Huhmanbeing
Huhmanbeing
4/9/13 2:06 p.m.

So, I'm not 100% sure if this is the subforum I should be posting this thread in, but it seemed like the best place to get a solid answer. I've been reading GRM off and on for the last few months (just signed up for a subscription, represent! haha) and the pull to enter the world of motorsport is just too much. I can't handle it any more! I've been working with a buddy of mine who has an NB MX-5 and I've learned a lot working with him (up until this, the most I'd done was watch someone else change my oil... which made me feel useless). We've done brakes, replaced a valve cover gasket, rewired an ignition system, replaced a radiator, removed power steering and A/C, put a catback on her, all kinds of fun stuff. He knows a lot more about it than I do (up until about 6 months ago, my understanding of cars was purely conceptual. I have a very good grasp on how everything happens, but as I'm sure most of you know, there's a big difference between a physical understanding and a conceptual understanding) so I've really enjoyed learning a lot. However, I'm tired of having to rely on him to do anything (thankfully now I can do all the standard maintenance on my own car... it's not always a cost-saver (quality synthetic oil is damn expensive!) but I can rest easy knowing exactly what's been done to my car.

Now that I've told my story, I'll get to the meat of the thread. I'm looking for a good car to Autocross. This car will probably not be tagged or registered. This is not going to be a road car. I have a friend with a truck (he's probably going to be going in on the cost of the car and parts with me, and he'll be autocrossing the car with me, so I can count on him to be around when I need to move the car) and another with a trailer, so moving it around isn't a problem. Basically, I want a car that is going to be easy to learn on, relatively hard to break (I'm sure I'll make mistakes here and there), fun to drive, and with huge aftermarket support (Ideally, the only reason this car would go to a shop is if I needed specialty work done or needed something welded). Chances are, I'm going to do a motor swap in whatever car I get, so base motors aren't that important. I'll probably end up getting a rolling chassis to save money.

Here's the list of what I've been thinking.

E30 325i

---which would then have an M50 or S52 swap done, perhaps something more adventurous down the line (LS motor maybe?) haha

NA Miata

--- I would probably just do an NB 1.8 swap here, just because I like the VVT and the added torque that the 1.8 has. And it still has the same excellent aftermarket support as the 1.6

Wrecked S2000?

--- I'm sure these are still out of my price range (looking to spend under $1k on the chassis for my car) but having an S2000 would be berkeleyin awesome... No motor swap here. I'd stick with the original 9000rpm screamer from the AP1, torque figures be damned! Besides, if I turbo'd it down the line, the torque would appear. hahaha

BMW 2002?

--- does an old 2002 have room for an S52 swap? Because that would be awesome. I've been doing some research online and a few brave souls seem to have tried it, but I haven't found a comprehensive guide like there are for most swaps. Otherwise, I guess I'd try to find an S14 (probably a bit more expensive? I dunno)

Basically, I want something small, light, front-engine, RWD, with either an LSD installed or with the capability of fitting an LSD.

TL;DR> I've learned enough that I can navigate a car's engine bay and body pretty well so I'm ready to embark upon the next adventure - building my own car. I know this probably won't be ready to be driven until next season, but that's fine. I love working on cars almost as much as I love driving them. So I'm asking for suggestions, and I put a few good ones (I think) up of my own.

Thanks for reading my novel, ladies and gents, I just wanted to be as specific as possible! I'm sure you will all be seeing me around the GRM forums in the future, so I hope this is a good introduction! -Matt

DanyloS
DanyloS New Reader
4/9/13 3:43 p.m.

A dead 924/944 might have potential (esp. a v8 swap). Could be a bit pricier on other parts though.

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
4/9/13 3:51 p.m.

Miata is the answer.

oldtin
oldtin UltraDork
4/9/13 4:06 p.m.

Yeah, I think miata might be the answer - although there's a member here with a sweet deal on a 944 if it isn't gone already. What about a bmw 320i and boost it. E36s are cheaper to buy than e30s and handle better.

z31maniac
z31maniac PowerDork
4/9/13 4:28 p.m.

Miata is the answer.

But E30/Miata is likely going to be a rusted heap of a car for less than $1k.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy SuperDork
4/9/13 10:21 p.m.

You are in Atlanta. Every single cool project not already in a GRM forum member's garage seems to be located in Atlanta.

Rust shouldn't be a problem in your area, so find a Miata with a bit of body damage or a dead engine and go to town.

You could also go with an FB or FC RX-7.

Though with a Miata, you can probably buy more car than you think.

http://www.copart.com/c2/individualLot.html?lotId=16924953

http://www.copart.com/c2/individualLot.html?lotId=14304863

JoeyM
JoeyM UltimaDork
4/9/13 10:45 p.m.

You want it to be something common, and 5-10 years old so that junk yard parts are readily available. Other than that, have fun.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim PowerDork
4/10/13 2:56 p.m.

I'd also suggest to build a Miata - we have a ton of knowledgeable people on the forum, plus there are several other Miata forums (some friendly, some less so) that also have a ton of info on them. Not to mention there is a thriving aftermarket for the cars.

I guess E30s are similar in that respect, as are probably E36s.

I'd stay away from 944s for my first build, simply because Miatas are much cheaper to build - while 944 parts prices don't reach the heady levels of 911 parts prices, Miata and E30 parts are much, much cheaper.

dankspeed
dankspeed Reader
4/10/13 3:07 p.m.

I vote Ford focus. Plenty made, easy to work on, good aftermarket.

slopecarver
slopecarver Reader
4/10/13 3:59 p.m.

don't forget z cars, depending on where you are they might be cheap.

Matt B
Matt B Dork
4/10/13 4:20 p.m.

I commend your sense of adventure, but at your experience level I'd pick a car that didn't NEED a motor swap, at least to start with. How big is your tool collection at this point? Do you have an engine hoist and the space to work?

You'll spend a lot more time driving and less time scratching your head/cursing. Besides, starting with a cheap base will still give you plenty of opportunities to learn more about wrenching on the car and start your tool collection. If you're focused on autocross, you'll want to attack the suspension first anyway.

Of course, this is the GRM board and people do ambitious awesome stuff all the time. I'm pretty much constantly amazed by what the board members accomplish. So if the pieces of the puzzle are there, go for it. That said, sometimes it's good to reel it back a notch and just enjoy the car before XYZ is done "some day".

Huhmanbeing
Huhmanbeing New Reader
4/15/13 1:40 p.m.
Matt B wrote: I commend your sense of adventure, but at your experience level I'd pick a car that didn't NEED a motor swap, at least to start with. How big is your tool collection at this point? Do you have an engine hoist and the space to work? You'll spend a lot more time driving and less time scratching your head/cursing. Besides, starting with a cheap base will still give you plenty of opportunities to learn more about wrenching on the car and start your tool collection. If you're focused on autocross, you'll want to attack the suspension first anyway. Of course, this is the GRM board and people do ambitious awesome stuff all the time. I'm pretty much constantly amazed by what the board members accomplish. So if the pieces of the puzzle are there, go for it. That said, sometimes it's good to reel it back a notch and just enjoy the car before XYZ is done "some day".

I've got a pretty sizable tool collection already, so I'm not too worried about that. My grandfather had one of the single most impressive tool collections I've ever seen and I'm lucky enough that I got a lot of them. I don't have an engine hoist, but I do have friends that have them, so that's not too big a deal.

I also have a covered and protected place to work. So the car can sit for however long is necessary to get it running.

I'm definitely thinking Miata at this point. Simply because I've worked on one before, I love how they drive (RWD is a necessity for me, I drive FWD every day and, even though it's still fun, nothing gives the experience and feeling that RWD provides), and I know there's a cheap and plentiful aftermarket available for them.

The reason that I'm into the idea of starting with a motor swap is because I'm the type of person that doesn't do well with dipping my toes in the water. I learn to swim by climbing the high dive and doing a swan dive into the deep end, if that makes any sense. As well, as much as I love driving (and I do love it), there really isn't anything that I enjoy doing more than working on mechanical systems - learning about them, improving them, modifying them, etc.

I'm sure that (more or less) starting my wrenching career with a motor swap is not the easiest way to do it, or even the best way... but I'm the puzzle kind of person. To me, the angrier you get when it doesn't work just means that you're going to be that much more elated when you do figure it out.

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