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Ian F
Ian F UberDork
5/24/12 8:13 a.m.

I do like F600. As annoying as a F500 sounds, a F600 sounds absolutely incredible. However, while the idea of converting an existing F500 sounds easier, everything I've read thus far says it's a fool's errand and you're better off buying or building a dedicated car from scratch.

You need to be careful when looking at older F440/500 cars. They changed the roll bar diameter requirement and driver foot/front wheel relation in the early 90's, making a lot of early cars obsolete (although still fine for F-Mod). A lot of older cars also have significantly different rear suspension designs as well, although. In theory, not a big deal since a F600 car replaces the rear anyway, but combined with the front wheel changes, and sometimes very little of the original car is left by the time you're done and starting from scratch would have been easier.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/24/12 8:22 a.m.
Curmudgeon wrote: Remember that the buy in for any race car is only the beginning! I keep threatening to go W2W other than just LeMons and I have come up with a set of criteria: 1) Sorta cheap buy in. 2) Plentiful and cheap parts supply. 3) Has a roof and wipers. (Rain's a bitch.) 4) Puts some space between me and the guy who's sliding at me. So all that narrows me down to some sort of IT car. The Honda fanbois have run the price of Civics out of sight and it's hard to find an unmolested example, so that's pretty much out. Corollas are 4 door and I do not want to race a 4 door, sorry. Celicas don't have all that big of a following so it's not likely I'll do one of those even though I like them. So my short list: Nissan NX2000 or 2 door Sentra, Mazda MX3 (current favorite) or VW Golf. The Golf is at the bottom of the list for reliability reasons but the good part is they are cheap and plentiful. The MX3 is not as common but is pretty damn quick, it uses a Protege drivetrain so parts are everywhere. Now, if I ever build another car for AX and hillclimb I may go in an entirely different direction. Like maybe an A Mod; the sky's the limit as long as it weighs 800 pounds and is deemed safe at tech inspection. That leaves lots of room for, er, interpretation. F-Vees are neat and fun and cool and etc but man are they slow (comparatively speaking).

not to tangent this thread too far, but IF you don't get an already built IT car (and that's a massive IF), I would actually wonder the cost of building an IT car from scratch vs. a B-Spec car that you can find used. Or better yet, find "salvaged" but in good enough condition.

No real input on the FV car. They look like fun, and if you go vintage with it, then who cares if you are at the fast end. The races I've seen, the FV are typically grouped with the vintage F500 cars, just started 1/2 a lap apart. good race. The great thing about Vintage, from what I understand, you are much more likely to find another car or two preped just like yours, so you have a fair race- be it an Alfa BS car, a Lotus Elite, or an FV/FF car. There is so little pressure to win vs. having fun...

Good luck with it- but I would personally lean toward the Spitfire.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic UltimaDork
5/24/12 8:24 a.m.
alfadriver wrote: Good luck with it- but I would personally lean toward the Spitfire.

Still planning on doing the Spitfire but it is a LONG way off. It is a massive project.

The FV would be mainly a learning tool.

intrepid
intrepid New Reader
5/24/12 11:39 a.m.

Just a few things about FF/CF. Some of the cost figures thrown around here seem a bit skewed. The Kent is a pretty simple, and quite stout motor. While a national level motor can cost 9K+ if built from the ground up, a typical regional motor is generally more like 5-6K. The cost for a refresh of a motor with a decent block and crank is more like 3K, and even a bit less if you do the work yourself.

A well-built vintage/regional motor will last at least 3 years and often 5 between rebuilds if taken care of and revved conservatively. It's a good idea to lap the valves every year or so, but not everyone does this. Hewlands are similarly stout and will last many years if maintained and driven with care. There are people who abuse equipment and don't get as much time out of their cars, but these figures are quite realistic for a conservative, budget racer.

I agree with alfadriver that vintage is a great option for budget racers. As far as i can tell, I don't have the talent/money/time to mount even a half-hearted run at the national level for any SCCA class, so fun is the name of the game for me, and vintage seems to offer the most.

I don't really know what the best class is for inexpensive racing, but the best path is probably to volunteer as a corner worker for whatever organizations race nearby and get to know as many racers as you can. You will learn more than you could possibly learn in a dozen threads like this; and if you put the word out that you are looking for a budget racecar project, you will probably find a number of interesting, and surprisingly affordable, options.

Good luck with the Spit.

-chris r.

Ian F
Ian F UberDork
5/24/12 1:58 p.m.
93EXCivic wrote: Still planning on doing the Spitfire but it is a LONG way off. It is a massive project. The FV would be mainly a learning tool.

I understand where you're coming from. I bought my E30 to serve the same purpose while I restore/build my 1800ES; to be an auto-x/HPDE and possible HC/TT car.

Reality hit me hard and fast. While the car is not one I count on and the repairs I've had to do have been fairly inexpensive, they have still be time consuming and space consuming. The latter is my biggest issue right now and what is really stopping me from replacing the BMW with another car and why I'm leaning towards a kart right now.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon MegaDork
5/24/12 4:27 p.m.

Ian F brought up a good point: some of the older F cars are not legal since the driver's feet are ahead of the front axle centerline. As I understand it, if a car does not meet the current specs it can be vintage raced or autocrossed, but cannot run in a race with 'current rule' cars.

So if you decide to go buy an older F car, make sure that what you are buying can actually be raced. A screaming deal $6500 Formula Ford does you no good if you can't race it.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic UltimaDork
5/24/12 4:40 p.m.
Curmudgeon wrote: As I understand it, if a car does not meet the current specs it can be vintage raced or autocrossed.

Which is what I want to do with the car. I think what is attracting me to the Formula Vee car is cheap(ish) tires, no need for anything special for a tow vehicle and cheap buy-in. I am just not sure about F500 because of the F600 stuff coming up. It seems like there is a lot of uncertainty.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon MegaDork
5/24/12 6:03 p.m.

Which brings us full circle to doing your due diligence. Before plunking down $$, make sure of your intended use and also is there a market for it if it turns out not to be your cup of tea.

Ian F
Ian F UberDork
5/24/12 6:29 p.m.
93EXCivic wrote:
Curmudgeon wrote: As I understand it, if a car does not meet the current specs it can be vintage raced or autocrossed.
Which is what I want to do with the car. I think what is attracting me to the Formula Vee car is cheap(ish) tires, no need for anything special for a tow vehicle and cheap buy-in. I am just not sure about F500 because of the F600 stuff coming up. It seems like there is a lot of uncertainty.

I recall a discussion some years ago about running a F440 in vintage since some of the older ones are just eligible. Nobody really seems to, so the rules are kinda fuzzy. I think the safety aspect have to be brought up to current specs, but you are still hampered by the engine and suspension of the vintage design.

$6500 should get you a good F500 car with a current log book. A lot of the older non-GCR compliant cars have been turned into F-Mod cars since the safety rules are more lenient. "Barn find" F440's are often advertised from "Free! to maybe $2K" for a car that runs. A currently running F-Mod car is often much more and they are listed as such.

Personally, I would not let the F500 - F600 issue dissuade you. The way the current rules is being proposed, while the cars will be similar and run at the same time, they will be separate classes. The "uncertainty" exists mainly on the web. I've gotten none of that from guys actually running their cars.

racerfink
racerfink Dork
5/24/12 6:57 p.m.

I'll say it again...

ITC is the cheapest way to go racing. You can use pump gas (I use Shell 87 octane on my Spec Miata, since it made the most power on the dyno) and you can even run one set of tires the whole season if you want.

The '73 Corolla my dad bought was the South Atlantic Road Racing Champion winner one year, and runner-up the next. It had been protested and torn apart a couple of times, and was found legal every time. He paid $3500 for it, with a ton of spares. The first weekend we ran it at Sebring, we were under the existing track record. My dad set a new record on Saturday, and I was just a couple of hundreths off on Sunday. At a race at Moroso, I won both days, and they tore down the top five cars in class. I was the only one legal. The 2nd place car refused to even open the hood.

Find a good front running ITC or ITB car, and avoid all the headaches.

vwcorvette
vwcorvette GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/24/12 9:29 p.m.

As someone who turns wrenches on an FVee for a friend you need to be sure about your intentions. Do you want to race only locally/regionally/nationally? Local/regional is a bit more laid back than national and if you are happy not winning races then the Vee can be fun to learn on/with. If you want to go to Nationals you need to find one of two or three engine builders, chassis specialists, and spend a lot of time chasing small adjustments for hundredths of a second in improvement. Engines are highly stressed turning double the revs intended. The zero roll rear suspensions are unique and take time to understand and set-up right. These are as has been stated momentum cars. Our driver does about 105 on the front straight at NHMS. He always comes back with a smile however.

Check out these guys for more info. Pretty thorough and many cars on their classifieds have documented histories.

Expect to spend a minimum of $5k for a good chassis. You could spend up to $3500 for a new engine, with rebuilds running $1-2k depending on need.

Intake manifolds--$1200!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Need more info LMK.

George

93EXCivic
93EXCivic UltimaDork
5/24/12 9:49 p.m.
vwcorvette wrote: As someone who turns wrenches on an FVee for a friend you need to be sure about your intentions. Do you want to race only locally/regionally/nationally? Local/regional is a bit more laid back than national and if you are happy not winning races then the Vee can be fun to learn on/with.

I was only planning on doing autocross and vintage mainly with it (maybe some regional stuff) and use it as a good learning tool. I think one day I will want to start winning races but for now I would be trilled just to be in races having some good battles with a couple other cars. I really think I will start looking for a deal on either a FV or F500 around the start of next year and just keep up my search until the right one comes up. And start talking to people who have them locally about FVs.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic UltimaDork
5/24/12 9:53 p.m.
Ian F wrote: $6500 should get you a good F500 car with a current log book. A lot of the older non-GCR compliant cars have been turned into F-Mod cars since the safety rules are more lenient. "Barn find" F440's are often advertised from "Free! to maybe $2K" for a car that runs. A currently running F-Mod car is often much more and they are listed as such.

What is the difference between F440 and F500? Engine size?

Ian F
Ian F UberDork
5/25/12 8:59 a.m.
93EXCivic wrote: What is the difference between F440 and F500? Engine size?

Mostly. IIRC, there are rear suspension differences as well. While most current F500's have the engine & CVT mounted to the chassis with the chain-driven axle and wheels suspended using the pucks and typical linkage style control arms, many F440's have the entire drive train mounted on a pivoting subframe as un-sprung wieght supported by the pucks. Sort of like a URT (Unified Rear Triangle) from the old mtn bike days.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UberDork
5/25/12 9:21 a.m.

F440 was the precurser to the current F500. An F440 is not likely to be road race legal (hence only good for AX) owing to a change in roll bar diameter regs in the late 80's. They are also likely to have the rear suspension mentioned by Ian. As well, you feet may be in front of the front wheel center line and the wheelbase might be shorter.

A F440 makes a pretty alright FM auto-x car as they have weight breaks and can have a shorter wheelbase. (IIRC a 440 took nats within the last few years, but they guy moved on to a later platform)

there is a list of engines that are legal for F500, the 440 is still legal, but was replaced by the 493-494 engines. They just let in the 593 engine, but it carries a restrictor or more weight to equalize.

Basil Exposition
Basil Exposition Reader
5/25/12 9:31 a.m.

Take the Spitfire and make a vintage racer out of it. It will cost you about the same as what you would spend on a FV. A racestoration is much more quick and fun than restoring for the street And less costly, potentially, depending on how serious you get about the engine and suspension work. The paintwork doesn't have to be great, it can be any color you want, rather than an "original" color. I did this with a MG Midget for about $6500 and I've been racing it for over ten years. I doubt the maintenance on the thing has been any more expensive than a FV.

Basil Exposition
Basil Exposition Reader
5/25/12 9:33 a.m.
racerfink wrote: I'll say it again... ITC is the cheapest way to go racing. You can use pump gas (I use Shell 87 octane on my Spec Miata, since it made the most power on the dyno) and you can even run one set of tires the whole season if you want. The '73 Corolla my dad bought was the South Atlantic Road Racing Champion winner one year, and runner-up the next. It had been protested and torn apart a couple of times, and was found legal every time. He paid $3500 for it, with a ton of spares. The first weekend we ran it at Sebring, we were under the existing track record. My dad set a new record on Saturday, and I was just a couple of hundreths off on Sunday. At a race at Moroso, I won both days, and they tore down the top five cars in class. I was the only one legal. The 2nd place car refused to even open the hood. Find a good front running ITC or ITB car, and avoid all the headaches.

Except for all the cheaters, protests, and engine teardowns.

Ian F
Ian F UberDork
5/25/12 10:08 a.m.
Basil Exposition wrote: A racestoration is much more quick and fun than restoring for the street And less costly, potentially, depending on how serious you get about the engine and suspension work.

I kind of agree with Basil here. Any race car you buy will require time & money to maintain that will prevent you from getting the Spitfire done. I know you're looking at the Spit as being a long-term project, but adding another car to take care of will make it longer. I'm learning this the hard way as well.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic UltimaDork
5/25/12 10:24 a.m.
Ian F wrote:
Basil Exposition wrote: A racestoration is much more quick and fun than restoring for the street And less costly, potentially, depending on how serious you get about the engine and suspension work.
I kind of agree with Basil here. Any race car you buy will require time & money to maintain that will prevent you from getting the Spitfire done. I know you're looking at the Spit as being a long-term project, but adding another car to take care of will make it longer. I'm learning this the hard way as well.

Yeah. I guess that is true.

Ian F
Ian F UberDork
5/25/12 10:51 a.m.

If I can offer you any useful advice from my mis-spent youth, it's that patience really is a virtue. I've wasted far too much time because I said, "that will take too long to do now..."

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon MegaDork
5/25/12 11:46 a.m.

WTF would make a Formula Vee intake worth $1200.00? For that kind of money I expect massive speed improvements along with intelligent and stimulating pillow talk.

intrepid
intrepid New Reader
5/25/12 1:18 p.m.

Sounds like its time for the OP to do some soul searching. And while I agree with everyone else that it makes sense to finish the Spit before diving into something else, I can also see the other side.

A formula car, any formula car (Vee, Ford, whatever), is its own thing, and they have a unique appeal for some people. They aren't for everyone, but it is difficult to argue with their inherent beauty as a vehicle designed for one purpose: to carry a single person around a race track as quickly as possible with the motivating power at hand. Formula cars do only one thing, but they do that thing very well, and with a grace and style that is undeniable for at least some of us.

If that is what the OP is chasing, nothing else will do the job.

-chris r.

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