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Crimson Jihad
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2,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
After doing some track days on my motorcycle (having a gentle low side this past summer), I want to try auto-x out and maybe do some track days/HPDE. I have been looking at good starter cars recommended by the SCCA and other forums. Here are a few cars that I have found locally, they don't have to be perfect and set the car buying budget to $1500. If you have experience with said cars please chime in, if you have other recommendations please let me know. I am a complete noob with this stuff and have been slowly reading up on expenses and other related things. Just like I did with my motorcycle with no previous experience (scooters don't count), I purchased it super cheap, took it apart and put it back together, modified it and did all the work myself.

1. AW11 MR-2 w/ 4age silvertop swap
- Runs great, low mileage swap, lots of parts cars locally
- Needs rear bumper (dont really care)
- For those who don't know the 4age is a high revving 20v motor out of the toyota levin/sprinter with ITBs, and is a common swap for the AW11

2. Mazda MX-3 w/ KLZE swap
- Runs great, milage unknown and was swapped by previous owner
- Comes with extra set of rims
- KLZE is out of the MX-6 and is a 2.5L V6, which provides a lot more grunt than the stock 4banger.

3. 94+ Mazda Miata is always the answer?
- A few cheap ones locally, but are starting to rust

4. 89 Honda EF/CRX
- A few high mileage stock cars still around, some also suffering from some body rot.
- Really have only seen some nice 1.5Ls, the rest are beat to shit or kitted out.

There are a few more I have looked into, but I just got into work and should probably start doing some lol. Again looking for good cheap starter car that would be good to learn auto-x on and at the same time easy to learn on. All cars mentioned above have very active forums.

Main goal is to learn and have fun! I don't care about being competitive or slowest in a group. I also don't want to use the vr-4 because this will be a car anyone of my friends/family can use. My cousin and I are going halfzies.
 

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Super Moderator
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21,160 Posts
My experience is owning and autocrossing a Miata and have driven a co-club member's prepped CRX at a small track.

I would suggest a RWD car because that's my preference, I think it's more fun, but you're welcome to go FWD. If you do go RWD, I would suggest the Miata over the MR2 because the Miata is better balanced and I would imagine easier (read: cheaper) to maintain and get parts for. The Miata is so well balanced it really teaches you how to race ... the CRX I drove was very precise but suffered from FWD understeer and snap oversteer which was more challenging to try to deal with while learning how to drive fast. Of course that's just my humble two cents. Many people choose FWD platforms for autoX and have tons of fun ... CRX, Saturn SC1/2, Mini, etc.

If you do want a Miata, you should be able to find a nice rust-free 94-96 for ~$3k. I had a '91 1.6L SNC with the VLSD - the crank key was fine when I looked at it, and the diff actually held. I agree that a 1.8L with the torsen is the car to look for, but it won't be the end of the world if you stumble across a cheaper 1.6L car.

Anyway my two cents. Dave Broomfield has my old Miata now and I believe he's happy with it too - he had it out on the track at the last NG! Crazy bastard!
 

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Crimson Jihad
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2,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
My experience is owning and autocrossing a Miata and have driven a co-club member's prepped CRX at a small track.

I would suggest a RWD car because that's my preference, I think it's more fun, but you're welcome to go FWD. If you do go RWD, I would suggest the Miata over the MR2 because the Miata is better balanced and I would imagine easier (read: cheaper) to maintain and get parts for. The Miata is so well balanced it really teaches you how to race ... the CRX I drove was very precise but suffered from FWD understeer and snap oversteer which was more challenging to try to deal with while learning how to drive fast. Of course that's just my humble two cents. Many people choose FWD platforms for autoX and have tons of fun ... CRX, Saturn SC1/2, Mini, etc.

If you do want a Miata, you should be able to find a nice rust-free 94-96 for ~$3k. I had a '91 1.6L SNC with the VLSD - the crank key was fine when I looked at it, and the diff actually held. I agree that a 1.8L with the torsen is the car to look for, but it won't be the end of the world if you stumble across a cheaper 1.6L car.

Anyway my two cents. Dave Broomfield has my old Miata now and I believe he's happy with it too - he had it out on the track at the last NG! Crazy bastard!
Yeah your miata was pretty badass! wish it was the right time for me, but i want to go with rwD. I drove a 1.6 miata with the 1.8 swapped in and it was an amazing experience. Really is my top contender.
 

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Registered
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1,737 Posts
autox around here is dominated by miatas, s2000 and the bimmer assortments

personally, i am picking up a miata in about 2 months, completely stock with 144k miles. i will be autoxing it this year at meadowlands, ive never autox before, but the car is light, handles well, and is stock so i can see which mods improve my times significantly.

the thing with autox is, once you swap motors or add a few mods, they bracket you higher, and sometimes you will be beat by every car in your bracket. i wouldnt want to race an m3 or similar, with a 1.8 swapped miata....if you get my drift..

ive seen mr2s try to compete, but the car isnt as balanced and they rarely keep up with the times of s2000s and miatas....maybe its the driver
 

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Colossus
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1,324 Posts
I bet a SCE center diff would make a huge difference in handling on these small circuits.
Also. I find mine to be long. I'm taking off my lip for this reason..... I would luv to drive a FD with a LS swap and see the difference in how the handle
 
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