1 - Honda Beat (1991-1996)
The Beat has all the ingredients you’d want from a sports car, including a naturally aspirated mid-mounted motor that spins to more than 8000rpm, and very little weight. With prices starting at significantly less than £2000, what’s the catch? The truth of the matter is that the Beat is tiny.
As one of Japan’s heavily regulated Kei cars, it’s barely three metres long and has just 660cc to push it along. But while it only produces 63bhp, it weighs just 760kg and has a genuine go-kart feel. A project car will be less than £1000, but budget nearer £2500 for a decent one that’s ready to drive.
2 - Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution (1997-1999)
It wasn’t just the Lancer that got Mitsubishi’s Evo treatment. In the 1990s the Pajero (or Shogun as we know it) got its very own homologation special that was arguably even wilder. Built for rally raiding, it received a 3.5-litre V6 with 276bhp, additional aluminium skidplates and a distinctive bodykit.
The bodykit housed much wider tracks courtesy of an all-new, fully independent suspension set-up. Mitsubishi’s hard work paid off and the car dominated its Dakar Rally class.
Only 2500 were made, but they’re surprisingly cheap; less than £10,000 will net you a good one.
3 - Nissan Autech Stelvio Zagato (1989)
Mention the name ‘Zagato’ and you’ll no doubt think of limited-run Astons or rare coachbuilt Italian cars, not a late-1980s Japanese super-coupé. So while Nissan may have dealt with the Autech’s mechanicals, including a twin-turbo 3.0 V6, the cars were sent to Zagato in Italy for interiors and bodywork.