Ben was doing very well in amateur competition with his Subaru BRZ until the car got wrecked at the track. He wants to replace it and get back on the podium, but he would like to have more ponies under the hood. With up to $40,000 to spend, what car should he buy?
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Here is the scenario:
I wrecked my 2013 Subaru BRZ at SCCA Time Trial Nationals. It’s a street car but I primarily drive it on track. I’ve been fairly competitive in the car and got some podiums so I started looking for something with some more power even before I wrecked it this past weekend.
I’m looking for a driver’s car that can place at the top of its class in Autocross and amateur Time Trials. I want more horsepower than a BRZ or Miata. I do have a kiddo on the way so something with a back seat would be nice, but not critical. My budget is $35,000 - $40,000...and no convertibles.
Budget: Up to $40,000.
Daily Driver: Sort of...
Location: Gaithersburg, MD
Wants: Power, performance, quick around the track.
Doesn’t want: A convertible.
That’s too bad about the BRZ, but I’m glad you were able to use the car to its full potential and push it to its limits, even if that meant it meeting an unfortunate end. The good news is that you are OK and cars are replaceable.
I understand your perspective about wanting more power to get faster lap times, but you are already accustomed to a well-balanced car that is relatively lightweight. Instead of taking time to get calibrated to a higher horsepower machine, I think you should stick with a similar formula, but go even lighter.
What you need is a Lotus Elise. Colin Chapman was onto something when it comes to winning races, “Simplify and add lightness.” In fairness, the Elise makes for a pretty terrible daily driver, but if you are looking for a superior track weapon over the BRZ, it’s hard to find something better. It is slightly down on power compared to your Subaru, but it also weighs about 700 pounds less, and that will make a huge difference. The Elise is technically a convertible, but some are available with the hardtops like this 2005 Touring Package car with fewer than 20,000 miles.
Hey, bud. If you’re going to SCCA Nationals, I fear you may be one of the handful of people in America for whom a Lotus Elise is an obvious choice of car. You and lifetime members of Lime Rock Park are probably the only ones out there who might show up to an event and moan “ugh, another Lotus Elise?”
Obviously, the right choice for you to make is a Porsche 911.
Just kidding! I’m sure 900 people have already told you to buy a 911 or M3. Dull! There are much more interesting cars that fit your bill.
The first would be this excellent Renault Alpine, complete with back seats and a PRV V6 mounted in the rear, where the autocross gods intended. This is a rear-engine car, not a mid-engine one. Alpine is kind of like the French cross between a Porsche and Lotus, so you’re in good stead.
I’ve never driven one of these Alpines, though, so it’s hard for me to say you should definitely buy one. I mean, it’s hard for me to say so since I have driven an FD RX-7 and it was excellent and awe-inspiring while still fast, sharp and engaging. A ’90s RX-7 will eat most sports cars alive today, all these many years later. This one at Gary Duncan has little back seats, but this one for $30,000 is already rocking carbon Recaros. Hard to beat.
I’m gonna cut right to the chase. It’s time for a Camaro SS 1LE. If I remember correctly, these do have more power than a BRZ or a Miata and the chassis is among the very best you can buy at any price. It has back seats and it’s more than comfy enough for daily driver duty.
I would advise you to bring your car seat to the dealer though for a fit check. If the Camaro won’t work, try a Mustang with the PP2 stuff, I vaguely remember that car being more car-seat friendly.
Lotus is tough to beat for track duty at this price point, an RX-7 is cool but not a decision that should be taken lightly. The Camaro actually has loads of potential, won’t be terribly expensive to run, and satisfies your back-seat requirement.
I thought about suggesting a Civic Type R but even with your substantial budget they’re tough to find. So what about another rear-driver, the 370Z?
They’re a little heavy, but a good power bump over your Toyobaru, healthy aftermarket, and well within your price range. Shucks, you could even afford a brand-new Sport model with the limited-slip differential and big brakes. That’s my dream car at the moment, actually. Though I’m hoping I can find a used one since the car hasn’t really changed significantly since 2012.