ea_sport Reader
2/6/22 5:50 p.m.

Hi everyone, another what car thread but in this case I am open to suggestions within my parameters.

1. About $45K. I know the car market is a bit crazy right now and it's my fun car so I can wait a bit for the right car.

2. Use case: Autocross, trackcross and track day. This will be the 4th car in my stable so not a DD although being comfortable for long drive and somewhat reliable won't hurt. For reference my last fun car was a C5 Z06 and I drove it less than 1,500 miles in the 5 years I owned it.

3. Not too old and somewhat reliable. I can do maintenance but can't do major project or swap so need to be close to turn key or some bolt on mods.

4. Somewhat decent resale value, not the main criteria but I don't want to lose too much money when it comes time to sell it in 3-4 years.

Some candidates are:

- 2017 or 2019-2020 Camaro SS 1LE. If I am lucky enough may be I can find one at MSRP of around $45K for a brand new one (I know kinda wishful thinking in this market).

- C7 Z51 (kinda hard to find at around $45K at the moment).

- C6 Z06 with AStreet mods and head taken care of. I know not all of them need head works but I've seen an engine block with a hole because the head wasn't taken care of so for peace of mind I'll take care of the head if I am getting one of these.

- The new Nissan Z although the one with Performance package will  probably be a bit more than $45K but I think since it's a new car I am fine with that.

- BMW Supra - in normal time I should be able to get a slightly used one for around $45K but not sure in this market.

- ND Miata with STR build. If I can find one I actually would like one of these ND Miata that has been built for STR class. It's probably cheaper than $45K as well.

So if you were in my position what would you get? Did I miss anything from my short list? Thanks all.

dps214 Dork
2/6/22 5:57 p.m.

981 cayman, maybe an S if you get super lucky. Probably the most likely to retain value other than maybe the C6Z. Does everything you want, well, and doesn't have the weird corvette issues or the truck interior.

frenchyd UltimaDork
2/6/22 6:18 p.m.

In reply to ea_sport :

Just remember everything other than original  devalues the car to most buyers. Only the one or two people who are looking for just that combination will see anything positive and those people usually know that fact and will use it to lower  your sale price.  

ea_sport Reader
2/6/22 6:56 p.m.

In reply to dps214 :

How did I forget the 981 Cayman..do they also have the same IMS bearing issue as the previous gen?

dps214 Dork
2/6/22 9:47 p.m.
ea_sport said:

In reply to dps214 :

How did I forget the 981 Cayman..do they also have the same IMS bearing issue as the previous gen?

Nope, that went away with the 987.2 The 981s are also all direct injection fwiw. Kind of the case for all the cars on your list, but two years ago your $45k budget would have fairly easily gotten you a decently optioned 981S. Now that budget pretty much limits you to base models. But there's nothing wrong with the base model.

Driven5 UberDork
2/7/22 12:18 p.m.

What'll $45k get you in terms of completed V8 Miata?

z31maniac MegaDork
2/7/22 4:40 p.m.

I test drove an '18 SS 1LE a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I don't think the salesman liked me walking it sideways up the on ramp. 

I just couldn't force myself to drop $50k on a car then, hell I can't make myself do it now. 

clutchsmoke UltraDork
2/7/22 4:47 p.m.

Don't want to sound like a jerk, just trying to point something out: you barely drove a C5 Z06. As someone who has owned and spent significant time in a C5 Z06 and wouldn't own one again - what is drawing you towards more modern Corvettes? Yes the Camaro and newer Corvettes will have a better interior than the C5 (not a high bar to clear) beyond that what are you looking for? 

The performance per dollar of a C5 Z06 shall be difficult to beat for a long time, but life and enjoyment I've realized doesn't boil down to the numbers on paper. Whatever I invest in a pleasure/fun/sports/enthusiast vehicle I want it to be an engaging and rewarding experience. 

Opti Dork
2/7/22 4:53 p.m.

I love my SS 1LE, but Id probably take a C6Z over it. Id fix the heads, put a corsa exhaust on it and upgrade the tires and be happy.

The C7z51 is better and faster than the 1LE, and has cheaper consumables. Ive done one too many c5/c6 clutch/diff/trans jobs and I wont do any more so I wanted a conventional setup.

Toot New Reader
2/7/22 7:05 p.m.

I just did this on Sunday 2022 miata rf.......feels like an NA miata.  Only problems are tires, rims, coil overs, sway bays, roll bar.   Have had many track cars and always go back to a miata.


Toot New Reader
2/7/22 7:10 p.m.

As for the caymans ims bearings are really not much of an issue as most people make them out to be.  What you have to worry about is bore scoring......is you don't get race oil pan for tracking you will for sure lose a motor....I know.

GeddesB New Reader
2/7/22 7:16 p.m.

Lotus Elise?  


amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter)
amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
2/7/22 10:44 p.m.

Miata or either GM choice. 
The others will probably require too much time and money repairing 

dps214 Dork
2/7/22 11:19 p.m.
Toot said:

As for the caymans ims bearings are really not much of an issue as most people make them out to be.  What you have to worry about is bore scoring......is you don't get race oil pan for tracking you will for sure lose a motor....I know.

None of those apply to the 981s. And the corvettes have their own oiling issues IIRC.

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
2/8/22 7:32 a.m.

How important is consumable cost to you?  If you're a once-per-quarter track guy it probably doesn't matter as much. If you're a twice-per-month track guy those costs add up fast, this is where small and lightweight is nice.  Most production cars are also camber limited so they kill tires even faster, especially if they're heavy.  OTOH you should also ask yourself how important outright speed is. I love my ND Miata but an SS 1LE or a 981 Cayman will be massively faster with similar tires and driver. 

STM317 UberDork
2/8/22 8:05 a.m.

C6 Grand Sport? It's basically all of the ZO6 body, suspension, brake stuff with a less exotic ($$) engine right?

Keep in mind that if you're considering a RWD American car, you don't have to limit yourself to a typical Street class. CAM will allow you to play and modify your vehicle almost with impunity.

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/8/22 8:24 a.m.

My initial response was an M2 because I think they are awesome, but then I googled prices. Wow, OK, moving on.

Is there a reason that a Mustang isn't in the mix? Not sure what $45k buys these days, but I would think a newer GT, maybe even a PP1 or PP2 car? Or maybe go for an older special edition like a GT500 or Bullet? I see more of them at track days and the autocross than Camaros. 

If I had money for a 4th car that was purely a toy, I would want something that was not street legal and came in a trailer. Maybe an EP Civic with a K-series swap? 



fatallightning Reader
2/8/22 8:40 a.m.

E9x M3 with the bearings sorted?

2/8/22 8:43 a.m.

Cause it looks like they are going to make it. I always lusted for the Renault R5 Turbo and this seems to fit in the same vein. WONT be a first year adopter the way I was with Miata and FRS.

docwyte PowerDork
2/8/22 9:29 a.m.

I wouldn't get the Supra or the miata.  The Supra, to me, is a phone in.  It's a BMW, plain and simple, without a choice of a manual transmission.  Just get an M2, it's a better car anyways.  The miata I've never been a fan of, the fact I don't fit in them seals the deal.

Really hard to beat that SS 1LE if you fit in them.  C6 Z06 are insane track weapons, one of the fastest cars I've ever instructed in and one of the reasons I decided to stop instructing.

$45k could get you a higher mile Porsche 996 Turbo.  I love mine and they're incredibly reliable. 

KyAllroad MegaDork
2/8/22 9:44 a.m.

If I had 45K to spend on a track/autocross toy, one that I only drove a modest amount otherwise, I'd still spend a lot less than that.  I assume that much money still has a decent amount of consequence to you so you aren't going to want to ball it up on track so you'll be springing for several hundred dollars of trackday insurance every time out and still not pushing 100%.  (A fair thing as most modern performance cars have too much performance and are more examples of throttle control/restraint than wringing their maximum out)  Just look at that recent thread about the C7 that ended up on it's roof for proof that I'm right.

So get a Miata.  If you want to go faster, throw turbo pieces at it until it scares you.  If you ball it up, it's still fairly cheap.  Tires are FAR cheaper in their tiny size than the steamrollers that Corvettes and the like wear.  I'm currently at 15K in my turbo NA and it's about 240hp, for another 5K I could have the shop do a built bottom end and go up another 100-150 hp with the components I'm already running and if you need a car that's faster than a 350-400 hp Miata well you're a more gifted driver than 98% of us.

And even at that point I'd be less than 1/2 your budget.  Plenty left over for a trailer, entry fees, tires, and on and on to enjoy the car with.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/8/22 10:26 a.m.
fatallightning said:

E9x M3 with the bearings sorted?

Or even an E46 M3 with some money left over for upgrades.


wearymicrobe PowerDork
2/8/22 12:00 p.m.

WS6 around 25K with suspension mods already done. Easy button is a Gen 3 Viper convertible with a roll bar if you are sub 6 foot tall. 



Image 1 - 2002 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am WS6

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/8/22 1:12 p.m.

If you're willing to take a few more miles or an older year or two, I would go for the C7 over the Camaro.  Having driven both, the Camaro feels slow to respond, heavy, and more like a behemoth muscle car with better suspension.  The C7 was designed from the ground up as a performer.  The Camaro is very capable, but it's an Alpha platform which is primarily a heavy/luxury platform.  All of the Caddy CT's are Alphas.

But comparing a Camaro to a Vette is really not much of a comparison.  I haven't raced either, just driven, but I felt like a god in the C7.  It just goes where you point it.  The other thing that bothered me about comparing the Camaro to the Vette was that they both have hideous visibility.  I can understand that in the Y-body, but there is no reason for it in a pony car.

ea_sport Reader
2/8/22 10:28 p.m.

Thanks for all the input. A few answers to some of the questions. Amount of autocross and track days, probably about 8-10 autocross, 4-6 track cross and about 2-3 track days per year. Part of the reason why I only drove my C5 Z06 about 1,500 miles a year was because of my family obligations like kids' soccer and football games and swim meets. Now that my son can drive I can go to more autocross events co-driving his Abarth 500. So basically cost is always important but consumables shouldn't been too bad.

How important is speed? Important but not #1 priority. I'll be doing more autocross than track cross or track days that's why I am also open to STR build ND Miata. If I go the STR build ND Miata then I will be able to co-drive it with my son. Not sure if I'll be too comfortable letting him drive SS 1LE or Vette on the track. 

Why no Mustang? From my research it seems that the SS 1LE is the better autocross/track toy of the 2. I have nothing against Mustang and I think they do will in B Street so it is a possibility.

E46 or E9X M3? I aim trying to find a newer model (or in the case of C6Z one with lower mile). Older BMW scares me. 

Before my C5Z06 my fun car was an NA Miata so I won't have issue fitting inside an ND, SS 1LE or any Vette. Yes visibility from inside of an SS 1LE, Mustang or Vette sucks but  it won't be my DD so it's doable. 

The concern about balling it up, it is a lot of money so I am worried about just completely totaling it on the track but with the amount of track days that I do the track day insurance costs hopefully won't be too bad. I can always build a cheaper Miata but since SWMBO approved $45K budget I need to take advantage of it LOL. 

For now I think the 2 front runners are the C7 Z51 (if I can find one with stick shift for around $45K) and if I can find a new one at MSRP the SS 1LE.  

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