The great thing about track days is that anything goes – no matter what make or model of car you’re in, you’re guaranteed some tyre-screeching fun.
There are some cars, however, that are full-on track day specials, designed for nothing other than fun.
Here are our top five.
When it comes to track day excitement, you can’t go wrong with a Lotus. And the 3-Eleven is the ultimate expression of that. It’s not cheap, with even the basic road-going version costing £82,650, but the experience is utterly thrilling – 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds, a top speed of 176mph and 415bhp in a car that weighs just 925kg are the perfect recipe for track day frolics, and you don’t even get a windscreen. If that’s not hardcore enough, Lotus also offers a hardcore race-prepped version.
The Ariel Atom is technically a road car, but only in the loosest sense of the word. For £40,000, you get the bare minimum of kit to make it road legal – lights, number plates, tyres with a legal amount of tread and a single vehicle type approval certificate. Using a 2.0-litre Honda VTEC engine, the Atom is rear-wheel drive, with all of its mechanical components mounted onto a tubular spaceframe. It weighs just 520kg. It has a fairly modest sounding 245bhp, but because there’s barely anything to it, it’ll hit 60mph from a standstill in just 3.1 seconds. That’s supercar-quick.
Originating from a small factory in Cheshire, the BAC Mono (BAC stands for Briggs Automotive Company, owned by brothers Neil and Ian Briggs) is billed as the closest you can get to a road-going race car. It’s a single-seater, with an FIA-compliant rollover structure and composite carbon-fibre body. Power comes from a 2.3-litre Cosworth-developed engine producing 285bhp, giving it enough clout to hit 60mph in just 2.8 seconds and go on to a top speed of 170mph. Production is limited to 50 cars a year, and there’s quite a waiting list.
Caterham Seven 360
Although not quite as extreme as the BAC, the Lotus and the Ariel, Caterham’s Seven 360 is significantly more affordable, with prices for a fully-built car starting at £24,995. For that, you get a car built in the traditional Lotus/Caterham mould, with a straightforward 2.0-litre Ford Duratec under the bonnet. The 360 has very little in the way of creature comforts or refinements, but it’s an absolute chuckle to drive, hitting 60mph in just 4.2 seconds. And larger drivers can take comfort (or something vaguely resembling that) from the fact that the 360 is now available with Caterham’s ‘SV’ chassis, specially adapted for drivers 6’2” and above.
Porsche Cayman GTS
Porsche has only just pulled the wraps off its 361bhp Cayman GTS but already the car has jumped to the top of our list of track day models. The real hardcore track addicts will no doubt argue that the race-ready GT4 RS is actually the best Cayman out on the track, and they have a point. But the GT4 RS is a race car only and isn’t available as a road legal package. The GTS, on the other hand, manages to combine the ability to sprint to 60mph in just 4.1 seconds to a wonderfully agile chassis, while still retaining enough in the way of creature comforts for you to use it every day. If you’ve got £60k to spare, there really is no better way to spend it. A truly phenomenal car.