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BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim UltimaDork
7/2/14 8:58 a.m.

Yeah, I know.

Me-Otter. However, keep in mind that I had to sell my last NA because of ergonomical issues. Couldn't get the seat far back and low enough with a rollbar in the car.

Basic background sob story: I sold my track prepped Miata to bgkast because with my damaged knee I couldn't get comfortable in it any longer. Bought an MR2 Turbo as a replacement that initially looked like a good car but - partially thanks to what is beginning to look like some less than stellar work by a shop I trusted - is turning into a 'mare. For now it's basically off the road and I need to see if I can find the time in winter to address the mechanical issues.

So, I don't have a trackable car right now. The Evo isn't going on the track until it's out of warranty, the CRX is too small (I bang my helmet on the roof and it's got no aftermarket anymore, it's a 1st gen). I have a track day booked and paid for on the 20th.

Current plan is to get a car to tide me over that won't need a lot of work to make it trackworthy (think a weekend, basically something that'll need brakes, shocks and tires), will hold up to track abuse in 100F+ dry heat and has reasonable resale value. The plan would be to buy it now, get it going, enjoy the rest of the season and sell it in spring. Or even autumn, although I'm close to hitting my annual sale limit w/o a dealer license. Ideal budget would be around $5k and at this point in time, I don't care if it's FWD. Must. Have. Track. Fix.

Keep in mind this isn't Atlanta, cars out here are fairly expensive even over in the Bay Area. I don't mind a salvage title for a track car. I was toying with the idea of a Mini Cooper S, but re-reading the buyers guide in GRM kinda put me off an R53.

Good news is that local SCCA will let me run a convertible with factory rollover protection like an NC, S2k or Boxster without an additional rollbar.

Other option is to borrow money (yuck) and get a mid-teens car. That would open up the selection to early Evos, S2ks, decent RX8s and the like. I will also be looking at a modded 996 next Wednesday, but that's more than I want to spend at the moment although getting a working car would be a good thing.

Anyway, my current cheap list:

  • Another Miata and forget about the roll bar for the moment. Buy a cane to hobble about.
  • E30 or E36, but both tend to be rather worn out at my price point.
  • Integra GSR, Civic si (the '99-00) or a CRX Si. In fact, there is a 2nd gen JDM SiR for sale locally, but that's a tad over my budget but might be worth it. Looks like a real one, too. Downside - Honda fanboyz and their ill-advised tuning modz.
  • Err, what now?
car39
car39 HalfDork
7/2/14 9:01 a.m.

Older WRX with better brakes? Should be cheap enough, and easy to get in and out of.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
7/2/14 9:05 a.m.

$5k should be enough for a very nice E36 328i. You might have to ship or travel... but that is going to be a $750 problem.

You can find them with decent track suspension and seats, race pads, maybe a roll bar, other typical aftermarket stuff like exhaust and shifters, etc for $6500 and it's typically pretty damn negotiable. I've seen decent running, driving stock examples for as little as $2k. ( I bought a slightly rusty one for $500 but that was an exceptional steal).

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim UltimaDork
7/2/14 9:07 a.m.

WRXs are very popular out here (downside of living in the mountains) and the ones worth having are above my budget. I can find one for close to my budget but there's a high risk that it'd be about as good as the MR2.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
7/2/14 9:08 a.m.

NC Miata.

Dramatically better platform than the earlier cars.

nicksta43
nicksta43 UberDork
7/2/14 9:10 a.m.

Is it mandatory for it to be street legal?

NONACK
NONACK Reader
7/2/14 9:12 a.m.

Shameless plug

z31maniac wrote:

NC Miata.

Dramatically better platform than the earlier cars.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim UltimaDork
7/2/14 9:19 a.m.
nicksta43 wrote: Is it mandatory for it to be street legal?

It would be ideal if it was, because then I may be able to sell the CRX. It doesn't have to be, though, as we now do have a truck to tow a car with. It'll have to be road car based, though.

There's a neat Formula Vee for sale locally, but that would restrict me to running in a class I don't have a license for yet and would lock me out of most track days.

I have been thinking about an NC, but a good one is more expensive than a good but early-ish RX8 and I'd rather have an RX8 in that case.

Due to the time frame I won't be able to do much traveling across the country either (or shipping).

accordionfolder
accordionfolder HalfDork
7/2/14 9:24 a.m.

Track the evo and get lockton track insurance?

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltraDork
7/2/14 9:25 a.m.

A civic with a higher roof than your CRX.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim UltimaDork
7/2/14 9:28 a.m.

It's not so much about insurance with the Evo, but the fact that it's still under warranty. I'm not giving Mitsu any chance to weasel out of a warranty claim on account of me tracking it. That's why I said it's not going to the track before the warranty runs out. Not to mention it's an MR, so I'd have to mod it to add more gearbox cooling and all that, which again might affect the warranty.

Oh, one very important caveat - the car must have a decent aftermarket. Both the CRX and the MR used to, but it's getting harder to find the good stuff and with the tight timeline, that won't work.

NONACK
NONACK Reader
7/2/14 9:34 a.m.

Are S197 Mustangs that cheap yet? What about a late C4/Early C5? MR2 Spyder?

oldtin
oldtin UltraDork
7/2/14 9:39 a.m.

x2 for e36. Cheap buy in, good capability, good manners, reasonable parts prices/consumables. You can upgrade as much or as little as you want. Other thought is pick up a cheap improved touring car. There's usually a decent selection around your price point

bmw88rider
bmw88rider Reader
7/2/14 9:40 a.m.

I was going to throw in the Integra GSR or possibly Prelude.

I'm in the exact same boat. I'm selling my SW20 because there is just not the parts available anymore to really do what I want to with it. For me though, I'm just waiting for another year or 2 when the ND comes out so the NC's get in the 8K range. Then I won't feel bad spending 6-8K to put a 2.5L motor in it and do the suspension right.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 UltimaDork
7/2/14 9:51 a.m.

I would lob off some lowball prices on some retired, dedicated race/track cars.
Most if not all the prep is done and you are quickly out on the track.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
7/2/14 10:09 a.m.
NONACK wrote: Are S197 Mustangs that cheap yet? What about a late C4/Early C5? MR2 Spyder?

S197 will go through much more brakes/tires/gas than a lighter RX-8 or similar.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
7/2/14 10:10 a.m.
BoxheadTim wrote: I have been thinking about an NC, but a good one is more expensive than a good but early-ish RX8 and I'd rather have an RX8 in that case.

A few mods and you'll be right near the RX-8 power level but with 500 less pounds to drag around.

NONACK
NONACK Reader
7/2/14 10:16 a.m.
z31maniac wrote:
NONACK wrote: Are S197 Mustangs that cheap yet? What about a late C4/Early C5? MR2 Spyder?
S197 will go through much more brakes/tires/gas than a lighter RX-8 or similar.

Well, sure, but nobody said anything about running costs. He only wants to run the thing for a half season anyway.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim UltimaDork
7/2/14 10:16 a.m.
z31maniac wrote:
NONACK wrote: Are S197 Mustangs that cheap yet? What about a late C4/Early C5? MR2 Spyder?
S197 will go through much more brakes/tires/gas than a lighter RX-8 or similar.

The only S197s near my non-borrowed money price range seem to be slushbox V6s, so those are out. C5 Corvettes are also in the $10k-$12k range and at that price point I'd prefer to spend the money on other cars.

In reply to NONACK:

Well, if I end up buying a more expensive car then I'm planning to keep it longer. It's either cheap and one season (with my planning that means two anyway), or more expensive and a keeper.

JohnyHachi6
JohnyHachi6 Dork
7/2/14 10:18 a.m.

I would go with a DB/DC Integra. Sounds like it fits all your requirements. Cheap, plentiful, great aftermarket, fun, etc. Also, I don't think it's as hard to find a non-riced out one, compared to the civics.

I wouldn't take out a loan for a car that was going to see serious track time, but maybe I'm paranoid.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim UltimaDork
7/2/14 10:19 a.m.
z31maniac wrote:
BoxheadTim wrote: I have been thinking about an NC, but a good one is more expensive than a good but early-ish RX8 and I'd rather have an RX8 in that case.
A few mods and you'll be right near the RX-8 power level but with 500 less pounds to drag around.

There is that, but if I am spending in the $10k-ish range, I want to get something that's fairly practical and an RX8 is more practical than an NC. Plus, Me Likely Magic Doritos.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim UltimaDork
7/2/14 10:19 a.m.
JohnRW1621 wrote: I would lob off some lowball prices on some retired, dedicated race/track cars. Most if not all the prep is done and you are quickly out on the track.

I'm warming to that idea, trouble is finding them. As usual when I start looking, there aren't (m)any for sale.

NONACK
NONACK Reader
7/2/14 10:20 a.m.

Embrace the cheapness
Yes!
Haha!

In reply to BoxheadTim:

In that case, my vote is go REALLY cheap for one season. As in, so cheap it doesn't matter what you have, or if it explodes, or has any aftermarket. Craigslist, sub-$1500, run it into the ground and sell for $500 at the end.

DWNSHFT
DWNSHFT HalfDork
7/2/14 10:46 a.m.

Just half a season? Why not rent? $600-800 a day offers lots of options. You don't have to invest any of your time in prep. Coolest of all, you can sample different cars for fun. How about a Spec Racer Ford? Formula Mazda? Stuff you'd never get to drive otherwise. Or, negotiate a reduced rate and bring your own wheels and tires. That way you can exert direct control over your number of heat cycles.

David

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim UltimaDork
7/2/14 10:49 a.m.

Renting sounds like a cool option. Not sure they let me run an SRF or a Formula Mazda in CT (as opposed to TT, which I don't have a license for yet), plus I'll have to see if one of the rental outfits down in CA will rent me a car to run up here - they don't offer it in their ads, for starters.

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