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E30 and E36 BMW's are cool cars, and have a lot of potential in them for projects. If you can't find or afford an M3 (E30 M3's are pretty damn rare and can cost a bundle), the 325's still are great. I really liked E30's before I got into DSM's, but I find a 325i or 325is in good shape for any reasonable price. Unfortunately, aftermarket parts for those cars can run pretty expensive too.
Civic's are obviously a choice for projects as well. Small, good suspension and light as anything. EF and EG Civic's (88 to 95) can be found for really cheap, especially the EF's. I've always had an idea of buying a cheapo stick shift EF hatch and turboing it using DSM parts left over after upgrading, like the 14b, injectors, SMIC and BOV. Could be done for real cheap, only pricey parts you would need is a manifold off ebay, an SAFC or whatever, and a wb02 for tuning. Don't even need an MBC as you probably wouldn't be able to go beyond the 14b's wastegate spring pressure.
Hideki likes odd stuff... My '90 Corvette C4 with a 6-speed manual has been a fun project, They look awesome when they get lowered, and aftermarket support is actually really good. I also love W124 300E Mercedes and W201 190E's, My current project Merc is an '87 300E that's getting lowered, Euro lights, and a custom turbo (you can take the turbo manifold from a diesel, redrill new holes and it'll let you bolt on any T3 turbo)
as long as i can have my dsm for when i need to work on cars/ want a loud annoying horrible to drive but fast as balls car, i would like a comfortable car with a bit of umph and a factory warranty that i know wont break down
For a project and the years you specified, I'd love to get a EF Civic Hatchback and turn it into a NA monster. Lighten it and dust all the ricer Civics with my sleeper.
Now if I wanted a daily driver for those years, I always loved the Impreza 2.5 RS 2 Dr. Or for something of a different car, a Volvo V70R turbo wagon, Boosted fun that flies under the radar, able to haul stuff and family around. Plus used to be a big player in Euro road racing.
If money was no object, then it would have to be an MKIV Supra Twin Turbo swap motor and transmission into a Lexus SC300 and also do a full Soarer conversion
To the other member that suggested a Escort Cosworth project, props on that one.
Gotta go with a foxbody. Ive had two dsms, and each time I was shopping for a new car, I nearly got a stang. I think If I buy another car besides my talon that I have, I'm gonna pic up a 1992 Gt or LX hatchback or notch. They can be had for very cheap and they make some good torque.