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eastsideTim
eastsideTim UltraDork
5/28/18 10:21 a.m.

I was at SOFR a bit over a week ago, and that (and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯'s racing budget thread) got me thinking about rally again.  In the past, I had figured on converting my 1998 Neon rallycross car into a rally car.  I've kept an eye on Special Stage's for sale forums, and it seems like every time a cheaper (sub 10K) rally car comes up for sale, it's pretty haggard.  There's a Neon on there right now for only $2500, but it looks really rough.  I've also been thinking about whether I really would want to run a Neon in rally anyway, as more and more parts are NLA.  The main advantage of buying something already built seems to be in the supply of spares the previous owner has hoarded.

So, for something that will run in the G2 class at Rally America events, would it make more sense to just take the hit and build something?  I was thinking of going with a platform that would have more aftermarket parts availability, and would be likely to continue to for the foreseeable future.  The first thought that came to mind would be to get a 1996-2000 Civic coupe or hatch, and go from there.  Assuming I could get the cage and chassis reinforcement dealt with for about $2500, I could do the rest of the work.  I know it would involve scrounging up (or buying new) seats, belts, intercom, tires, etc, and coming up with a suspension setup, that if not ideal for rally, can at least survive an event.

Anyone who's done a build, (irish44j?), or bought an already built one have any thoughts?   Especially if you've gone down both paths.  Also, thoughts on other cheap cars that are likely to not have any issues finding parts for a while.  My logic with the Civic, is it should be easy to find a mostly rust free high mileage one in the south, run it on a stock-ish D-series engine for a while, and if I outgrow it, upgrade it with a B or K-series swap.

 

MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
5/28/18 10:29 a.m.

It really depends, but most of the time it is cheaper to buy someones old car as long as it still meets the rules/safety for the class.  I think the cage built to spec and stitch welding will be more than $2500 most likely especially if the cage has to be certified.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/28/18 10:37 a.m.

For an entry-level rally car it will be much cheaper to buy than to build. Fixing up a haggard rally car that uses production parts is fairly cheap compared to putting the required safety equipment into a mechanically healthy car.

EvanB
EvanB MegaDork
5/28/18 5:09 p.m.

I would say buy. It makes more sense to me. I would like to build one but i know that if i did it would probably be a couple years before it would be ready to race. Of course i can't afford it now any way so it will be a couple of years regardless.

If you are going to build, use the Lexus.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
5/28/18 5:56 p.m.

You can buy a used Gp2 car pretty inexpensively compared to building.

 

Oh, heck, here's an apparently well sorted Open Light Impreza for $15,5, it is pretty close, and it has a lot of "new" and "very good" and not "needs immediately".  https://www.rallyanarchy.com/phorum/read.php?7,116937  You probably could not build this car for twice the price, and compared to a cheaper car, you DON'T need to replace the seats and belts because they'd aged out, or update the roll cage, or rebuild the drivetrain or fix major bodywork....

 

You're friends with Chris so I know you are aware of the costs involved.

 

 

HFmaxi
HFmaxi Reader
5/28/18 6:30 p.m.

Having just sold mine I would say it's currently a buyers market. Get into one of the facebook groups (all the forums are kinda dead) and post your budget and location and the cars will come you to. 

eastsideTim
eastsideTim UltraDork
5/28/18 7:44 p.m.
EvanB said:

 

If you are going to build, use the Lexus.

If I do anything to the Lexus, it’d have to be cheap drag car, or a drift pig.

Sounds like the consensus is buy.  Will have to keep my eyes open once the current projects have settled down a bit, and if I’m willing to spend the money and time.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
5/28/18 7:52 p.m.

For me, I never had any interest in buying. I enjoy building as much as I enjoy racing, and I like the fact that I know EVERYTHING about my car, how it is put together, etc. On a bought car, it's a crapshoot about finding someone else's problems or dumb modifications or whatever, no matter how "turnkey" it might be. Just because it's been rallied before doesn't mean the PO took care of it, worked the bugs out , etc.

That said, there are plenty of rallycars for sale out there, since this is a sport that people tend to burn out of real quick (or go broke on), it seems. 

I wouldn't look at it from a cost point of view. If you build the cage yourself and get used seats, etc....building isn't necessarily more expensive than buying, IMO. The real thing is time. If you want to rally now, then buy. If you're ok spending a year or two developing the car, building stuff the way you want it (while perhaps rallycrossing it and learning it), then build.  I like my cars to be my cars, not someone else's, so I will always build, no matter what, even if I could more easily and cheaply buy something.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
5/28/18 8:05 p.m.

Also, watching how Matt Peterson always seems to break stuff at every rally, Civic would not be my first choice, personally. YMMV.

Of course I'm biased, but rallying FWD has little interest to me compared to RWD. Granted there are a lot more FWD cars out there to choose from, but they will never have the RWD fun factor. Again, YMMV :)

Other things that other people said....things like stitch/seam welding isn't necessarily necessary. My car is not seam-welded and has 7 stage rallies and 50+ rallycrosses on it with no chassis issues so far. That's something you can always "get around to later" and doesn't need to be done at the same time as the cage if you have time/budget constraints. Though, I suppose some cars are stronger than others in terms of chassis, so..............yup YMMV.

 

On the RWD side, the cars you can always find parts for......Volvo 240.....e30.....e36s are starting to get more popular. If I was building a RWD car today, it would probably be a 318TI due to the hatchback. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
5/28/18 8:17 p.m.

I would lean towards buying as I wouldn't want the emotional attachment I know I would have if I invested so much time into the build.

I view a rally car as sooner or later, it'll get wrecked.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
5/28/18 8:22 p.m.

In reply to Ian F :

Wrecked, or sold off as you change class or go broke or something.

 

I see a lot of people spending many months/years building a car.  Like Josh points out, sometimes building IS fun.  OTOH, if you buy a ready to go car, you can run a couple events and decide if you want to keep at it.  Then sell the car if you don't, or build the car you WANT while rallying the existing car, which you then sell when the build car is done.  Either way the "buy" car is just a temporary thing, and if you do it right, you recoup that expense, kinda like Miata hardtops except it's the logbook that makes any ratty POS worth a few thousand dollars.

Tom1200
Tom1200 HalfDork
5/28/18 8:39 p.m.

It is really going to depend on your intended goals. Do you just want to have some fun or are you trying to be a front runner. 

If all your looking is to join the party and find a car that has an up to date cage and decent bits then buy it.

I'm partial to old Volvos as they are pretty sturdy stock. It's been a decade since I was really involved but VW Golfs seemed to always finish. Out west we seemed to also have a lot of RWD Corollas as well. While mini pick ups handle like mini pick ups, they're also sturdy as all get out. 

Regardless of building or buying one usually ends up disassembling the car either way. All I ever look for in any production based race car is a prepped shell. All the rest I'm going to check unless I know the builder well. 

 

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
5/28/18 8:46 p.m.
Ian F said:

I would lean towards buying as I wouldn't want the emotional attachment I know I would have if I invested so much time into the build.

I view a rally car as sooner or later, it'll get wrecked.

I mean, yes this is in the back of my head always. All that blood sweat and tears (and time and money) into my car. That said, I have no misconceptions that I'm Higgins or Pastrana. I'm fine with being a mid-pack rallyist and I don't drive outside of my ability level, so when I do have offs, they tend not to be bad. I'm not super-careful, but I'm also not "SEND IT" like some guys. I want to finish rallies, not be fast and crash. I do this for fun, not for glory. And doing a whole rally is fun. Crashing isn't.

Jerry
Jerry UberDork
5/28/18 9:30 p.m.

Mike and I were talking to Adam at Parc Expose, Mike was asking him about various parts needed for his BMW and especially the cage.  Adam did his own cage, and was going over details to get it done, I thought I heard a cost $500-$1k or something close to build someone else's.

That said, I've always heard it's better/cheaper/easier to buy than build, wether rally or club racing or whatever.  I think I saw a rally VW Golf or something on Obscure Cars for sale recently.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
5/28/18 9:47 p.m.
Jerry said:

Mike and I were talking to Adam at Parc Expose, Mike was asking him about various parts needed for his BMW and especially the cage.  Adam did his own cage, and was going over details to get it done, I thought I heard a cost $500-$1k or something close to build someone else's.

That said, I've always heard it's better/cheaper/easier to buy than build, wether rally or club racing or whatever.  I think I saw a rally VW Golf or something on Obscure Cars for sale recently.

My cage was ~$1k in materials plus some extra for my buddy who bent it (at the same time he was bending his for his e30). I did most of the assembly/welding myself. Not sure exactly what DOM pricing is, but $500 is pretty low. I assume you're talking about Adam Noyes 318ti?

The other thing to keep in mind in buy vs. build is time vs. budget. If you have $7k on-hand to buy a built car, that's an option. I have never had $7k sitting aorund to buy a race car - so I started with a $1k car and built it over several years while rallycrossing. The overall cost was probably the same as buying a car, but it was spread out over time, making it affordable since I had a low budget (and still do). 

Then again, sometimes I forget that people live in places where an average house isn't $500k+, which is why other people have money for race cars and I don't :)

Jerry
Jerry UberDork
5/29/18 7:01 a.m.

In reply to irish44j :

Adam Brock and #rallycorolla.

fidelity101
fidelity101 UltraDork
5/29/18 8:04 a.m.

after my experience I would say buy.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
5/29/18 8:32 a.m.

I've gone the "buy" route twice now- once I bought the cheapest thing I could get with a cage in it (FC RX7) and did more or less the minimum to get it out on stage; I think the final cost was around $4k to get the car out there, and after a season of rallies I sold the car for $2500.

The second time, I bought something which had been sitting but had good bits (suspension, plenty of wheels, better cage, decent seats, etc.) (the XR4Ti).  I still have less than $10k in it, but at this point it might as well have been built from scratch anyway.

So, if you want to get on stage, go the first route- bare minimum, get something with a logbook, patch it up, go have fun.  If you want something which will survive many rallies driving at full boogie, build it, but understand that it will be an evolutionary process and you probably won't get it right the first time regardless.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
5/29/18 8:40 a.m.

If you want to build something, and you want FWD, I wouldn't prep the Neon or a Civic.  Neons aren't the common, buy 10 for a grand creature they once were, and as Josh pointed out the rally Civics tend to break things.  I'd probably be looking at a Mazda Protege, 3, or even CX3 in that situation, since Mazda's contingency program is good and you want something new enough to have a good parts supply for years to come.  In general, for FWD stuff I'd be looking for simplicity- you want struts, and a minimum amount of suspension links.  Preferably steel ones, since they bend instead of snapping.  Then tie the cage into the strut towers, seam weld, reinforce, gusset, etc. and you can upgrade the rest as you break things.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
5/29/18 9:10 a.m.

Another thought I've had for "building" a car is to build a halfway decent cage which is easily movable, and do almost nothing to the car.  Just have a lot full of, say, Suzuki Aerios (or literally any other cheap, readily available car) and keep moving the cage over after the previous one disintegrates a few rallies in... it may actually be less work than fully prepping a car, and it's always more fun racing something disposable.

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
5/29/18 9:55 a.m.

I'll echo the "buy" statements rather than building. I bought a logbooked and mostly stage-ready mk2 jetta last year and I'm glad I did. Took some time and money to get it updated and refined a bit so I felt comfortable driving it on stage, but it's been a great learning opportunity.  I, like irish44j, enjoy the process of building and tinkering almost as much as the actual driving, but buying your first car is a good way to learn what actually matters and how to prioritize your future build. It's also a much quicker and cheaper way to find out whether you actually enjoy stage rally. 

If you're comfortable building your own cage, that's definitely the way to go. I personally don't trust myself to build a cage that may potentially save my life, so I'd go with an outside builder. When I was looking into the "build" route, it seemed like $3,500 was a pretty standard price for a well built cage that's up to all of the current specifications. 

All of that said, once I get another stage rally under my belt next month, I'll likely be looking to sell the Jetta and begin building a rwd car. 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
5/29/18 6:03 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

Another thought I've had for "building" a car is to build a halfway decent cage which is easily movable, and do almost nothing to the car.  Just have a lot full of, say, Suzuki Aerios (or literally any other cheap, readily available car) and keep moving the cage over after the previous one disintegrates a few rallies in... it may actually be less work than fully prepping a car, and it's always more fun racing something disposable.

You'd have to logbook every new car, wouldn't you?  And I wouldn't think the cage is easily movable given the way you have to attach it to the sills and pillars.

 

 

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
5/29/18 6:12 p.m.
Knurled. said:
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

Another thought I've had for "building" a car is to build a halfway decent cage which is easily movable, and do almost nothing to the car.  Just have a lot full of, say, Suzuki Aerios (or literally any other cheap, readily available car) and keep moving the cage over after the previous one disintegrates a few rallies in... it may actually be less work than fully prepping a car, and it's always more fun racing something disposable.

You'd have to logbook every new car, wouldn't you?  And I wouldn't think the cage is easily movable given the way you have to attach it to the sills and pillars.

 

I mean, assuming you do some kind of "open" hatchback where the cage could just be cut off at the plinth boxes and slid out the back, I guess it could work, in theory. Or something that you can take the roof oof and just pull the cage out the top. So it would have to be a pretty "square" car with fairly vertical sides. Maybe a volvo or something? IDK. Seems like building a tough car and not wrecking it is less work, lol.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
5/29/18 6:42 p.m.

In reply to irish44j :

I would tend to agree.

 

I have also seen people more or less cut a bent up car off of the floor/rollcage and place a jigsaw puzzle of stuff pulled off of a parts car/shell around it, because that way was simpler because you could maintain the logbook.  Some vehicle spec changes get grandfathered in while "new" builds require the changes.  So if they change the roll cage spec and you move the old cage to the new car (somehow) then you need to change the cage anyway because it is considered a different car.  Better hope they just want a new tube placed *here* and not a completely different diameter/thickness/both for the main hoop or something.   But if you cut away all of the old car and attach most of a different car around the existing cage, it's the "same" car and no new logbook is needed...

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
5/29/18 7:52 p.m.
Knurled. said:

In reply to irish44j :

I would tend to agree.

 

I have also seen people more or less cut a bent up car off of the floor/rollcage and place a jigsaw puzzle of stuff pulled off of a parts car/shell around it, because that way was simpler because you could maintain the logbook.  Some vehicle spec changes get grandfathered in while "new" builds require the changes.  So if they change the roll cage spec and you move the old cage to the new car (somehow) then you need to change the cage anyway because it is considered a different car.  Better hope they just want a new tube placed *here* and not a completely different diameter/thickness/both for the main hoop or something.   But if you cut away all of the old car and attach most of a different car around the existing cage, it's the "same" car and no new logbook is needed...

That may work in theory, but unlikely it would pass muster in practice. When a car is wrecked on stage it is basically teched again to examine the cage and see if the car is rebuildable - else the logbook will be revoked. If it's so destroyed that you'd have to "cut away the old car" it's unlikely it would keep a logbook. 

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