The 10 Best Cars to Customize

The best cars to modify are the ones that were built with modification in mind and have had strong modding communities develop around them.
Written by Cameron Thiessen
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
When it comes to customizability, all cars are not created equal. If you’re looking to get a car that you can modify and tune, you’re going to want a vehicle that withstands modifications well. 
Vehicles like the Mazda MX-5 Miata or the Ford Mustang are great picks because they have good track records with modifications. There are strong mod communities built around these vehicles, so aftermarket parts are easily accessible.
Whether you’ve spent significant time learning how to
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But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Here are the 10 best cars to customize.

Subaru WRX STI — $30,100 (2022 base trim)

A rally car mainstay since the ‘90s, the
Subaru WRX STI
has made its mark as a top-performing car—and it’s just begging to be customized. Despite being incredibly fun to drive straight off the factory floor, it boasts an extremely high affinity for modification. And the aftermarket support for all generations is robust, to say the least.
If you’re looking to get the classic rally look and feel and aren’t afraid to sink some money in, you could eventually find yourself behind the wheel of a top-performing rally racer.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution — $18,000 (2015 ES trim)

Moving now to a circuit racing mainstay of the ‘90s and 2000s, we have the
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
. While the price tag listed above is for the most recent model before its discontinuation, it may have the same deterring effect for budding custom car mechanics as the WRX STI. 
Prices on even older models are usually much more affordable, though. You may just be able to find yourself a 2003 Evo for under $5,000 on the used market, and it could turn out to be the perfect car to start your DIY customs journey.
The Lancer Evolution’s biggest selling point is that it has always been (and will likely continue to be) one of the easiest cars to modify. If you’ve got a craving for speed and are ready to start practicing your modding skills on a racecar of your own, the Evo might be perfect for you. And you’ll have lots of support from a modding community that’s tried it all.
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Honda S2000 — $35,000 (2008)

Another classic from the late ‘90s/early ‘00s is the
Honda S2000
—one of the most consistently winning racecars in history and an absolutely brilliant roadster. Any S2000 will be a complete joy to drive, but with infinite modding opportunities, your S2000 can be uniquely your own.
The S2000 is easy to work on yourself, so it’s great for learning. And to those novice racers on more of a budget, you can find yourself an older S2000 for between $10,000–$20,000 on the used market. One of the flashiest on our list, the Honda S2000 is known all around to be one of the best cars to customize.

Volkswagen Golf GTI — $30,540 (2022 S trim)

Currently in its eighth generation, with a large modding community following each, the
fits perfectly among the other zippy sports cars on this list. The Golf is very easy to customize—the older models especially are perfect for novice modders. And despite being front-wheel-drive vehicles, these bad boys have serious success in circuit races.
The car’s current model is top rated in its class, but if you’re looking for something affordable, the used car world is full of awesome GTIs from the olden days. Previous models are sturdy, and their engines lasted a seriously long time. 
The average classic GTI Mk1 will cost around half the price of a new one, but if you’re looking for an affordable option, the Mk4s can be found in fair condition for less than $2,000 used.
Key Takeaway When it comes to highly customizable cars, there’s a GTI out there that any level of modder can afford.

Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ — $30,000 (2020 GT Coupe 2D)

Ah yes, the Toyobaru twins are perhaps the cutest of all the cars in the modding meta. But beyond cuteness, what makes these little heroes some of the best cars to modify?
First of all, they are some of the easiest to customize. They’re pretty much the closest thing to street-legal Mario Karts that we’re ever going to get. These RWD roadsters have unimaginably fun handling, and while their stock engines are comparably less powerful than some of the other classics on this list, these puppies can be supercharged and turbocharged like nobody’s business.

BMW 3-Series — $41,450 (2022 330 I trim)

Both the
and E36 generations of the 3-Series are extremely fun to drive and just as fun to customize. Both generations have robust aftermarket support due to vibrant modding communities. While the E36 would be a great affordable option for a first project car, the E30 is the perfect base for a classic BMW custom build.
And for the veteran BMW enthusiast looking for the best of the best, even the new 3-Series models are outstanding performers out of the box, with tons of attractive factory options.

Chevrolet Camaro — $25,000 (2022 1LS trim)

A true American classic, not much has to be said about the
Chevy Camaro
. The LS engine is one of the best to modify; upgrades will take you to exhilarating speeds you haven’t felt before. But even if you’re not ready to modify your Camaro right away, these things are true powerhouses—and they’ve been that way for decades.
While used Camaros can be bafflingly affordable on the used market, modders beware that they are looking specifically for the trims with LS engines. The LT motors of the ‘90s were much less reliable than the LS version.

Ford Mustang — $27,205 (2022 Coupe trim)

The Camaro’s rival, the
Ford Mustang
, is ultimately the most famous of moddable muscle cars. Like the Camaro, Mustangs have been around forever, and because of this, there is a nearly unlimited aftermarket parts supply for most years. Mustangs offer ridiculously high performance—especially the newer models, which are absolutely some of the greatest cars ever made in America.
For those used car fiends and budget modders, here’s a hot tip! Avoid the SN95 Mustangs, which came before the newer S550s. These saw much less aftermarket support, so it’s hard to find parts for them. Not to mention, they were highly unreliable.

Honda Civic — $22,350 (2022 LX Sedan trim)

Honda is the only car that gets two spots on this list, and they deserve it. The
Honda Civic
is one of the most popular vehicles of all time, and the pre-2000s models have been (and likely always will be) extremely customizable for that reason.
No matter which generation of Civic you’re into, there’s a modding community for it. Even the newer models are some of the best cars to customize, with a long list of builds possible. And when it comes down to brass tax, these souped-up little guys consistently win Honda races on tons of circuits.
Key Takeaway The Honda Civic and VW Golf GTI are classic choices for first cars—and even more fantastic picks for first project cars.

Mazda MX-5 Miata — $27,300 (2022 Sport trim)

Here it is folks, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Any modder knows the
MX-5 Miata
as the wildly popular, ridiculously fun, and undeniably adorable pinnacle of customizable vehicles. They’re some of the easiest cars to modify, and because so many customs mechanics love them, there’s endless opportunity to soup them up.
Can’t afford the new one? That’s where your customization skills come in. You can get a used first-generation Miata for the same amount as a pre-2000s Civic, and it’ll be a piece of cake to tune up. If you want the ultimate DIY sports car experience, look no further than the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

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So you’ve gone and done it. You went out, got yourself that cute Miata for a fantastic price, took it home, souped it up to zoom—and then you realize you’ve gotten ahead of yourself. (How the tables have turned!) You almost forgot to check out
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