B14boy
B14boy New Reader
Nov. 13, 2011 1:21 p.m.

I'm back with more questions for you guys. This time not a commute beater thread. I want to get a cheap project car for the track. I'm looking at E30's and Miata's. From what I can see between both cars the replacement and aftermarket parts are abundant, RWD fun, easy to work on, and can be done on the cheap. This car would be for trackdays in Northern California and not daily driven but will need to be driven to and from the track. I might want to autocross it too but that's undecided. I know more about the Miata because I owned one but have never owned an E30. Can you guys help me out with pro's and con's of each?

MCarp22 HalfDork
Nov. 13, 2011 1:28 p.m.

Within the context of trackdays:

E30 Pros: It has a roof Cons: It has struts

Miata Pros: It doesn't have struts Cons: It doesn't have a roof

I'm a tall dude, and sadly I wasn't willing to deal with the amount of BS it would take to fit under a rollbar in the Miata.

B14boy
B14boy New Reader
Nov. 13, 2011 2:20 p.m.

Heh I suppose the Miata can easily be fixed with a hardtop. On paper I can see how the double wishbone is better than the macpherson but having owned a bunch of cars with either one of those I never really felt like the double wishbone raised my enjoyment factor or not..

Nov. 13, 2011 2:41 p.m.
B14boy wrote: ... but will need to be driven to and from the track...

E30, hands down. You can fit 4 race tires, tools, beer cooler, tent, sleeping bags, spare parts and a passenger.

That said, E36 M3. Same capacity and it will lay the smackdown on E30s and Miatas with no modification.

mad_machine SuperDork
Nov. 13, 2011 2:52 p.m.

smooth track.. not a lot of bumps.. I do not see where a strut would be that big a deal. With the springs and struts/shocks dialed down tight and some swaybars.. neither car is going to wallow around the track with rapidly and wildly changing camber

B14boy
B14boy New Reader
Nov. 13, 2011 3:11 p.m.

Some good points here. I'll also point out that I wouldn't be racing competitively. I just want a reason to drive fast in a safe environment in legal ways.

What do Miata guys do in response to what Snorklewacker said? I remember my Miata trunk could probably fit my wallet and a few napkins back there but I can't see myself fitting many tools in there.

DaveEstey HalfDork
Nov. 13, 2011 3:56 p.m.

In reply to B14boy:

Trailer. You don't even have to unload all that crap once you get to the track. Couple bolts and the trailer hitch comes right off too.

Javelin SuperDork
Nov. 13, 2011 5:15 p.m.

Neither. Get an E36and go faster for the same money or less. Plus it has a roof.

jeffp New Reader
Nov. 13, 2011 6:08 p.m.

I've owned both an E30 and currently own a 1990 Miata. I have a $200 harbor freight trailer to take my track tires with RA1s and my tools to the track. Less than $5K total in car with 4pt roll bar, sparco seat, track tires/wheels, coilovers, exhaust and brakes...Autocrossing, no question the Miata is the right tool. One of my favorite things is taking my "cute" Miata to BMW track days. I'm a hack driver and I can do okay.

nderwater SuperDork
Nov. 13, 2011 7:00 p.m.

I've had three E30s, two Miatas and an E36 M6. The E36 makes the best daily driver, but requires the most care and feeding and is thus the most expensive to own (it's nothing compared to a Porsche, though!) I loved my E30s, but moved on to Miatas because they are a little more simple, a little less expensive, have a stronger aftermarket, and in my opinion are that much more fun to drive.

I would autocross a Miata over an E30 every time. It's a no-brainer. But for a track rat, most clubs require so many safety mods to a Miata that it's no longer streetable - which may be a deal-breaker. Check the safety rules for convertibles posted by the clubs you run events with so that you can make an informed decision.

robertcope
robertcope New Reader
Nov. 13, 2011 7:52 p.m.
B14boy wrote: What do Miata guys do in response to what Snorklewacker said?

Get a tow vehicle...

Seriously, there is not much space in the Miata. I've heard of people carrying spare sets of tires, but frankly I don't see how it could be done. Maybe by removing the passenger seat...

robert

ZOO SuperDork
Nov. 14, 2011 4:32 a.m.
robertcope wrote:
B14boy wrote: What do Miata guys do in response to what Snorklewacker said?
Get a tow vehicle... Seriously, there is not much space in the Miata. I've heard of people carrying spare sets of tires, but frankly I don't see how it could be done. Maybe by removing the passenger seat... robert

Or find a friend who tows his or her car to the track . . .

Nov. 14, 2011 6:56 a.m.
mad_machine wrote: neither car is going to wallow around the track with rapidly and wildly changing camber

Not on the front end anyway... the E30 has issues with the trailing arm rear that are not easily solved by anything but moving the pick-up points and stiffening the rear up to limit travel. It isn't wildly changing camber - it is toe. Rear steering can be a real barrel of laughs to toss around but it is a problem that is difficult to solve completely when you want to go faster. They are a lot of fun to drive - but the Miata is definitely the better suspension.

kazoospec Reader
Nov. 14, 2011 7:51 a.m.

As much as I love my Miata, if your primary purpose is as a track car, solving the "clearance under the roll bar" problem could be the deciding factor. How tall are you? Primarily "leg" or "torso"? If you are 6 feet or more, I'd strongly suggest you go to a track day or two as a spectator and see if some of the Miata guys will let you at least sit in their cars. That said, if you "fit under the bar", Miatas are a blast to drive, and incredibly cheap to maintain in comparison to anything else I've ever owned. I looked at both before I bought my Miata, and also found the Miatas to be in generally better condition, but maybe that doesn't matter for a track car. Another "problem" is that they are a stupid fun daily driver. I bought mine primarily as an autocross car, but ended up driving it enough that I needed/wanted/bought a new top, fixed the rust, am planning a repaint, etc., etc.

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