How to build a budget track car

Posted on 09. Jul, 2008 by in Cars, Products, The Store

budget track car
“The best way to earn experience and get yourself flying round a circuit is to start small. It doesn’t sound fun but believe me, it is.”

Budget track cars are the future. Fact.

It would be a dream to have a works WRC car for track fun, but that’s all it is, a dream. It’s not possible for the normal lad out for a spot of track fun.

For £2000 or less you can build yourself a cheap and cheerful toy. All you have to do is pick a good base; get the weight out, run good tyres and focus on the brakes and handling.

Having been drawn into a depressingly long winded, big budget build myself. I spent lots of time listening to drivers complain about “needing more power” before daring to venture out on track. Or that they “wouldn’t be competitive”. That’s the wrong attitude to trackdays for a start. They are simply for safe fun with your car, and to learn new skills. Not racing.

I set about my one man crusade to try and change peoples perceptions on track time, and of course, get plenty seat time before my planned 300bhp Fiesta hits the circuits.

Choose a solid base

The weapon of choice? A humble Escort Bonus! I’m not suggesting that the Mk4 Escort is a track warrior, not at all. Merely the concept, that massive laughs can be had, without a massive credit card bill.

Has it worked? Of course! I have got a solid little base, and had an absolute riot along the way. It’s been a complete hoot, and with the knowledge that spares are freely available at the scrapyard and almost all damages can be fixed for peanuts is a complete weight off the mind.

The principal is the same regardless of the marque you choose. Thankfully the late 80’s and early 90’s produced a raft of hot hatches to choose from. Even the non-sporty models may be worth a look if they are structurally sound and cheap enough. It will leave you cash left for an engine swap, should you need it.

Money left over for performance mods

You can take your pick of project bases. From £200 to £1000. The remaining cash can go on brakes, tyres, suspension and bushes. If you shop wisely you’ll still have change to kit yourself up with seats, safety gear, lightweight wheels and performance mods. Just remember the UK’s harsh noise regulations, or you won’t be allowed to play.

Using the basics above, my personal outlay is in the region of £1300. For that I have chalked up several full days of action in the Escort. I don’t believe I’ll lose much money when I sell either. At this price level, depreciation is minimal.

Sure you have to move over every now and again for faster cars, but that happens anyway and it’s good etiquette. The main thing is I am feeding my addiction to tinkering and car abuse, without resorting to selling my worldly possessions on auction websites.

Along with seeing the Great Wall of China and making it with two sexy twins, every man should own a budget track car before they die.

Neil DaviesNeil Davies

Fast Ford Magazine

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10 Responses to “How to build a budget track car”

  1. peter cook

    17. Jul, 2008

    I totally agree, I have a 1990 ford sierra 4×42.9i , which I use for track-days.it weighs approx. 1000kg, steering, suspension, brakes uprated.roll-cage, harnesses, polycarbonate windows, short-geared diffs and much more. Total cost less than £2000. Great fun, have just acquired a 24 valve cosworth engine which will be fitted in the winter months, can”t wait.

  2. Simon Morton

    17. Jul, 2008

    sounds like fun.. love to see some pics.

  3. Ray

    18. Jul, 2008

    I agree I started off in Hillclimb with a stripped out vauxhall Tigra last season I won The Loton Park championship in my class great fun.
    The car is a constant moving project with me looking for new mods all the time.
    pics on my site.
    http://www.decorayt.co.uk
    Ray stone

  4. R2_C2

    19. Jul, 2008

    I dont reckon u have to go as far as that an old 1.3micra stripped out is a surprising pocket rocket! and ive seen examples that are under 1k!

  5. Milez

    05. Aug, 2008

    Its all about drifting now. Buy a cheap s13 200sx/volvo/bmw for under a grand. Weld the diff up the boost and get some tyres and so sideways. Its awesome :)

  6. leon

    06. Oct, 2008

    whats the uk harsh noise regulations? can u run cars that dont have mots for track days? how much are all the mods id need?

  7. mark

    17. Jan, 2009

    project bonus has inspired me and a few mates to build a budget track toy, we are using a 1998 escort gti as our base and will soon be dropping in a 2.0 silvertop. we have a bilstein suspension kit from one of our past cars and have had seats donated to us. cant wait to get out on track this season. what kind of roll cage is best suited for track days?

  8. fancyAcar

    02. Nov, 2009

    A bit too much work for me to be honest. And what if turns out no good for tracking at the end? Can’t take that chance now, can I?

  9. Doof

    08. Dec, 2009

    whats the insurance like for track days with drivers aged around 20??
    Id love to get a track car going, just dont think i can afford it with my age…

  10. Moz

    23. May, 2010

    I have just bought a 1994 renault clio rsi . its the 1.8 16v
    so it should have enough power to its weight.
    i want it to become a bit of track fun but does any one know
    what must be done? to make it suitable for track days roll cage etc etc??

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