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Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

Old 09-06-2015, 11:26 AM
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Default Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

Alright vadriven'ers and hopefully some legacy dragva'ers that I haven't pissed off too much in the past... This may seem ridiculous for anyone paying attention to the BMW thread but yes, a little over two weeks since I leased an M4 I'm deeply considering buying something I can toss around a track.

My thought process is that since I'm still a complete noob on a racetrack, the M4 is entirely and utterly overkill. That and since it's a lease I'm less inclined to drive it all over the eastern seaboard to attend the several track events I'd like to each season. I'm thinking I find something practical and reasonable yet still competent at the track on a relative budget- let's just say $5k or less unless someone can convince me otherwise but absolute max of ~$8k or so else I should just get rid of the M... which isn't happening. I reserve the M for one or two track days a year and for being the ultimately fun and refined daily driver that it is. Side benefit is that the majority of my seat time being in a car with lower limits, my driving skill progresses more linearly than it would if I were spending all my time driving the "race-bred track masterpiece" that is the M.

That and a set of 19" Michelin PSS alone would probably cost about the same as some of the cars I'm considering. The $5k Akrapovic exhaust that I was going to order is actually at the top end of my initial budget for a whole car.

So for starters, the short list of cars I'm considering are:

S13 240SX
Porsche 944
E30 BMW 3-series

The only cars I know intimately from this list is the S13. I've owned several, and loved them all. While I think the potential of the platform is pretty high as a track car, the 240 in general is also more in-line with the "economy sports car" that would still require several upgrades to get it in true track-ready form (not to mention any outstanding maintenance issues which would be about the same for all 3 cars). Mainly, the wheels and tires that come on this thing and the lack of an LSD.

I'm pretty sure the Porsche is far more track-capable in stock form but would likely require more costly maintenance and likely a higher cost of entry as well- but perhaps not knowing the market for 240s has been driven to stratospheric heights from the tyte d0rift0 crowd.

The E30 is the wild card, as I know next to nothing about them. I've owned an E36 M3 in the past, and while it was a spectacular car that I'd love to be able to put on this list, it also required a shit-ton of maintenance to come anywhere close to being capable of not falling apart on a track (and prices have been skyrocketing lately). I've heard great things about E30s, but which ones should I keep an eye out for that would match my use case? How good are they in relation to other cars I've listed? What other types of cars am I leaving out?

Notice I've purposefully left a miata off this list... I'm not dead set against it but I'd need more convincing to fully understand the appeal.

Last edited by blackout; 09-06-2015 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 09-06-2015, 11:55 AM
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Default Re: Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

The appeal of the Miata is that it's light, tight, and cheap. Plus spec racing series sprung up around the car.

If you don't have mechanical skills and an endless supply of parts the 944 is an awful choice. At best they're 25 years old at this point, they use obscure parts, and if you have to pay someone to fix it, then it's going to be expensive.

Every 944 I've ever seen at an auto-x event was highly modified, super wide wheels, crazy offset, etc... It isn't to say that they're not capable cars, but you'd probably get lapped by a skilled driver in a Miata on the same course.
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Old 09-06-2015, 12:05 PM
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Default Re: Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

Originally Posted by Reloaded View Post
The appeal of the Miata is that it's light, tight, and cheap. Plus spec racing series sprung up around the car.

If you don't have mechanical skills and an endless supply of parts the 944 is an awful choice. At best they're 25 years old at this point, they use obscure parts, and if you have to pay someone to fix it, then it's going to be expensive.

Every 944 I've ever seen at an auto-x event was highly modified, super wide wheels, crazy offset, etc... It isn't to say that they're not capable cars, but you'd probably get lapped by a skilled driver in a Miata on the same course.
This. They're basically lego cars. There isn't a whole lot that's particularly complicated about them and they're dirt cheap. You destroy parts on them and replacements are cheap and easy to find. If you need more power, get a turbo one. Another option would be an AP1 S2000 if you're willing to go up to 8k but they're not going to be as cheap to fix as a Miata.
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Old 09-06-2015, 01:25 PM
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Default Re: Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

Miata is about the only logical choice for a budget RWD track car. Nothing wrong with the E30 or the 240sx, but they still don't have the balance and feel of a miata. Even a stock Miata is downright fun to drive hard. However, if you don't mind a FWD car, there's nothing wrong with a swapped EF hatch... Take my word for it, those things will downright impress you when you drive them hard.
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:07 PM
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Default Re: Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

I would consider a civic, but I think I'll stick to RWD, especially considering I'll be taking the M4 out occasionally.

Maybe I'll take a second look at a miata.
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Old 09-06-2015, 02:16 PM
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Default Re: Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

Attend a track day that allows testing or something of the sort. I'm sure some grassroots guy out there will let you drive his. You'll be sold on the idea
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Old 09-06-2015, 03:41 PM
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Default Re: Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

I looked at everything and at all budgets. This is what I put my 16 year old son in to start with. The handling, when setup properly, is fantastic. I don't think there is a better budget track car that won't break the bank.



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Old 09-06-2015, 04:11 PM
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Default Re: Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

Miata: Dollar for dollar the best bang for your buck. Spec Miatas that just need updated belts/seats (to race, doesn't matter for HPDE) can be had for less than $10k.

E30 is close second, but $5,000 doesn't really buy you a well sorted car; its gonna need something....E30 tax has been on the rise recently.

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Old 09-06-2015, 07:09 PM
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Default Re: Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

Check craigslist and the Facebook groups, people sell s2k's all day for less than 10k
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Old 09-07-2015, 03:10 AM
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Default Re: Considering a budget dedicated track car, need a sounding board

Originally Posted by Rich View Post
I looked at everything and at all budgets. This is what I put my 16 year old son in to start with. The handling, when setup properly, is fantastic. I don't think there is a better budget track car that won't break the bank.



That thing is pretty damn beautiful... but that MY is almost certainly out of my budget. (Off-topic- is tire shine detrimental at all during a track event??)

I found a couple that are relatively local for just less than $5k. One is a 91 with ~120k that looks to be in pretty good shape, the other is a 93 that's rough with higher mileage but still tolerable.

That said I also found a 944 for $2500. Waiting on an email response back- I'm realizing that Reloaded is absolutely right, it's the worst possible choice on my list but it might just be one of those itches I need to scratch. I've loved those cars since I was literally old enough to read the bottom of the Guards Red Hot Wheels version I had...

I also found a (hopefully not deceptively) clean S13 for $2500. I never thought I'd be able to find one unmolested for that price ever again.

Flinch is also correct, I found some tempting E30s but they're all north of $8k. And most of them are convertible...

I'm having second thoughts at the moment because of how quickly I jumped at that 240, I almost called the guy yesterday when I haven't even finished my research phase yet. I think I need to pump the brakes a bit as this is feeling like an impulse decision... maybe waiting around for an already prepped car ready for me to hop in is another option I should consider, plus give me time to breathe and make sure I ACTUALLY want to do this...

This has been some good conversation though, thanks all for contributing.
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