budget performance cars

Ruffin' It

Explorer
Grassroots Motorsports Mag does a similar article every year. They are the gold standard for me.


That said, this is a decent list. I'd throw the 240SX & the 2000NX (ugly, but quick) from Nissan. Missing the pre-2000 GTI's is a waste. The best, cheap sports car in my book is the MR2's though. Any year that has a hardtop is a great year. I used to kick 911's butts at Solo races in my bone stock non-turbo '91 with 147,000 miles on it. Not that is a better car than a 911. Beating the 911's had a lot to do with the typical 911 driver not really knowning how to drive a rear-engine car. But still...
The Neons should be there too. I hate the cars, but they are undeniable quick in the twists.
I'd avoid the A4 and instead buy a Turbo Passat from the same year. Add a waste gate and upgrade the computer for a few hundred bucks and you'd beat the pants off the A4 for a less money and cheaper insurance. I had a friend in college getting well over 300 BHP from a 1.8 T with very few mods.


Edmunds Inside Line has an article that identifies 10 performance
cars you can buy for less than $10,000. Here's the link to their list:

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Features/articleId=149246

1990-1996 Nissan 300ZX 3.0L turbo V6
1985-1991 Porsche 944 Turbo 2.5L turbo I4
1999-2000 Honda Civic Si 1.6L I4
1995-2001 BMW 740i and 740iL 4.4L V8
2002-2006 Acura RSX 2.0L I4
2002-2003 Subaru Impreza WRX 2.0L turbo flat 4
2001-2005 Volkswagen GTI 2.8L V6
1998-2002 Chevy Camaro Z28 5.7L V8
2001-2005 Audi A4 3.0L V6
2000-2002 Audi S4 2.7L twin turbo V6

Conspicuously absent are BMW 3 series and Ford Mustang.
What vehicles would you add to the list?

Chip Haven
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
That said, this is a decent list. I'd throw the 240SX & the 2000NX (ugly, but quick) from Nissan. Missing the pre-2000 GTI's is a waste. The best, cheap sports car in my book is the MR2's though. Any year that has a hardtop is a great year. I used to kick 911's butts at Solo races in my bone stock non-turbo '91 with 147,000 miles on it. Not that is a better car than a 911. Beating the 911's had a lot to do with the typical 911 driver not really knowning how to drive a rear-engine car. But still...
The Neons should be there too. I hate the cars, but they are undeniable quick in the twists.
I'd avoid the A4 and instead buy a Turbo Passat from the same year. Add a waste gate and upgrade the computer for a few hundred bucks and you'd beat the pants off the A4 for a less money and cheaper insurance. I had a friend in college getting well over 300 BHP from a 1.8 T with very few mods.

We have similar experiences. I also love kicking 911 butts, on open track days. The rich bitches have a hard time giving the wave by to a Focus. I once had an RX-8 do a great tank slapper and slam in to a wall trying to stay ahead of me.

Yeah, I hate Neons, but they're undeniably quick.

Too bad Ford never brought the Focus RS to the US. I had to build my own. The chassis really wakes up with more power.
 

Ruffin' It

Explorer
Yeah, I completely forgot about the Focus (and the Miata). Those things are much quicker than they have any right to be. Early RX-7's too. I used to race one of those and would drive the Corvettes nuts in it. They would squeak by on long straights only to get passed again in the next couple corners. You couldn't float a valve if you screwed up a shift, either.
If you can find one, the Dodge Horizon GLHS is a (peice of junk) screamer. The Lexus SC400 can really move too. It is essentially a bloated V8 Supra and has some serious potential. An old friends early 90s Dodge Colt with the a JDM turbo bolt-in parts made so much power (low 400's I think) that it would smoke the tires at 60 MPH without dumping the clutch. He built the whole thing for about $3,000.

Fun thread!

We have similar experiences. I also love kicking 911 butts, on open track days. The rich bitches have a hard time giving the wave by to a Focus. I once had an RX-8 do a great tank slapper and slam in to a wall trying to stay ahead of me.

Yeah, I hate Neons, but they're undeniably quick.

Too bad Ford never brought the Focus RS to the US. I had to build my own. The chassis really wakes up with more power.
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
The US Focus suffers from being somewhat seriously underdamped from the factory, but is surprisingly oversteery, and turn-in is incredible. But really it's the ultra low friction steering that really makes it easy to drive. It's really it's friendly handling that makes it easy to go quick in.

It just always needed more power to really wake up. The SVT was ok, but still kinda underpowered, and they wasted money on that stupid 6 speed transmission and it just got heavier. Then they screwed up the RS by increasing the track width via wheel offset, which is the real cause of the torque steer, not the Quaife differential that got the blame.

I built the perfect one:

-Quaife
-GT28R Turbo
-Pectel T2 stand-alone engine mangement
-Bilstein PSS9 coilovers
-Wilwood Forged Superlight calipers and 12.1" rotors
-225/50/16 Toyo RA-1 tires can fit over said brakes, maybe even squeaze on a 15
-Euro bumpers front and rear, Ford Motorsport wing
-6 point cage, Sparco bits, etc.
 

Gone2Baja

Adventurer
Remember the Eagle talon?{few do} I drove the turbo awd version and loved it! Fast and handled great!
Also the Mazda RX-7 that rotary engine is a hi revving little screamer.
 

michaelgroves

Explorer
What do older Honda NSXs cost in the States? I'm assuming if you could pick one up for under $10K, it would be on the list...!
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
What do older Honda NSXs cost in the States? I'm assuming if you could pick one up for under $10K, it would be on the list...!

Yeah, I wish.

The Eagle Talon was a good car, but it never became legendary. Not sure why. I never drove one myself, but my impression is the handling wasn't actually that good.
 

expoxj

Adventurer
My 5

I really have to throw a vote in for the subaru impreza 2.5rs. Everyone wants the wrx ,but the 2.5 had lots of torque from down low and really short gear ratios. The early ones were light and super nimble.

Also I'd have to say just about any vw gti. Those cars wrote the book on hot hatches and I loved mine. An 86 gti 8v that I bought with a broken odometer saying 256k miles!!! Still the most reliable car I've ever owned. Bought for $750 with a bad fuel pump, put on a used one from a salvage yard, drove the car for 2 years then sold it for $750. :victory:

The gsl-se first gen rx7 is an awesome car for the money, if you can find one. Suprisingly torquey for a rotory with fuel injection and a 13b its the rx7 to get. I am still trying to talk my dad out of his. :drool:

91-94 sentra se-r you get the awesome sr20de with real irs and a lsd in a sleeper body.

some of the really fun rwd cars are stupidly expensive. Drifting kind of ruined them. 240sx, Corrolla gts, supra, rx7....With a couple of exceptions. The e30 bmw is one of them. You can find a clean 325 or 318 for pretty cheap. the 318is is the car to find. Its only got the 4 compared to the 325's 6 but being lighter helped the turn in and it was an easier car to work on without the big straight 6 being in there. Even the m3 was a 4 banger back in the e30 days.
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
I agree about the Impreza. I had a 2004 WRX I used as a daily driver for a while. I really liked that car, in some ways it was the best car I ever owned, but it still was not my favorite. It was fast, but the turbo lag was atrocious, and it understeered horribly (yes, even compared to FWD cars). Eventually I had to choose between it or the Focus, and the WRX got kicked out of bed. It was an awesome fast all-weather commuter. But the trunk was small, back seat didn't fold, and it just wasn't fun to drive.

Anyway, I took out a 2008 Impreza 2.5 last year, and I really liked it. I thought that it might actually be a more entertaining car without the turbo, though I reserve judgement until I drive a new WRX to see if they fixed the lag.

I did get to test drive a 2004 STI and that was just... just... words can't describe. It is in fact at the top of my list of must have cars if I win the lottery. No Lamborghinis or anything like that. Couple STI's, a Lotus Elise, and Exige, Mini Cooper S.... Yum!

I had an 83 GTI and I really liked that car and regret selling it greatly. But, I think the GTI lost the plot in the 90's. I'm not a fan of the VR6 engined cars, too much front end weight. Overall the cars just got too heavy and luxurious. They're great daily drivers, but lost the sporting edge. And the twist beam soldiered on for WAY too long.
 

silentsamurai

Explorer
I really have to throw a vote in for the subaru impreza 2.5rs. Everyone wants the wrx ,but the 2.5 had lots of torque from down low and really short gear ratios. The early ones were light and super nimble.


that is very true. But you cannot find a RS now a days for under $8-10k. They have become a collector car / fan boy car thanks to inital D and all the race car anime's / movies now a days.

Same goes for RX-7's. You can't find a decent registered one under $5k that actually runs. Again, thanks to movies, and the drift scene.

The drift scene has made rx7s, 240's, supra's, cressida's, 80's corolla's all go up about $2-3k. AND KIDS WILL PAY! the market has died down a bit.

i can't believe 3000gt's were brought up. I worked at a shop that did JUST 3000gt's. These cars kept coming back over and over again month after month with problems. They require so much work, you literally have to treat them like a ferrari (only drive it once a month) or else it'll cost you dearly.

budget car to me would be a CRX. but in a b16 motor from a early to mid 90's civic or a type R motor for $2500 and you got a power to weight ratio that would spank alot of cars.

thats my $.02

-Adam
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
i can't believe 3000gt's were brought up. I worked at a shop that did JUST 3000gt's. These cars kept coming back over and over again month after month with problems. They require so much work, you literally have to treat them like a ferrari (only drive it once a month) or else it'll cost you dearly.

Yup, exactly. And speaking of Ferrari's, I was at one trackday where rich guys brings out a Testarossa. It was nice to see but... he brought two Ferrari mechanics with him, just in case. Incredible. He ended up losing his alternator belt, and it took the two mechanics over two hours to change the damn thing.

Here's a vid of my car from Waterford MI with a Lotus Elise. Really fun track for a small car, but it's pretty unfriendly to mistakes. Ahh... you gotta love Youtube commenters...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ0R1JgGKyA

And a highlight video I put together, but they muted the sound. :( I wonder, if I'd had the engine noises turned up if it would fool the sensor?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQsOpcbV5yY
 

silentsamurai

Explorer
Cool video's. You do know thats the mazda engineering that's making that focus run right? hah Those are fun little cars. i think they did a good job designing them.

You have some nice lines too. *cough* DRIVE FASTER! *cough* :smiley_drive:

I remember when i used to race @ willow springs (WSIR) out in the boonies of california. some blonde 18 yr old driving her daddy's black 04-05 f430 convertable. we were all driving on the main road to get to the track and she felt ballsy, and just gunned it. Next thing you know we see her blinkers on, on the side of the road and her putting the entire carbon fiber front undercarage diffuser in the back behind the seats. (this thing was huge, from the front bumper to about behind the back tires - all carbon) I guess she hit a rock or somethin and it tore it right off haha. Daddy's gonna love that.
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
Yeah, it's hard to tell where the Ford engineering starts and ends vs. Mazda these days. The original C170 Focus was mostly British and German Ford engineers. I think the C1 platform (2nd Gen Euro Focus, Mazda3, Volvo C30/S40/V50, etc) were more Mazda.

For the C170, I think it's typical brilliant British design, but tempered with German engineering discipline (why it doesn't leak oil, fall apart, etc... :D ) That engine is the Zetec, not the Duratec. The Zetec wasn't high performance, but damn tough little motors. I can't believe what this thing has been through.

Trust me, that's all she's got. That was before the intercooler, and with a smaller "Aerocharger" turbo, so maybe 170-180hp. With the intercooler, I pulled off a 1:18 at Waterford, which is mid-pack ITA times. Not bad for a full weight street car. :D
 

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