kevinSC1 New Reader
March 1, 2010 8:08 p.m.

So if I can't get the Saturn out on track by this Summer, I'm going to part it out and buy a different track toy.

My requirements for the next car:

RWD

Affordable to buy

Affordable to maintain

Good parts availability

Easy to work on

Good aftermarket support

Not an orphan (manufacturer still around)

Not too much faster than the Saturn to start with

Can be made stupid fast as I improve as a driver

So the magic 8 ball only came up with one car that meets all the requirements - the Miata. I tried to think of another car, but couldn't.

So a few questions:

Is there a car that I'm not seeing?

What years of Miata should I be looking at? I know I don't fit well in the NB cars. Finally sat in an NA today, and I do fit a bit better (I'm 6'1" & ~ 250lbs).

Is the 1.6 or 1.8 engine better?

I've been perusing miata.net, and have looked over their "things to look at" pages. I value their opinions, but I want the advice from people who drive them as hard as I plan to.

pigeon HalfDork
March 1, 2010 8:13 p.m.

E30 or E36 BMW fit the bill too, and you don't have to worry about restrictions with certain track days about convertibles and roll bars. Hard to argue with Miata though.

kevinSC1 New Reader
March 1, 2010 8:42 p.m.

In reply to pigeon:

Do they fit the affordable parts criteria? Just asking - there is an independent BMW repair and sales shop just down the road from me (they just worked on my wife's MINI since it's too cold for me to work outside), so I can get stuff if I need to. I can pick up a Miata for ~$3k.

No matter what I buy, the second call will be to Izzy's Custom Cages for a 4 point.

96DXCivic HalfDork
March 1, 2010 8:46 p.m.

In reply to kevinSC1:

Why not an orphan? That seems to be ruling out a lot of cars.

And what about a RX-7 or Turbo Brick. There are also the GM G-bodies if you want to be different.

Apexcarver SuperDork
March 1, 2010 8:49 p.m.

As far as I have found with the E30 the parts dont tend to be very expensive. The trick I hear is to do your own work, you pay more for service then usual vehicles (or so I hear).

Might consider a AE86 corolla (if you can find one sans drifter tax), FB or FC Rx7 (later V8 swap potential or just turbo), possibly a Z car or 240sx.

paul
paul New Reader
March 1, 2010 8:51 p.m.

mustang cobra!

If you keep the stock 3.27 gear & do some simple handling bolt-ons, it will seem like a fairly well-balanced car (with respect to power vs handling)...

pigeon HalfDork
March 1, 2010 9:11 p.m.
kevinSC1 wrote: In reply to pigeon: Do they fit the affordable parts criteria? Just asking - there is an independent BMW repair and sales shop just down the road from me (they just worked on my wife's MINI since it's too cold for me to work outside), so I can get stuff if I need to. I can pick up a Miata for ~$3k. No matter what I buy, the second call will be to Izzy's Custom Cages for a 4 point.

Depends on the parts but in my experience they aren't bad mail order or even dealer with BMWCCA discount. The big difference of course is that I never really got to know about parts costs on my '96 Miata because in 3 years it never needed anything other that fluid changes, while I did have to repair things with fair regularity on my E46 - broken springs, rear control arm bushings, water pump - and an E36 or E30 is likely to have similar issues. The BMW will likely cost more over time, but you were looking for other options...

Keith SuperDork
March 1, 2010 9:13 p.m.

Give me a call at work to talk about the various Miatas. Basically, a 1.8 is what you want given your plan for stupid fast.

970 464 5600

P71 SuperDork
March 1, 2010 9:17 p.m.

1st Gen RX-7 fits almost everything and is the cheapest buy in and maintenance (unless you boom the motor and can't find another to JY in). It's like a primitive Miata with a hardtop, hatch, and a ton more space. I'm shorter than you but nearly as heavy and I fit excellent in the 7 and a little cramped in the NA (with Hardtop).

Miata is an excellent choice as well except the pesky hardtop thing. Even with a proper bar and/or hardtop some clubs/tracks say NO! (I'm running into this now, a "legal" cage for a track day would ruin the car)

I'd also look into 2nd Gen RX-7's (always an LS1 swap away from pure awesomeness), Mustang GT's (94-95 5.0 preferred, maybe a 97-98 4V Cobra), F-Bodies (LT1's are easily in that range, ratty LS1's are, mint TPI 3rd Gens), and the aforementioned E30's.

kevinSC1 New Reader
March 1, 2010 9:36 p.m.

In reply to 96DXCivic:

I've had trouble finding parts for my Saturn, so I'm trying to stay away from cars where I can't go to a dealer to get those odd parts (like the fuel pressure regulator clip on a Saturn S-series).

kevinSC1 New Reader
March 1, 2010 9:37 p.m.

I left off my list "handles well without modifications"

and I might be convinced to try AWD

93celicaGT2 SuperDork
March 2, 2010 5:11 a.m.

What's "affordable to buy" for you?

MR2 Spyder is a good alternative. Same idea, but totally different in a way. Light, peppy, can be easily made to handle like crazy. Potentially a dark horse in STR.

pilotbraden New Reader
March 2, 2010 7:37 a.m.

I have seen many good deals on track ready 79-85 rx7's.

racerdave600 Reader
March 2, 2010 7:44 a.m.

1st or 2nd gen MR2 would also work well.

March 2, 2010 8:46 a.m.

Not sure of your budget, but C4 Corvette is a great bang for the buck.

1slowcrx Reader
March 2, 2010 10:09 a.m.

Miata!

aircooled SuperDork
March 2, 2010 10:30 a.m.

Actually a great marketing chotskie for GRM:

A Magic 8-Ball that only answers Miata!

petegossett SuperDork
March 2, 2010 11:18 a.m.
aircooled wrote: Actually a great marketing chotskie for GRM: A Magic 8-Ball that only answers Miata!

Nah, it would also have to answer "Bob Costas", "E36 M3" and "Berkeley you!"

itsarebuild New Reader
March 2, 2010 11:31 a.m.

good for you for asking the question...... and even better for questioning the answer!

lots of good $3K answers here but the biggest question is what feels good to you. take a weekend and go see, sit in, and drive the mustangs, 240's rx7's, corollas and even the miatas (maybe even a 3rd or 4th gen f body) and see what feels good out of the box. everyone is different and what feels good to drive for me may not feel right at all to you.

bluej HalfDork
March 2, 2010 11:50 a.m.
petegossett wrote:
aircooled wrote: Actually a great marketing chotskie for GRM: A Magic 8-Ball that only answers Miata!

Nah, it would also have to answer "Bob Costas", "E36 M3" and "Berkeley you!"

i would buy one of those in a hot minute!

Soma007
Soma007 New Reader
March 2, 2010 1:00 p.m.

4th gen Fbodies can be pretty quick. My issue with them is 300hp + 3500lbs = eat through consumables pretty fast. The stock brakes on an LT1 car I wouldn't trust at the track at all. Upgrading to LS1 or C5 stuff is relatively affordable though although the LS1 stuff is still a bit marginal.

pigeon HalfDork
March 2, 2010 2:43 p.m.
bluej wrote:
petegossett wrote:
aircooled wrote: Actually a great marketing chotskie for GRM: A Magic 8-Ball that only answers Miata!

Nah, it would also have to answer "Bob Costas", "E36 M3" and "Berkeley you!"

i would buy one of those in a hot minute!

It would also have go answer "E30", "P71" and "bacon"

aircooled SuperDork
March 2, 2010 3:16 p.m.

OK, I had to look, and look what I found:

Custom 8-Ball

Looks like there are 20 possible answers for custom balls. Certainly you could have an answer more than once, so Miata could be 10 of the 20 answers if needed.

288 of them would be $20 each, 528 of them and they are $12 each.

GRM could order 500, sell them for $20 and make a profit. I wonder how many they could sell? They of course could give some of them away...

John Brown SuperDork
March 2, 2010 3:42 p.m.

Triumph TR7 with a twin turbocharged 4.2L supercoupe headed E85 swilling boat anchor!

96DXCivic HalfDork
March 2, 2010 6:41 p.m.

Why was I also thinking TR7? That is why I asked why it had to be an orphan.

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