- Mini Cooper
By the time 2029 rolls along, there's bound to be plenty of Mini Coopers sitting in salvage yards or available on the used market for a song. Some of the more luxurious interior bits could be sold off, and with a today's Mini aftermarket in full swing, there's no doubt the reimagined Cooper will enjoy a fervent fan base years after we're driving diesel hybrids and hydrogen-powered EPAmobiles.
- Ford Mustang
No matter where a LeMons race is held, there's always a Mustang battling it on the track. Surprisingly, some of the most competitive 'Stangs are the four-cylinder models, where light weight, a bulletproof block and the ability to keep cool under the most demanding conditions make them solid contenders. When Ford finally equips the Mustang with the EcoBoost six, that balance of power and weight could return. As for aftermarket support... it's a Mustang. What else needs to be said?
- Hyundai Genesis Coupe
On our Top Ten, Hyundai's Genesis Coupe is the odd man out. It's too early to pronounce whether it is a sales success or not - and the aftermarket, while ripe, still hasn't been solidified. But if the Genesis Coupe sells in the numbers Hyundai would like, we'll be seeing plenty on the road in the coming years. And with a cost of entry under $25,000, there's bound to be plenty of examples rotting in wrecking yards after over-funded, under-educated teens stuff them into drainage ditches around the U.S.
It's not the darling of the fleet car set quite yet, but give it a decade. There'll be plenty of used and bruised examples available in 20-year's time, and by then, the Fusion's blend of available drivetrains (four- or six-cylinders, front- or all-wheel drive), shared components and general purposefulness should pay dividends during the 2029 LeMons season. And we can totally picture a passenger side-mounted radiator so the cooling system isn't crushed when the idiot in the Dodge SRT-4 slams on the brakes mid-corner and pirouettes into the Blue Oval's front-end.
- Dodge Neon SRT-4
It's cheap, it's light, it's got all the plumbing for a bigger turbo, there's a plethora of cheap eBay parts and, like the Genesis Coupe, there's bound to be plenty of SRT-4s peppering junkyards across the nation as ego succumbs to talent. The Neon has already solidified its place in the LeMons hierarchy, now it's just a matter of adding some factory fettled boost and beefing up your forearms.
While the aftermarket hasn't exactly embraced the Versa, its small footprint, miserly drivetrain, relative light weight and low cost of ownership could make it competitive 20 years from now. Even though hop-up parts aren't readily available, it's the perfect platform for junkyard engineering. Failing that, the Nissan/Renault B Platform underpins a ton of offerings both here and abroad, so between knock-offs parts and random bits from across The Pond, you might be able to find a Logan Pickup's beefier rear sway bar in the wrecking yard of the future.
The first-generation Fit was a coup for enthusiasts looking for a sprightly runabout that could sit four, schlep stuff from Home Depot and still be entertaining on the track. It's not going to set autocross cones on fire, but the Fit's combination of chuckability and on-road manners won over more than a few hardened (and destitute) gearheads. It's a popular platform for tuning in Japan, although it hasn't quite caught on in the States, but where there's a will, there's a way, and if you find a wrecked RSX, a K20 swap is a few engine mounts and some bloody knuckles away.
The Focus has enjoyed a long - some would say arduous - run, and although the C170 architecture is showing its age, it's still a competent platform with plenty of aftermarket support. With a range of trims produced, the sky's the limit and even the most ham-fisted track noob can wring the snot out of Ford's compact. It may not be the most exciting choice, but it's rife with potential and there's no doubt you'll be able to find plenty of examples under $500 (hyper-inflation adjusted) two decades from now.
- Subaru Impreza WRX
Simply put, the WRX proved that U.S. consumers were willing to shell out the coin for a rally-bred road-rocket. When enthusiasts embraced the Impreza, the aftermarket exploded, WRXs began littering tracks and autocross circuits across the nation. Perhaps most importantly, this wellspring of interest brought us the Mitsubishi Evo and Subie's own hotter STI. While those last two probably won't make the LeMons budget cap 20 years hence, the standard WRX is sure to be a player and one of the cheapest ways to get turbocharged, all-wheel drive performance into everyone's favorite crap-can enduro.
Like Justice Lieberman, when someone finds out what we do for a living and inevitably asks The Question ("What car should I buy?"), our answer almost always gravitates towards the Mazda3. It's packing everything the average driver or enthusiast could want: superb steering, a fantastic chassis, ample power and tidy packaging. Take it a step further and you've got the Mazdaspeed3, which will undoubtedly be one of the LeMons front-runners in the future. We can't wait, and we're scoping out junkyards already.
Head back to the post to see our list of runners up.