Get a miata
Want to buy something that will be a dedicated track day car. I'm most familiar with VAG tuning options, so far I've been looking at things like older A4's and Mk4/5's and such.
If you were going to buy a running street car that would be your dedicated track day racer, what you buy?
-At this point, we're just talked Speed Ventures type events, not scca racing.
-Total budget for car and modifications b/w $5-$10K (over time)
Pinatas are great track cars because they're cheap, easy to maintain and have a huge following (of racers as well as "hair dressers").
The best money is to buy a ready-made car because the ROI on a racecar/trackcar is usually around 50 cents on the dollar - in other words, for $5K you can purchase a car that has a roughly $10K investment. Even if the car is hammered, the initial cost is low enough that you can make repairs and fixes for less than you'd spend if you were to DIY from a street car.
I can confirm that they are dirt cheap to maintain as a few of my close friends have S13's and yes, you're right; they can be found everywhere here in Cali.
If ever you have an issue a new engine with transmission can be had for as little $900. How do I know? I have a KA24DE that will be going into a Datsun 510
S13s may be plentiful on the Left Coast but they're hard to find on the other side of the country. The vast majority of those cars have already been turned into drift cars and "tweaked", both with HP and by semi-solid objects.
I'd run away from an older A4 - yes, the engine is relatively bulletproof as is the drivetrain. Unfortunately, all the engine controls aren't built with the same logic. The running joke that an Audi that doesn't have the CEL illuminated is broken isn't exactly a joke.
As 1stgen points out, AWD is difficult to set-up. This is because an AWD car plows like an FWD car entering a turn and, if setup correctly, will handle like a RWD exiting the turn (read: Steer by Throttle). The challenge is adding enough rear stiffness to allow this to happen and then to not crash the car by spinning it backwards into a tyre wall.
E30 and E36 BMWs make decent track cars and have a plethora of aftermarket support. Unlike a Pinata, you aren't competing with the Wreck Pinata crowd for straight, unmolested tubs which has driven the value up on those s**tboxes.
The E30 is a great learning tool - it's not excessively fast and relatively light. The cars are predictable and their only real Achilles Heel is a lack of weight over the rear tyres. This makes the car a bit tail-happy but not so much that it's a hazard such as in a Fox-Body Rustang.
The E36 is also a great track car although it's handling characteristics are a bit deceptive. The car handles very well and is incredibly predictable right up to the limits of adhesion. The catch is that once those limits are reached, the car becomes a handful without any advanced warning.
The key attribute to look for in a track day car is it being cheap enough to be comfortable not having any more in 20 minutes.
The Miata and older VW stuff is in the right direction, as are older Honda options. While I dig the BMW options, I would expect them to be more expensive to maintain over time than the Miata. I also wonder what the MR Spyder is costing these days.
Cars that are lighter and simpler will be easier on parts and cheaper to maintain. Cars that are slower will be too.
A common trap that people fall into is thinking they need to make a car faster to enjoy track days. The reality is that you are not racing anyone, but are trying to extract the greatest performance from whatever you are driving. Reliable, consistent and disposable. Look for that.
Even in racing, drivers with minimal experience often go thru a laundry list of "go-fast" additions that make the car SLOWER because, as a driver, they don't have the experience to fully exploit the modifications. Much of the enjoyment at a track event is beating up on the expensive near-exotics with a much lesser car.
As for the issues of BMW costs, the answer is "yes, the costs are higher". The running joke was that BMW stood for Break My Wallet. As for ///M cars, the uneducated world thinks that the # is for the car series but in reality, it's a cost multiplier for the price of the parts. For an M3, the cost is 3x of a standard BMW part, for an M5, the cost is 5x and so forth. For the M1 and 1M, those costs are set using a variable exponential cost multiplier...
First of all Best Of Luck for your tracking race and I hope you will win this race. Now I want to share some free suggestion with you. First you have to secure your self during race so you wear some safety cloths and also helmet which one gives full protection against injury. Most important thing is that you keep fire safety pump so when your car pick fire than you can survive your self.
This thing is all tracked-out. Maybe a good choice? I like these 510's because of the ease of an engine swap and perhaps even a turbo kit down the road. Looks like you can upgrade to 240sx bits to "modernize" it some.
Depends on your budget. There are a lot of modified cars which you can buy for a good price and it's gonna be much more cheaper than to buy a stock car and to start make it fast Looking for something which is mass car. I mean you can find cheep used parts for exterior damages. Mass cars has a lot of racing parts but how i said at the begining it all depends on your budget
Why exactly would you want to buy a nice 510 and "modernize" it? Because you enjoy the fact that the 240SX flexes the crank shaft at high RPMS? Or is it because you have a desire to add complexity in the face of simplicity?
The biggest challenge with a Datsun 510 is the availability of parts. Virtually all of the stock cars have been turned into beer cans after they rusted to pieces.
Don't over think the car:
2. Honda S2000
3. E30 or E36
These are the most common you will see in SoCal. Pretty reliable and tons of support for each chassis.
I've been around racing my whole life and the most common mistake is to go out and spend big $$ on a car and then get frustrated once it doesn't preform to your expectations. Keep it easy and try to keep the cost low enough to where you can get the max amount of seat time; seat time is what will make you faster and from there move up to a better/faster platform if $$/time permit. Many that have chimed into this thread have a lot of experience and are giving good advice. I'd also check out this site:
A lot of Miata info and plenty of HPDE/SCCA/NASA experience too. Good luck and most of all have fun
+1 for E36. There will always be a E36 or Miata owner at DE/track events no matter what... and S2000's are starting to get more and more popular at least where I live (Northeast).
You can find used E36 325's for dirt cheap these days with very little to repair/replace. Parts are plentiful, and getting engines are somewhat on the cheaper side nowadays (for 3-series motors can go anywhere from $400 to $2k for an E36 M3 one).
I used to have a Mk4 GTI with major suspension upgrades to get it to handle better. I then sold the GTI back in '09 and got a '99 E36 M3 and it sees occasional HPDEs... hate to say it but it was the best choice I ever made...