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Top Feature Cars of 2019

From a V-8 S30 and JDM BMW family wagon to 2 Preludes (!), the hottest 10 from Super Street over the last 12 months

Bob Hernandez
Dec 24, 2019

Behind the scenes, we have an army of number-crunching nerds called "Business Intelligence" who tell us which stories perform well in terms of views, and that's usually where we source the info to put together these kinds of year-ending top stories lists. We just give 'em some basic parameters - like Feature Cars, in the year 2019, etc. - and they come back with the goods. Like this year's compilation, which includes three Nissan/Datsun platforms, three Hondas, and one each Toyota, Mazda, BMW, and - a little surprisingly - a DSM; it's a collection made up mostly of sport coupes and hatchbacks, but there's also one supercar, a wagon, and one minivan. Take a walk down memory lane or discover feature cars you may have missed from 2019 in the list below.

1972 DATSUN 240Z - AMERICAN REVOLUTION

240Z rear Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

This was our most visited car feature of the year, and the story of the owner/builder of this 240Z we featured in March might be as remarkable as his pristine LS7-"swapped" Z (his last gig was as an FBI Special Agent, if that's any indication). Using a heavily altered S30 and creating tube structures around it to start, owner Tyler Powell, who has car guy credentials more as a Corvette enthusiast, basically built from the ground up the most insane mashup of a C6 and S30. Super wide and packing 565 horses of V-8 grunt, the so-called Fairlady Z06 is headed next to the track but is breathtaking just standing still.

1995 EAGLE TALON TSI - THE EAGLE HAS LANDED

Talon rolling Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

In January we introduced you to Alex Ruiz's Talon, an extremely rare sighting being that most DSM fans go for Mitsubishi's Eclipse rather than the Eagle offering. Ruiz's very first car, he swapped out the native turbo 4G63 that came in the TSi trim for a longblock from a Lancer Evolution III, but arguably the biggest improvements are came from enhancing the car's exterior look. Alex switched out the front and rear facias with those from a '97-to-'99 Eclipse and then enlisted Carbonetics for loads of carbon fiber (hood, sunroof delete, side skirts, et al) and the car looks like the perfect '90s street machine.

1996 NISSAN 180SX TYPE X (S13) - HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE

180SX profile Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

Saved from a life as a drift missile, Hitomi Ishikawa sweettalked her hubby into restoring her S13 and he took it to the next level, at first building around the car's stance; they opted for a set of staggered 19-inch RAYS NISMO wheels commonly found on the '13-to-'14 Z34 (that car came stock on skinny 15s), and the resulting widebody pushed the Type X's fenders out some 5 inches in front and 8 inches at the rear. This thing is a show-quality drift machine, but we'd expect nothing less from the guy that brought us the police-themed 1JZ Mark II wagon back in 2017.

1989 HONDA CIVIC - THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Civic Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

The post on Nick Higgins K24 EF hatchback gets overachiever of the year award, because even though it got published late in the year - November - and had less time to be seen, it's our fourth best in terms of car feature views in 2019. It is popular, and it's pretty obvious why; the compact is refined to the nth degree, emblematic of the countless hours and toil that went into creating something that on some levels exceeds description. But the real tale here is Higgins' story of heartbreak and bouncing back stronger while carrying out such a landmark build.

1988 HONDA PRELUDE: A JEWEL IN THAILAND

Prelude Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

Prelude fam, we love you, but no one is more surprised than we are that we have two (count 'em) Prelude features on this list, starting with the story on Satit Suwantong's 1988 drag car that dropped in February. But this bad boy doesn't have just any ol' engine swap under hood; it boasts a built ITB'ed K24 at its heart, crossing off another one from our list of What Ifs.

2012 NISSAN GT-R - TOP SECRET CLEARANCE

GT R 1 Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

Our globetrotting shooter Chad Burdette in March brought us the wild feature on this absolutely bonkers built R35 and its enthusiastically GT-R-loving owner, Heng Thammarat. The mods list for this 1,600hp current-gen. Godzilla reads like a who's who of the best in R35 aftermarket, topped off with a dramatic body kit by none other than Top Secret, one of the biggest names in JDM.

1990 MAZDA RX-7 TURBO II (FC3S) - THE ULTIMATE FC

RX 7 Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

After kicking up a ton of interest at its 2018 SEMA Show debut from the Toyo Treadpass, we published our feature on the GReddy Performance FC in January and saw the same great response from our fans. The rotary-engined Mazda sports car project walks that fine line perfectly, balancing period correctness with modern sensibilities.

2014 BMW 328D M SPORT - FAMILY MAN

328d rear Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

A diesel BMW wagon is another vehicle we'd never expect to see on this list, and yet here we are. You loved it, enough for it to be our eighth most popular car feature this year, and we can see why; Johnn Feng's M Sport-packaged machine is such a rare vehicle to begin with, and the fact that he JDM'ed it out excites the punk-rocky anti-conformist in us.

2016 TOYOTA HIACE - KING OF THE VANS

HiAce Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

We don't often do minivans, but if more were like Ju Sung Oh's VR38DETT-swapped, flared-out HiAce we probably would. Overfenders, aero, and a front mount are only the tip of the iceberg here but give you a good idea of what's coming.

2001 HONDA PRELUDE TYPE SH - MY BLUE LADY

Prelude SH Photo 41/41   |   Top Feature Cars of 2019

This April feature told of Chris Huitron's labor of love for his 5th-gen. Prelude, an affair with the model that's lasted over two decades. Using many parts that grew to popularity a generation earlier, Chris killed the execution on this one, producing easily one of the best Prelude builds we've seen in a long time.

By Bob Hernandez
857 Articles

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