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What are the most underrated track/race cars?

Old 05-09-14, 10:40 AM
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Lightbulb What are the most underrated track/race cars?

I put together a list of platforms I think are underrated for track and race duty. Wondering if you guys had any to add. I posted this in another forum and got some interesting answers, specifically the RX-8, Civic Si, and the Mazda 2.

Here's my list:

VW GTI
Mazdaspeed3
Miata
Mini
Dodge Neon
Boxster/Cayman
Toyota MR2

You can read this article to see why I chose these cars --> 7 Most Underrated Track Cars - Fast In Fast Out

What did I miss? Or feel free to add cars you think are OVERrated, too.
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Old 05-09-14, 11:32 AM
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1. the GTI, there's a guy who shows up with a TDI, and does ok, car seems to be totally stock, which is probably the way to go, these cars fall apart on the street. i have a friend who is a VW mechanic, and he would tell you its unsafe to take your VW to the track.

2. Mazdaspeed 3. agreed here its fast, cheap, i see quite a few of these. it is a typical Mazda though dead reliable until the engine goes.

4. the boxster IS a good track car, if you watch it corner vs a 911, its pretty clear the 911 has the engine in the wrong place. there is a spec boxster class in NASA. the bad part is that its a porsche, so parts are expensive, and you need lots of them, and they are SLOOOOOOOW. something like 4-5 seconds a lap slower than a miata... nice DD though, top goes down, it makes nice noises, you get the porsche key chain, which is the important part to porsche ownership in the first place. the other porsche owners will think you're cheap, but they play this "my porsche is better than yours game" and in this game there are no winners anyways, because there is ALWAYS a better porsche. in fact the only person i've seen win this game, is Jerry Seinfeld, he has the first 911.

5. these make good track cars.

7. the neons actually have a reasonable history of road racing, but they are so boring nobody cares.
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Old 05-09-14, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by j9fd3s View Post
4. the boxster IS a good track car,
I had a chance to drive a Cayman at WSIR and it was a blast. With BSR and POC racing, there are plenty of opportunities to race Boxsters, too.

Originally Posted by j9fd3s View Post
7. the neons actually have a reasonable history of road racing, but they are so boring nobody cares.
Right? For the same money you could get into a Spec 944.

Great input thanks.
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Old 05-09-14, 11:43 AM
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Honda EF Civic!

It has the best front suspension of all the Civics (front longitudinal arms incorporated stock) and it is the lightest as well.

I have a friend with one with a simple SOHC VTEC hybrid swap and I love to race it when I get the chance. It rotates awesome, has long wheelbase, adequate power and very good suspension.

I can beat bolt on Stis on the kart track we sometimes race on.

I have to agree with RX-8. I got an auto '04 and put my 18x11 295 from my 7 on it and place quite well. My favorite quote after one practice session, guy walks up to it "Its a f%ck&ng automatic!"
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Old 05-09-14, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by BLUE TII View Post
Honda EF Civic!
Yup these are very popular track cars, so I would hardly call them underrated. Like Miata, the parts and consumables must be dirt cheap. And folks who know how to race FWD don't seem to have any trouble turning in quick lap times.
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Old 05-09-14, 11:58 AM
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You probably need a definition for "underrated" for this scenario. Several of the vehicles mentioned in yours and their list are tracked heavily, so I wouldn't call them underrated (i.e. like the Miata).
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Old 05-09-14, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Mahjik View Post
You probably need a definition for "underrated" for this scenario. Several of the vehicles mentioned in yours and their list are tracked heavily, so I wouldn't call them underrated (i.e. like the Miata).
There are plenty of Miata haters in the world The definition of underrated is fluid and kind of varies for each car. I tried to address this in the article.

For example, the Neon is probably dismissed out of hand by many (me included). But there are enough people who think it's a great platform to make up an entire NASA sanctioned Spec series.

Some people dismiss FWD out of hand, which would rule out several other cars on the list.
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Old 05-09-14, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by agershon View Post
There are plenty of Miata haters in the world The definition of underrated is fluid and kind of varies for each car. I tried to address this in the article.

For example, the Neon is probably dismissed out of hand by many (me included). But there are enough people who think it's a great platform to make up an entire NASA sanctioned Spec series.

Some people dismiss FWD out of hand, which would rule out several other cars on the list.
FWIW, no I don't think the Miata is underrated as a track/race car. It's one of the more sought out starter cars and they sell very quickly for track use (they are also crashed a lot as well).

I would agree on the Neon and MR2. I don't necessarily agree with the Boxster and Cayman. The Boxster isn't really looked at for tracking due to it being a convertible and most organizations not allowing them without aftermarket roll protection. In general, Porsches are just expensive to track which is why they aren't used as much as other vehicles, but IMO, that doesn't make them underrated.
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Old 05-09-14, 12:35 PM
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Here are some budget specials and some odd ball suggestions.

91-96 Escort GT/Protege with the 1.8L DOHC engine. There was one guy that built an ITA Escort GT in the late 90s and it was fast at the time.

2001-2003 Mazda Protege LX - We have one for use as a shop car and it such a tight car - add some tires and shocks and it would be a blast

2002-2006 Camry 4cly 5spd SE. I owned one of these penalty boxes (2002 LE 4cyl auto) for 11 years and was always impressed by the car's handling dynamics. The engine has great torque at all RPMs and the SE has 4 wheel discs and bigger sway bars. I would race one in SCCA IT. In wheel to wheel racing it would be a beast - a good handling big car that could own its space on track. Like the old Volvo 240s that were used in ITB.

1999-2006 Toyota Celica. Popular in Solo but rare in club racing. The Toyota enthusiasts I know swear that the SCCA hates Toyotas so they are always classed poorly.
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Old 05-09-14, 12:43 PM
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Del Sol
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Old 05-09-14, 12:48 PM
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@mustanghammer You are not the first to bring up the 90s-00s Mazda/Ford platforms. Lots of shared parts so replacements are that much easier to find.

The Can-dam-ry! Bold choice, but I can follow your reasoning.

As for the Celica ... you are in luck. Fast Lane racing school out at WSIR is selling a whole lot of their 00-05 Celicas that were in the Long Beach celeb race. This is a seriously good deal for someone looking for a fully sorted track car: 00-05 TRD Celica GT-S, former Pro/Celebrity For Sale

@Mahjik That is definitely the coolest Del Sol I've ever seen.
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Old 05-09-14, 04:06 PM
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Toyota MR-S

These things can be made insanely light and they are ok enough in handling and power with GTS swap.
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Old 05-09-14, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by BLUE TII View Post
Toyota MR-S

These things can be made insanely light and they are ok enough in handling and power with GTS swap.
Amazing how much can be made up for by simply being light.
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Old 05-10-14, 08:35 PM
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AE92 (88-91) Corolla GT-S (FWD)

This is me in mine in advance group at a track day:
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Old 05-10-14, 09:41 PM
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mazda3, non mazdaspeed version.
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Old 05-12-14, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by eage8 View Post
AE92 (88-91) Corolla GT-S (FWD)

This is me in mine in advance group at a track day:
Nice! Reliable with cheap parts and consumables, that's a good thing.

Originally Posted by sp0ngebob View Post
mazda3, non mazdaspeed version.
Yea I've seen a handful of these at the track. All of the handling shortcomings of the MS3, and none of the power
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Old 05-12-14, 12:06 PM
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Yeah, I have a '08 base model 2.0 Mazda 3 and though it is much lighter and less nose heavy than a Mazdaspeed 3 it isn't good for racing.

It feels awesome at 7/10ths driving, but when you push it hard in racing it gets bad fast.

I have my stock FD 16x8 with 205s on it and its an awesome daily driver.
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Old 05-12-14, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by mustanghammer View Post

2002-2006 Camry 4cly 5spd SE. I owned one of these penalty boxes (2002 LE 4cyl auto) for 11 years and was always impressed by the car's handling dynamics. The engine has great torque at all RPMs and the SE has 4 wheel discs and bigger sway bars. I would race one in SCCA IT. In wheel to wheel racing it would be a beast - a good handling big car that could own its space on track. Like the old Volvo 240s that were used in ITB.

1999-2006 Toyota Celica. Popular in Solo but rare in club racing. The Toyota enthusiasts I know swear that the SCCA hates Toyotas so they are always classed poorly.
plus with the camry, you might win because your opponent got bored looking at it and fell asleep!

i don't know about the SCCA hating toyota. Toyota just isn't successful in motorsports, they have tried Le mans more than Mazda, and won nothing, F1, nothing, Nascar is a mixed bag...

one year toyota sponsored the historics, and showed up with 3 cars. Mazda just had a booth, and they had 4-5 cars, including the 787B and the GTO FC...
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Old 05-12-14, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by j9fd3s View Post
4. the boxster IS a good track car, if you watch it corner vs a 911, its pretty clear the 911 has the engine in the wrong place. there is a spec boxster class in NASA. the bad part is that its a porsche, so parts are expensive, and you need lots of them, and they are SLOOOOOOOW. something like 4-5 seconds a lap slower than a miata... nice DD though, top goes down, it makes nice noises, you get the porsche key chain, which is the important part to porsche ownership in the first place. the other porsche owners will think you're cheap, but they play this "my porsche is better than yours game" and in this game there are no winners anyways, because there is ALWAYS a better porsche. in fact the only person i've seen win this game, is Jerry Seinfeld, he has the first 911.
The boxster is a much better car than the miata . . . I think you got the times backward. In southern California the fast spec box drivers race in POC. Idk any spec miata lap records but i do know the times a spec box runs with a good driver in POC.

Big Willow:
Excellent Driver: 1.32:9
Good driver:1.33:5

Streets:
Good Driver: 1.26.xx

AutoClub full roval
Excellent driver: 1.53.xx
Good Driver: 1.55.xx

A well prepped spec box with a fresh engine will put down between 180-190hp at the wheels with a minimum weight of 2650lbs including driver. They run 225/45 and 245/40 tires. Currently running toyo RR but for the last few seasons ran toyo ra1. The Excellent driver times were with Hoosiers from a few seasons ago. Having driven both a miata, fc, and boxster and can say that the boxster is hands down the better handling car. My fc feels terrible after driving my boxster.....
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Old 05-13-14, 11:22 AM
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at thunderhill the spec boxsters are like 2:10 and the miatae are 2:07's...

i have seen the boxsters run against the 911's though, and the 911s obviously have the engine in the wrong place, from the start of braking, until after the apex the boxster is faster.
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Old 05-13-14, 02:43 PM
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We haven't run our boxsters at t hill unfortunately. Sm definitely has a bigger pool of good drivers compared to bsr. I am quite confident that if you put a top sm driver in a well prepped bsr that he would run faster times in the boxster. We. Were running a bsr at laguna last year with nasa and the miatas were quite a bit slower. I don't remember lap times off the top of my head though.
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Old 05-16-14, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by j9fd3s View Post
plus with the camry, you might win because your opponent got bored looking at it and fell asleep!

i don't know about the SCCA hating toyota. Toyota just isn't successful in motorsports, they have tried Le mans more than Mazda, and won nothing, F1, nothing, Nascar is a mixed bag...

one year toyota sponsored the historics, and showed up with 3 cars. Mazda just had a booth, and they had 4-5 cars, including the 787B and the GTO FC...
Awesome! Had not thought of that aspect of the Camry. Might be hard to find one with a straight rear bumper though. Still, they are allot more fun to drive that you might think....mine was fun on a clover leaf.

The beef my Toyota friends have always had centered around the 1st gen MR2 and how it was classed in IT. It was typically classed too heavy and the HP increase assumption that is made in IT (due to emmission removal and a header) doesn't seem to apply to the 1.6L engine in those cars because Toyota already got all the power out of them.

But yeah, Toyota doesn't have a stellar history in motorsports. They are truly the Asian version of Buick.....only more reliable
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Old 05-16-14, 10:22 AM
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Someone brought this dolled up MR2 to the track earlier this week.

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Old 05-16-14, 10:26 AM
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To be fair, Toyota has done quite well in some of the Japanese racing series, like the JGTC/SuperGT. The Supra was very competitive during it's day, and won the GT500 title around 4-5 times. It's been replaced by the Lexus SC 430, which I believe is competitive. I haven't been able to follow SuperGT as much as I would like, but yes, Toyota hasn't had much of a presence in other motorsports.
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Old 05-16-14, 10:29 AM
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