There's no shortage of high performance cars available off the showroom floor at your local dealer. For those who seek individuality and near-limitless power, that’s not nearly enough. If specifying your next sporty machine from factory options is just a bit run-of-the-mill, there's a whole world of possibilities offered by individual tuning, from the discreet to the outrageous. If you're mechanically minded, that might mean getting out the spanners. Or, for those a little less deft under the bonnet, handing over your new pride and joy to a professional tuner. Key in either case is starting with the right machinery. We've rounded up 10 of the best tuner cars, each one just begging to be transformed into something truly special, made just for you: a bespoke high-speed dream machine.


Best tuner cars to buy now

Toyota GR86

Toyota's brilliant rear wheel drive coupé is designed for driving thrills, rather than raw power. That means, say its fans, that the production version is ripe for upgrading. Suspension is easily lowered, flat-four engines easily tuned - a turbocharger turns a b-road specialist into a small supercar - and brakes can be upgraded, too. Add a cosmetic wrap, if that's to your taste, and naturally some tasty new alloy wheels, and your GR86 is ready for its track day.

Mini Cooper S

The original Issigonis Mini is one of the most modified cars of all time. A new generation of Mini fans is finding something of the same in its BMW-made successor. Dropped suspension transforms ride and handling, while sports exhausts are almost mandatory for anyone tuning their new Cooper S. For the truly committed, lightweight flywheels transform performance while fancy oil coolers and air intake systems are made by specialists. Just like on the original, endless cosmetic mods are available, too.

Mazda MX-5

The extraordinary success of the fine-handling MX-5 is evident in ts ubiquity on the roads, top down, in the summer months. But perhaps you'd like yours to stand out a little? Tuner cars maintain the little droptop's rear wheel drive set-up is ideal for improvement and upgrading. Courtesy the burgeoning Japanese tuner scene, there's any number of mods available, from turbochargers to totally revised suspension. Add a rear wing if you're after the attention.

Jeep Wrangler

Among Jeep enthusiasts in the US - and there are more than one or two - there's hardly an unmodified Wrangler to be found, with a wide range of national events to show off what they've done to Jeep's true icon. Result is a huge variety of available tuner car options, from increased off-road performance to enhanced speed on-road. Naturally everything from winches and fancy wheels to seat harnesses and tougher suspension can be added. That mountain summit? Be at the top in just a few minutes.

Honda Civic Type R

The Type R is hardly a shy, retiring sort of sports saloon, with a huge rear wing, lowered suspension and mean black alloys. Naturally that's not enough for the true tuner. Starting point is a titanium exhaust, for what enthusiasts call an "enhanced" engine note to alert the neighbours of your hard work. The more committed move on to engine mods, such as a high performance camshaft or fancy air intake systems. Of course you'll be further lowering that already low suspension for the true tuner look.

VW Golf R

Range-topping all-wheel-drive super-Golf is something of a sleeper given its lack of shouty accessories, relying on VW's discreet engineering to carry it to 150 mph+. Want more? First stop is an expert remapping of the engine which can mean its already hefty 300 bhp can be hiked to as much as 500 bhp. Modified brakes will make sure your super-hatch will stop as well as it goes, while an after-market exhaust will make your Golf R somewhat less of a sleeper, rudely awakening anyone in its immediate vicinity.

BMW 3 Series

You might want to leave your deluxe executive express just as it is. Then again, why be just another anonymous Beemer? Suspension is - as is so often - the start, so if you don't need the ride height, there's any number of systems that will lower it for you, offering better handling and, crucially, a look to mark you out on the motorway. BMW's reputedly bulletproof engines can take performance mods, while fancy air intake systems, say experts, can hugely enhance performance. Naturally you'll be adding mean alloys. 

Nissan GT-R

The GT-R and its forbears are the true monarchs of the Japanese tuning scene. Already horizon-bending performance can become truly rocket-like. Drop yours off at a specialist such as Litchfield and the hardly limp standard 562 bhp - good for nearly 200 mph remember - can be increased to as much as 775 bhp, or about the same as a Lamborghini Aventador. You'll need better brakes, and probably a track properly to enjoy maximum lift-off.

Ford Focus ST

Supermarket shopper becomes formidable track day toy. The factory ST is hardly a slouch - and Ford's expertise in transforming the Focus into a dynamic joy has attracted the tuners, both amateur and professional, to take it further. Best known are longtime Ford modifiers Mountune, liked so much by the factory that your warranty will be unaffected by their demon work. Expect up to 360 bhp - standard is 267 bhp - and to leave every other family hatch standing.

Range Rover Sport

How far do you want to go? That's likely to be the question from whichever of the Rangie tuners you take your prime deluxe off-roader to. The Sport is a favourite at Overfinch, for example, who start with a titanium exhaust system - for flow, noise and lightness - and progress to nifty carbon fibre air induction systems. For those keen on showing off under-bonnet areas, they add carbon fibre casings too - and you'll probably want their stop-on-a-penny eight-piston braking system to bring your mega-SUV to a standstill.

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