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      10-04-2010, 01:02 AM   #1
boilerdan33
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What is the best all-around track car for the $$

I am starting to think I made a mistake. I was planning on getting a used Boxster S to feed my track addiction, but my wife talked me into getting a 335i sedan with an automatic so that we could use it as an everyday family car as well as a track car.

The engine overhears to quickly, the car has WAY to much body roll and it understeers like a pig. I'm starting to add up the $$ it will take to fix all this stuff and it seems to me I'd be better off buying a $9000 E36. If I wad it up, at least I won't wad up a car that's still worth $30K. (Or if I do BBK, swaybars, radiator, M3 suspension components, oil cooler, etc., it will be a $38K car worth $31K to my insurance company.)

So the question becomes what is the best track car for the money? It rules out almost all convertibles because car clubs don't want the liability. I'd say to make a good track car, it should be less than $15k. More than that and you're back to being too worried about wrecking it.

The 944 turbo has to much lag, the 944 S2 is a possibility. I think so is an e36 M3, older 911s with the less sophisticated suspensions have to much weight in the ass, I wonder about EVO's and STI's.

I want something I can use as an extra car, something streetable, I don't want to have to buy a tow vehicle, trailer, and find storage space for it in the city. Definitely a stick with outstanding brakes and a relatively inexpensive upkeep.

Right now my best guess is an E36 that someone has already done some work to. Something I can learn with, grow, and still have fun without braking the bank or breaking down too much.
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      10-04-2010, 12:38 PM   #2
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E36 M3. Hands down the best option. Ive been running mine for 6 years now. Never looked back.
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      10-04-2010, 01:40 PM   #3
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An E30 or E36 will do you good with a few upgrades. Miatas are always great cars to start out with, because they are cheap to acquire and run, and they handle beautifully. Don't know if you can get an EVO or STI for less than $15k yet.

And yeah, buying something that is already track prepped can help out a lot. As long as it was done right. You don't want to buy a car with a ton of upgrades only to find out that none of them work right and you have to replace everything anyway.

And remember to consider running costs. tires, brakes, and wheels are going to be the most frequently replaced. A Lighter car with smaller wheels, tires, and brakes will have cheaper replacement costs for those items, compared to a car with big wheels, tires, and brakes.
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      10-05-2010, 03:40 PM   #4
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Love my e36. Cheap, easy to maintain, an abundance of parts available. Great tranny, bulletproof engine, solid chassis (with m3 reinforcements): It's an all around great track car.
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      10-05-2010, 03:43 PM   #5
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I've made similar mistakes in the past....listening to the wife about cars, i mean.
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      10-06-2010, 12:17 PM   #6
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Miata

Very cheap all around. Get one that has been tracked and you won't have to worry about the inspection to run it on the track, it'll have all the updates needed to run.
They really teach you good technic and are a blast on the track and off.

You may laugh, but it's definitely something to consider.

P.s. The last instructor I had at a DE had a 944 S2 turbo (complete track car). In the first season he had to replace two heads and a turbo. He ripped the Porsche engine out and put an LS1 Corvette engine in it. It was INSANELY fast!
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      10-06-2010, 12:45 PM   #7
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I'm in the midst of making my 335 track reliable and if I knew then what I know now...E36 M3 already prepped. 13,000 1ill get you a very nice example with a cage, seats, harnesses, suspension and more. Don't think about. Just do it!

Leave the 335 for the street.
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      10-06-2010, 02:39 PM   #8
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I have had a e30 325i race car...a Spec Miata...and now a street Miata. The 335i kept breaking down...so did the other cars..but they were MUCH cheaper to fix. I finally am coming into some $$ and the street Miata will soon be transforming into more of a mostly TRACK car..sometime commute car. My commute is only 11 miles each way now.
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      10-07-2010, 05:33 AM   #9
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To make the 335i somewhat trackready, you have to spend at least 10k $. Which is what I have done with mine, and it's not finished yet.

The big advantage is that I now have an awesome daily driver with lots of power and very nice handling.

The cons are mainly money (upgrade costs, maintenance, running costs) and the reliability (overheating, HPFP, brakes...).

If I had the space to keep a dedicated track car as a second vehicle, I'd definitely look into an E36 M3 which is already track prepped.
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      10-07-2010, 03:28 PM   #10
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Here is my list of potential track day cars:
-'99 Porsche 911 (coilovers, take out everything you don't need car will be well under 3000lbs, 4.9 0-60, great stock brakes) total cost 27k
-Corvette (early Z06, lots of options and parts, light weight) total cost 25K
-01-05 Ford Mustang V8 (cost 3k-5k, low cost maintenance lots of options for parts) total cost 20K
-350Z (cost 10k-12k, not very fast stock but Twin turbos 400+rwhp for 5K right around 3000lbs with some weight reduction) total cost around 27k
-Lotus Elise (expensive, 25k, toyota motor, very light under 2000lbs) total cost around 27K

These are just a couple of the cars that i want to make into track cars.
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      10-07-2010, 03:37 PM   #11
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those can be good choices if you have lots of money to burn. replacement wheels, tires, and brakes on all of those except the elise will run a hefty premium. And don't you dare get any body damage on the elise. if you crack the nose, you have to replace the entire clamshell. And the toyota motor in them has issues with lift bolt wear/failure (but you can replace them for cheap).

remember - fast, cheap, reliable.. pick 2.
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      10-07-2010, 03:59 PM   #12
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The 350Z is a terrible track car. Need some serious brake upgrade just to last more than 4 sessions on a weekend. Like $4,000 serious brakes, even if it's the "track" package.
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      10-07-2010, 05:03 PM   #13
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If I wanted cheap thrills I'd get a Miata or an E36. I feel like you can't go wrong with either.
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      10-07-2010, 05:20 PM   #14
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E36 M3(Suspension overhaul and you are golden)

I would pick up a Subaru Impreza 2.5RS (GC8 body) do an STi engine swap but this is my option for an all out track car(stripped gutted).

Last edited by kevin@bavarianx; 10-07-2010 at 05:51 PM.
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      10-07-2010, 09:11 PM   #15
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      10-07-2010, 10:00 PM   #16
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e36 m3 probably. its the most balanced of the bunch - much more than a 911 and the consumables are not too expensive
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      10-08-2010, 07:52 AM   #17
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Get a miata and put a 5.0L V8 from the mustang. Cheap fast light, and TONS of parts available to suit the mod bug.
http://www.streetfire.net/video/stoc...orsc_32261.htm
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      10-08-2010, 08:41 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boilerdan33 View Post
I am starting to think I made a mistake. I was planning on getting a used Boxster S to feed my track addiction, but my wife talked me into getting a 335i sedan with an automatic so that we could use it as an everyday family car as well as a track car...
First, don't listen to your spouse when choosing a performance car EVER again! What were you thinking? Second, a 335i with slushbox will never be a proper track car, so don't even think about it. Third, Porsches aren't exactly "everyday family cars", so you probably want to stay away from them anyway.

The E36 M3 and Evo are great little track cars that can seat 4 in a pinch too. IMO, anyone over the age of 30 looks pretty ridiculous daily driving an Evo though. That said, I'd still consider getting the MR version of the Evo VIII or IX for track duty. The 2-seat Miata is also a very capable track car. Any of these cars will probably give you the biggest bang for the buck at your local road course.

Even though the Miata lacks HP, don't sell it short. With some minor mods and R-Compound tires, the Miata does very well on a momentum track (like Lime Rock Park). Depending on your local track/car club rules, you'll probably have to install a roll bar in the Miata for track duty, but it will still be one of the cheapest track cars to run and maintain.
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Last edited by TJDiCandido; 10-08-2010 at 12:07 PM.
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      10-08-2010, 09:29 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AW325xi View Post
Miata

Very cheap all around. Get one that has been tracked and you won't have to worry about the inspection to run it on the track, it'll have all the updates needed to run.
They really teach you good technic and are a blast on the track and off.

You may laugh, but it's definitely something to consider.

P.s. The last instructor I had at a DE had a 944 S2 turbo (complete track car). In the first season he had to replace two heads and a turbo. He ripped the Porsche engine out and put an LS1 Corvette engine in it. It was INSANELY fast!


Going to say the same thing. Miata. You can then work you way up to spec racing if you want with one. Relatively inexpensive to operate/maintain, tons of parts and supplies out there.

All the guys that have one say good things and have much fun racing one.
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      10-10-2010, 08:48 PM   #20
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S2000

The miata is an excellent choice, but the S has a stiffer chassis, more power, and the best shifter I've ever felt bar none. They're also extremely reliable and the consumables are reasonable.

I previously tracked an E36 M3. Nearly impossible to find fault with. My only complain would be that I did worry about chassis weak points like the rear trailing arm mounts, rear subframe mounting points, and rear shock towers. These, of course, can all be "fixed".
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      10-12-2010, 03:46 PM   #21
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Can you still put the top up on a Miata after installing a roll bar? The roll bar would be an absolute necessity for most clubs, but can you then still use it on the street unless it's guaranteed not to rain?
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      10-12-2010, 06:07 PM   #22
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This IMO

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