1973-1976 Chevy Nova
The Nova started out in 1962 as a compact model. Like the Mustang and other similar unibody models to come, the early Novas incorporated the suspension-mounting points into the body. In 1968, that changed when the Nova got a front subframe that was more like that of a full-framed car. The X-body platform began that year, using the same front suspension as the '67-69 Camaro. The same front end was used through 1979, making it easy to swap suspension parts since the aftermarket has fallen in love with the early Camaros. Many Novas came with small-blocks from the factory and can even accept Chevy big-blocks (which did come in earlier models). In '73, Nova's got big bumpers to comply with government regulations, but the damage was minimal. Though this era of Nova came in four-door and wagon variations, we're omitting those from our production numbers. Novas are one of the most common cars to find at the dragstrip because they are cheap to buy, easy to modify, and don't weigh very much.

By The Numbers
Typical price range: $1,500 - $4,500
Total model production: 750,999
Platform variants: Buick Apollo, Oldsmobile Omega, Pontiac Ventura
Available engines: V-8: 307, 350
Coolness factor: 4
Aftermarket support: 3
Availability: 4
Website resources: www.chevynova.org

We Found It
If you're brave enough to start with a primered car, this one is a good option. It runs and drives on its 144,000-mile original engine. This '74 needs quite a bit of work, but being one of the more desirable years, along with '73, it's a good project car. This particular car sold for $1,700, and wasn't even the lowest priced one out there. No-engine, no-trans cars were going for under $1,000.

1979-1986 Mercury Capri
Mercury's take on the Fox body Mustang chassis has become a truly love-it-or-hate-it affair for late-model enthusiasts. The bulging fenders seem to be universally accepted, while select few appreciate the more aerodynamic "bubble back" hatch. You either love the Capri, or swap out the bumper covers and turn it into a Mustang. The '79-82 models were nearly identical and their interiors matched the Mustang's year-for-year, with only minor differences. The year 1983 got a hatchback rear and new taillights. The Capri weighed in at around 2,500 pounds, making it a prime candidate for racing. They came with five different engine configurations from turbo fours, to V-8s. Mercury decorated the years with special models including the Black Magic, White Lightning, Crimson Cat, Turbo RS, and the ASC McLaren coupes and convertibles. These models are rare and more valuable than the base model, but still cost less than the Mustang alternatives with all the same bits and pieces.

By The Numbers
Typical Price Range: $1,500 - $3,000
Total model production: 370,752
Platform variants: Ford Mustang and Fairmont
Available engines: I-4: 144 turbo. V-8: 256, 305
Coolness factor: 3
Aftermarket support: 5
Availability: 3
Website resources: www.foureyepride.com

We Found It
Toward the top of the price scale, we found this '83 Capri RS with a modified 5.0L engine and five-speed manual-the most desirable of the options. The car has lots of upgrades including aftermarket gauges, headers, 3.73 gears, and a bumpin' sound system. It's a little rough around the edges, but for $2,500, it's understood you'll need to do some work yourself.

1963-1969 Mercury Comet
The first two years of the Comet, 1960 and 1961, were badged solely Comet, with no divisional claim. In 1962, Mercury put their name on the car and styled the rear to match their other cars. It wasn't until 1963 that a V-8 was offered after complaints of the lack of power. The 260-inch V-8 wasn't much better at 164 hp, but it was an improvement. The compact unibody car got a boxy redesign in 1964, as well as improved engine and transmission options. This was also the year that the Cyclone was introduced as their high-performance model. They produced 50 special edition Cyclones to race Super Stock where they did extremely well. The next batch of Comets would grow to be mid-sized, similar to the Fairlane and Torino. With this growth, bigger engines were offered, including the 302, 351, and 428. These engines are being modified all-day long for some insane horsepower levels. The Comet's sister cars open it to all of their aftermarket parts as well. Their history in drag racing makes the Comet a perfect car to restore and bring to the track.

By The Numbers
Typical price range: $2,000 - $7,500
Total model production: 515,663
Platform variants: Ford Falcon, late Fairlane and Torino, Mercury Meteor
Available engines: V-8: 260, 289, 390, 302, 351, 428
Coolness factor: 4
Aftermarket support: 3
Availability: 3
Website resources: www.cometcentral.com

We Found It
With a $3,150 final bid, this '64 Comet was won. The car was 100 percent complete, running, and driving. The '64 was the first year of their redesign, and it's when they started getting big into the A/FX class drag racing. This would be a great candidate to build as a modern-day tribute car to their Super Stock heyday.