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Best USDM car to start tuning with?

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Hey everyone, Max here from the US of A:)

Does anyone have a good suggestion for a beginner tuner's car? I've been gobbling the EFI courses as quickly as I can, and I want to buy a car to practice tuning on. I know in the course Andre recommends something NA and low-powered to start out on, but that being said I want to buy a car that I can easily scale up my practicing with, something that can relatively easily be turboed or built to make a ton of power, and also (hopefully) be built to run flex-fuel. I want to find something that I can practice everything Andre teaches in the EFI courses. I'm totally fine swapping a standalone ECU into the car, just hoping to find a car that has plug-and-play options since I'm a beginner wiring expert too... XD

I live in New Jersey in the United States. I was thinking either an ef or eg civic hatchback that already has a B-series engine swapped in it. Anything works for me as long as it would be semi-reliable and could be built-up pretty easily:)

I'm sending lots of love and I hope you all are well!


Anything with a Ford Duratec aka Mazda L engine. Circa 2003 - 2012, before then switched to direct injection.

Super reliable, super easy to tune, generally more affordable than most other options, and plenty of aftermarket support and knowledge out there. And once you go turbo, these motors make 500-800hp no problem. N/A you can get them up to 300+hp with the right work done to it.

2.0l is the most common. But 2.3l and 2.5l are the best ones to get. I'd personally stay away from the Mazdaspeed version, because it's DI and don't want to mess with that.

All these got "good" versions of this motor. Plenty of other cars got the 2.0l.

2003/04 Ford Focus PZEV, 2005-07 Focus ST, 2004-12 Mazda3, 2003-2012 Mazda6, 2005-2015 Mazda Miata, 2010+ Ford Fusion

The 2.3 and 2.5 also came in various compact SUV's and trucks. Such as the Ranger, Escape, Tribute, and others. So there are a ton of these motors out there as sources for swaps. You can get these motors with low miles used from eBay for $250+shipping.

Wow.... this is so much good information, I didn't even consider that engine to be honest. I guess I still have a lot of experience to gain in the tuning world XD. Thank you so much, man!!! I will definitely consider that! It sounds like a strong engine, if I can get those power levels out of them then that will definitely be a strong contender in my book.

That's just one example. There's a lot of great engines out there, and everyone will have a different opinion on what to go with.

In fact, I'm REALLY surprised there aren't a ton of people jumping on this thread with their favorite engine!

For sure, you are definitely on the money there. What do you think about the M20 engine from BMW? I know that would require a lot of work to bring up to modern standards, but just in general, what are your thoughts?

Me too! I was hoping there would be more suggestions XD

@Wedge905 - Are there any engines that are not what Andre calls "knock limited" which would mean Maxwell wont detonate it to death while he's experimenting? Or an engine you can run on e85 that wont be knock limited?

This would make it a long term safer thing to play with in theory wouldn't it?

@cbDrift that was also something on my checklist :) thanks for pointing that out

also, does anyone have any opinion on the R53 supercharged mini? here in the States it's pretty easy to swap intercoolers to say an Airtec unit and keep the IATs down quite a bit. I know HPA hasn't delved into water injection yet but I was also thinking of running that as well.

I'll just say what I know from experience. The Duratec motors I'm talking about are absolutely not knock limited. That's running premium pump gas, with stock compression. Regular pump gas, might have to pull a couple degrees. And if you raise the compression or go boost, then all bets are off.

But the stock motor hits MBT well before it hits knock.

Okay, awesome, thank you so much:)

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