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best auto-x/lapping/time attack car?

Old 03-31-13, 12:37 PM
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ON best auto-x/lapping/time attack car?

I'm thinking of buying a car for auto-x/lapping/time attack. I've used my Mazda 3 in the past but I'd like a rear wheel drive car. I don't want - yet - to track my FC or FD. An encounter with a wall in the FC or FD wouldn't be fun. For me and for the car.

So, which car do you all think would make the best track car:

1. FB RX-7
2. FC RX-7 (non-turbo)
3. NA/NB Miata
4. '04 - 05 MazdaSpeed Miata

My criteria are that:
1. the car should be cheap to buy
2. cheap to maintain (parts, tires, etc.)
3. cheap to operate (gas, insurance)
4. wouldn't cause me to lose any sleep over it if I scratched/dented/totaled it
5. fun - way fun - to drive

I realize that the '04-05 MazdaSpeed Miata doesn't exactly fit with #1 and #4 above, but #5 might override the disadvantages of #1 and #4.

I'm excluding FDs because of #1 and #4 above. Also GSL-SEs because of #1 and #4. Also FC turbos because they're hard to find, and also because of #4.

Also, the car is intended to be a drive-to-track car. In other words, fully street legal.

I realize too that this is the RX-7 forum and there's going to be some bias towards the RX-7s in the list, but feel free to offer your opinion!

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 03-31-13, 01:56 PM
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1. if you hit a wall Auto-x ing something is way wrong, cones, yes. walls are for drifting.

2. the Miata is the obvious choice, but i'd go with the SA/FB cause its more fun.
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Old 03-31-13, 03:21 PM
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Definitely a miata. There's no easier way to go racing.
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Old 04-04-13, 11:17 AM
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I loved my miata . its a WAY WAY fun car. but it lacked grunt on the highway or passing it was my one regret in the miata.

if this is a track only car that is street legal a regular miata is perfect . remember the miata has the same double wishbone suspension as the FD

But hurting the car at auto-x is hard I've eaten plenty of cones LOL
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Old 04-04-13, 11:50 AM
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stock for stock miata is your best bet.

don't bother with a mazdaspeed, they're not that much faster... you can make a faster one with a bolt on turbo kit for the same amount of money.... or spend it on more important things like a roll bar, tires, or seat time...

If you want to modify it, first choose a class to aim for SM, SSM, SRX7, ITS, EP.... so if you grow as a driver you can start racing competitively.
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Old 04-04-13, 12:33 PM
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Go with the Miata, no question. Tons of parts, setup information and they can be decently fast. I took a stock 2002 on Kuhmo's with a passenger to a 1:48 and change at Mosport with no issues at all until I realized that bunny hopping the car through Turn 2 without a roll bar was kinda stupid.

I wouldn't even think twice.

Also, you have to realize that the race rules in Ontario are different than in the U.S.. For Time Attack its sorta the same, but for race, its open on the mods and you are classed based on lap times, like bracket drag racing. The Miata's are very competitive in GT5 class and cheap to run.

Eric
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Old 04-04-13, 02:40 PM
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E36: the Civic of BMWs
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Old 04-05-13, 09:45 AM
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NA Miata with the 1.8. Find one with leather and power windows - they have the torsen LSD.
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Old 04-05-13, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Travis R View Post
E36: the Civic of BMWs
E36 is just an FC with a cult following....
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Old 04-05-13, 10:14 AM
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NB or NC MX-5
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Old 04-05-13, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by j9fd3s View Post
E36 is just an FC with a cult following....
and BMWs tend to rip their chassis mounting points out of the body...
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Old 04-05-13, 06:05 PM
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Thanks guys for the feedback. The consensus definitely seems to be for the Miata.

And yet ... everyone seems to want big $ for even '90 Miatas with 300k km. (185k mi.) and rusted-out rocker panels, but nice FCs with 1/3 the mileage sell for 1/2 the price. Must be because the Miata is so much fun to drive!

But I'll probably just continue my search for a good, low-priced Miata. But I'll also watch out for FBs and FCs while I'm at it ...
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Old 04-06-13, 08:44 AM
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I'm not saying the e36 is a better track car than the FB/FC/Miata, but it definitely fits the criteria, and should at least be considered.
At any rate, good luck with your search!
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Old 04-06-13, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by eage8 View Post
and BMWs tend to rip their chassis mounting points out of the body...
yep! BMW got sued because they literally use 2 bolts through the single layer trunk floor to attach the rear subframe, and they pull right out, even if grandma is driving.

the fix was to blame the customer, and when that didn't work, they add a big washer, under a recall, and then 20 years later those fail too

if you really want to learn about priorities, you can look at the E46, BMW's fix? 4 bolts through a single layer of sheet metal... yet the front edge of the hood has (inexplicably) 6-8 layers.

additionally the E46 is so heavy (3500lbs in race trim!) the front shock towers bend...

BMW's have some good points, chicks dig em, it looks fast in the pits, but there are structural flaws in the body that you don't have to deal with in a Mazda, and the hp/$ is not very good.

plus when you get to the E46, all the electricals are tied in together, DSC/TCS/ABS all feed into the ecu, which has limp homes if it isn't happy.

<--- not a big BMW fan... they actually litter the side of the roads around here
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Old 04-06-13, 04:12 PM
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I had an e36 M3 as a street/track car and for a dual purpose car and it was great. The rear seat folds down so you can actually use to carry things and it is comfortable to drive. The cooling systems are fragile and they have oil starvation issues. The subframe issue was discussed already.... That being said a Miata is a better dedicated track day car being lighter with better suspension geometry. So an NA Miata with the 1.8L or an NB Miata would be my choices for track duty.
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Old 04-12-13, 04:07 AM
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Your answer is RX-8!

Same cost as a FC TII turbo, handles better than an FD and power somewhere between the two.

There are tons of them around and parts are fairly cheap.

(Okay... the real answer is still NA Miata, but we are going to ignore that as we want fun on the street too!)
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Old 04-12-13, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by BLUE TII View Post
Your answer is RX-8!

Same cost as a FC TII turbo, handles better than an FD and power somewhere between the two.

There are tons of them around and parts are fairly cheap.

(Okay... the real answer is still NA Miata, but we are going to ignore that as we want fun on the street too!)
i've gone Rx8 in the last 9 months, and if you're going racing/track days there are some really good points.

the suspension is almost magic, ride and handling is better than the FD, plus the Rx8 is WAY more forgiving, stock.

the brakes are great, stock. FD isn't even in the ballpark, you'd need some giant brake kit to even be equal.

the transmission has a gear for every corner, which is really awesome. people complain about them not being very strong, but these are the people that would break any transmission... the 09+ trans is stronger and its 100% a drop in.

they made 260,000 Rx8's vs 15,000 FD's, so supply is great. reliability is better than the FD, although its not a corolla, so its branded as "unreliable". its not, if you can get an FD running, the Rx8 is a breeze. interior is made out of nicer stuff too, so its not all broken, and it can be removed in about 20 minutes. new parts even from the dealership aren't too expensive.

my 04 base model was 2950lbs.

the cons; power; stock its more accessible, than the FD, but unlike the FD there isn't an easy way to get more. modding an Rx8 for more power is almost a complete waste of time. the stock ECU is on a can bus with some other stuff in the car, so engine swaps are complex. anything will physically fit, but almost nothing does electrically.

the engines have had a bad rap from day one, power is inconsistent, engine life is short, especially if you read the Rx8 forum. my non forum friends are all original engine/trouble free cars, but the forum people seem like they replace an engine every other week. Mazda is currently selling remans for $2001, so the serious would probably buy a car, run it for the summer and then buy a reman, and carefully rebuild it.

executive summary? stock, its fun in the same way the 1st gens were, its direct, and simple feeling, and just fun; however everything is better, ride, handling, power, its quieter, radio is better, etc etc. except for the gas mileage (18-20), it would be an awesome dual purpose DD/track day car.

it is a polar opposite of the FD, the Rx8 doesn't have much you can do to it, but there isn't much you need to do to it either.
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Old 04-12-13, 04:31 PM
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RX-8 is a good choice.

The reason FCs are dirt cheap and all years miatas are relativly high priced is because the miata engine is fool proof. While the 13B is actually more robust for track duty in my opinion it's only as reliable as it's owner. And really on the spectrum we are talking about two cars when properly built and cared for are about in the top 1% reliability wise. After I got my oil and water cooling sorted on my N/A racecar it is by far the easiest/cheapest race car I have heard of from an ownership perspective.
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Old 04-15-13, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by jim-san View Post

My criteria are that:
1. the car should be cheap to buy
2. cheap to maintain (parts, tires, etc.)
3. cheap to operate (gas, insurance)
4. wouldn't cause me to lose any sleep over it if I scratched/dented/totaled it
5. fun - way fun - to drive

Because of your criteria the answer is obvious -Miata.

They hardly go through brakes, 15" race tires are way cheaper than 17" or 18", the mileage on track is definitely better on the track versus any rotary, body parts are on Craigslist everyday cheap. I tried to sell a pair of nice Miata doors for $50 and still no takers at that price. Plus they are lighter to tow and that helps when you get your trailer, lol.

That being said, I've been tracking my FC for like ten years now and have had a lot of fun and learned a lot but now switching to a Miata after this season.
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Old 04-15-13, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by RockLobster View Post
RX-8 is a good choice.

The reason FCs are dirt cheap and all years miatas are relativly high priced is because the miata engine is fool proof. While the 13B is actually more robust for track duty in my opinion it's only as reliable as it's owner. And really on the spectrum we are talking about two cars when properly built and cared for are about in the top 1% reliability wise. After I got my oil and water cooling sorted on my N/A racecar it is by far the easiest/cheapest race car I have heard of from an ownership perspective.
we went from a spec miata and IT/PS1 FC to a pair of Hondas, and the biggest problem we had with the FC was trying to run it on half a shoestring budget....

the Honda also isn't built to handle any kind of chassis load, so things like tie rods and ball joints are completely shot at the end of a season, and for like a 25 hour race the car is literally held together with duct tape.
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Old 04-15-13, 12:09 PM
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do you guys really say the handling is better on the rx8 ? stock for stock ? or just period its better even with upgraded suspension . and wider tires / equal rubber
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Old 04-15-13, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Tem120 View Post
do you guys really say the handling is better on the rx8 ? stock for stock ? or just period its better even with upgraded suspension . and wider tires / equal rubber
stock FD to stock Rx8. the Rx8 is much easier to drive fast than the FD. the Rx8 suspension is much more intuitive and its very forgiving. the spring/shock combo's are nice out of the box too, the R1/R2's have some pretty nutty shock valving.

the Rx8 has more tire, 225/45/18 vs 225/45/16, the Rx8 brakes are a huge improvement over the FD, they are way bigger.

the FD makes more power and is a little lighter. a base Rx8 is 2950, FD is about 2800.

i think if you put an average driver in each car they would post better times in the Rx8 than the FD.

if you put a really good driver in both cars it would be really close.
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Old 04-15-13, 08:26 PM
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Ive driven an fc, nb miata and a FD autocrossing. I been autocrossing since 2002... The best easiest to drive fast is the FC non turbo. I put poly bushings and the car was on rails. There was always something i could keep improving on and you can fit wider tires than on the miata. I loved my miata dont get me wrong I had it longer too but the feeling you get when u are in the FC is priceless. Its so much faster than the miata on corner exit. The miata is a linear power band car.... slowly gets there and must be kept there to be fast. The miata will never break down or give you any problems. I had my FC for 4 years and it broke down so much I only drove 10k miles and spend over 8k on it. The NB Miata I had it for 6 years and drove it over 70k miles and spend about 5k on it. I never drove either one on race tires. My FD is more reliable than my FC.

Alex
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Old 04-15-13, 09:31 PM
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do you guys really say the handling is better on the rx8 ? stock for stock ? or just period its better even with upgraded suspension . and wider tires / equal rubber

My FD R1 is on Ohlins, new bushings blah blah and have been racing it 4 years starting in stock class. It kicks butt in auto-x.

I picked up a "blown motor" (carbon lock) auto RX-8 sport package a couple months ago and put my old 18x10.5/265/35-18 from my FD on it and I literally haven't driven/raced my FD since.

Stock, automatic on street tires punking everything on the street and auto-x.

I had always looked down on the RX-8 as a low power/compromise car, but one drive was enough to convince me the RX-8 is a superior chassis.

It has a longer wheelbase so it corners better, but they tucked the engine back about 2-3" and took 100lbs off it and they moved the gas tank ahead of the front axle, so it is actually more nimble.

It has no torque so you can flat foot through a corner and lift if you need to adjust your line. I carry 5-10mph more speed through tight 60-70mph turns in the RX-8 and I haven't found the limit yet on higher speed corners. It also drifts a lot easier, so its fun to hoon as well.

It looks like it can take a wider rim/tire than the FD and is designed around 26" tall tires so you can get cheaper tires (Mustang/Vette fitments).

It does get horrible gas mileage though and the gas tanks are tiny. Worse than my 400hp FC or my stock computer FD in all circumstances.

And its not the most beautiful car ever built, because that is the FD RX-7.
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Old 04-15-13, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by j9fd3s View Post
the suspension is almost magic, ride and handling is better than the FD, plus the Rx8 is WAY more forgiving, stock.
I wouldn't have believe that until we bought one.

Other than Koni Yellows ( a nice upgrade BTW ) our 2006 RX8 is bone stock, and the handling is amazing.

The RX-8 chassis is about 1.4 times stiffer than the FD if memory server, and handling is indeed magical.

I autox an SSM FD, and I can't believe how good the RX-8 handles right out of the box.

Find a 2004/5 with a blown motor or low compression for $4-5k (shouldn't be too hard) and just put a new motor in it.

I've had 2 Miata's, and indeed they are nice, but the RX-8 handling is quite a bit better than the Miata's, largely due to chassis flex.
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