For many petrol-heads and racing enthusiasts alike, a day at the track can seem like a moment in heaven. Like most things, however, there are always constraints and limits to how much an individual can do. More specifically, their budget. A track day can cost a lot of money: the cost of entry itself, the fuel, tires, licenses, potential damage...
Along with all this, the vehicle itself could cost a pretty penny. There are ways to limit this, though. The best way is to find an affordable car that is 1.) track capable and 2.) mechanically sound. The right car will make a world of difference and limit future costs. So, without further ado, here's a list of 10 affordable cars that you can take to the track.
10 Mustang Fox Body
Classic muscle can get the job done, especially if drag strips are the goal. If not, this first vehicle will still handle well too. The Fox Body comes with several different engine specs, with the most popular being the 5.0 liter V8. This means plenty of power along with its good looks.
Since the Fox Body is getting up there in age, most can found for $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the condition they're in. There are also convertible versions available, which can be even cheaper.
9 Toyota Celica GT
Imagine a Toyota with all-wheel drive, good looks, and an affordable price. Well, you don't have to imagine very hard, since it already exists:the Toyota Celica Gt. The Celica has been around since the 1970s, participating in racing series ranging all the way from rally cross to sports car racing.
These well-manufactured cars come at a reasonable price too. Although they aren't in production any more, used ones will run you about $3K - $7K.
8 Corvette (C5 - C6)
Most car enthusiasts know the Chevy engine designated as L.S., and for good reason too. The LS series of engines are very powerful and come in all V8 Corvettes. They are frequently swapped into other, smaller, vehicles to create even more power. So, rest assured that a C5 or C6 Corvette will have plenty of power for a weekend at the circuit.
Unlike the previous listing, Corvettes can typically cost more than the average family car. Still, with this slightly extra cost comes a reliable vehicle with a history and pedigree to boot.
7 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Some may scoff at the idea of front-wheel drive car being good for the track, but V.W. have proven them wrong with the GTI. Golfs are great for throwing around a track and even participate in serious series like the British Tour Car Championship and I.M.S.A.
Golf GTIs will not break the bank either. Most used ones go for the $5,000 to $13,000. This is a very affordable price for something so track-tested and proven. If something newer is the goal, they are also not much more than a standard new sedan: Around $20K.
6 Honda Civic Si
On and off the track, the Honda Civic is a very popular car. To be more specific, the Si trim of the Civic is what racers really shoot for. The Si typically offers rear-wheel drive, good looks, manual transmission, and a more powerful 4-cylinder. All of these things combined make for a car that is great for a track day.
The Civic Si have been around since the 1980s and has multiple types of body style an setup. The most popular on track is the newest, but even those are affordable, maxing around $25,000 (with used models of older body styles going for as low as $3,000).
5 Nissan 350Z
Japan makes great cars, but not many as beloved as the Nissan 350Z. The Z series of cars are perfectly balanced and sound amazing. Their engine note alone is enough to convince some buyers, but the 350Z also looks like a work of art.
350Zs are prevalent in dealerships and independent sellers, with a large portion costing around $3K to $8K. Its avid use on track, the "JDM" look, and crisp sound are just some of the reasons as to why the Z-series is so revered.
4 Subaru BRZ
The Subaru BRZ (Also know as the Toyota GT86 and the Scion FRS) is the hot topic for a good portion of racing fans. The BRZ is small and light, which makes it a good baseline for modifications and track tuning.
The BRZ comes in many forms (as mentioned before) and can change depending on the make. Subarus are the most pricey, with the Scion being the cheapest. Just be aware that the parts for the Scion may cost a bit more, due to Scion's liquidation as a company.
3 BMW 3-series/2-Series
When German engineering is brought into the contest, not much can surpass it. The BMW 3-series and 2-series are great vehicles to take to the track for their strong internal build quality and 50-50 weight distribution (depending on the model).
Every BMW is built amazingly, but each year looks different, ranging from the E30 body style to the brand new G20. Obviously the new ones will cost a lot, but older styles can be as cheap as $5K and as much as $30K, especially if you go with the legendary E30 M3: A racing masterpiece.
2 Porsche Boxster
Like BMW, any Porsche is a well-built machine. Accompanying this, Porsche has a history of racing wins, being the most successful team at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in history with the highest number of victories. This racing heritage and enthusiasm flows through each of its models, and the Boxster is no exception.
The Boxster has a strong chassis (despite its convertible nature) and a powerful 4-cylinder boxster engine. Even though it is a Porsche with all these features, a used Boxster can be as low as $6,000. It's certainly not as cheap as a Civic, but not without good reason.
1 Mazda Miata
If you have ever been to a track day/SCCA or NASA event, you understand how well-liked the Mazda Miata is. Just about everywhere you look on race day, you can find Miatas abound. The Miata is the pinnacle of affordable race cars, since (like the BMW 3-series) it has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution and a reliable 1.6 liter 4-cylinder.
The low weight and easy-tune nature of the Miata, also known as the MX-5, makes it a favorite among racers and daily drivers alike. It offers a low cost for oil, due to the high M.P.G., and a low cost for entry, with a N.A. body style going for as low as $3,000. Rust is an issue with Miatas, however, so always be sure to check the problem spots before buying a used one.