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pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
11/4/19 8:15 a.m.

A thought experiment at this time, but I am thinking about the best race car to buy if you don't have a truck/trailer. Something with a full cage, VIN, street-legal, but with enough room for 4 tires and some gear for a weekend at the track. I am not worried about a comfortable ride, street use is strictly for getting to track nights, autocrosses, and maybe a hillclimb. As such, I want reliability over outright speed because I need to get home.  Cars like a VW golf or Civic hatch come to mind, but what else? 

The other option is something small enough to tow with existing minivan and 4x8 trailer. I tow my ATV just fine, and the minivan adds a place to sleep and room for more stuff. I'm thinking about a Formula car of some type? What's reasonable to buy and run?

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/4/19 8:20 a.m.

If Autox then Miata with 200tw tires. 

If more road course then shifter cart being towed by Minivan or just cart in a van. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UberDork
11/4/19 8:23 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve :

Think outside of the box for a moment.  Small little cars have small space inside and need highly tuned ( modified) engines. To produce anything like impressive  speed. 
While bigger cars such as Mustang, Camaro, etc.  have higher consumables costs there are ways around that.  Buying used tires, longer wearing brake pads etc.  

The solution I found is a Jaguar XJS.  With negotiation you can often buy them in the $300-500 range. And get their weight down to around 3000 pounds.  Use E85 for fuel and you'll save over 70 cents a gallon over premium. 
 

Why a Jaguar?  They tend to have been owned by rich old men who take care of their maintenance and don't put a lot of miles on them so they are mechanically sound.  If you hate the idea of a British car. The German Mercedes offers similar prices and mechanical reliability. 
Yes there is a reliability factor. Mostly with the luxury stuff and due to neglected maintenance by subsequent  owners.  But U tube demystifies working on the fuel injection.  
 

Six cylinder or V12?  The answer isn't as obvious as it seems. While the V12 is capable of over 830 horsepower it doesn't start out with that difference.  Roughly 30-40 horsepower difference stone stock.  
But the six  is a fully modern engine. DOHC with 4 valves per cylinder all aluminum. And the possibility of a stock supercharger can be added later Now you're at 346 hp 378 torque. With mild cams. ( only 3/8ths lift) 
Not to mention the weight advantage with the 6 cylinder as much as 300 pounds lighter.  Much of the weight disadvantage has to do with the V12 being designed to go out to over 500 cu in.  

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise HalfDork
11/4/19 8:24 a.m.

2001 Integra GSR 5MT Sedan. Bought the exact car, for the exact purpose you describe 

slowbird
slowbird Dork
11/4/19 8:26 a.m.

A Ford Probe GT can hold 4 wheels and tires in the back. Just sayin. laugh

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
11/4/19 8:29 a.m.

FWD Or RWD?  

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
11/4/19 8:56 a.m.

I have a caged miata. If you need spare tires (eg. not driving to the track on 200tw), you can put 3 in the passenger area (no seat there) and one behind the seat area - in front of the bars going to the trunk area. You can fit the jack and a good amount of tools in the trunk. Depending how light you pack, you could have your gear in the car/trunk, or you could tie a suite case/bag down to the top of the cage. Alternatively, I've tied down tires to the top of the cage and had empty fuel jugs in the passenger seat.

I've been toying with the idea of getting a tow bar to save on insurance and license costs. I believe the car is street legal, but there's probably some risk of harassment. My street car is rated at 2000lbs tow capacity in Europe... :) I've not been able to figure out all of the legalities of towing with a tow bar in my area. Insured and plated it would not be an issue.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
11/4/19 9:02 a.m.

I have a hitch for my miata..  it will tow a small trailer eventually.

KyAllroad (Jeremy)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) UltimaDork
11/4/19 9:02 a.m.

I have hopes for the beater 318Ti I just picked up.  Hatchback space with a very Miata feel.

Furious_E
Furious_E UltraDork
11/4/19 9:05 a.m.

A tire trailer would seem to make darn near anything legal to drive on the street viable. 

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
11/4/19 9:08 a.m.

Just to open some ideas, and I'm sure you've thought about it already, but a HF 4x4 trailer weighs next to nothing and would open up your options for tires, jacks, compressors, etc. I'm sure that any car you'd pick would have the option of a hitch and they don't weigh too much.  Heck, you could probably figure out a way to quickly remove it for runs and re-attach it for the drive home. 

I've always thought something like a Miata with a 4x4 trailer with some simple framing and a popup tent would be an excellent solution.  Kinda like this (but not quite as beefy as this is, I think it was designed for offroading):

-Rob

enginenerd
enginenerd Reader
11/4/19 10:52 a.m.

I have a caged 1st gen ITA Neon. While I still trailer it to the track (because I need to get home somehow when I get wrecked) I can fit everything I need for a weekend in the back. It's competitive with Miatas, CRXs, and Civics (often on the podium) but it has probably double the cargo room. 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
11/4/19 12:03 p.m.

S197 Mustang with the 5.0.  Intake, headers, exhaust, and a tune can get you very close to 500hp, they can fit massive tires with ease, reliable engine, great handling with a few mods, remove the rear seat and plenty of space to put tires and stuff.  Factory Brembos are good brakes.  Transmission is good with a fluid change and a few little tweaks.  Plus if you gut them the weight gets down to very reasonable levels.  Or get the one with the 3V 4.6, less power but weighs 100lbs less and costs about half.  But the ability to run 305s on all corners is pretty nice.  

nimblemotorsports
nimblemotorsports Reader
11/4/19 12:24 p.m.

A Mini Cooper racing in Lemons is driven to the track, he tows a small trailer.

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane SuperDork
11/4/19 12:36 p.m.

I just drove my spec Miata to NJMP from CT this weekend for a track day, I don't change tires, though, otherwise I would pull a small trailer.

An important thing for long distance in a car with a real race seat is cruise control and if you're driving in cold weather, I made plexiglass side windows.  That made it much nicer as it was 30 out this weekend!

I can fit everything I need to survive in mine.

Ez up, chair, gear

Cool suit/drink cooler, Jack stands, Jack, tool bag with essentials, etc.  Soft lunch cooler not pictured.

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill PowerDork
11/4/19 1:26 p.m.

My RX8 is pretty light on consumables.  For HPDE I changed the brake fluid, oil, and tires.  I drive it there, I drive 6 sessions, and I drive it home.  The next day I drive my kids to school, and myself to work.

I understand rotaries tend to survive LeMons and Chump car with some frequency, that's gotta say something about reliability.

 

(I know, I know.  I'll see myself out)

 

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
11/4/19 1:58 p.m.

In reply to pinchvalve :

Ford Ranger V6, 2wd, manual

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
11/4/19 2:15 p.m.

A G35 will hold 4 tires and wheels, tent, chairs and cooler for a weekend. Also not a bad place to spend some time until you cage it, add race seats, springs and shocks, snatch out the A/C and such. 

Then you will be wishing for a trailer and truck.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
11/4/19 2:27 p.m.

Great thoughts guys! FWD is preferable to RWD because that is what I know, but either is fine.  I forgot to mention that street legal means that I can autocross in both local clubs, a formula car means cutting my local options in half.

I have some experience in a Neon, some good, some bad (my fault) and I'd love to redeem myself in one again!

frenchyd
frenchyd UberDork
11/4/19 2:31 p.m.
Hungary Bill said:

My RX8 is pretty light on consumables.  For HPDE I changed the brake fluid, oil, and tires.  I drive it there, I drive 6 sessions, and I drive it home.  The next day I drive my kids to school, and myself to work.

I understand rotaries tend to survive LeMons and Chump car with some frequency, that's gotta say something about reliability.

 

(I know, I know.  I'll see myself out)

 

I'll have to join you, I dared suggest a Jag. 

Toebra
Toebra Dork
11/4/19 2:50 p.m.

Porsche 911 was pretty much designed to be the car you want for this sort of work.  Would need to get into what your budget is next.

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise HalfDork
11/4/19 2:56 p.m.
pinchvalve said:

Great thoughts guys! FWD is preferable to RWD because that is what I know, but either is fine.  I forgot to mention that street legal means that I can autocross in both local clubs, a formula car means cutting my local options in half.

I have some experience in a Neon, some good, some bad (my fault) and I'd love to redeem myself in one again!

 

 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
11/4/19 2:57 p.m.

In reply to pinchvalve :

For you, a Focus ST, for sure.  

Or if you need slower, an older SVT Focus.  Or even better, a 2.3l Focus hatch of whatever flavor.  Easy to drive, cheap to own.

 

Rodan
Rodan Dork
11/4/19 4:19 p.m.
WonkoTheSane said:

I just drove my spec Miata to NJMP from CT this weekend for a track day...

 

I'm very interested to know what specifically you plugged the NACA window vent with... looks like maybe an Eclipse type vent?  I have the same NACA vents and have been looking for something as alternative to foam... 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
11/4/19 7:15 p.m.
Toebra said:

Porsche 911 was pretty much designed to be the car you want for this sort of work.  Would need to get into what your budget is next.

Yes, yes they are.  You can find used spec 996s.....  and they are fast.

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