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PubBurgers
PubBurgers Dork
6/1/09 10:00 a.m.

After attending an autocross last week for the first time in three years i'm hooked again. I currently own a minivan and a moped and would like something a little more exciting and autocrossable.

So i've started saving up for a toy car. I've got a few cars in mind but was wondering if anyone had any more suggestions of a car that can be purchased (running) for $750-$1500 and stands a chance at being reasonably competitive at local events without breaking the bank on mods. I'm not looking to dominate, but not coming in last all the time would be nice.

Here's what i've got in mind:

Miata - Always wanted one but they've been out of my price range, even now i'm not sure i'll be able to swing enough money to get one. Also, im 6' 3" and 200 pounds, will i fit in a first gen miata?

CRX - I've owned 6. Love 'em and know my way around them. They can be had cheap I bide my time.

Golf/Rabbit - Always liked old VW's, don't have any Rabbit/Golf experience though. Input?

1G MR2 - The wife and I both owned one at one point, really like them but it's hard to find a cheap one that isn't a pile of rust.

84-91 Civic Hatch - CRX with backseat.

Some cars i'm not sure about. Anyone know if these have any potential?:

Tercel

Escort

Anybody have more suggestions? Stuff that flies under the radar?

Thanks,

Jacques

snakoil
snakoil None
6/1/09 10:13 a.m.

Tercel have a beam rear axle wich pretty much stink for AutoX I would personally go with the 2gen Escort lx(91-96) as they have a full indepedent rear axle and dirt cheap to run and find parts for. I would get a base pony if I could to get the non power steering version or change the steeering rack for one of those to get better feedback and more power to the wheels. For even more power you could swap the 2.0 SPI from the third gen or turbo the stock engine (DSM turbo and mani for true grassroot spirit) For the suspension, a set of Zx2 Sr struts will be your cheapest and best option.

m4ff3w
m4ff3w GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/1/09 10:26 a.m.

Fiat X1/9

mw
mw Reader
6/1/09 10:28 a.m.

miatas can be found in your pricerange and in my opinion are the best option since the engine is in the right place and it drives the right wheels. Plus the hundreds of other reasons why miatas are great.

Duke
Duke Dork
6/1/09 10:35 a.m.
m4ff3w wrote: Fiat X1/9

He said "purchase running for $750-1500". I don't think you could do that for that.

Any first-generation Neon with a manual transmission will be fun and reasonably competitive.

friedgreencorrado
friedgreencorrado Reader
6/1/09 10:54 a.m.

Mk.1 Golfs/Jettas seem to have passed from the "old car" market to the "collector's item" one. There's almost nothing left but nice ones and cars with no floorboards.

Mk.2s are getting close to that point. If you think you'll ever want one, do it now. There's a perception among Dub fans that it's the best all-around watercooled VW ever made, and there's a feeding frenzy for clean ones to start projects with. I'm sure glad I kept mine.. If you don't want to finish last, find a 16v.

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 HalfDork
6/1/09 10:59 a.m.

Miata's and Neon's are great but don't leave out the MR2's. They can be found for reasonable and are competent.

jrw1621
jrw1621 HalfDork
6/1/09 11:00 a.m.

Check out this cheap Omni
http://dayton.craigslist.org/cto/1199325648.html

AE92 Corolla
http://dayton.craigslist.org/cto/1196890912.html

Apexcarver
Apexcarver SuperDork
6/1/09 11:10 a.m.
Duke wrote:
m4ff3w wrote: Fiat X1/9
He said "purchase running for $750-1500". I don't think you could do that for that.

sir, i think you are mistaken... they ARE that cheap

http://lincoln.craigslist.org/cto/1197985343.html

http://detroit.craigslist.org/cto/1196572635.html

http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/cto/1196891638.html

http://tulsa.craigslist.org/cto/1193932409.html

Raze
Raze Reader
6/1/09 11:11 a.m.

XR4Ti, cheap cheap cheap to get into running because most people are unfamiliar with them, but they're not super expensive to keep and maintain, most repairs can be done with parts from Home Depot, this is not a joke...

m4ff3w
m4ff3w GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/1/09 11:14 a.m.
Duke wrote:
m4ff3w wrote: Fiat X1/9
He said "purchase running for $750-1500". I don't think you could do that for that. Any first-generation Neon with a manual transmission will be fun and reasonably competitive.

I sold my 81 X1/9, running in great condition with megasquirt for $1350

Duke
Duke Dork
6/1/09 12:03 p.m.

I stand corrected on the X1/9, then. Around here (Midatlantic) if you can even find one for sale, it's either a fortune or it is well along on the path to completely biodegrading.

[edit] In fact, a search of Autotrader and Autotrader Classics turns up precisely zero X1/9s for sale in any condition within 500 miles of my address. Not that there aren't dozens of better sources, but still.

Travis_K
Travis_K HalfDork
6/1/09 12:13 p.m.

Miata is good, 2nd gen mr2, neon, escort gt/protege. IMO a neon would be the best cheap autocross car right now. With a small amount of work you could build a fun (but not that competitive beyonf the local lever probably) FSP car. The SCCA doesnt want people to have to work on stock class cars, so they kinda phase out the cars that do well after 6 or 7 years by making them uncompetitive. If its only for fun and you dont want to win anything, i would get an x1/9 though.

Buzz Killington
Buzz Killington New Reader
6/1/09 12:26 p.m.

what's your inseam? i'm 6', 200 lbs, and fit fine in a '91 miata. there is more room than you'd expect.

there is a '96 neon ACR for sale in OH for $1000/BO (on sccaforums). looks nice, needs a clutch.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler GRM+ Memberand New Reader
6/1/09 12:28 p.m.
Travis_K wrote: The SCCA doesnt want people to have to work on stock class cars, so they kinda phase out the cars that do well after 6 or 7 years by making them uncompetitive.

Not in E-stock. That's still the land of NA Miatas and 2nd gen MR2s.

93celicaGT2
93celicaGT2 Dork
6/1/09 12:35 p.m.

Neon

Escort GT/Protege

AE92 Corolla was a good suggestion, i wouldn't have thought of that.

I'm going to say Celica, and wait for the flames to come my way again.

I honestly think in terms of bang for buck, the Escort might be the way to go. I picked up my EGT for $600. I currently have i think $1037 into it, or whatever my sig says, and i'm stiffer springs, sway bars, and tires away from having a very competent car on a local level. (If i could drive.) You can find decent ones all day for under $1000, and the motor is AWESOME.

Travis_K
Travis_K HalfDork
6/1/09 1:27 p.m.

Its a little more expensive, but the newer celica gts is a very good autocross car. Posrche 944 would be competitive too, and can be bought for $1000, but i wouldnt call them cheap necessarily. lol

car39
car39 Reader
6/1/09 1:43 p.m.

92 Subaru Legacy L FWD 210,000 miles, $600 to buy, $50 in mods, FSP champ in 2008 at my local club

P71
P71 GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/1/09 4:04 p.m.

Miata, 1st Gen RX-7, 1st Gen Neon, 924 Turbo, Civic Hatch (80's), 3rd Gen Camaro/Firebird, 1st Gen Protege/Escort GT/Probe GT/MX6...

PubBurgers
PubBurgers Dork
6/1/09 8:25 p.m.

Thanks for the suggestions all! As for inseam im 38".

I do see a lot of escorts for cheap around here, same goes for neons. The club i'll be running uses NASA rules FWIW.

I'm not in the market just yet, just looking for ideas for when im ready.

Toyman01
Toyman01 Reader
6/1/09 9:43 p.m.
P71 wrote: Miata, 1st Gen RX-7, 1st Gen Neon, 924 Turbo, Civic Hatch (80's), 3rd Gen Camaro/Firebird, 1st Gen Protege/Escort GT/Probe GT/MX6...

1st Gen RX-7s are fun as heck to drive, but they aren't cheep to fix or upgrade. Their prices seem to be climbing for good runners too. Ask me how I know....

P71
P71 GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/1/09 10:07 p.m.

Really? I traded a Ford 302/AOD for my 83 GSL (from the original owner) and have about $1500 invested in it. Got a Racing Beat header used for $60, a set of LE Mesh wheels for $50 that I spent $25 and a lot of elbow grease restoring, and a clutch kit was under $150 from Atkins for everything. I've found it to be quite a cheap and easy little car to maintain and upgrade, and mine has 236,000 miles on it so there's lots of maintenance!

Toyman01
Toyman01 Reader
6/2/09 6:46 a.m.

Just don't try to rebuild the engine. I have about a grand in mine, it's got 185K on it. Compared to more common stuff, priceing is higher. If you're willing to tinker they are a lot of fun to drive and autox. I don't even want to think of how many hours I have in mine. Still wouldn't trade it for anything else.

93celicaGT2
93celicaGT2 Dork
6/2/09 7:27 a.m.
P71 wrote: Really? I traded a Ford 302/AOD for my 83 GSL (from the original owner) and have about $1500 invested in it. Got a Racing Beat header used for $60, a set of LE Mesh wheels for $50 that I spent $25 and a lot of elbow grease restoring, and a clutch kit was under $150 from Atkins for everything. I've found it to be quite a cheap and easy little car to maintain and upgrade, and mine has 236,000 miles on it so there's lots of maintenance!

You got a hell of a deal. I haven't seen a 1st gen worth looking at in this area for under $2500 in the last two years. Which sucks, because i want one.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
6/2/09 8:06 a.m.

AW11 MR2 is tough to find rust-free in that price range unless you are in Arizona or something. Needs more mods to be competitive than some of the other options, but worth it in the end IMO.

Civic Hatch/CRX would be my pick due to availability of junkyard and e-bay parts to improve.

Love the Vee Dubs, no experience but if you found one that already had a bunch of mods it would be worthwhile. I see them all the time already lowered, intake, exhaust, etc. Prices are rising though.

Generally, in this price range, I would look for something that someone else had already done a lot of work on. Consider cars like a Sentra, Renault GTA, Mazda 323, 1st Gen Celica...lots of cars become someone's labor of love. Because they are out of the mainstream, they are cheap and you usually get a ton of spares to go with them.

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