Add the Roar. Keep the Dark Suit and Tie

What do you do if you're in your mid-40's, have a responsible job and a yearning for something more exciting than the Chevrolet Malibu you've been driving. You have an image to maintain, and you know you'd hate it if someone starts talking about a mid-life crisis if you show up at work in a Corvette or Porsche. You want a car that looks like just another Blandmobile when you're waiting in line at Mickey D's, but has a thundering hammer under the hood. The first step in the process is to go to sites that sell used cars online and find a used vehicle in good condition. Here are three good used cars that can be modified beyond belief and still keep their standard good looks and one that is perfect as it comes from the factory.

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3 cool cars to modify...

1. Honda Civic

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The Civic is a lovely car to upgrade and the parts are easy to find. Find a late model Civic Si. The Si comes with a 197 horsepower 2.0 litre engine and looks just every other Civic. Begin by replacing the stock intake and exhaust systems, the computer chip and some suspension parts. If this isn't fast enough, install a turbocharger kit for an additional 55 horsepower or a supercharger for an additional 200 horsepower. Both kits cost more than £3,000 ($5,000). Modify the suspension by replacing the shocks, springs and anti-roll bars. Don't forget to install a new braking system. All of this can be done while keeping the stock Civic Si body.

2. Subaru Impreza

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Find a used Subaru Impreza with the cheapest, smallest engine. Get on the web. Find a good, used WRX STI EJ20T Turbocharged engine with a 6 speed LSD transmission, computer and wiring harness. Take out the cheap, small engine and install the very big engine. The STI engine will bolt into the motor mounts inside the engine compartment without any fuss. There are some modifications in other parts, but none of it is beyond the average mechanic's abilities. You will go from 170 horsepower to almost 300 and from 170 lb-ft. of torque to 268. It will still look like a traditional Subaru. You'll have four wheel drive and good reliability. Don't forget to upgrade the suspension and brakes. The cost is under £4,500 ($7,000) for the parts plus labour.

3. Mazda Miata

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Here we enter a special zone of modification. It isn't often an upgrade breaks the boundaries of traditional car enhancement. This Miata does it, but at an extraordinary price. A 435 horsepower, 6.2 litre GM LS engine and Borg Warner T56 six speed transmission fit neatly under the hood of a Miata. The conversion adds only 200 pounds to the weight of the car; and, when done right, keeps the nearly 50/50 weight distribution of the stock Miata. It becomes a car with the almost the same horsepower to weight ratio as the Bugatti Veyron. The life of the re-engined Miata is the same as stock because the new engine and all of the required steering, suspension and transmission changes are done with stock parts. If you own a garage yourself, you can send for a kit or bring your own 1998 to 2005 Miata to the factory for an in-house replacement. Count on spending up to £26,000 ($40,000) for the entire package. The finished product looks exactly like a stock Miata.

One to buy and drive, as is...

Cadillac CTS-V

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All of our other cars have been mild cars that had to have an excitement injection. The CTS-V doesn't need anything to bring thrills to the party. The CTS-V comes standard with a supercharged, 6.2 V8 delivering 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft. of torque, making it the most powerful production sedan in the world. It's difficult to put the words 'Cadillac' and 'Monster, Behemoth Engine' together, but they fit for the CTS-V. Add to the incredible engine, the fact that it's a Cadillac and looks more like money than performance and this is a fine choice.

You may find any of these used cars at Klosters dealership.

Contributed by Andre Smith, sports and automotive fan and a regular reader of Cool Cars Blog.