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pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
12/16/15 12:00 p.m.

So as I begin thinking about my next project car, I find myself torn. I would really love to build something like a 20v-powered MR2 and go have tons of fun at HPDEs again, but picking up an old pre-1980 twin cam Alfa or Fiat and running events like the Snowball Rally also sounds like a wonderful way to spend the occasional few vacation days. This got me wondering: is there anything out there that could do both effectively without spending an absolute crap ton of money? Note: I am not looking for something that would require a non-brand engine swap (i.e. I would consider swapping a late Twinspark motor into an early Alfa, but I have little interest in putting an LS1 in anything).

I know that you can basically run anything at an HPDE as long as it's suitably prepped, but even a stock Miata would be absolutely blowing the doors off of something like a Spitfire at your typical track day. On the flip side, a well-prepped period 911 or similar would definitely hold its own at a track day, but is FAR from cost-effective for the purpose. Say the budget is $6000. That would build any number of effective HPDE cars with cash to spare, or would pick up a quite nice (but rolling chicane-level slow out of the box) LBC or Fiat Spider. Would it be a pipe dream to find something like a later Fiat 124 coupe and build it up to around ~150HP on a budget like that?

My thought is that a late 2000cc Bosch fuel injected Fiat twin cam swapped into an earlier car with a few key modifications and/or Megasquirt might be a great foundation and get me most of the way there, but I have no idea if that's really realistic, or if there are other options out there I'm not recognizing...what would you guys suggest?

DaveEstey
DaveEstey PowerDork
12/16/15 12:08 p.m.

1st gen RX7 with a ported 13B (drops right in)

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/16/15 12:11 p.m.

For smaller cars, seems like the track has a lot to do with how fast cars can go with all of the driver variables.

Still, my GTV (the one in my avatar) never had much trouble keeping up. You could easily make the same car with a Spider, 2.0l, good cam, some porting, 150hp seems pretty easy to me.

Chassis is really easy to make pretty darned quick, a little more complicated to make Miata quick. The latter requires a panhard bar instead of the trunion arm system.

With any car that old, especially one without a top, I'd spend the time to do some seam stitching. The cars are just not as stiff as they used to be.

Too bad your ideas don't extend to vintage racing- as I have a GTV- but just over 3x your budget.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
12/16/15 12:13 p.m.

Nothing in stock trim. Anything with enough work.

But seriously, your ideal may be finding an older race-prepped car that someone wants out of the shed now that Gandad (or dad) has shuffled off this mortal coil. Even with some refurb and update it might be the cheapest short path.

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
12/16/15 12:15 p.m.

You do know that track days aren't competitions, right? So getting your doors blown off shouldn't really be an issue as long as you're having fun. There's always going to be someone with more money and/or a faster car there.

That said, quite a lot of the sporty 70's cars can be helped using more modern technologies and removing the shoe-horned smog junk and increasing the compression ratios to their euro counterparts or better.

For example: The Porsche 924 has been labeled as one of the best handling cars from Porsche in stock form, but other than the rare 76 models, they mostly came with anemic 95hp instead of the 125hp the euro models had. The 944's success in racing lends credence to the 924's handling capabilities as they share the same basic frame and suspension geometry. With the 924's lighterweight and lower drag, it has the potential to be faster than the larger 944. The 924 Turbo was introduced in 79 and had 150hp with room to grow to 400hp in GTP from the 2.0L engine if your budget allows.

The Datsun Z-cars can be similarly improved with dropping weight and increasing power through fairly simple tuning efforts as the L-series motors are very stout thanks to their Mercedes origins. Their chassis are well known.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
12/16/15 12:15 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver:

Believe me, I would LOVE to pickup your GTV and go vintage racing, but at 26 I would basically be cashing out my entire investment portfolio to do so! Maybe in 10 years. For now, trying to work with a more reasonable amount of fun money.

Stefan, I hear you on track days not being competitions, but being endlessly lapped for an entire session isn't a whole lot of fun. Even if it's friendly, trying (and being able to) to catch the guy in front of you is half the entertainment!

Robbie
Robbie GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
12/16/15 12:16 p.m.

I think most anything sub-exotic (and some exotics even) and pre 1980 will be mostly blown away at track day events. but, cars that could be brought up to the approximate performance of a stock miata at 6k... hmmm.

  • BMW 2002?
  • Triumph TR8?
  • Toyota celica?
  • the less-than-popular-almost-muscle cars? (1975-1980 camaro/mustang and others)
  • corvette? (dunno about 6k for a c3, but maybe?)
  • Nissan 280z?
  • Porsche 924?
  • fiat/alfa romeo spiders like you mentioned
  • MGB (this is a big maybe to get it there performance-wise)
Robbie
Robbie GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
12/16/15 12:20 p.m.
pointofdeparture wrote: Stefan, I hear you on track days not being competitions, but being endlessly lapped for an entire session isn't a whole lot of fun. Even if it's friendly, trying (and being able to) to catch the guy in front of you is half the entertainment!

Not to mention being REALLY slow compared to others is at minimum a bother for other drivers trying to learn the track, especially if there are only one or two passing zones, and can be dangerous if there is unlimited passing.

oldtin
oldtin UberDork
12/16/15 12:23 p.m.

I was thinking old IT car, maybe early golf if you're ok with fwd. might still find a scruffy driver quality 914. Will handle but is slow. Scruffy c3 vette, trans am, z28 from the late 70s but may be heavy on consumables. Fast mustang IIs are intriguing to me.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/16/15 12:26 p.m.
pointofdeparture wrote: In reply to alfadriver: Believe me, I would LOVE to pickup your GTV and go vintage racing, but at 26 I would basically be cashing out my entire investment portfolio to do so! Maybe in 10 years. For now, trying to work with a more reasonable amount of fun money. Stefan, I hear you on track days not being competitions, but being endlessly lapped for an entire session isn't a whole lot of fun. Even if it's friendly, trying (and being able to) to catch the guy in front of you is half the entertainment!

On the flip side, I also did a Challenge Spider (and since a few have been in the last few years, know those deals are still out there).

While I would not recommend turboing an Alfa track car, the rest of the car can be done really cheap. The engine isn't too bad- even with the two part cast exhaust manifolds, it makes really good power.

I'd bet a Fiat Spider can be done similarly.

Honestly- you are going to end up with a car that you will NEED to work on. Which means one important thing- you love the car. The irrational love that will make you spend 8 hours in your garage when it's 20 F inside just to get some nagging work done in the winter before the summer season starts up.

See if you can go sit in one of the cars you think you are crazy over. If you fit reasonably well, I'm sure someone here can help make you fit better. As for making it go fast, that I'm sure someone here knows how to do.

That irrational love for the car is going to be really the key to what you choose. So think about it.

92dxman
92dxman Dork
12/16/15 12:27 p.m.

Mk1 VW Rabbit or Scirocco?

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/16/15 12:32 p.m.

Honestly, I really had a blast with a Scirocco with a 16V conversion (http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?1253124). Plenty of room to stick your track tires in the back and you can make them really light. Don't see a lot of roccos floating around but that can be something for you.

Mike
Mike GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/16/15 12:35 p.m.

Maybe? I really like the Porsche 924 and Celica Supra answers, honestly.

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
12/16/15 12:35 p.m.
pointofdeparture wrote: In reply to alfadriver: Believe me, I would LOVE to pickup your GTV and go vintage racing, but at 26 I would basically be cashing out my entire investment portfolio to do so! Maybe in 10 years. For now, trying to work with a more reasonable amount of fun money. Stefan, I hear you on track days not being competitions, but being endlessly lapped for an entire session isn't a whole lot of fun. Even if it's friendly, trying (and being able to) to catch the guy in front of you is half the entertainment!

If you come out to the PNW:

1) there's tons of old sportscars around, many without significant rust issues

2) most are still running and driven in anger on the many tracks we have out here

3) you'll always have someone to "play with" at track days.

4) here's some examples:

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5351992595.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/cto/5353086871.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/5350463243.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/yam/cto/5336789947.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5344394917.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5356390954.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/5345727293.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5345115048.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/5311805749.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/5290747081.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/5326957377.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5292471300.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/cto/5326506577.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/yam/cto/5296218563.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/5319245730.html

and that's just Portland in the winter time as most won't be for sale until the spring. There's also Seattle and Northern California within a few hours drive that has the potential for a wider range of interesting stuff with less mildew and pooled water :)

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
12/16/15 12:45 p.m.

In reply to Stefan (Not Bruce):

Oh, believe me, THAT is the kind of stuff that got the gears turning in my head! I just have no clue what the groups look like out there. Here, with Road America and Blackhawk Farms being what I've experienced, the slowest cars on track are usually non-M E36s or Spec Miatas. I was near the bottom in my E46 330, and still had a great time of course. I just figure it's one thing to be the slowest guy on track but still able to keep up pretty well, it's another thing to be like, the rolling chicane who is multiple orders of magnitude slower than everything else. I just don't want to be THAT guy!

(And I assume that the old guy in a Z06 who will put the pedal down & blow past you on every straight but go through every corner as if he's taking the kids to school in a Chevette exists at pretty much every HPDE everywhere.)

STM317
STM317 Reader
12/16/15 12:47 p.m.

Datsun? BMW2002? Porsche 924/944?

kb58
kb58 Dork
12/16/15 12:50 p.m.

Yes, the cheapest approach is to buy something that someone else wants out of, especially a prepared track car that while street legal, has killed its resale value. I sold such a car decades ago for $1000 for that very reason (and was happy to get the money).

Of course, if it were me, I'd buy a cheap old light car and swap in a serious modern engine, like a Honda K20 drivetrain into an old sleeper Accord. Spray it with primer and go terrify much newer cars.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/16/15 12:54 p.m.
pointofdeparture wrote: In reply to Stefan (Not Bruce): Oh, believe me, THAT is the kind of stuff that got the gears turning in my head! I just have no clue what the groups look like out there. Here, with Road America and Blackhawk Farms being what I've experienced, the slowest cars on track are usually non-M E36s or Spec Miatas. I was near the bottom in my E46 330, and still had a great time of course. I just figure it's one thing to be the slowest guy on track but still able to keep up pretty well, it's another thing to be like, the rolling chicane who is multiple orders of magnitude slower than everything else. I just don't want to be THAT guy! (And I assume that the old guy in a Z06 who will put the pedal down & blow past you on every straight but go through every corner as if he's taking the kids to school in a Chevette exists at pretty much every HPDE everywhere.)

Those cars are good examples of the need to really be irrationally passionate about the car. Whatever it is.

BTW, one great thing about most of those cars- when you really focus on getting one to go fast (and not throw parts at it), you will be a better driver. And it's cool to keep up with fast cars in old "slow" cars.

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
12/16/15 12:56 p.m.

In reply to pointofdeparture:

Well, the Alfa and Lotus clubs put on their own track days and many of the LBC's and similar vintage sportscars are still raced with the SCCA and ICSCC.

The local clubs that hold track days are pretty good about flagging and adjusting groups to ensure that people are getting what they paid for.

check out Youtube videos for Portland International, The Ridge and Oregon Raceway Park as well as club sites for CSCC, SCCA Oregon Region, ICSCC and Where2Rce.com for more local clubs and track days.

and because I'm an enabler:

http://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/5362084200.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5361996598.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5352264304.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/5361552804.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/ctd/5359779116.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/cto/5332519645.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/cto/5333256171.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/cto/5357357991.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/ctd/5356208371.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/5350513812.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/yam/cto/5323596021.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5330318816.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/5327850458.html

http://portland.craigslist.org/yam/cto/5323963805.html

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
12/16/15 1:05 p.m.

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/200x-classifieds/1980-vw-rabbit-ex-itc/108558/page1/

that's what I would buy.

Robbie
Robbie GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
12/16/15 1:11 p.m.

Um - there is a kit (or was) to turn a 280z into a ferrari?

ah, er, ah, (looks up shipping from portland to chicago)

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5361996598.html

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/16/15 1:12 p.m.

In reply to Robbie:

Yes there was- the very first Kit Car magazine I remember my dad buying had that kit on the cover. We even called to get the info. Never pulled the trigger.

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
12/16/15 1:15 p.m.

If this doesn't need to be a street car, buy a used race car. They depreciate like nothing else, and the cage adds a lot of safety and stiffness to whatever platform you choose.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/16/15 1:16 p.m.

In reply to Robbie:

And one could even be rude and tell you to search it! https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/those-240zferrari-250-gto-kit-cars/35011/page1/

(ok I searched google for more info, where the thread was linked).

I know I saw the magazine in the early 80's.

clutchsmoke
clutchsmoke SuperDork
12/16/15 1:19 p.m.
Fueled by Caffeine wrote: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/200x-classifieds/1980-vw-rabbit-ex-itc/108558/page1/ that's what I would buy.

Ayup.

Or what others mentioned. Celica supra, Datsun Z, or 924.

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