So you’re thinking of buying a track day car but can’t afford a Lamborghini? Not to worry, you don’t need to be a millionaire to have an amazing time on a track day, in fact finding a great car on a budget can be one of the most rewarding experiences of track driving. There are plenty of great cars out there for very affordable prices, so here’s our guide to picking the best one for you.
Front wheel drive or rear wheel drive?
You may already know your own preference for front or rear wheel drive cars – but being out on the track is a very different experience to driving on the road, so it’s definitely worth going over what might be best for you.
Front-wheel drive (FWD) cars are usually cheaper than their rear-wheel counterparts. As most road cars are FWD, they will also offer handling that is more familiar and predictable. On the other side, they tend to have less power than rear wheel drive (RWD) cars. RWD cars are typically considered to be more fun to drive and offer a somewhat more rewarding track day experience. On the downside, they also tend to be harder to control if you aren’t used to them. This means they can be a less safe option, especially for inexperienced track drivers.
How about the four-wheel drive?
Four-wheel drive (4WD) cars are generally the most expensive and traditionally there hasn’t been very much benefit in bringing a 4WD to a track day – after all, the purpose of 4WD is usually to provide a safer, smoother and more planted driving experience, which isn’t necessarily what you want on the track.
However, some of the best performing road cars currently produced are 4WD and it can be interesting to bring this style to the track. They tend to have excellent handling and turning capabilities, which can be a lot of fun.
Try a kit car
If you’re on a budget, one option you may not have considered is buying a kit car. This could be the ultimate experience in modification and improvement and if you are feeling up to the challenge, you can create an incredible track day car very cheaply. There is a range of fantastic options available including the Caterham as well as various companies offering kits that look remarkably similar to supercars.
Road legal or track only?
One thing to consider is whether you’re going to buy a car that’s road legal, or if it is only going to be used on the track. If your car will be road legal as well, don’t forget that you’ll need to insure and tax that car. However, you also need to remember that if you’re buying a car that’s just for the track you’ll need to have a way to get it to the track in the first place so you’ll need to allow for the cost of buying a trailer and a tow bar. On the plus side, buying a car that is for the track only will generally give you more for your money because the car does not need to conform to the standards of the road.
To modify or not to modify?
Modifications, when done well, can turn a standard road car into an absolute beast for the track. You might find that if you start making little changes to your car, you can’t help but keep improving in the pursuit of a better track day experience.
Alternatively, if you are thinking of purchasing a car that has already been modified you really need to do your research and thorough checks before buying. Buying a modified car can save you a lot of money – but they can also cost you a lot of money if you end up having to fix mistakes caused by poor work. Remember also that if someone has modified their car for a better track day experience, they have probably already driven it very hard which can make it less reliable.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with motorsport’s no.1 choice for Fire Extinguisher Valves, FEV, who were consulted over the information in this post.