Subaru Impreza WRX
Nissan Skyline GT-R
We've seen proper drag racers in action and even driven one for ourselves - so how easy would it be to get a quick quarter-mile car for your own garage? Easier than you might think, and you don't need a big budget either.
1 - Subaru Impreza WRX (1992-2002)
Avoid the naturally aspirated models and the Impreza offers some key ingredients for drag dominance. The early cars are light, they have four-wheel drive and they come with immensely tuneable turbo engines.
Standard UK cars will be brisk with around 210bhp but the Japanese-market WRX and STI models have up to 276bhp. In both instances, there is much more power to be extracted.
Getting a car into the 10-second bracket is a doable if expensive process. At least prices start at a little over £1000 for a high-mileage car with some MOT. They are reliable if cared for but that’s unlikely at this money. Still, less than £7000 will get you a cracker.
2 - Toyota Supra (1992-2002)
There’s a very good reason why this generation of the Toyota Supra was one of the early stars of a certain car-based film franchise: it can be made to go incredibly quickly. The twin-turbo in-line six may have had ‘only’ 276bhp in Japanese spec but it can be taken to well over double that.
For an outlay of less than £10,000, you’re probably only going to find one equipped with an automatic gearbox these days, but that isn’t a problem if you’re living life a quarter of a mile at a time. Many examples will have been modified so keep a watchful eye out for any shoddy workmanship.
3 - Nissan Skyline GT-R (1989-1998)
Prices are rising on the R32 and R33 Skyline GT-R but you can still find them for under £10,000. The GT-R was meant to have 276bhp but they all seem to dyno at more than 300bhp. There are plenty on offer with over 400bhp, though, and the RB26 twin-turbo straight six is immensely strong.
The GT-R’s four-wheel drive helps it launch even harder. With enough tuning (and money), a road-legal car can run a quarter mile in the eight-second range.
4 - Mercedes-Benz CL600 (2003-2006)
This old barge may seem an odd choice but has one very big thing going for it: a twin-turbo V12. The 493bhp powerhouse gives a 0-60mph time of under five seconds and 0-100mph in just over 10.
They’re rare but you can pick one up for less than £9000. If you’re certifiable, you could then ditch much of the interior to lose weight and look at extracting even more power from the V12. Brabus got over 700bhp out of it. Be prepared to spend lots on maintenance, though.
5 - Chevrolet Camaro (1997-2002)
As they love to say in the US, there ain’t no replacement for displacement. With a 5.7-litre V8, the 325bhp fourth-gen Camaro is quick out of the box.
Opt for a later version with the aluminium-block LS1 V8 and there’s a raft of bolt-on parts to hike power significantly. They can be turbocharged to produce horsepower well into four figures, if you throw enough money at it.
You can get one for £7000 but budget plenty of cash for petrol.
6 - Audi RS6 (2002-2004)
The Audi RS6 follows a similar recipe to the Subaru Impreza but with everything doubled. There are twice as many cylinders, twice the power and not far off twice the weight, either.
Available as a saloon and an estate, the RS6 is capable of 0-62mph in 4.6sec thanks to a twin-turbo V8 with 444bhp and its quattro four-wheel drive. As with most modern motors running forced induction, extra power is fairly easy to extract. Upwards of 500bhp is just an exhaust and remap away.
Prices may start at around £7000 but we’d hunt down a cared-for example at £10,000 or, ideally, above.