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5 American Cars That Make The Best Projects (And 5 That Aren’t Worth Modifying)

1993 Ford Mustang GT Cropped

For many gearboxes “the perfect car” does not exist. There is always something to change and improve on, be it a classic Camaro or an everyday Corolla. After adopting a project car, we share the belief that making the car yourself is an achievement of a lifetime. And therein lies the real fun of working on a project car. Every time a highly tuned A80 Supra or a 240ZX comes along, we are left with the thoughts of making something like that. After all, what could be better than adapting the car to our use?



Any car can be a project. But after all, we have to take into account specific parameters before choosing a project car. A great project car should be affordable, easy to work on, built like a tank, and capable of taking in a lot more power than it originally had.

This is why most of us would accept that tuner-friendly JDM cars are great project cars. What many gearboxes overlook, however, is how many American cars are also ideal projects. Below is the list of five American cars that make the best projects and five that aren’t worth modifying.

10 Great project: Chevrolet Cobalt SS 2008

The Chevy Cobalt SS is an everyday car with a lot of performance to offer. It meets all the needs of a commuter and provides an enjoyable driving experience. It may not look appealing, but it can compete with a Mustang if properly tuned. Cobalt SS models are also reasonably priced on the used market, and you can expect anything but under $8,000.

Apart from this, there are numerous mods available for the car, from body kits to performance upgrades. And the best thing is, everything is so affordable. This makes it one of the best project cars you can work on.

Related: Why the Chevy Cobalt SS Turbo Is the Ultimate American Sleeper

9 Great project: 1994-2004 Ford Mustang SN95

The Ford Mustang SN95 debuted in 1994 and is the 4th generation mustang made with Ford’s Fox Body chassis. SN95 stands for Specialty/Sporty North American project #95. The New Edge design referenced a more modern looking Mustang SN95 and more powerful too.

The SN95 came with a variety of engines on offer, not to mention the fair resale market prices that add to the ratings for a project car. Modifications are also available in a wide variety, making it even more valuable.


8 Great project: 2008 Dodge Challenger

The Dodge Challenger needs no introduction. The current models are real dragsters and not at all beginner friendly. The Challenger is fast and can travel a speed of three digits in seconds. First debuting in 1969, the Challenger had a revival in 2008 and still rides strong and shows no signs of slowing down.

This is a true American Muscle car gearbox that you crave when choosing a project car. You can easily find a used 2008 Challenger for around $15,000. Modifications are no problem for these either, because there are countless upgrades available, from engine tuning to exterior and interior.


7 Great Project: 1979-1993 Ford Mustang Fox Body

The forerunner of the Mustang SN95, the Fox Body Ford Mustang debuted in 1979. Ford made the Fox Body chassis as one for everything suitable for 2-door, 3-door and 4-door designs. A variety of engines were offered, ranging from a 2.3-liter inline-4 with 88 horsepower to a 5-liter V8 with outputs of up to 230 horsepower. However, what sets these apart is how much aftermarket support they have.

Because it is old, it doesn’t have many features and technologies, which gives us the room to make it better. You can do almost anything with the Fox body, and it’s happy to pack even bigger size bikes.

Related: From Zero to Hero: 1987 Ford Mustang GT Project Car

6 Great Project: 2000 Jeep Wrangler

Debuted in 1986, the Jeep Wrangler is a mid-sized SUV with World War II Jeep DNA. The public offering of the Jeep Wrangler came with a tidal wave due to its unique and distinctive design. In addition, this SUV can go anywhere and is perfect for off-road driving. It came with a 4.0-liter inline six that produced 181 horsepower and 222 lb-ft of torque.

The Wrangler can have any mods you want to make on it. Apart from this, the availability of the parts is also ample. The prices are therefore relatively modest.

Related: 10 Awesome Project Cars You Can Buy For Under $5,000

5 Best Left Alone: ​​1971-1980 Ford Pinto

The first subcompact car Ford offered in North America was the Ford Pinto. They developed it in just 25 months instead of the normal 43-month cycle. At the time, cars produced in Japan became a big hit. The Pinto was therefore one of Ford’s initiatives in the Subcompact segment. The Pinto came with a lot of expectations, but unfortunately had some flaws.

Some reports indicate that the Pinto caught fire several times in a rear-end collision. This was due to the placement of the fuel tank at the rear. Spending hard earned money and making a project car just to catch fire isn’t worth it.

Related: These Deathtrap Military Jets Make the Ford Pinto Look Safe

4 Best Left Alone: ​​2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire

The Chrysler Crossfire was an eye-catcher, but could not amuse the enthusiasts at the same time. The Crossfire is based on the first-generation SLK and shares nearly 80% components. This makes the Crossfire a bit difficult to maintain.

It shares the same powerhouse as the Mercedes SLK320, a 3.2-liter V6 with 215 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque. While it seemed fun to drive, there was little point in paying Mercedes’ price for maintenance. So the Chrysler Crossfire may not be a perfect fit for a project car.


3 Best Left Alone: ​​1975 Chevrolet Monza

The Pontiac Sunbird, Buick Skyhawk and Oldsmobile Starfire shared the exact counterparts of the Chevrolet Monza. The Monza, which debuted in 1975, had had a lot of problems before it even launched. Chevy’s first offering was a rotary engine that they had to ditch because of its emissions standards and high fuel economy.

But the new V8 powerhouse wasn’t captivating enough either thanks to emissions regulations. It’s hard to find, which is why the modifications to this car can also be a bit of a hassle. Undoubtedly we can make the parts to measure, but for a project car it is not possible to keep the price affordable.


2 Best Left Alone: ​​1997-2002 Plymouth Prowler

The design of the Plymouth Prowler is very subjective. The Hot rod design language of the 1930s is what Plymouth wanted and offered the Prowler. It fulfilled all modern features such as airbags, keyless entry, power windows, air conditioning, etc.; however, it was not fun to drive at all. The V6 powerhouse under the hood could produce some 250 horsepower and did not come with a manual gearbox option.

Since Plymouth’s withdrawal from the market in 2001, it has become really difficult to find any support from the company. The changes can be visual or modify the engine a bit. Because of the very different design language, it’s really hard to even find the counterparts to its fit.

Related: Here’s Why the World Needs More Hot Rods Like the Plymouth Prowler

1 Best Left Alone: ​​2004 Chevrolet SSR

With some cars you wonder what the hell the given design assignment for the car was? One such example from the early 2000s was the SSR. It can be argued that it was a response to that of the Chrysler PT cruiser or the Plymouth Prowler. But the sales figures of those cars do beg the question: was one of the same kind ever needed again?

Aside from the funky looks, the SSR came with a lackluster 5.3-litre LM4 V8 engine and a 4L60-E 4-speed automatic transmission. Chevy chose this combo from a mid-sized SUV. It has a plethora of issues, including but not limited to overheating, multiple electric gremlins, exhaust issues, a very untidy interior, and transmission failures. Any amateur mechanic should shy away from choosing one of these as a project car.