Dirt Cheap JDM Monsters With Insane Tuning Potential

Grey Nissan 350Z from Tokyo Drift

The Japanese really know what’s up when it comes to cars, from making legends in the 90’s like the Supra, the GT-R, and the NSX, to the modern beasts hitting the market today, which are also Supras and NSXs and GT-Rs.

Anway, these dream cars from the Land of the Rising Sun are getting more and more expensive, and it’s becoming more dream and less reality to your average person. But have no fear, Ideal fam, because the good news is that the used market is full of potential!

We’re going to show you some of the best Japanese sports cars you can buy for super cheap, and some of the mods that will make them supercar fast and insanely fun! Aren’t we nice to do that for you? Yeah, we are. You should go check out our YouTube channel and subscribe to say thanks. And of course, as always, we saved the best for last, so make sure to read all the way to the end.

Lexus SC300

black 1992 Lexus SC300 5-speed
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Japan’s proudest automotive creation has got to be the Mark 4 Supra, with its legendary twin-turbocharged 2JZ-GTE engine that’s bulletproof and can push thousands of horsepower. I’m pretty sure every Japanese car enthusiast has wanted to own one at some point. However, what many people don’t know is that the Supra has a brother, the Lexus SC300. The poor man’s Supra as it’s known to cool car guys (like me).

It’s a Lexus, so it has a much more luxurious ride with softer suspension, higher-quality interior, better technology, and with its low and long stature, well, I wouldn’t kick it out of bed. Released in 1992, it has the same 3.0-liter 2JZ engine as the JDM legend it’s based off of, but sadly, it won’t throw you back in your seat, since it doesn’t have the infamous twin turbos.

Still, it puts down a solid 225 horsepower, which is more than enough to get started. And thankfully, the shared platform with the Supra means this car’s modification selection is absolutely bonkers. For example, she Supra’s 5-speed is a relatively easy swap onto the SC300, and is probably the first mod on your list if you’re trying to make the SC a supercar killer.

And because of its engine, youlll be cranking out solid numbers in no time. For example, if you really want to go balls to the wall, you can pick up a twin-turbo or single turbo kit to crank out some serious numbers. We’re talking 400, 500, even 600 horsepower to the wheels and all on mostly stock internals!

This car may be one of the best horsepower bargains right now, because examples of this underrated monster go for under $10,000. I found one for just $6,000 with the 2JZ in it! Don’t sleep on this potentially mega-sleeper!

Nissan 350Z

Orange Nissan 350Z on the side of the road
JDM Power Car

The 350Z is the perfect everyday sports car. This classically-shaped coupe is slowly becoming a modern classic. It has a legendary 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6, which, depending on the year you get, will be either 287 horsepower in models before 2005, or 306 horsepower in models made after. That makes this car the most powerful stock model on this list. It also sings beautiful songs when straight-piped. The VQ is probably my favorite instrument of all time…

Smooth yet aggressive styling helps make this little two-seater look much more expensive than it really is. My mom even said it looks handsome, just like me. And modifications for the Z are plentiful! Aero, turbos, air suspension, anything you can dream of has probably been made for a Z. With a couple of bolt-ons you are going to be sailing past 350 horsepower to the rear wheels. And with a little help from a Stillen supercharger kit, you’re easily pushing beyond 400, making this a serious sideways slayer.

And the best part is there are a bazillion Nissan 350Zs out there for cheap! We found a 350Z Touring with a stick shift for under $6,000! That’s a lot of power for an insanely low price.

Nissan 240SX

Red Nissan 240SX pop-up headlights

Okay, on this, I have a little experience. If you’re looking for the perfect drift, chassis then you have come to the right place. The Nissan 240SX is the perfect base car to build an absolute drift machine. Growing up, everyone I knew had an S13 or S14, every one of us building wannabe Formula D cars in our garage.

And it’s easy to see why these became such an icon in the world of drifting, the unassuming 240SX was made with a near-perfect 50-50 front-engine rear-wheel-drive layout that will give any mountain road a run for its money. And while the KA24DE that came with the car isn’t breaking any necks with it’s 155 horsepower, it’s a pickup truck motor that’s damn near indestructible. And it’s actually a rock solid base for forced induction. People are pushing upwards of 400 horsepower reliably through them, which doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, it feels insane in a car that weighs a little over 2,500 pounds!

Now, if you’re really looking for power in a 240, my recommendation is to swap in the SR20DET from the Japanese S13, S14, or S15, if you can get it. They’re relatively cheap, bolt right in, and deliver a fast, fun, and reliable turbo motor for this aging sports car.

Now, you could go for the later model S14, which is more mature and rounder and blah blah blah… But to me, the S13 is the way to go, it has pop-ups! It’s like a really long Miata! Sadly, thanks to their popularity and with how old and rare they’re becoming, they now come at a cost. There are clean examples of S13’s and S14’s going for anywhere between $6,000 to $9,000, which doesn’t make them the best deal on this list, but they’re still my personal favorite. Because, you know, pop-ups!

Acura Integra

Yellow Acura Integra with rear wing

Okay, so the 240 maybe my favorite rear-wheel car on this list, but if you’re looking for wrong-wheel drive, then the Acura Integra is for you. The Integra was designed by Honda’s luxury brand to give everyone and their grandma an exciting and sporty driving experience with an independent double-wishbone suspension. And it’s got an 8500 RPM redline VTEC engine!

You’re sure to have a blast on any stretch of road you choose with the Integra. And the most desirable Integra to get is the 3rd generation from 1993 to 2001. It comes in two different models here in the USA. We got the Base LS model, which coughed out a measly 140 horsepower. But, the most ideal model by far is the GS-R which came with 170 horsepower. Wow… 170 horsepower… Look out, Ferrari!

Okay, so it’s not going to blow you away from the factory, but the ultra-reliable 90’s B18 Honda engine that came in the third generation GS-R’s are extremely tunable. For example, you could run a Garrett T3/60-1 trim turbo on the B18, and easily crush 300 horsepower. And if you so choose, you can fully build the engine for upwards to a 1,000 horsepower! Just bring your bank account, and your dad’s bank account, and your cousin’s, and your neighbor’s.

Now, you might be wondering, Why not just get a Civic? That’s like saying, “Why not just get a 3 Series, instead of an M3!” The Integra is a sports car! The Civic is a, well, it’s just a car. There’s literally no other way to describe it. The Honda car

Now, prices for Intagras are not out of this world. We found one pristine example for only $7,000!

Mazda Miata

red 1992 Mazda NA Miata with pop-up headlights

The Mazda Miata is always the answer right? Okay, I know exactly what your thinking, Seriously? A Miata? A JDM monster? You’ve got to be kidding, right? But just hear us out. Yes, the NA Mazda Miata released in the 90’s had a scrawny little 1.6-liter 4-cylinder with only 110 horsepower. This is true. But what you may not know is that this engine has some pretty good tuning potential. And even though the Miata is minuscule, you can actually swap some pretty big powerplants under the hood.

Plus, since the Miata is a featherweight at only 2,100 pounds, any amount of power you put into one will feel twice as fast! You could slap on a Flyin’ Miata Turbo Kit or a supercharger and make 250 horsepower, and have a respectable power-to-weight ratio. But we’re not here to be respectable, we’re here to get wild.

Wild people throw 2J’s, V6’s, LS’s, or just about anything into these cars to make them pocket rockets. 450 horsepower in a Barbie car? That’s like having a 650-horsepower 3 Series, and for less than $10,000! Now, go buy yourself a Miata like the one we found for only $3,5000. And seriously, whether you’re modding or leaving it stock, everyone should own a Miata once just to experience the fun of driving one of the best-made cars of all time. Did I mention… pop-ups?

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