Ten Track Day Heroes On A Budget
If You Think You Need Big Money To Go On A Track, Think Again
Track days are big business in the UK, throughout the summer months pretty much every track around the UK will allow you to turn up in your own car and thrash it around to your heart’s content.
I recently found myself at Castle Coomb Circuit as a guest of Ergen Motorsport (the teams M3 pictured); I arrived expecting a wealth of expensive track-honed machinery. Instead, I found myself greeted by a number of fairly standard cars including a large amount of E36 BMW’s and mixture of fairly warm Peugeot and Honda hatchbacks.
I watched from the sidelines as this collection of budget heroes savagely attacked the track giving it there all. All of the cars on track were stripped of any luxuries such as interior trim, and all were equipped with all the important safety bits like roll cages, beefed up brakes and stickier tyres.
This got me thinking, can you get a decent base car on the cheap for track day use? Obviously, the BMW E36 is out as an option as even terrible ones will cost you a fortune in 2017. The same logic applies to up and coming classics, as again the starting price is too much.
So, applying this sort of roundabout logic here is my list of potential track day heroes on a budget.
Honda Civic Type R (EP3) - From £1,500
Do you want a 197bhp 2.0 litre motor that screams to an ear bleeding 7400rpm – yes, of course you do. From the factory, the EP3 model will sprint to 62mph from standing in 6.6 seconds thanks to a being a relative lightweight at 1,204kg, a perfect base for a track car.
Nissan Almera GTI – From £900
Having seen one of these on track, I can confirm that it does indeed cut the mustard even with only 140bhp and a 0-60mph time of 7.9 seconds. Back in the mid-1990’s the Almera GTI wasn’t really that popular hence the low price. For £900 I found an already prepped track ready road legal example.
BMW 330i (E46) – From £900
The first rear wheel drive entry is a somewhat unrated car, featuring a 3.0-litre straight-six motor with 231bhp. While it’s not exactly a lightweight, there should be no doubt that a stripped out track version with power figure could be huge fun.
Mazda MX-5 – From £700
For this small amount of money, you can get yourself a spritely roadster with a 1.8-litre motor. It may only have 130bhp, but it only has 940kg to lug around. Combine this with the excellent handling setup that has been the MX-5’s trademark for over two decades and it should be huge fun.
Peugeot 206 GTI 180 - From £1,300
While the 206 was never as brilliant as its predecessor the 205, there is no hiding that the GTI 180 is a quick little car even by modern standards. Its 2.0-litre motor is good for 180bhp and 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds making it a strong starting base for a track conversion.
Renault Clio 172 Cup - From £1,500
The 172 Cup is already devoid of most luxuries making it a perfect starting point for a track day special. It only weighs in at 1,021kg with a 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds and super sharp handling meaning it will be quick on a track.
Ford Fiesta ST 2.0 – From £1,300
The Fiesta is one of the lower powered cars on this list with only 150bhp to play with, what it does have to offer though is a fully involving driving experience combined with strong brakes and superb levels of grip thanks to a stiffened suspension setup.
Volkswagen Lupo GTi – From £2,000
The tiny Lupo was thought by some to be the ‘spiritual’ successor to the original Golf GTi. To this end, this city car on sterioids makes 123bhp and a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds in a body weighing just 978kg meaning it should be perfect for track action.
Audi S3 - From £2,300
The most expensive car on this list is also one of the quickest, thanks to its 1.8-litre turbo engine the S3 puts out 222bhp which is good for a 6.6 second 0-62mph time. Being the only forced-induction engine here big power is just a short remap away.
Toyota MR2 1.8 VVT-i - From £1,500
The lightweight MR2 features a free-revving mid-mounted 1.8-litre engine giving you 138bhp. It also comes with a Limited Slip-Differential which will aid any track duty. 0-60mph takes place in a reasonable 7.7 seconds thanks to a 975kg kerb weight.
Which of these track day heroes is your choice? Vote below or let us know in the comments.