Of course, no good list of crazy cheap cars would be complete without some American muscle. Of course, the Ford Mustang is iconic as any of its counterparts, so we sprung for the 1996-98 SVT Cobra. Unfortunately for the purists, this is the first model Mustang that saw Ford retiring its 5.0L V8 in place of a new 4.6L Modular unit. The Crown Victoria actually shares the same engine, albeit in a slightly different configuration that makes about 100 fewer hp.
The FJ40 was produced from 1960 all the way to 1983, but the mid-seventies models are going to be your best bet. With these examples, you’ll get the classic Land Cruiser look that will turn heads everywhere you go, one of the most capable 4×4 systems ever produced, and Toyota reliability that even extends well beyond the end of the paved road.
My 1000RR recently decided one of its rods belonged outside the crankcase. When I started looking at used engines I found out you can get a 2008+ 1000RR engine, one that’s good for 200 horsepower with only mild tuning, for under $2000. And my mind started running. Smart cars, MGs, Minis, Miatas every small car in the world would be a lot crazier with a redline of 15,000 RPM. Lucky for me another deep-pocketed gearhead has lived this dream too.
Most of these swaps have involved rare used engines going into common cars, and this is quite the opposite somebody threw one of the used engines from a Honda CBR1000RR into an insanely rare 1964 Honda S600 convertible. The result? Nearly 200 horsepower, or over three times stock, in a car that weighs about 1500 pounds.
Most resellers can provide at least some idea of mileage, service history, and overall condition, but whether you’re digging through eBay and Craigslist ads or picking up a parts car in town, there are some things you need to know about used engines before you take the plunge.
The CRX is already a good-looking car, and by all accounts, a truly iconic hatchback. That said, you can make it look even better with just a few minor additions. Since it’s a Honda, it also handles engine swaps very well, so you may find yourself looking at GSR Integra engines while you’re at it.
The Veneno is able to jump from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds on its way to its top speed of 221 mph. The Veneno will pull 1.41 G while cornering. Priced at $4.5 million dollars this is another of the hot cars on our list that also qualifies as one of the most expensive cars in the world.
GM’s dedicated electric hatchback currently delivers up to 238 gasoline-free miles according to the EPA. The Bolt EV owes this impressive figure to its 60 kWh lithium-ion battery and a 200-hp permanent magnet electric motor combo. Its starting price currently reads $37,495, but the available $7,500 federal tax credit will cut it down to just under $30,000. The Chevrolet Bolt has obviously taken care of the range and economy, but there’s still one looming issue that makes it a niche vehicle of sorts: the dreaded state of current supercharging station infrastructure.
Setting that aside these are some of the most reliable used engines available today. Shit, you can build them to over 900 horsepower (turn your sound down). Problem is, they don’t easily fit in most other cars. But you can easily put one…
The Shelby Cobra is another iconic roadster on our list of crazy cheap cars, and is definitely not a name that most people would associate with the phrase ‘crazy cheap cars’. While genuine examples will surely cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more than $1 million), did you know you can get your hands on a replica that does the same stuff for less than the price of a new Mustang GT?
In other words, the 2019 Honda Civic Type R won’t be bringing any unnecessary changes. For around $34,000, you’ll be getting a whopping 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque courtesy of a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine which generates 23.2 psi of boost and redlines at 7,000 rpm.
They’re also pretty rare. Not exceedingly so, but they’re far less common than their GTI counterparts. Despite this, we found quite a few models from 2008 resting very comfortable around $10,000, which is an absolute steal for what you get. These crazy cheap cars are quick, affordable, sought-after, and very much respected in the automotive community.
Pick one of these crazy cheap cars up for your next autocross project for around $4,500, assuming you can actually find someone willing to sell. These cars are only getting harder to come by, and you can likely kiss any expectation of the car having under 200k on the clock goodbye.