Fun Jap shitboxes in current year

I'm in the market for my first project(ish) car. What's the 2024 meta for Jap shitboxes, DA?

Looking for:
>fun
>manual + RWD
>cheap but not necessarily poverty-tier - no more than $8k, ideally less
>not a complete PITA to work on
>no older than 90s
>ugly is fine
I'm currently looking at Nissan ZX300s, but all of the manual examples in my area are high mileage (150k+), and the engine bay looks cramped

Non-Jap recommendations are also welcome, as long as they're budget-friendly and fun
Give me some ideas, I'm in the southwestern USA

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  1. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Nissan Z31

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      https://i.imgur.com/hTkGUhH.png

      fc

      >budget friendly
      Those two are the furthest from, z31 you can't even buy decent parts for anymore and the after market died 20 years ago.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        This. You also require baby hands if you actually plan to wrench on either z31/32

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          >baby hands
          Or, you know, skills that you obviously don't have. Somehow the most well-knows Z32 mechanics are chubby dudes with big hands.
          You can always tell who's never worked on one in these threads.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            >You can tell who's actually worked on one
            Yea. I know.
            Probably because I own one and its a b***h to work on.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Your Z31 is not even medium-level hard to work on. Get real. I was talking about Z32s in that post, and they are not even as bad as wrenchlets like to say.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            The only real annoying thing on the z32 is replacing the turbos with the engine and trans still in the car.

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Thanks for saying what I was saying? I guess?

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      [...]
      >budget friendly
      Those two are the furthest from, z31 you can't even buy decent parts for anymore and the after market died 20 years ago.

      As someone who has a Z31 I recommend it. They're really fun cars and almost every mechanical component of the drivetrain is shared with a bunch of other Nissan cars. Hardest part is the rubber seals; there are no replacements available so finding one with at least semi-decent ones is key.
      >Picrel
      My Z, blew a head gasket and decided to do a full engine tuneup while I was in there. I was able to find all the parts pretty easily.

  2. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    fc

  3. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Cheap jap shitboxes are a kill, at least the 90s ones everyone posts about.
    Z33/Z34s are decently cheap, ideally get a Z34 as its literally just a Z33 but better. If you want a Z33 for whatever reason, make sure its at least a revup engine, ideally an HR.
    Miata is always the answer
    RX8 is probably the cheapest and easiest to find. That being said you have to do basically everything yourself, rotary shops overcharge a shit ton. Also renesis a shit for making power, only get it if you want a good handling car.
    SC300s are basically 4th gen supras but a lexus and no tarbo option, finding a manual is fricking stupid hard from my experience, but as long as you get a non VVTI 2JZ, they handle boost well. And manual swaps aren't *that* hard if you're really willing to wrench.
    First gen BRZs/86s/FRSs are cheap now and have a hyuge aftermarket, but are slow and have that weird torque dip.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      >First gen BRZs/86s/FRSs are cheap now
      they are bizarrely highly priced. like 14k+

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        Theres a fair few near me for $8k, albeit they are literally first year cars. But yeah a majority are $14k+, its a good car if you can get a deal.
        Its also not surprising considering the main crowd it attracted is the same crowd that wrecked so many S chassis' and sent their prices to the fricking moon.

        not op but I really liked the sc300 until someone pointed out how it's just a bigger Del Sol and they were ruined for me

        SC300 isn't a looker at all and its easy to see why it got discontinued so fast. Thankfully its ugliness hid it from tuner culture for the most part, so it remains the cheapest way to get into the 2JZ. A cheap tarbo kit on a non VVTI can get you into 500WHP if you're lucky, otherwise mid 400s all day.

        seriously, give the mr2 a look. They had a price bump recently but I think they're still a little undervalued.

        This is also a good choice, they hover over $10k around me unfortunately, but if you can get one for cheap you definitely should. Be warned the NAs are very slow and its very much a handling first car.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          SC300 is actually an incredibly good looking car if it has clean paint and restored headlights so they aren't meth head tooth yellow, especially good looking with a body kit as well
          Only issue is they are all automatic. But an R154 is relatively cheap and the swap is as straight forward as can be.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        Yeah. That's what we call a cheap car in 2024, sir. Update your pricing index so others don't get the wrong idea.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          relative to other stuff even in this inflated market, they're a poor value proposition. I'm pretty sure you can get old v8 mustangs for that much.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      not op but I really liked the sc300 until someone pointed out how it's just a bigger Del Sol and they were ruined for me

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        top wut
        those cars have nothing in common

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          I think they mean in terms of appearance

  4. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    g35 maybe? one came up within 100mi of me.
    https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/2fdef75c-8626-4148-8573-48547c4bdbd8/
    basically an upmarket 350z but somehow cheaper now.

    cars.com lets you pick transmission and drivetrain so just look and go wild

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      >cars.com lets you pick transmission and drivetrain
      Interesting. Automatic transmission, but a v8 one-owner car for $7,500 is hard to beat. Got good reviews and seems reliable as well.
      https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/9d6ff8bb-e645-4968-8b8a-af6116fd4220/

  5. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    seriously, give the mr2 a look. They had a price bump recently but I think they're still a little undervalued.

  6. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    would late 80s be acceptable?

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      and by that I mean 88-89 onwards

  7. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >not a complete PITA to work on
    >I'm currently looking at Nissan 300ZX's
    Is this bait?
    An rx-8 is a perfect fit. It's fun, manual, RWD, and not a PITA to work on. It's ugly, but that's fine, and it's faster than almost any 1990's JDM sports car unless you're only driving in straight lines. Its achilles heel is that the renesis engine doesn't last much longer than the turbo 13B it replaced, but luckily engine rebuilds can be a DIY affair and learning to repair rotaries is a valuable skill to have. It also has no electronic nannies and a fairly empty engine bay. All you need are tires, brakes + brake fluid and you can have a lot of fun on the track. If you only have flat roads then pick something else though, because it's slow in a straight line. It's also practical. Just be sure to get the cloth seats + no sunroof versions, because they're much lighter than the GT versions, and with the lack of power you'll want it as light as possible.
    I would like to recommend an FR-S/86 over it simply because they're newer, but used prices in the US are dumb and the engines like to grenade on the track.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/404906990629?itmmeta=01HW2WDYQ18D8SKPPEJ6Y7K6DE&hash=item5e46565c25:g:dvkAAOSw0d5mEfhE&itmprp=enc%3AAQAJAAAA4CfkZU9LDBIPnl%2FzbXT3HQRI62sFkAUMIypf6ID6An25khIKrsPyGFyEIqztZQtLf4ety%2BkmAeHb%2FYfBU%2BOOMOKaGQJtdp7HZioK7259qtasNBFvlk1msVDZpEl2il8GTuf5TsKRWqyK4HzZEKbejkzW3SZSNu4VYMKpD03es%2FVvtu%2BxxPHRof2kEUugX9B0sZhDDnzVBVJFLMmGzmte6LF03X5eseCWq9Ept4LAy2nlzomMpfAp0YF4%2FTjmb7ONrl1Rt1hY3WPxZxvvUbIGsV%2B9Rl7BCJvwQIh4GOlm%2FKG%2F%7Ctkp%3ABk9SR8brt9zgYw
    >t. I have extensively tracked RX-8s and RX-7s (FD) and stock v stock they're very close in performance.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Fellow rx-8 track enjoyer. I agree with most of what you said but it's not that simple to rebuild, lot's of random stuff can break, I had cracked rotors on top of fricked apex seals so can be bigger job than you expect. I think after you factor in engine rebuild and a bunch of other maintenance stuff the fr-s/86 is not that much more expensive, also if engine does grenade I heard it's pretty cheap to buy a working engine and just engine swap.
      >T. Rebuilt engine rx-8 owner but sold it few years ago, BMW z4 e89 currently.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        swapping a k24 into an frs sounds like a grand time

  8. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >fun, cheap, manual, RWD, jap cars from the 90s

  9. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    MR2 ZZW30

  10. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >i want a highly sought after 90’s sports car with less than 40k miles also it can’t be more than $8k and no i wont import anything because thats out of my budget
    good luck with that, wrenchlet sissyboi

  11. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Z3
    3

    Tons of cheap ones that only need cosmetic restoration.
    You can DIY front splitter damage with bondo. It’s so far down that it doesn’t have to be perfect.

    I love them so much I want to buy them all and fix them up.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      but they are fricking disgusting and uncomfortable

      picrel is the right choice

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        My old 2004. Peak period with each following 3 series generation getting cheaper and cheaper, cutting more and more corners to keep the car in a price point people can afford. 2011 was the end of N/A inline 6 and the end of hydraulic steering. 2012 and on it's Turbo 4 and drive by wire. You don't get an inline 6 now unless it's turbo, and that's an M car.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          >4 door
          oof

  12. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Rwd is a meme, Used gen 5 preludes everywhere, shitbox celica's from '95 onwards everywhere, manual 300z, are hard to come by but cheap enough if non turbo. 350z's litter craigslist.
    Just by a ford probe and rice it to look like an rx7

  13. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    what about DSMs?
    z32 is a good option also if you have tools and time and some wrenching experience

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Awful idea unless you find a car owned by a DSM head that wasn't a fricking moron and kept a stock equivalent turbo on it (under 400whp; Evo 3 16G or 68HTA).

      Watch the Gears and Gasoline DSM Build for reference.

      Would second the RX8, Z33, NC1, and FRS/BRZ suggestions. Maybe add Turbo Subarus if you're willing to pay for a nice one and can find one. If you're fine with FWD there's also Mazdaspeed 3s but they're rather unreliable, would sooner gamble on a Mk6 GTI or a Fiesta/Focus ST.

  14. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    the japanese drift crowd blew up on tiktok during the pandemic, which was also the height of the used car market. moronic zoomers now think their 1.6L 1992 Miatas with welded differentials are worth $10k. If you want a cheap fun Japanese car, you're getting a FWD or an RX8. Even 350Zs are expensive now lol.

  15. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >What's the 2024 meta for Jap shitboxes
    All overpriced and rusting apart. Miata is the only car I think of that fits the description. Best of getting a honda, should be able to snag a decent civic at that price. Do not get a RX8 if you have to ask.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Op here, appreciate all the suggestions. For the record this will be my first PROJECT car, not my first car. I have project sport bikes, but I'm aware they're way easier to wrench on than cars

      >Do not get a RX8 if you have to ask.
      Why not? Seems to be a common recommendation and there's one nearby for 6k with 150k miles. Doesn't seem bad

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        >Doesn't want to buy a high millage 150k+ zx300
        >wants to buy a 150k RX8

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          Well the former is almost a decade older and looks way harder to work on

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Yeah the frame might be healthier, but that's it
            150k rotary is equivalent to 500k regular engine

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Unless the dude just swapped in a fresh Renesis that RX8 is literally a shell and more than twice what it should cost. RX8 shells are $1-2k.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        Word of advice: plan to replace a rotary engine within a year or ownership, no matter what the mileage is. Buy the <$5k rx-8 I listed. It has way less miles, is a base model 6 speed, and you can swap an engine in for $8-10k and be good for a long time (if you're paying someone else, but you want to wrench so it'll only be $3k in parts).

        https://i.imgur.com/EW96ziZ.jpeg

        Z3
        3

        Tons of cheap ones that only need cosmetic restoration.
        You can DIY front splitter damage with bondo. It’s so far down that it doesn’t have to be perfect.

        I love them so much I want to buy them all and fix them up.

        Z3 is probably a good bet if you're not tied to JDM. I really enjoyed driving a v6 z4 but that might be out of your budget.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          >a v6 z4
          a what

  16. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    You missed the boat on a cheap but fun project import car by 15-30 years.

  17. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Anything with those options is sadly going to be stupid overpriced. 🙁

    RX8 is a bad idea because I think most people want a car, even a project car, to have at least a modicum of reliability. Everything is fine with the car itself but the engine has bad build quality, an even more poorly designed exhaust and we haven't even begun to talk about the apex seals.

    It's almost like Mazda intentionally wanted to kill off the rotary engine.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Once the engine is changed I actually think the RX8 is pretty reliable, the worst you gotta deal with are coils after and maybe synchros if the PO was abusive.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      apex seals aren’t the issue on the renesis

  18. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I got an RX-8 with very low miles and it hasn't given me any problems so far but I've done all the autistic shit to keep it from grenading itself. Still kinda unhappy though since I tend to prioritize aesthetics over all else and this definitely isn't it. Though from what the track guys says there is reason to be grateful from a performance standpoint.

    But yeah don't buy the one with 150k miles on it you stupid moron.

  19. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >not necessarily poverty-tier
    >no more than $8k

  20. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    MR2. The ask price for the turbos tends to be around 15k but the NAs are sub 10k

  21. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    what's happening here, I want to buy a TT 300z at some point in my life but even the non turbo ones are rare and around 20k €

    a first Gen GT86 is also at least 20k € around here.
    frick that shit.

    frick Germany, all I can get is BMWs and I already have an e36.
    it's staring to sound reasonable to buy a 944 Porsche for 15k

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      If you're in Germany look for a N51/2/3 3.0 BMW, 350Z, or Fiesta ST. The YouTuber epidemic has made cars cost the same and be desirable worldwide. As soon as someone finds a "good car" they make a dozen videos that get 200,000+ views each worldwide, and nationwide search engines mean that unless you have a direct connection to a dealership trade in department cars won't depreciate and will sell quickly to the next young owner who will run them into the ground

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      >frick Germany, all I can get is BMWs and I already have an e36.
      Shut up, try being in one of your neighbors. Especially France. Now that's a dead car market. Bunch of Diesel-loving eunuchs.

  22. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Fun shitbox?

    Honestly, (used)V6 Mustang, it is better balanced than the V8, so it corners better. V8 is also very good, but I think that can go without saying.

  23. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Doesn't exist.

  24. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I’ve had two 600hp+ Z32s and they are hard and easy to work on at the same time.

    If you keep it all stock it’s a pain.
    If you simplify the engine and do certain things it makes it better.

    Regardless, that drivetrain is coming out at least once.

  25. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Just buy a bmw or a c4, and get over yourself. JDM is dead. All those cheap shit boxes you could've bought for under 2k are gone, so is their purpose. If paying over $8k for a 30 year old sub 250hp rwd manual is your thing then you're as moronic as the rice taxing, donut media gays that fricked up the market.

  26. 1 month ago
    Panda5

    There's only the miata now.

  27. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    For 90s JDM the meta is to spend $20k on someone's garage queen or import it yourself

  28. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    10x better looking for something from the 00's and even then for popular shits like the 350Z it's hard to find something in manual that hasn't been trashed for a reasonable price.

  29. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    In the same boat as OP, I want a 260 or 280z, opel GT, something similar. manual, RWD, small but not "you're gonna die in this" small, cheap, plentiful parts/aftermarket, and not a nightmare to wrench on. And I keep stumbling on weird shit like a rolling chassis for $10k, or a fairly good example for $35k. Then there will be like 4-6 months without anything resembling what I want listed for sale (just drive 50 hours to save $500 on a vehicle!) or actually insane people wanting BAT money for their rusty shitbox that doesn't run.

    I wish that Datsun guild in Oklahoma had a website to sell a decent project car but they don't and I don't want to drive 3 hours to see if they have anything suitable for sale.

    With those FRS and GT86's getting over 100k miles at $10k I'm still iffy on a 'new' car like that being sold for so cheap and having zero character like a 70s japanese sports car. Is there a good place to look for these types of cars? I'm not quite ready to spend the $60k+ on a Factory 5 car, but damn, I6 manual RWD cars have risen to kinda high prices.

  30. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    A70 Supra

  31. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    MK3 Supra I found a running one that only needed brake work for $3200 2 years ago. If you want more power eventually you can get a 2JZGE and turbo it or get a 1JZGTE

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