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Looking for suggestions: DD w/ back seat that can do 1-2 track events a year

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Looking for suggestions for a car that I could track 1-2 times a year (just to scratch that itch).  I need a car with a back seat as I have two kiddos (ages 7 and 9).  The kids are basically never in my car, but I have to be able to put them in there if needed.  Previously I had a miata as a second car for the track (sold it a few years back).  Loved that car, but I don't like having two cars.  It takes up space I don't really have.

 

At the moment, I'm heavily considering a 2017+ BRZ with the performance pack that adds brembos.  I know the back seat is tiny, but it checks the box of being able to put the kids in my car if I had to.  What else should I consider that has a back seat, should have relatively low running costs, and can survive 1-2 track days a year without much fuss?  I'm a competent driver, but not the fastest for sure (I was yellow solo through the driver's edge). 

 

My thoughts:

 

I don't want an STI (had a 2015 and just didn't love it as a DD, pretty much a dog around town but would be fun at the track). 

 

An ecoboost mustang with track pack could be fun, but I don't have much faith in: Ford in general; turbo track cars in Texas... 

 

Type R?  The styling is obnoxious but I'm ok with that... can the cooling system survive Texas track days?

 

Thanks for any suggestions

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This is a question I've looked into a lot as a father of 2 eight-year-olds. Here's a few thoughts from my own journey:

  • The BRZ/FRS twins' back seat is VERY small for children this age, and you're not far from growth-spurt time, which will make it worse. If it's really rare that they ride with you, you can probably get away with it till they're teens. But as my kids ride in my car at least weekly, that just wasn't an option. 
  • I have an e46 330i 6-sp to do exactly what you're describing. It has been a very good fit. As SpecE46 shows, they can be great cars on track. However, it has required a good bit of maintenance (13 yrs old an 110k miles). I enjoy working on cars, so it has worked well for me. But if you don't like doing your own wrenching or replacing brittle plastic bits, you may want to avoid. Lack of a limited slip diff is my biggest complaint on track, but that is rectifiable for around $2k. An e46 M3 would get you the diff and a lot more top-end power, but maintenance and cost are significantly higher (VANOS, valve adjustment, etc, etc). Back seats in any e46 are reasonably large. I like having 4 doors as it's so much easier when I drop off or pick up the kids at school, but that's not an option if you go with the M3 variant.
  • I really wanted to go with an e9x M3 for all the power and comfort. Seems like a perfect dual duty. But they are expensive to buy, and maintenance issues can be a nightmare (throttle actuators, bearing failures, etc). They also eat tires for lunch when you push them hard. So you have to budget accordingly. I couldn't justify the cost, so I passed.
  • I looked extensively at the hot-hatch category and took some test drives. Great cars for the street with kids, and for auto-cross. But from everything I've read, they do have issues with heat on track. Others can confirm/deny that. I was thinking hard about a Focus RS till dealers put premiums on them. TBH, I'm glad I didn't go that way, though. That's just a LOT of money for what is, at it's core, an econobox. Of all the new hot hatches, the Type R is the most interesting to me, especially if rumors are confirmed that they release an optional model with toned down wing and aesthetics.
  • When all was said and done, I took the ~$30k I had towards a car purchase and split it in two - half for the e46 DD and half for a track-prepped Miata (which I later sold and bought an S2k in its place). This works best for me b/c I simply won't push a car to its limits on track if it's my only car. I've got to get to work on Monday! Having that 2nd car was a better fit b/c I could thrash on it w/o worry, which allowed me to grow leaps-and-bounds as a driver. I would not have made that progress on track if I would have had only 1 car.

 

Alright, that's enough from me. Hope this helps.

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Good info, thanks Rev. I've researched e46 and e9x M3s a lot over the years. I came to the same conclusion as you... Lots of $ to keep them going. I did just about all the wrenching on my Miata (full exhaust, coilovers, ecu, etc). I'm 37 now and my back and knees are asking me not to do that again :)

 

Type R could be fun on the street and really quick on track. Hard to find those locally and seems that they are still marked up by some dealers. I wouldnt buy one without a test drive... Which may be hard to line up. I plan on contacting some Honda dealers soon and seeing what the story is.

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Type R overheats on track; if you go FWD, I think the new Veloster N has a front-mount intercooler.

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A BRZ can accommodate two kiddos but it's not a great car for that (basically as long as they sit one in front of the other you should be fine until they are full size). My 86 friends and I sometimes cram 3 full size Americans (all about 6' tall and averaging over 230lbs) or 2 big guys and 2 small guys in one of our twins, the fit is tight and we wouldn't want to be in there for more than 20min.

 

A stock 86 with upgraded brake pads works great at the track (the stock brakes are sufficient with the right pads and fluids and if you are going to upgrade I'd rather go all the way with the AP Sprint kit than halfway with the PP brembos).

 

A 3 series BMW would work well too, you'd be able to get a set of rear doors and the DD experience would be better (the year and spec will determine how competent and expensive it'll be at the track).

 

Mini's are pretty fun at the track, they're like a BMW light. You'd have to get used to FWD, but it is the best FWD package out there.

 

The type R or Focus RS are going to be a lot like your STi with heat issues and harsh DD experiences.

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The type R or Focus RS are going to be a lot like your STi with heat issues and harsh DD experiences.

Dead wrong about the DD part.

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Dead wrong about the DD part.

 

That's good to hear about the Type R, the guys I know with the Ford RS are not fans of the ride around town. I've only got one autox buddy who has a Type R and I really haven't talked with him too much about it or ridden in it yet (he's got an older Civic Si that he brings about half the time).

 

The Type R at ECR a couple of weeks ago had heat issues, but it was 101F and there were lots of cars with heat issues.

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That's good to hear about the Type R, the guys I know with the Ford RS are not fans of the ride around town. I've only got one autox buddy who has a Type R and I really haven't talked with him too much about it or ridden in it yet (he's got an older Civic Si that he brings about half the time).

 

The Type R at ECR a couple of weeks ago had heat issues, but it was 101F and there were lots of cars with heat issues.

 

 

Heat issues can be remedied.  Upgraded rad fans, slapping on extra fans for oil/tranny coolers which rarely come with fans from the factory, dumping coolant for water+wetter (we live in texas, we don't need antifreeze really). 

 

OR Just don't do a trackday in june-august and you'll be fine ;)

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I feel like I have heard about some heat issues with Type Rs. I have also heard that the Type R rides nice in comfort mode and isn't a problem for DD.

 

The FoRS on the other hand looks like it rides horribly. They pogo so badly when I see them on the road. I really don't think I want an RS, I would rather have the type R, even with they obnoxious styling.

 

I have actually been interested in the Velowter N. They should be out in Oct\Nov IIRC. My worry there is that it is the first year of a new car...

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GTI would be my goto for daily I could track.

 

I have seen current-gen GTI's on track multiple times, and their owners seemed to enjoy them quite a bit. Won't be as competent or fast as a Type R, but it's less $ (especially if dealers are tacking on premiums) and a very good daily. Personally, I would stick with the GTI rather than go all the way for a Golf R and save the money for tires, brakes, gas, and track time.

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I really wanted to go with an e9x M3 for all the power and comfort. Seems like a perfect dual duty. But they are expensive to buy, and maintenance issues can be a nightmare (throttle actuators, bearing failures, etc). They also eat tires for lunch when you push them hard. So you have to budget accordingly. I couldn't justify the cost, so I passed.

 

Define expensive to buy. I paid 20K for my E90 M3. Its a 2009 with 80k miles and 6MT. Obviously it depends from car to car, but after I fixed all the stupid little things and changed all the fluids, mine has been dead reliable for almost a year now. You gotta know its a 10 year old car so shit can go wrong. Its a risk. And this thing on the track would be pretty amazing. I've never put it on track, but I know I'd hoon the ever loving crap out of it.

 

As far as tires, I'd destroy any street tire on track regardless of make and model, especially if I only go a couple times a year. YOLO DAWG.

 

Also I love daily driving it more and more each day. This thing is really growing on me.

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Iike the GTI ok, but the clutch travel is crazy long. Felt annoying on the test drive, but maybe I would get used to it...

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Define expensive to buy. I paid 20K for my E90 M3. Its a 2009 with 80k miles and 6MT. Obviously it depends from car to car, but after I fixed all the stupid little things and changed all the fluids, mine has been dead reliable for almost a year now. You gotta know its a 10 year old car so shit can go wrong. Its a risk. And this thing on the track would be pretty amazing. I've never put it on track, but I know I'd hoon the ever loving crap out of it.

 

As far as tires, I'd destroy any street tire on track regardless of make and model, especially if I only go a couple times a year. YOLO DAWG.

 

Also I love daily driving it more and more each day. This thing is really growing on me.

My data is a bit old. At the time I was shopping, exactly 3 yrs ago, the best price I could find on a well cared for e9x M3 was $30k. That would have absorbed my entire budget, leaving me nothing for repairs or mods. The other deciding factor was that during a test drive in a friend’s e90 M3, we rounded a corner on a back country road at what I assumed was 80mph. It was 110. It was too smooth and quite at triple digit speeds, and got to them too quickly. I knew that, at least at that time of life, I did not need such temptation.

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I loved the miatas Ive had (91 and 99). But I'd like to do something else this go round. The BRZ seems like a slightly evolved miata. I'm a big fan of slow car fast, so I think it would be a good choice for DD and occasional track work.

 

The bimmers would be fun but too much $ to keep running.

 

Are the Ecoboost mustangs as bad of an idea as I think they would be?

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I rented an ecoboost mustang and tracked it. It was terrible. Stability control wouldn’t turn all the way off. Would not give full throttle with any steering angle. Was a 10 speed auto car. Did all button pressing dances internet said to do.

 

Out of the small bore pony cars. Camaro v6 1le is a way better choice.

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Since you're going to be on track only twice a year, several sports sedans would fit the bill, just stay away from the track from July-September if you're concerned that a boosted car would overheat. My pick for a dual duty car would be the FRS/T86 as it gives you great road feedback, is well balanced and maintenance is cheap but if you're only planning on going twice a year, I would be tempted to get something with more power passing power such as a CPO M235I/M240, Golf R, 2018 Honda Civic Type R. My 135I was dual duty for 4 years, averaging about 3 events per year and I never had any issues with it but it was stock other than wheels and tires.

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I wouldn't have thought a used bummer would be safe to track... I will have to research that. Right now I feel like it is between the BRZ and Type R.

 

For a stock power BRZ, surely the brembos are solid right? Long term, I would probably do a header to alleviate the torque dip (for DD pleasure) and put on stickier tires (RS3 or equivalent).

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I have a '17 BRZ w/ PP that's my DD and occasional track car, and it's been wonderful.   I can easily fit my wife and almost 10 yo son in the car, but wouldn't want to put anyone behind me. In fact, my son suggested we take in on a road trip just yesterday, though I suspect he'd regret it after a couple of hours.

 

Mine has RCE yellow springs, crash bolts, and a performance-oriented alignment from Texas Track Works, and I have to say it's easily one of the best handling cars I've ever driven regardless of price.   I have a set of Apex ARC-8 17x9 wheels w/ Dunlop Direzza ZII 245/40-17's, and they're great on the track. I was surprised, however, to find that the car is more fun on the OEM wheels and tires on the street.

 

If you're interested in going this route, mine will be available in the next 1-3 months, as soon as my next ride arrives.   It has just under 12K miles and is in excellent condition.  FWIW, I used to have a 6MT E90 M3, and loved it as well.   More comfort and luxury, less tossable, much higher running costs.   It was a great family car, but not my favorite track car.

 

5b6762b36967e_brz.jpg

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Did you consider a 997 911? The late 997.1 and early 997.2’s are a great bargain right now as they’ve taken the biggest part of their depreciation already. If I needed a double duty car, it would be near the top of my list.

 

Although I don’t track it, I can fit 4 people in my 997 - but the people in the back need to be small. They are really great DD’s and they also track quite well. Plus you have a 911. You can wrench them yourself fo most things that you don’t need a computer for, especially most track maintenance. At the ~30K price point, you should be able to find a number of cars that already have track mods.

 

IMO, there’s really nothing like tracking a 911. And for the other 360 days, you’re still in a 911.

 

-td

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Ya, I might consider a 997 911. I have wanted a 911 since I was a kid. I feel like the 997 is a maintenance risk... But could be a lot of fun...

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I wouldn't have thought a used bummer would be safe to track... I will have to research that. Right now I feel like it is between the BRZ and Type R.

 

For a stock power BRZ, surely the brembos are solid right? Long term, I would probably do a header to alleviate the torque dip (for DD pleasure) and put on stickier tires (RS3 or equivalent).

 

 

Even the stock original brakes are plenty on the BRZ (the brakes are the same as the 2009-2014 WRX which weighed 600lbs more, was nearly 2s faster to 60mph with 150% of the hp and nearlly 200% of the torque of the BRZ. All you need are track pads and good fluid.

 

Headers and a tune to get rid of the torque dip is a good idea (the 2017+ aren't nearly as bad as the early cars due to a revised intake manifold and shorter gearing). At the track, you won't really notice the dip (it's between 3500rpm and 4000rpm, you shouldn't be below 4k rpm in a twin on track) and you won't be bothered by it unless you drive a twin with headers and a tune.

 

Equipe Rapide has an autocross at Lone Star Park in Grand Praire on Sunday 8/12 (SCCA has an autocross the following Sunday, 8/19, at the Texas Motor Speedway Bus lot and I can do the same there), I can hook you up with a ride in everything from a stock, automatic FRS to my STX (headers, coilovers, full suspension, and BBK) BRZ and just about anything in between. I'll also be at the SCCA Club Trials at MSR-C on Saturday, August 25 and as an instructor I can give you a ride there too (only instructors can give rides at the Time Trials).

 

There is a guy with a Civic Type R (Brandon Dan) that will probably be at both the ER and SCCA autocrosses and I can introduce you to him for rides. Autox events are great to learn about all sorts of different cars and even ride in them (watching and riding are free but you have to make sure to sign the insurance waivers and borrow loaner helmets, so you'll need a driver's license or ID). There are lots of BMWs and ER absorbed the Porsche Club's autox program, so they have plenty of Porsches (the Porsche drivers are usually slow though, not the cars' fault).

 

http://dfwautocross.com/has all the DFW clubs listed and they're all pretty friendly. I'd recommend showing up before the driver's meeting sometime between 8am and 8:30am for the autocrosses to walk the paddock and talk to everyone (makes it easier to organize ride-a-longs too) which for ER and SCCA usually starts around 9am.

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That's a good looking car, blue is my favorite...

 

What are you getting next?

 

Thanks!   I have a Tesla Model 3 Performance on order.  I've thought about keeping the BRZ, but especially once they announced it would come w/ free unlimited Supercharging for life, I figured there wouldn't be many situations I'd want to drive anything else.   Can't wait!

 

The Brembos are great for track use.  Even w/ OEM pads and fluid, I've never gotten any fade.

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