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Sports car recommendations

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I’m in research phase to purchase my first sports car.

my goals are to:

  1. have fun
  2. do the High Performance Driving school in spring of 2019
  3. do hot laps (for a year or 2) to Improve my skills
  4. spend less than $15,000
  5. be able to drive the car to/from the track for hot lapping
  6. competition events might be in the future, but I’m not aiming for that right now. 

I’ve narrowed my choice to either a Mazda Miata (2nd generation or newer) or BMW Z3 or Z4. I might even we able swing a BMW coupe  

I’m willing to entertain other similar possibilities for a rear wheel drive sports car.

Any advice would be appreciated!

peace, Grant

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Can you comfortably fit in either of those?

Having driven many iterations of both cars you suggested, I would say the Miata.

Z3/Z4 are not as forgiving and arguably not as reliable as the Miata.
Mazda will be cheaper to "build" as time moves on.

Mazda requires a roll bar to go on the track
The Z3/Z4 might as well depending on the model. You will need to confirm it has roll hoops or the pyro roll protection.

Another sports car that fits into the same category as the Miata would be the Toyota GT86 and all of its various derivatives (BRZ, FRS). 

Edited by nopistons

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You could always just be like everybody else and get an S2000. Arguably one of the best sports cars/roadsters ever made.

Though I'm not sure you could find a decent one for less than $15k. I'd be surprised if you could even find a Z4 for under $15k that wasn't smashed or bagged to hell.

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To do this reliably as been said before “the answer is always miata”.

The bmw may have more power and options, but will be much more to maintain and less reliable in the long run. 

Also the consumables on the miata will be  much cheaper (tires and pads)

15k won’t get you the s2000 unless it’s been poorly modded or has a history. 

Edited by MRS Joe

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The answer is ALWAYS Miata.

Third generation, NC1 06-08 would would be a logical choice based on the budget and needs. These are usually overlooked but after driving one early this year I would disagree. Great blend of modern features, sporty feel and value. Felt much lighter and toss-able than my S2000. Rear limited split diff and possibly a 6spd would the only options to look out for.

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I was in your shoes about 2 years ago. Same basic wants and budget, but I was more focussed on a Daily/AX car but still wanted to go to the track. I ultimately ended up with an AP1 (2000-2003) S2000. This one had high km so I got a pretty good deal. Still, they are out there, as long as you don't mind a  > 150k vehicle. Other than a Miata it was probably the most reliable choice even with higher mileage. I do not regret my decision whatsoever. The only knock is that it's not really a great beginner's car to learn on, as it can bite you pretty quickly. A Miata or FRS might be better if you're just starting out.

Also on my watchlist at the time, which may or may not suit you:

  • Miata - tons of options in an NA (90-97) or NB (99-05) model, fewer options in an NC (06-15). I'd go with an older NC if I had to choose.
  • BMW E36 (90-2000) - various styles, possibly a modified M3 or Z3 for a bit more $ and with a bit of history ... tempting
  • BMW E46 (2000-06) - regular 3-series as there's no way you'd find an M3 or Z4 for under $15k, unfortunately
  • RX8 -  be wary about spinning triangles that like to go boom. Still, a great platform for the money, and I hear LS swaps are a thing. ;)
  • 99-04ish Boxster - some say be wary of the infamous IMS bearing, but it's most likely an overblown concern
  • C5 base or possibly C5Z - the base doesn't really do it for me but the Z is awesome and if you can snag one for around 15k do it! I saw some slightly modded or set up for autocross in the US for around 12-15k USD a couple years ago - not showroom quality but who cares if you're taking it to the track anyway? Might as well let the last guy eat the "it's been on a track" depreciation rather than you. Still a bit of a stretch on the budget, but other than that it's a great choice for the track.

At the time, I had just sold an NA Miata and I wanted something with more power. For autocross it was fine, but for the track you might get a little frustrated with the lack of power. Then again if you want to eventually mod it you can always add power later. Personally I wouldn't bother with NA/NB if my intention was to track the car, but that's just one opinion. I'm sure most guys will tell you it's the best all around choice due to reliability, aftermarket support, cheap consumables, etc. And those guys are not wrong.

Nopistons mentioned BRZ/FRS twins. Either of those would be a great all around choice, too. They weren't available for $15k when I was searching, but may be now. If so, I'd strongly consider that. Actually I may have even chosen that over my S2k I could find one. Great driver's car, lots of aftermarket support, fairly reliable, good looks, more power and more practical (in terms of street driving) than any convertible, and a lot newer than most of the cars on the above list.

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@nopistons thank you for the pointer to the Toyota/Subaru/Scion. I had been leaning toward a coupe because of chassis rigidity and safety. This gives me a fresh avenue to explore. 

@Need my Focusin thanks for the Miata vote, I’ve heard others recommend it too. I’m sensing that the older Z3s are retaining value, maybe becoming collectible, the newer Z4s are becoming reasonable. But yeah, expensive to maintain

@Brian_Earl_Spilner yeah, I’ve researched the S2000 but it’s out of my price range

@MRS Joe thanks for the Miata vote and other confirming points

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Keep an eye open on all the hail damaged cars coming out of MPIC lately. If you don't mind the dents on a DD some deals may be had.

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2 hours ago, Jim Eh. said:

Keep an eye open on all the hail damaged cars coming out of MPIC lately. If you don't mind the dents on a DD some deals may be had.

Yes! C5 with a slightly cracked bumper went for $7k!

 

Big hail auction coming up!

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9 hours ago, nopistons said:

Yes! C5 with a slightly cracked bumper went for $7k!

 

Big hail auction coming up!

Big hail auction was last Saturday.  

Matrix xrs - 1k. Lots of potentially good buys, some stupid over priced ones too. 

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9 hours ago, MRS Joe said:

Big hail auction was last Saturday.  

Ooops. I'm loosing time. September is going by in a hurry!

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Thank you for all the comments. Next phase, next week is to test drive some samples of my top 4:

Miata

Z3

Z4

Scion FR-S

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On ‎9‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 10:01 PM, MRS Joe said:

Big hail auction was last Saturday.  

Matrix xrs - 1k. Lots of potentially good buys, some stupid over priced ones too. 

I didn't know the Matrix was legal to race, to me it looks too top heavy. They also made a XRS version of the Corolla too!

 

Question for the RHD owners. How hard is it finding parts? That is my biggest issue holding me back.

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1 hour ago, themikewoo said:

I didn't know the Matrix was legal to race, to me it looks too top heavy.

Hahaha allow me to enlighten you! 

Dont forget the factory supercharged models!

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1 hour ago, nopistons said:

Hahaha allow me to enlighten you! 

Wachmobile.pdf

  • Like 1

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I am a bit late here but I vote miata. I love mine and drive it daily in summer. Handling is awesome. I have a 1991 miata. You can't beat the cheap = fun factor. I have had expensive cars and this car. This car is way more fun with less worries. My friend had a newer non pop up light model with the sport package. That car was a little go kart. I would look at something like the sport package. It out performed my earlier miata. if your budget is 15k my miata has about $6k in it (including purchase price) and his sport sold for $7k. On a $15k budget that should leave you some extra to buy a roll bar to run HPDE events/school. I recommend getting a nice set of 200 tread ware trires. some day I would love to put a ls motor in my miata. 

Side note I would love a Honda s600 the grand dad of the s2000. Maybe some day I would trade the miata for one if the right one came along.

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Thank you white cross! I’m scratching the cash together and will probably be in a position to buy in late winter/ early spring. 

  • Like 1

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