Friday, 21 March 2014

Choosing A Track Day Car On A Budget. Part 2: €/£10k

Last year I wrote a blog on choosing a track day car for a fictitious budget of €/£2500 which you can read by pressing this. A couple of people liked it, plus I really enjoyed writing it, so I've decided to do another one. This time I upped our imaginary budget to £/€10k and returned to the hallowed pages of Pistonheads, Racecarsdirect and DoneDeal.

In the last article we covered the pro's and cons of front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and 4 wheel drive so we wont go into that again. However, the car you buy will probably fall into to one of three categories though. It will either be:
  • Category 1: A practical-ish daily driver that can perform well on track in standard tune
  • Category 2: A hardcore track biased car that is more suitable for occasional road use
  • Category 3: A full-on track weapon, race or rally car, possibly non road legal
It's worth thinking hard about which category of car will suit your lifestyle especially if 10 grand is your absolute maximum budget. Depending on the car you choose and the category it falls into, you may want to factor in tax, insurance and fuel into the buying price. No point blowing your entire budget on a glorious 5 litre V8 that costs a million quid a year to tax and does single figure mpg's, it'll just sit in your garage gathering dust.
For €/£10,000 the variety of frankly spectacular cars you can buy is mind boggling. 

Enough waffle. The cars:
Category 1: A practical, standard daily driver that can perform well on track.
Here's my shortlist of Family friendly options....

  • BMW E46 M3
  • BMW E39 M5
  • Audi RS4/RS6
  • VW Golf R32
  • Ford Focus RS
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Mitsubishi Evo 5/6/7/8/FQ300
  • Honda Civic Type R 
  • Renaultsport Clio
  • Vauxhall Monaro VXR 6.0
Out of the above my personal choices would be the M3, RS4, Evo or at a push the Renaultsport Clio. If i'm honest, the BMW is probably the best car out of the group and would probably be most fun, with rear wheel drive and 343bhp on tap......but, every man and his dog seems to have one. Which would bother me...maybe.

The B5 Audi RS4 Avant is probably the car i'd go for if I didn't have to worry about road tax, it offers exclusivity, masses of practicality and It has a 2.7 litre twin turbo V6 which sounds awesome and comes with 375bhp as standard. Being turbocharged a quick remap will have you well over 400bhp in a flash. The downside is the weight and 4wd handling, whilst great for every day road use, on track the BMW would be more fun to drive and probably faster


The Evo would be a sensible choice if road tax is an issue (like here in Ireland where anything over 3 litres will cost €1400 a year to tax) It does pretty much what the two cars above will do but with a tax friendly 2 litre engine. The real-world, day to day performance of the Evo is probably more usable than the other two as well. On the downside, the soundtrack from the 4 pot turbo isn't exactly sonorous and it does look a bit of a hooligan - that may be a good or a bad thing depending on your persuasion. The range of 'go faster' bits available for the Evo far exceeds the other models here due in part to their popularity as rally cars.


The Renault Sport Clio 197 is also an awesome, fun and fast little car and you'd have change to boot. It would be a sensible option, good on fuel, cheap to tax, cheap to run, practical....but if you had 10 grand in your back burner and all the choices above could you really go for Renault? I'm not sure I could.

And the less family friendly options....

  • Porsche 911
  • Porsche Boxster s
  • Nissan 350Z
  • Honda S2000
  • Lotus elise
  • Vauxhall VX220
  • Nissan Skyline R32 GTR
  • TVR Cerbera
Yes you could get a fully fledged Porsche 911 for under £10k! We found this 996 Carrera 2 with a 6 speed manual and 300bhp on tap from the 3.4 litre flat 6. The question is not could you but should you? You'd be buying from the bottom of the pile so I wouldn't expect the plain sailing, trouble free motoring you're likely to get from the likes of an Evo or Scooby. But....it's a proper Porsche and a proper 911, not a Cockster. Hard to resist? If has to be a Porsche the Boxster S might be a better option, you'll certainly have a much bigger pool of cars to choose from and could even get a fair wad of change from your 10 grand. You will have to live with numerous fools like me calling your car a Cockster though.


The S2 lotus Elise is achingly pretty and even more so in the metal. It's a tiny car and despite being 14 years old the design still looks completely fresh. For me it would be a toss up between the Elise and the 911. The Elise is widely considered to be one of the finest handling cars in the world and even though it only has 122 bhp it still makes a terrific track machine. There are loads of bolt-on goodies you can buy to make it go faster as well. The little 1.8 litre engine makes a lot of sense from a tax a fuel consumption point of view too. 



Category 2: A track biased car for occasional road use.
In this category we can forget tax, fuel consumption and practicality. I'm looking at cars that are track focused and are likely just to be used either to drive to and from the track or for occasional weekend hooning about. Most of them will be highly modified already and some will be producing big BHP figures.....or you could go down the classic route. Something like the completely restored and competition prepared MGB pictured below would be a nice alternative and well within budget.

The shortlist:
  • Subaru Impreza (modified)
  • Mitsubishi Evo (modified)
  • Nissan S14 (modified)
  • Mazda RX7 (modified)
  • Westfield 7 Zetec
  • MGB / MG Midget


The alternative to this kind of stuff would be to go for a rally car, and I think that's what I would do because they are so versatile. You might forfeit the outright power of a modified Evo or something like that but you'd gain in so many other areas. A rally car can be used in virtually any discipline of motorsport, not just for track days so you have options if you did get bored of track days. A rally car will be road legal,will have all the safety equipment, cage, harnesses, seats, fire extinguishers, sump guards. It will probably have good quality, uprated brakes and suspension, may have a professionally built competition engine and is likely to come with a load of spare wheels and tyres and other bits and bobs.

In budget you can get loads of really cool stuff. This Toyota Twincam is available for £7000 and will have you hanging the tail out on full opposite lock in a flash!

A tidy Ek Civic or Integra is well within budget if front wheel drive is your thing and should be extremely reliable as well as pretty quick

In my opinion, a lot of the modified Impreza's you see on the roads today suffer from a bit of an image problem. Because they've got so cheap they've fallen into the hands of the chav's who have gone and done what they always do, make them loud, low and drive like shite. You'd want to know your stuff before buying one. An  Impreza rally car, like the one pictured below is in my opinion a different kettle of fish. it's an altogether more honest machine and this one is for sale at the time of writing for 7 grand so you can go burbling through the forests just like Colin McRea used to.
According to the ad this car was completely re-built a year and a half ago from a Turbo 2000 Shell and features:
  • TEGSport Built Engine, serviced every 2 events
  • OMP Bolt in Roll Cage
  • OMP seats (in date)
  • TRS Belts (in date)
  • Kevlar Tank guards
  • OMP Alloy Sump Guard
  • Peter Lloyd Diff Guard
  • KW Coilover suspension
  • Uprated clutch fitted by TEGSport 1 event ago
  • Also comes with 3 sets of wheels, 2 sets of gravel tyres and 2 sets of tarmac tyres
Here's a quick reminder of what that boxer engine sounded like in its prime:


Category 3: A full-on track weapon.
For €£10,000 you can get some very very fast competition cars that can still be used on track days to scare the bejeebus out of yourself and your mates. Here's my shortlist:
  • Radical Clubsport
  • Westfield Megabusa / turbo
  • VW Cup car
  • Mini Cooper Cup car
The Radical Clubsport would be my number 1 choice. It's the predecessor to the incredibly popular SR3. It's a bespoke racing car with a rear mounted 1100cc motorbike engine and sequential gearbox. They look a bit like a miniature Le Mans prototype and are extremely quick. Check out the video below from a track day at Oulton Park, you'll notice it doesn't get passed by anything...



One of the few cars in budget that would almost be a match for the radical is a Westfield Megabusa Turbo. That's a Westfield 7 with a turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa motorbike engine. Like the car pictured below. That's actually my old car, I sold it last year for £8000. It had 350bhp and weighed just 500kg's, that's 700bhp per ton and to put that in perspective a fast road car like a Subaru WRX STi has 188 bhp per ton and a hypercar like Pagani Huayara has 518bhp per ton so as you can imagine they are quite quick. You can buy standard, non turbo versions of this car which are still extremely fast, well within budget and they'd be a lot more reliable and less expensive to fix should they go wrong.
The other type of car on my shortlist is quite far removed from the 2 above and is a much more user friendly proposition. There are loads of 'one make' racing series across the uk and Ireland such as the VW cup and Mini Cooper Cup that have eligible cars up for sale. The cars that compete in these series are usually professionally built to a very high standard, will have all the safety gear, top spec brakes and suspension, you might even get a sequential gearbox and will offer a huge grin factor for very reasonable money, you could definitely get change from your 10K with one of these. Unlike the cars above you'll get a roof, windscreen, windows and even doors! You might even be able to drive it to the track.

They'll offer reliable, affordable fun lap after lap after lap and if you get bored of track days you can go and get your competition licence and go racing straight away!


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