pros include an already-fast base model and super easy modification. The only reason it’s not higher on the list is that aftermarket performance parts can be expensive.

7. Subaru WRX—$9,000

Subaru WRX
is a cult-classic tuner beloved by car enthusiasts everywhere. This car is harder to come by because it wasn’t popular in the United States, but it has had aftermarket support since the early 2000s. 
A great plus of this Subaru is that it comes stock supercharged, so you can work on other parts of the car with your mod budget.

6. Volvo 240—$4,000

As the oldest car on our list, the newest available model of the
240 is from 1993. But don’t let its 90s vibe turn you off. The Volvo 240 is not only cheap and easy to find, but it’s also one of the most reliable cars out there. They have great engines and solid bodies, so it’s easy to find them in great condition for a low price.
The Volvo 240 is also an excellent blank slate for car modifications, and the rear-wheel-drive makes it fun to drive on track day. Its look isn’t what’s expected for a superfast car, so it can be a fun way to show off and surprise.

5. Volkswagen Beetle—$4,000

When you think of tuner cars, you probably don’t think of the classic
Volkswagen Beetle
, but you should think again. Besides being cheap, the VW Beetle is very easy to turbocharge. It’s also a great pick for anyone looking to get creative with their car’s appearance since its whimsical charm is different from other cars people typically tune for performance.

4. BMW 3 Series—$5,000

Did you ever think you could own a
for $5,000? You can if you buy a tuner from the early 2000s. If you want an even deeper discount, look into 90s models—just be aware that the older you go, you’ll be looking at a wider variety of conditions.
The early 2000s model was already a high-performer, and it is easy to max out with some tweaks. Additionally, the BMW 3 Series has many models, so there are tons of modification options to really make the car your own.

3. Ford Focus—$3,000

Ford Focus
is a top pick for the best cheap cars to modify for both performance and appearance. It comes off the lot with cool styling, and there are four different body styles available, including the coupe, hatchback, sedan, and wagon. 
It’s also a top pick because of its low price. Newer Focuses come in at around $5,000, while early 2000s models start around $2,000. The Focus is also a great cheap car to modify because it’s simple—Ford offers a line of OEM performance parts specifically designed to upgrade the Focus.

2. Ford Mustang—$5,500

No list of best cheap cars to modify would be complete without the classic, iconic Ford Mustang. This powerful pony car has been around so long that it has loads of aftermarket support. 
Ford Mustang
owners are diehard loyalists, and it’s easy to understand why. This car is easy to make roar, and you look cool doing it. It’s also easy to find, making prices better than some competitors. Look for models from the late 90s and early 2000s to find the best deals.

1. Honda Civic—$5,000

The #1 spot on our list of best cheap cars to modify belongs to the
Honda Civic
. These Hondas are not only cool and reliable, but they’re also easy to transform into mean-speed machines. You can find deals as low as $3,000 on early 2000s models, and years 2012-2015 can be found for around $6000.
The Honda Civic is an extremely popular tuner car, and because of that, it has some of the best aftermarket support out there. If you’re a beginner, there are also plenty of easy-to-find Honda Civic modification tutorials online.

How can I find affordable car insurance?

Once you’ve picked the best cheap car to modify and packed it to the teeth with as much power (and cool factor) as possible, you’re ready to drive! Er, almost. Actually, what you need to do first is buy car insurance. If that sounds about as exciting as a long line at the DMV, we hear you—but hear us out.
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That depends on what you mean by old! But the Ford Mustang is a great option if you’re looking for a classic feel, as models go as far back as 1964 and have great aftermarket support.
The Honda Civic is one of the easiest to modify cars that you can get.
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