Feb. 16, 2014 4:22 a.m.

Hi everyone, this is my first post and I have a dire situation. I need a car as cheap as possible, $3000 either turn key or can be made ready for this much, that can at minimum autocross and be a good reliable daily driver. Ideally something that could do rallycross and some hpde events would be good as well but not as important as the first two requirements. Also this would be a car that would have to help out with family needs so I need a back seat, doesn't have to be a great family hauler just needs to work in a pinch.

So basically this eliminates the go to option of a miata which is what I wanted until the misses said the car needs to be capable as a backup family vehicle. So far my front runners are e30, e36, and imprezas. Anything else I should be looking for? Anything wrong with my choices so far?

MadScientistMatt UltraDork
Feb. 16, 2014 6:38 a.m.

E36 would definitely fit the bill provided you can find one in good shape - being at the bottom of the depreciation curve, there's a lot of ratty ones out there.

Have you considered a Mazda Protege or an S-series Saturn? They have less aftermarket but are quite cheap and good DDs.

mcseanerson New Reader
Feb. 16, 2014 7:03 a.m.

In reply to MadScientistMatt:

I'm a GM guy through and through but that's probably why I've never cared for saturns because they are the least GM cars of the gm products. Are they actually any good for autocross? I've thought about the proteges but the problem with those is that they are pretty close in price to the price of low end Mazda 3s. I was driving an 04 Mazda 3 2.0 5 speed last year till I wrecked it and I loved autocrossing it. From what I've read the proteges are slower and over all not as good as the 3s. Unfortunately all the 3s I can find start at $4,000 with MT.

Mr_Clutch42 Reader
Feb. 16, 2014 8:09 a.m.

I would suggest a 5th or 6th generation Honda Accord with the 5 MT. Just have some money left over for Koni yellows.

mcseanerson New Reader
Feb. 16, 2014 8:11 a.m.

yeah ideally if I buy something a bit more pedestrian it would leave money in the budget for konis and good summer rubber. Just curious is an e46 under 4k a bad idea?

mcseanerson New Reader
Feb. 17, 2014 8:21 p.m.

Ok so far I feel the ideal car is an e30 318is. My concern is that by the time I am ready to purchase I won't be able to find one in my price range. My default fall back would be a 325 with a stick but if none of those can be found in decent condition and I had to make a sacrifice which one would you guys choose?

Convertible or automatic?

GameboyRMH MegaDork
Feb. 18, 2014 7:57 a.m.

I was just thinking an Impreza would be perfect for your requirements. Good for autocross and rallycross, 4 doors...GDs are a good bit more reliable than GCs (due to engine differences) but much heavier. If you could find a GC that's already been swapped that could be a good option.

maj75
maj75 New Reader
Feb. 18, 2014 8:17 a.m.

In your price range, in your region, finding any E30 that isn't a rusted crapbox will be difficult. E36s have less rust issues, but again, in your area, your choices will likely be pretty rusty.

How do you feel about rust repair? Unless your doing the work, it almost never pays off and it's money you can't spend on shocks, springs, tires or anything else that makes the car more fun.

I like the E36, have one myself as a track car, but it's rust free. Look for a 318 sedan, that will be your best chance to find a solid example in your price range. Gave CL a quick look in your area, finding a manual trans is also difficult. There are plenty of E36 cars in your price range.

Feb. 18, 2014 12:33 p.m.

In reply to mcseanerson:

Can't rallycross a convertible unless you have a hard top. Gotta factor that into the price too.

mcseanerson New Reader
Feb. 18, 2014 2:08 p.m.

In reply to maj75:

I actually found a pretty nice 91 318is in louisville for $2800. Sold in less than two days. Might just end up with a miata.

mcseanerson New Reader
Feb. 18, 2014 2:09 p.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH:

I keep considering imprezas but I really don't want to budget in a timing belt right off the bat. Are all imprezas interference motors?

GameboyRMH MegaDork
Feb. 18, 2014 2:21 p.m.

I think they are all interference, either valve-to-piston or valve-to-valve...if you can DIY the timing belt, boxers are pretty easy to do.

Bobzilla PowerDork
Feb. 18, 2014 2:25 p.m.

What about just co-driving another person's car until you can get what you want? That can be a lot cheaper in a lot of ways.

mcseanerson New Reader
Feb. 18, 2014 7:47 p.m.

In reply to Bobzilla:

Gotta buy a new daily anyways. Worst case scenario I'll just get anything with a stick and have at it.

ssswitch New Reader
Feb. 19, 2014 7:35 p.m.

Pre-97 EJ22 (2.2L SOHC) Imprezas are non-interference. EJ22s do not manifest the same head gasket problems as their EJ25 (2.5L DOHC/SOHC) brethren and their only real design weakness is leaky oil separator plates in the bellhousing - which can be ignored as long as you want.

Timing belt is relatively inexpensive if you DIY and simple on the SOHC cars anyway. I'd aim for a 97+ EJ22 to get the compression bump and hope for the best.

Subarus become magically cheaper in the spring/summer if you can wait to buy.

mcseanerson New Reader
Feb. 22, 2014 7:41 p.m.

Bought a car. More info later. Right now I'm at an eat n park in west Virginia getting ready to finish the drive home

Cuda Reader
Feb. 22, 2014 8:18 p.m.
mcseanerson wrote: Bought a car. More info later. Right now I'm at an eat n park in west Virginia getting ready to finish the drive home

That's just like a local news hook. "Murderer on the loose, and he is targeting you! More after the break."

You could have at least given us a make/model

mcseanerson New Reader
April 1, 2014 9:10 a.m.

Wow, didn't mean to wait this long.

I know I wanted a do it all car but after looking for something that would work for everything I realized it could be a while before I found the right car. Wife understood my frustrations and gave me her blessing to buy a miata. Found it on Miata.net for $2000 in Virginia. The guy already changed the timing belt and the clutch and a bunch of other little things and was his daily driver for 4 years, much nicer than anything I could find in Ohio for the same price at the time. Flew there and drove it back RT 50 through West Virginia back to Ohio is not as much fun as you'd think on Direzzas in February. The biggest problem was the car and the tires were new to me and I didn't trust it yet.

Just went to my first autocross this past Saturday, sub 40 degree temperatures and pouring rain. Turns out the car and the tires grip a lot better than I expected.

In car video

This will be a long slow build primarily because I'm always broke. I plan to run autocross and daily drive this year to get a good feel for the platform and to work on my skill as a driver. Next year I want to build it up as much as I can in E-stock and see if I might be competitive at any national events. After that we'll see where it goes.

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