Life changed for all of us in 2020, but at least you didn't stop building sick cars, and we tried hard as heck to keep featuring them. From tuning staples like the Civic and Skyline, to less common fan favorites like the Impreza wagon, and the downright unusual like a Volvo V50, we had them all and more in the last 12 months, and since we're almost through with this train wreck of a year, we figured, what the heck, let's see which feature cars pulled in the most viewers. The list below is comprised of the 20 most popular vehicle features we posted on our site this year, and we're kinda proud of how truly eclectic it is.
Our roundup includes 9 entries from the States, 3 Japanese builds, 3 from Thailand, a couple from Canada, and 1 each from Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden, made up of 11 Honda, 3 Toyota, 2 Nissan, and 1 each Subaru, Mazda, Mini, and Volvo. They came in coupe and sedan, hatchback and roadster forms, and range in model years from a '68 S800 to a pair of cars from 2011. To learn more about each, make sure to click the links in the descriptions below.
Jeremy Allgier's 1992 Honda Prelude Si
Daniel Wu's 1968 Honda S800
Mathias Johansson's 1989 Toyota Corolla GTi
Phunnapat Phunsub's 2000 Nissan Skyline GT-R
Smicha Momm Thira's 2011 Volvo V50
Masaki Fukuda's 1994 Honda Civic SiR II
Mike Andrada's 2000 Honda Civic
Sun's 2011 Mini Cooper
Victor Ho's 1978 Honda Civic
Shayne Wilson's 2007 Acura TL Type-S
Matty Kotsifakis's 1999 Honda Integra Type R
Ryan Wedig's 1985 Honda CRX Si
Todd Grant's 1996 Honda Civic EX
Masataka Ikeda's 1983 Toyota Sprinter Trueno
Brandon Miller's 1984 Nissan Skyline
Evan Poole's 1985 Toyota Celica Supra P-Type
Ko Nakagawa's 1999 Mazda Roadster
Todd Grant's 2000 Acura Integra GS-R Sedan
Anthony Sammut's 2006 Subaru Impreza Wagon
David Tran's 2005 Honda S2000
More 2020 Highlights
2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition
Honda Prelude Si Supercharged
One of the things we learned in 2020 is that we have a lot of Honda Prelude lovers in our midst; they helped make Jeremy Allgier's badass '92 Si this year's top performing car feature. Photographed by new staff shooter Renz Dimaandal, Jeremy's comprehensive transformation of his BB2 includes a JDM H23 VTEC engine swap, Jackson Racing supercharger, and a whole lot of Abbey Road Company er, ARC International parts. We're pretty sure Jeremy changed opinions and inspired new possibilities with this project.
Daniel Wu's Restomod 1968 Honda S800 with Custom Pandem Kit
Daniel's restomod S800 coupe was one of the cars that stole the show at SEMA '19 and may be one of the oldest Honda we've ever featured, but it totally deserves the acclaim. Lovingly period correct but modernized just enough with a set of custom Pandem fender flares and a few other touches, we commissioned the inimitable Larry Chen to capture the old-school ride for us up in the Bay Area. The build story is one of second chances in the aftermath of a near-death experience for Daniel.
RWD-Converted, 2JZ-GTE-Powered Toyota Corolla Hatchback
We can't remember the last time we discovered a feature car in Sweden, but Mathias Johansson's '89 Corolla GTi hatch gave us reason to with its absolutely bonkers conversion to 2JZ power and rear-wheel drive. The ex-daily driver was torn down to its foundations before being rebuilt into a machine that is remarkably clean, appearing as if it came from the factory that way. And surprisingly, it is street legal in Sweden (bet you never saw that coming).
Nismo Clubman Spec-Inspired R34 Skyline GT-R
Who doesn't love a buff-looking R34 GT-R? Phunnapat Phunsub's Skyline hails from Thailand and part of its build approach is modeled after the Clubman Race Spec version that came from Nissan's Omori Factory, turning it into a carbon fiber-festooned Godzilla. The owner varies slightly from the CRS formula with the HKS stroked and Motec controlled RB26, as well as a few other mods, but otherwise this bad boy stays faithful. Streetmetal shot the GT-R ripping around Bangkok.
2011 Volvo V50 Wagon: Not Your Social Studies Teacher-Mobile
We never saw this one coming - a bagged, widebody modern Volvo wagon on Work Meister S1s. Smicha Momm Thira's '11 V50 in Thailand is all kinds of unique, and while its spec list is admittedly light on modifications, it's been massaged in some pretty stunning ways, all of the work executed by Garage Unique in Bangkok. (It also kinda proves a wheel like the Meister S1 might be just as versatile as the hallowed Volk TE37.) Globetrotting Yank Chad Burdette wrangled the pixels for us of this one-of-a-kind build.
1994 Honda Civic SiR II
We've learned over the years that there are all kinds of directions you can take a project car in, which is why Masaki Fukuda's build strategy for his EG hatch is so brilliant; rather than flesh out, he's focused on refinement, concentrating on easily swappable authentic parts. The SiR II was rocking a Vision front lip, Type DC side mirrors, and MUE VR-1 wheels, and Spoon rear spoiler for our photo shoot with Takeru Tojo, but Masaki also has 7 backup lips, 8 sets of mirrors in reserve, 9 more sets of wheels, and 4 sets of additional spoilers (not to mention the 4 extra sets of taillights). It seems obsessive, but we see the genius of it.
K20 Turbo Honda Civic Coupe
There was a time when builds like Mike Andrada's K20-swapped '00 Civic seemed a lot more common around these parts, but few were ever as nice as his EJ coupe. It's got all the right accoutrement and is as clean as a whistle, as shooter Daniel Piker illustrated, but the kicker is that it's a 10-second car in the quarter, making nearly 750hp at the front wheels. It's the perfect weekend getaway car if your idea of a perfect weekend getaway is screaming down the 1320.
Thailand K20A Mini Cooper
We were attracted to Sun's '11 Mini Cooper in Thailand by its proper ride height and JDM-ish Volk Racing CE28 wheels at the corners but were pleasantly surprised by what was under the bonnet: a Honda K20A surrounded on three sides by burnt titanium parts. The engine swap is not an easy one, so we applaud Sun's willingness to pursue such a rare and difficult conversion, and the rest of the build under the hood and in the cabin is an eyeful to say the least - the wild titanium-caged, camo-upholstered interior will have you transfixed.
1978 Honda Civic - Homebuilt Hatch Gets Widebodied & Turbo D16
In the face of zero aftermarket for the platform, Victor Ho nevertheless proceeded to customize his first-gen. Civic - almost entirely with one-off parts - developing this awesome concoction, complete with widebody kit, airbag suspension and turbo D16 swap. John Bunker's photoset reveals how clean the Honda build turned out, but we can't even begin to imagine the amount of time, resource and effort it must've taken to produce such an amazing-looking '70s compact.
2007 Acura TL Type-S: Schmuck-Built Turbo TL
Here's another we're not used to seeing turned into a project car: an Acura TL Type-S. Shayne Wilson mashed up the right elements of style (like bespoke Rays rims, pretty much every aero piece you can get for this gen. TL-S) and performance (slapping a BorgWarner turbo onto the sedan's J-series V-6 mill) to make a grocery getter that will leave you in its dust. Arlen Liverman's sunset shoot allows the car's super rare Moroccan Red Pearl finish to really pop.
Toda B-Series DC2 Integra Type R
We may be dating ourselves here, but when the DC2 ITR first came out and all throughout the 2000s, this is the outcome everyone building one seemed to be aiming for: lowered on Volk wheels with an engine full of Toda internals. Matty Kotsifakis's '99 Integra - photographed by Chim Patel - is a bit like a time capsule and we can't help but geek out over the champ white icon. The New Zealand machine even has equal parts JDM and USDM components, gelling together like few DC2 we've ever seen.
Mugen 1985 Honda CRX Si
Ryan Wedig's first-gen. CRX Si isn't just super clean and era appropriate, it also happens to feature some super unique modifications - like the very rare, authentic Mugen Pro Kit it's flexing, traded for a set of wheels and recovered from a Mugen parts car that was otherwise discarded. That Mugen B16B N1 swap under the hood is nothing to sneeze at either. The byproduct of resourcefulness and a whole lotta luck, and captured here by Josh Rivera, Ryan's CRX is one for the ages.
OEM+ 1996 Honda Civic EX
Todd Grant's EJ8 is outfitted in everything we'd ever want for a 6th-gen. Civic coupe project: B16A swap with SiR-G trans, Volk TE37 wheels, J's Racing fenders and EM1 side skirts, EK9 Recaro seats - the works! It's almost like he's reading our minds. Grant Cox's visuals paint a picture of '90s Civic perfection.
Toyota Corolla AE86 4AGE Shaved Engine Bay
JDM and USDM influences are crosspollinating in ways we never expected, like seeing an expertly shaved and tucked engine bay on a Japanese build. We're not sure they're any more common these days, but the ones rising to the top are pretty dang breathtaking, like the bay in Masataka Ikeda's Sprinter Trueno - wow, is it clean. David Ishikawa's photos show us how the Hachiroku's 20v 4A-GE swap literally looks like its floating - suspended by sorcery - and that's only the beginning of how tidy this Panda Corolla is.
1984 Nissan Skyline HR30
Fully a quarter of this list is made up of '80s cars, forcing us to rethink the decade - take Brandon Miller's R30 Skyline, for example. Who knew hard edges could look so appealing? Amazingly, Brandon picked up the built Skyline completely turnkey from a Japanese auction house, and it is totally immaculate. It even has a period-correct Nissan turbo engine swap in the bay. We wanna see more of these on American roads.
2JZ-Powered 1985 Toyota Celica Supra P-Type
Veteran Evan Poole took another under-loved, underutilized chassis and commissioned magic by having a 2JZ-GTE straight-6 wedged in between its forward strut towers - this time, an older Celica Supra P-Type, coincidentally. While the Mk2 and Mk4 Supra platforms share a name, nothing else parts-wise crosses over, and as a result it took Evan some two decades - a span that included several stretches when Evan was called away to duty - for him to complete and refine his build. Longtime SS contributor Patrick Lauder was behind the camera for this one, helping cast the boxy '80s hatchback in an entirely new light.
Supercharged Mazda Roadster NB
We may or may not be on the E.PRIME payroll (no comment!), but what can we say? The Japanese shop has some pretty sick cars, like this one right here, Ko Nakagawa's Mazda NB8C. Prepped for time attack, the custom widebody aero the Roadster wears was designed by Ko to flow with the RE Amemiya FD3S AD Facer N1 front bumper, and making up for the platform's anemic power production is an HKS GT supercharger kit under hood. Volk Racing TE37SL make the perfect rollers for the track project.
OEM+ 2000 Acura Integra GS-R Sedan
Remarkably, Todd Grant has a second vehicle on this list, his sweet, also OEM+ DB8, and cosmetically it doesn't stray terribly far from how he did his Civic. This 4-door has a similar kind of details-oriented build motif, too, with a little bit of domestic juice from the likes of Skunk2 and others blended together with Japanese parts like the Gab Sports wheels and JDM front end. Two built Hondas in the garage, Todd? Must be nice
STI-Powered Subaru Impreza Wagon
It took Anthony Sammut many years of trial and error to land upon the final formula for his Impreza wagon, but we think he's nailed it, stuffing an STI's built EJ25 flat-4 and trans into the engine bay and throwing the GF4 on bags. The STI theme extends to a couple other areas of the build, too - like the brakes and body - but for as evolved as this Subaru seems, Anthony's not done yet.
Laguna Seca Blue Mugen Turbo S2000
As far as dream cars go, this was it for a lot of kids - a Mugen'd out S2000 with hardtop, like David Tran's. The JDM is strong in this AP2, but getting the build's 2.2L inline-4 F22C to 436hp is a Full Race turbo setup that changes the entire character of the Honda roadster. Ken Au's images do justice to the mesmerizing Laguna Seca Blue paint that has always been associated with BMW's E46 M3, here reappropriated to impressive effect.