Your input wanted: What car should I track next?

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Aug 16, 2023 | Track Car, Discussion | Posted in Columns | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: Dave Green

Track events. They're just you, your favorite circuit and, ideally, lots and lots of laps. No car-on-car incidents. No trip to the impound shed. No worries if the car ahead of you is running the right cam or not.

I miss doing them.

My first track car–this is going back nearly 30 years–was a 1984 Rabbit GTI. It was comfortable and composed. Its hundred or so horsepower perfectly matched my skill set.


Photography Credit: David S. Wallens

[Volkswagen Rabbit GTI: Winner then, still a winner today?]

Later track cars have included the usual suspects: Honda CRX, Subaru BRZ, Mini Cooper and probably a few others I’m forgetting about. Then add in all of the one-off rides, meaning various Camaros and Hondas, Miatas and Mustangs. Did I ever tell you about the time I lapped Road America in a Chevy cop car?

I’d like to get some more track events on my personal calendar, yet nothing here at the house quite fits the bill–to be honest, in most cases it’s just a matter of the car being too nice to subject to high-speed debris blasting.

Come, help spend my money.

Our home tracks: Daytona, Sebring, the FIRM and maybe Roebling Road.

[How we track test cars and what the numbers mean]

Now let’s get to my wish list.

Safe: Everyone has their own comfort level, and let’s say I’d like a little more car around me than an NA Miata can provide.

Reliable: I don’t have the time and desire to do a lot of wrenching. Let’s spend more time lapping than working and building.

No engine swaps: See the above comment.

No trailered cars: Again, we’re keeping it simple.

Autocross potential: It would be awesome if this car had a competitive place to autocross.

Just enough power: I seem to be comfortable around 200 horsepower. I don’t quite need to go 165 at Daytona, but I’d also rather not drive around in my mirrors.

Easy on consumables: I’d rather spend my money on entry fees versus tires and brakes.

No unicorns: Let’s make this something easy to find in today’s world.

And the last one: It has to live outside.

We haven’t even discussed price. Let’s see where this conversation goes before setting any kind of limit.

Before I throw out any of my contenders, I’d first love to hear your suggestions.

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Comments
Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/16/23 12:31 p.m.

Aside from the obvious BRZ/FR-S/86, a few options come to mind:

  • Four-cylinder Toyota Supra
  • BMW 128i
  • A fairly recent BMW 3-Series
  • Four-cylinder Ford Mustang
  • Four-cylinder Chevy Camaro
  • Honda Fit devil
codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/16/23 12:35 p.m.

You already own the perfect track car in your M3, so what's the problem here? :)

Assuming you want to go with something lesser than German perfection, a K-motor Civic Si (8th or 9th gen) seems like it would check all the boxes.

 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/16/23 12:37 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:

a K-motor Civic Si (8th or 9th gen) seems like it would check all the boxes.

Not sure how I forgot to mention the Si.

 

EvanB
EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/16/23 12:38 p.m.

Suzuki Cappuccino.

mblommel
mblommel GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/16/23 12:54 p.m.

I'm going to suggest MR2 spyder for purely selfish reasons. 

K motor Civic Si seems like a good choice though. 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/16/23 12:58 p.m.

Gen5 Prius

wheels/tires, suspension, and pads

should "knock out of the park" the following stipulations:

Safe
Reliable
No engine swaps / 200hp
No trailered cars

Easy on consumables

The main points I'm not so certain about are:
No unicorns: Let’s make this something easy to find in today’s world.
And the last one: It has to live outside.

Regen should help reduce braking stress / consumables; and Hybrid powertrain should knock out the "fuel-based" consumables aspect... without the complication of 1500#s of batteries.

edit:
Also, being a hatch... no problem fitting extra wheels/tires and your BMX bike.

I have no idea where/if the new Prius would land in Solo.  In the past it's been H-stock... which considering the "name" and that it's got less power than the V6 Accord that has won H-stock in the past... seems like it should stay there?

Alternatives to this concept are some form of 2012+ Camry Hybrid, or a Lexus UX250h.

Has technology advanced to where Derp has turned to Track Fiend?  or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the {Hybrid}?

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/16/23 12:59 p.m.

NC Miata? Maybe a little shy of your 200hp mark, but not a huge excess of mass. But enough add'l car to be less worrisome than an NA?

ND Miata? I fear they've lost me on looks, but maybe a solid answer in terms of power/weight/safety/reliability?

Okay, maybe an important question, or maybe something you don't want to be specific about because it'll point us off some direction: Do you want a tool for focusing on your driving, or do you want something that's the driving equivalent of putting on a favorite record, where the experience of driving that particular car is a big part of the track day?

There's a part of me that wants to look for a solid older car, pony-size, and note that a bone-stock V8 won't be far from your 200hp, and at that state of tune it'll chug along indefinitely. And I'd guess that at ~200hp and ~3000lb, despite the reputation of modern V8 monsters, it probably wouldn't be bad on consumables. I'd lean something like an old Falcon or early Mustang, but a Fox-chassis car would be solid.

We'd be silly not to at least raise the topic of a street-ified-enough-for-plates retired circle track or other dedicated race car.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/16/23 1:04 p.m.

E30.

Not a unicorn, but yeah, you'll have to look longer than you did ten years ago. Once you find one in good condition, you should have a solid, reliable car that will crank out laps with style and excellent dynamics.

Maybe they're just too old to be solid (without being five-wires-in-the-car simple like a Mustang). I think we're back to the question of whether it's purely about the act of driving, or about whether the flavor counts much.

EvanB
EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/16/23 1:08 p.m.

Dajiban!

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
8/16/23 1:12 p.m.

Anything with a 1.6T gamma-T and manual trans. Veloster, Forte SX/GT, Elantra GT etc. I would kill to see you guys finally do a Korean track rat. 

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