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MattGent Reader
2/28/21 9:03 p.m.



-Naturally aspirated

-Conventional manual transmission

-Faster than a bolt-ons NB Miata around Sebring or Daytona

-Can be bought in 2021 and made ready for HPDE for under $20k

-Reasonably large aftermarket support


Given the standard track day preparation: fresh fluids, track pads, alignment, brake lines, tires, seats, harnesses, 4pt rollbar.  Maintenance as needed (maybe a new radiator/belts/hoses/rotors/caliper rebuild etc).


Which cars require the least amount of preparation to reliably run for HPDE for hours at 95F?  Meaning: minimum combination of dry sump, diff cooler & pump, fuel pump/supply update, bearing redesign, chassis reinforcement, cooling reconfiguration etc.


I beat on my NB miata for many miles and track days.  I'd like to do the same but go faster.  What should I buy?  

M2Pilot Dork
2/28/21 9:11 p.m.

In reply to MattGent :

I used to do a lot of HPDEs in my 1998 BMW M3 daily driver.  Never had any problems with tt.

PMRacing GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/28/21 9:15 p.m.

RX-8 R3 was the choice for me several years ago. Brake lines, pads, and anti roll bars made it perfect. Only sold it due to lousy mileage for my commute.

Vajingo Reader
2/28/21 9:43 p.m.

Nc Miata. Faster than an nb with Michael Bolton's. Better chassis. Better tire choices. Low consumables. 2.5 swap is cheap. Embarrass the guys with vipers in the corners. 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
2/28/21 9:43 p.m.

Sounds like an exact description of the frisbee twins. 

goingnowherefast GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/28/21 10:04 p.m.

Few cars that are genuinely "track ready" from the factory. Of those you can buy new, here's the one's that I trust to track a 20 minute session with instructor/HPDE4+ pace. 


-Veloster N


-C7 Z51/GS

Sonic UltraDork
2/28/21 10:19 p.m.

Civic Type R seems ready to go. 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/28/21 10:23 p.m.

IME the biggest weakness most stock cars have at the track is the brakes, they just don't carry enough thermal mass in the rotors and pads to cope with track use.  To combat that you want a car that's lightweight, has high cornering speeds, and relatively low horsepower.  That says to me either a Miata or an FRS/BRZ/GT86.  ND2 is probably faster than a bolt-ons NB, dunno if you can get one in that price range or not and it's got challenges with the roll bar.

Other than that, probably an E36, maybe a 350Z.  RX-8 as mentioned.  Can you get an S2000 in that price range?  986 Boxster and C5 Corvette, probably.


captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
2/28/21 10:35 p.m.

K24 powered civic SI is the answer at the $20k pricepoint while remaining reliable.

MattGent Reader
2/28/21 10:37 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:


Other than that, probably an E36, maybe a 350Z.  RX-8 as mentioned.  Can you get an S2000 in that price range?  986 Boxster and C5 Corvette, probably.


This is the list I've been shopping.  NC/ND/FRS I'm not sure are enough faster than an NB.  Motor swaps are out.  I hadn't really considered RX8, and haven't seen many in the track days I've done.

350/370Z has all kinds of cooling issues.  C5 has oil supply issues.  Porsches have bearing issues.  I think an already track-prepped E36 or E46 are the most likely target, with their cooling & subframe challenges already addressed.

Wish there were a 6cyl-equivalent Miata.

spandak HalfDork
3/1/21 12:44 a.m.

Porsches seem to handle track work well. 

kevinatfms GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/1/21 6:12 a.m.

FRS/BRZ, Camaro 1LE(4 cylinder or V6) or maybe an Ecoboost Mustang w/ the Track Pack?

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
3/1/21 6:20 a.m.
spandak said:

Porsches seem to handle track work well. 

Not the ones you can find for under $20k. 

Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter)
Loweguy5 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/1/21 6:23 a.m.

S197 Mustang GT with a brake upgrade.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
3/1/21 6:24 a.m.

Can you find second gen CTSV Sedans for $20k yet? Those were ready for track work out of the box weirdly enough, including factory pads. They are faster than the Miata you describe but the experience is much different. My V Wagon didn't need anything other than tires and fresh brake fluid. 

Apexcarver UltimaDork
3/1/21 6:39 a.m.

Pretty much anything is going to want at least a brake pad swap I would think. To the point that I wouldnt consider that change as a change to factory trim for the criteria provided. Tires are another area that I think anyone going to a track would change them.


Lets go with what cars have hurdles to meeting the criteria

  • 350z - be sure you get the big brake package, there is a small brake package that is marginal at best, even with decent pads from what I hear.
  • RX8 - great car, I wish the motors lasted more than 100k miles...
  • Camaro 1le - https://www.camaro6.com/forums/showthread.php?t=576896  (though, I think over stated budget)
  • C5 - how bad is the oil control rumor, really?
  • ..... lots of other things could be listed...


I think 2005+ mustangs are likely good with pads and tires, but I could be wrong.  Thing is, ponycar consumables go faster and cost more than something like a miata or FRS/BRZ

fusion66 Reader
3/1/21 6:59 a.m.

2005+ Mustang GT - upgrade to the later 4 piston front calipers and rotors is relatively inexpensive, shocks/struts with camber plates, appropriately wide wheels and tires, and rig up a better rear axle vent so it doesn't spew lube. 2005-2010 gets you around 300 hp, 2011+ gets you 400hp+. Consumables will be higher than the NC Miata and FRS/BRZ (tires, brakes, fuel), and it "might" have faster lap times but should definitely feel faster on the straights :)

BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter)
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/1/21 7:13 a.m.

I tracked an RX8 for a while and I enjoyed it, but I don't think they're much faster than a Miata or a Frisbie twin.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned "turbo the NB" yet, or I'm too undercaffeinated to have noticed.

ztnedman1 Reader
3/1/21 7:15 a.m.

Nothing.  Just did this search myself coming out of a C5Z.


The back breaker is heat management from the factory.


Cheapest car that is fast, realiable(both mechanically and heat management) and well proven on track would be a 1LE and it's a 35k minimum car(V8).  


Maybe the I4 or V6 versions, but they aren't much cheaper especially with what you give up and I don't think they get the track warranty.

racerfink UltraDork
3/1/21 8:04 a.m.

All 1LE’s get the track warranty.  You can also take one straight to the track with no changes to anything (pads, tires) and run every session.

Randy Pobst bought a 2.0t 1LE, and does track days all the time with it.  He has a few videos of the car on his Youtube page.

maj75 (Forum Supporter)
maj75 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
3/1/21 8:25 a.m.

Boxster S are definitely sub $20k.  Tires, brake pads and stainless lines are the only things you need.  Finding one with the IMS issue dealt with isn't difficult.  Changing one when you do the clutch and PP isn't hard.

They are amazing handing cars with enough power to entertain.

C5 Corvette is easy and meets all your criteria without the P tax.  Upgrade the radiator and add an oil cooler.  Can be done way under $20k.  

You should address cooling and brakes on any track car.  Can't upgrade cheaper than a C5.

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/1/21 8:36 a.m.
Vajingo said:

Nc Miata. Faster than an nb with Michael Bolton's. Better chassis. Better tire choices. Low consumables. 2.5 swap is cheap. Embarrass the guys with vipers in the corners. 

Throw out the "factory spec" requirement and this is the best option to upgrade from the NB.

Suspension, tune, roll bar and pick how new or old of an NC you want and it will determine if you're at half or closer to your full budget amount.


Tyler H (Forum Supporter)
Tyler H (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/1/21 8:54 a.m.
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) said:
spandak said:

Porsches seem to handle track work well. 

Not the ones you can find for under $20k. 

I've seen a lot of M96-powered Porsches puke their engines at track days.  IMS bearing were one thing, but there's oiling, cooling, cylinder bore-scoring, and d-chunking to think about.  Given that an engine replacement is still a $10-15k proposition, I would be looking at 9A1 P cars.  

A sorted E36 or E46 is one option.  

I'd be tempted to look for someone's turn-key hpde or race car that's already sorted, has a cage or rollbar, and recent on-track history.  Probably will come with a boat load of spares, too.

goingnowherefast GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/1/21 9:48 a.m.
Sonic said:

Civic Type R seems ready to go. 

They have cooling issues. Even the 2020+'s with the revised front grille are still having issues. 

ProDarwin MegaDork
3/1/21 9:52 a.m.

A sorted E36 or E46 would be on my list.  Not sure how much faster than an NB they are.

I imagine the Veloster N can be found in that price range, still under warranty for track use.


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