Can it be done ? Yes
Did I do it ? No
Had it not been for an issue with the coilovers that came with the car I would have pretty much been on the money at £3k.
However the coilover adjusters would not budge, despite some heat + WD40 and a lot of leverage they would not move. Unfortunately I had to scrap them or live with the ridiculously low front ride height.
I’ve driven the car now though and it goes really well so I’m happy I will keep it for a couple of years at least. With that in mind I opted for a set of shocks with both ride height adjustment and damping adjustment. This will give me something to play with on track to see if I can right royally balls up the handling. Getting into a set of shocks like this don’t happen for less that £700 so we are currently closer to a £4k track car!
Set myself a challenge this year to build a track car for £3k including the purchase cost of the car. The idea behind the project is to have a toy that I can drive to the track and have some fun, then drive home again. I also want something that I can put a spanner on and improve while at the same time increasing my knowledge and providing a hobby that has little to do with work.
The Mazda MX5 was pretty good for this purpose but lack one essential ingredient and that was power. After weighing up the cost of adding some power I came to the conclusion that it’s better to start with a car that has some balls and improve the safety, handling and brakes around it.
So I’ve sold the Mazda and started looking at alternatives, which quickly boiled down to a choice between a BMW 325ti Compact or a Renault Clio RS.
I had a word with myself about being stuck on the idea that I can’t have fun on the track with a front wheel drive car. How do I know this without trying it ? well I don’t so I thought I’d better find out for myself. The price of parts for Clios compared to BMWs help with this decision!
I looked around and for the budget I had in mind I was either looking at high mileage 182s or decent 172s that were obviously older. I figure less miles is probably better than the age of the car since the engine and gearbox have potentially more life left in them. Either way I narrowed the search to sub 80k mile 172 + £1200 and there are a few out there.
I punted an offer on one on eBay that was advertised as a “Project” and got it for a grand. It needs trailering home as it has no MOT so let’s see what a grands worth of 172 “Project” looks like when it turns up next week.
I solved the electrical issues eventually. What I believe happened is that I fitted an alternator that was correct for the year but not correct for my car. Seems that NA alternators were self regulating but NB alternators are regulated by the ECU. Since my ECU has been replaced with a mega-squirt I need regulation somewhere and I didn’t have it on the test drive that blew the electrics. So lesson learned and we are back on the road.
In fact the five has been round Oulton Park and Castle Combe since and worked well. Both these track days were wet though, especially Castle Combe but I pressed on and had a laugh once I’d gained confidence in the grip.
Clocked up about 80 miles round Castle Combe and similar at Oulton.
Winter saw new super pro polly bushes all round. New springs, 30mm lower. New rear sill panel repairs. Lots of cleaning, painting and underseal. Prior to a damp run out at Donnington last week I put a new water pump, cam belt, cambelt idler and tensioner in. Donnington was cut short however by a screaming alternator bearing and sticking starter motor.
Second hand alternator and starter on on the way. Fingers crossed this is the start of some summer track fun.
Got shot of the Westie and have now got an MX5, this completes the hairdresser collection by complementing the Boxster.
It has some mods which should work on a track. Hope to get it on some track days this summer.
Brief details of mods are:
- It has a Megasquirt ECU, remapped to 160 bhp. sports brakes, adj suspension, stainless exhaust and Torsen LSD.
- Custom made aluminium inlet manifold and bike throttle bodies, aluminium trumpets and a custom made baseplate to fit a piper cross airfilter
- Full Stainless exhaust system which comprises of a stainless manifold, custom made centre section with a 200 cell sports cat and resonator box, the back box is also stainless from mx5 parts.