Some of you reading this may know that, in order to stop my whining about turning 40 The Mrs. got me a track day via Hooked on Driving.
So, yeah, that was really, really fun, but beating up The Mrs.’ Mini for my high priced new hobby1 seems like a dick move. So now, what I need is a track car.
OK, let’s kill a couple of options right off the bat.
Click that picture right there, take a good look. That’s me in a Miata with a roll cage. Please note how much of my head is above the roll cage.
The Miata is not an option. This probably knocks out the S2000 as well.
Friend of Mystic Negro, Jake Kooser, suggested a 911. Even ignoring the fact that I’m not a fan of the 911’s aesthetics2 a 911 to me is like a cat with power. Look, I know you think your cat loves you, it does not. Your cat hasn’t figured out the best way to kill you yet. Unlike your cat, the 911 has figured out the perfect way to kill you3, it’s just waiting for the best time to do it.
Also, if I were to go with high end, old school, German iron…
I could live out my Man Called Hawk fantasies
So, after giving it some thought and a, thoroughly arbitrary but reasonable, price limit of $10000 here’s what I’ve come up with as possibilities.
The Mini Cooper S
Small, cheap and more handling than power. It’s livable every day and gets 30MPG real world4. There’s not much wrong with it if you don’t mind the funky for funky’s sake interior.
“Not much” is not the same as “nothing.” It’s still front wheel drive and the primary handling characteristic is lots of grip followed by brutal amounts of understeer. Also, my wife owns one and I don’t want “his and her” cars.
Speaking of which
BMW E46 330
Some would argue that this is the last great handling BMW. When Cadillac created the out handles everything in the segment ATS this is the car they benchmarked, not the next one. So, that’s positive. Also, the 3 series is the Honda Civic of entry level luxury cars; there are a gajazillion of them in the wild, they’re cheap to buy and cheap to modify.
You want a 3 Series donk powered by an LS V8?5 It can happen. But, please don’t.
Also, one of The Mrs.’ friends is starting a BMW repair shop and she’s giving us friends and family rates.
Yeah, so The Mrs. has a 330 convertible. So, there’s the His/Her thing again. Also, a $10,000 3 Series has hit the point where it needs about $3k in work done. If you’re lucky enough not to have one where the rear sub assembly fell out. But, at least it doesn’t have the failing high pressure fuel pumps like the 335.
Oh, also, everyone assumes that you’re an asshole.
I, literally, had a picture of a 944 hanging on my wall from the time I was about 11 until I got married. That poster is still in my garage to this day. This, again, makes me wonder how I ever experienced the love of a woman.
You can buy 944s for less than seven grand all day long. You can get a runner for $2,000 and if you’re willing to go 924, your options are cheap and ridiculous.
They stopped making these sometime when I was in high school, meaning that the safety equipment that comes on even the best one, is less than what you’d get on a base Nissan Versa. That’s probably not smart for a novice driver’s track car.
The one I’d really want is the S2 (the looks and handling bits from the turbo, without the 30 year old turbo technology) but when my buddy, James, had one I was seriously cramped, but that could have been the Miami Vice cell phone that someone had mounted inside as much as anything else.
People scolding me for not saying “poor-sha.”
My first car was a second generation RX-7 (the one that looked exactly like a 944) that I never got to drive because my father found out how much insurance for a 16 year old boy would be on an RX-7.
The RX-8 has to be absolutely caned to make power and has really neutral handling. If you don’t like that, engine swaps are a thing.
Also, it seats four adults if two are smallish.
Engine swaps are a thing because most people don’t realize how much oil a rotary engine uses and so spectacular engine failures are not uncommon.
- Chuck- who provided half of the DNA for BMX wunderkind Devon – Smillie told me that drugs would be a cheaper habit. As a former MC racer, I’m inclined to believe him ↩
- I find that there is no “like” for the look of 911s, you either love them or you really don’t. ↩
- Snap oversteer ↩
- I was showing 23MPG average for the track day in The Mrs.’ ↩
- Because not only do you not have good taste, but you’re actively waging war on good taste ↩
- Lacking, as it did, the 911’s desire to back its driver into a tree ↩
- this is a plus ↩