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      12-12-2011, 04:04 AM   #1
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Suggestions for Project/Track Car

(I've searched around, but I can't find a track car decision tree )

While my E90 is an amazing car, probably the best I'll ever own, I have different goals for a track car, and I'm think this forum might be a good place to get some suggestions with my criteria laid out.

I want to work on the car with my son as he grows up. I think it would be a great way to spend time together and he's a bigger car nut than I am. So I don't want a car that's perfect already. I'd like something comparatively easier to work on, so that makes me think older, maybe 80's.

Beyond getting it in great running shape, I would be stripping it out and putting a cage / seats and harnesses in eventually. I'm not going full race ready, but safety is a big goal.

I want parts to be readily available and reasonably priced. Performance upgrades as well as straight replacements.

It doesn't have to be incredibly fast. I'm not deluding myself about my abilities behind the wheel, and honestly driving it on the track is less important than me having fun with my son building it up. That being said, I don't want to spend a few years building up a geo metro. Some cool factor is needed.

Budget-wise, I'd like to get a high mileage but somewhat decent shape for < $8000. That's just a rough number to give an idea.

My thoughts so far:

944: How good is the parts scene for this? My wife's kind of into this car surprisingly.

An older 325i(s): More work to go up in performance, but maybe easier to work on / more parts?

An older M3 would be great, but it's a little hard to get into them for the low initial prices I'm after.

A 280z would be in the mix. As old as I am, so low tech. Fun to play around in though.

Any suggestions or corrections of my assumptions would be much appreciated.

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      12-12-2011, 06:42 AM   #2

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Mazda Miata MX5.
I be been down the same route you are planning. you won't regret it for a second!
My son and I had 8 years of fun with it, and are best friends now
SOLD...E92 M3, Competition Package, MDCT, Ground Control Adjustable Camber plates, StopTech 380 BBK, OEM exhaust mod
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      12-12-2011, 09:36 AM   #3
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I just bought a 944 turbo track car. They are easy to work on, info and parts are readly available and cheap and it's a hoot to drive. There is also a Wealth of info out there.

If you want more power, it's a fairly easy swap to a v8

Or a miata.
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      12-12-2011, 10:08 AM   #4
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Ditto on the Miata. Very nice handling car in base form; can be made very fast through the corners with the correct mods. Lots of vender support and a very large community of tuners, drivers etc. to use for car setup, driving technique etc. Parts are relatively cheap and the light weight should keep you from going through pads and tires so quickly. Not too fast (straight line) for a budding driver but will definitely allow one to learn the art of driving.

Porsche 944 - I like this car too but it's a Porsche which means replacement parts are going to be $$$. Better hope you never zing the engine or tranny. I hardly see any at the track which means (at least in this area) I wouldn't have anyone to talk to about setup, technique etc.

BMW 325 - less expensive than the Porsche and more power than the Mazda and not a bad choice. $$

Older M3 - If you go this way I would take the E36 model. Most powerful car on the list; can be an excellent track car. $$

280Z - I think I would start with a better platform. Parts and community support are not very good for this vehicle.

I'm with you on being safe especially when we're talking about our kids. First time I took mine to the track one was in his Mustang Bullitt DD and the other in a track rental Miata. Guess who I was worried more about in the fast turns.
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      12-12-2011, 01:21 PM   #5
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Re Miatas. I should have mentioned these, because as posted, these are a such a great choice. There are a couple problems though.

I'm a taller guy, 6,2 with a fairly big frame (not fat, but broad in the shoulder and long limbed), so I feel pretty cramped in a miata. Adding a hardtop and cage to it would make it worse. In a stock one I already felt like I was just too big for it. Not that I wasn't able to fit, just not comfortable inside it.

Second, aesthetically I'm not a fan. Not knocking them as performers. They're just not something I 'want' in that way. I could honestly get over this objection just for the practicality, but I think my wife feels the same way and it'd be easier for her to park next to something for 10 years if she actually likes it
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      12-12-2011, 05:38 PM   #6
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I'd go for an E36 four-banger. Much power is just not good for a starter (wich I understand your son would be out on track?). Those four-cylinders are very well balanced cars and are really fun to drive. Fact is, you learn to drive a clean racing line because you do not have the power to make up mistakes on the straight line. If you're fast with a 320i, you're also fast with an M3. On top of the learning curve, parts for an M3 are more expensive (so, in Germany, maybe in the states they're not). M3 = multiplicator 3.

Same for the E30s. They are really fun to drive, easy to work on and there are whole lots of parts available. At the end, you can always swap in an M-engine in case power becomes an issue some day.

So I can tell you from the Nürburgring, those cars can be seriously fast with a talented driver behind the wheel and you see a lot of them there.

Last edited by MEHP; 12-12-2011 at 05:44 PM.
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      12-12-2011, 07:30 PM   #7
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Miata, S2000, or Evolution IX MR are nice choices, ranging from bottom up in the price scale.
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      12-12-2011, 08:56 PM   #8
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E36m3 all the way.
- You can get a great example at ur starting price
- parts are cheap
- huge wealth of info online and at the track
- very well balanced car
- easy to drive fast
- its an M3
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      12-12-2011, 10:08 PM   #9

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I agree with Mastek....e36 M3. You can pick up a nice one for 8-10k. Drive one and you will be balanced. Terrific track car.
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      12-13-2011, 12:02 AM   #10

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Lots more room in miatas with a good racing bucket and the interior out.
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      12-13-2011, 12:52 AM   #11
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Buy a well sorted out race car with a log book unless you really want to go through the process of building your own car for whatever reason. You will save a huge chunk of money and time. I'll buy something cheap and develop it slowly mentality doesn't change that fact. Make sure you don't end up with someone else's failed project though; have someone who knows what he is doing test it on the track, etc.

Check out some NASA GTS cars here:
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      12-13-2011, 01:20 AM   #12
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If you're looking into the 944 you might as well go for a Miata. You can buy one race ready, striped out, cage, etc. for 8k no problem.
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      12-15-2011, 03:23 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone for all the info.

I'll look into renting a spec miata for a HPDE to get some seat time and see how it works for me. I still have mixed feelings on it, but I'll give it a try.
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      12-15-2011, 04:14 PM   #14
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Miata is my vote too.

Like you I had no real desire to own one - but after riding in a spec and then a totally done over one with a v8 and aero I have to admit, those things are a blast. The fastest laps I usually run in my M come after riding in miatas. They really hone your skills and as said above- due to their light weight, consumables will last a long time.
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      12-16-2011, 04:54 PM   #15

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I'd go E36 or E30.

I have a friend who found a E30 325is on Craigslist for $800 in pretty good shape. So far he has it pretty well speced out, rebuilt the engine and got a new paint job on it. He's spent just over 5k including the purchase price of the car.
2009 E92 M3 /// Melbourne Red /// Fox Red /// M DKG

Full Innotech Exhaust - DINAN Intake - IND Engine Bay Appearance - IND Hand Stitched Boot Covers - and much more....
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