I had given up looking for a track car. I had resigned myself to the fact that there was nothing I actually wanted to buy out there in my price range. Imprezas, which could be had for that money, were so rusty they needed medical insurance and the word on the forums was that they were hellishly expensive to run on track days, and tended to ingest engines and gearboxes.
Then I accidentally went back to looking at the Elise. I'd always wanted one since they first came out. I'm a particular fan of the rear styling of the S2. Looking around I realised that I could get a leggy one for under £10k. This seemed like a bargain and I convinced myself, through proper "man maths" that it would actually be cheaper than a £1000 track car in the long run, AND I could drive it at weekends.
Unfortunately, one test drive later, and I realised that the power output of the base spec models wasn't going to be enough. That subaru I had test driven was still in my memory and I wasn't going to settle for anything slower.
I kept looking, but the higher power output variants of the S2 were just too expensive. I knew what I really wanted was an S2 Exige, but I just couldn't justify £20k. But it was starting to look like that was the only "sensible" option.
Then by accident, I spotted an old S1. I hadn't been looking for S1's, certainly not over £10k. And I was amazed at how strong the values of S1s had become over the last 12 months. The S1 I had spotted was far from standard, it had had all the track modifications I was going to do to a standard car already done, and then some. Plus, most importantly of all, it had a full Turbo Technics supercharger upgrade. The fact that it was also one owner from new and had only done 27k miles, was just icing on the cake.
Some more man maths later, and I had secured the purchase of an S1 track slag with a 190hp TT supercharged K series on Nitrons with full race harnesses, harness bar and removable steering wheel. I was a very happy bunny. I figured, as long as I didn't bin it on a circuit, then it should appreciate in value and be a fairly sound investment, in fact costing me LESS than that £1000 track car I had started looking for. Yes, man maths at its best.
As I write this, the car is in the garage having a few details sorted out. Then it will be coming home to be prepped for its first track day on the 19th July. Myself and my two co-conspirators are really looking forward to it.
Next time: One track, one car, three drivers, what could go wrong?...
So about a year ago, I decided I wanted to do some track days. I wasn't getting any younger and a mid-life crisis was in the offing.
After a few months searching the classifieds for that £1000 perfect track car, I realised that my budget wasn't going to stretch to what I wanted, not if I wanted to be able to run a track all day without running repairs. Fortunately, I had a couple of friends who had shown some interest in this, so I suggested we go in to a car with a third share each. This would put the budget for the car up to about £2000 with another £1000 aside for track day modifications. A fruitless 6 months followed and I failed to find anything I would be willing to put money behind, mostly because I wanted something rear drive to widen my personal experience.
I could have bought a saxo or pug for this money, even a well sorted track slag with trailer, but I had decided on rear drive, not for speed, but just for the experience. I still feel its important to buy the things you want, not necessarily the things that will be best at the job. So i had decided it had to be rear drive and light. But westfields and caterhams were starting about £4k, which left MR2s and MX5s as the target fodder.
After some test drives, I found that MX5s just weren't fast enough to be interesting and MR2s in my price range were generally rust buckets or old smokers. But the budget was fixed and I almost settled on a particular well sorted MX5, until I realised i just wouldn't allow myself to be seen in public driving it. A bit harsh, but I just don't find the styling of the Mk2 mx5 remotely masculin, and the mk1 is not much better.
So what to do? I had basically ruled out every car worth considering on price, performance or prejudice. So i went and drove a track prepared impreza. That set the benchmark for performance, and I almost had that car on the spot, but the owner was asking £500 more than I had and wouldn't budge.
Then I gave up.