An outdated Mercedes S-Class actually might be your excellent observe day weaponYou don’t want classic metallic or a flash new supercar to be a track-day star, simply one among these low-cost larrikins
To the informal observer, they seem like worn-out wrecks. However the Autocar staff is aware of higher. These are 10 of probably the most entertaining, inexpensive used vehicles that might be a hoot on observe.
Low-cost however cheerful (nicely, till a wheel falls off), they’re a good way to know why, whenever you go to locations just like the Nürburgring, it’s drivers of outdated Volvo 340s and Citroën ZXs who’re laughing all the best way around the lap. And when it rains, think about how smug you’ll really feel overtaking a supercar in a £1500 Subaru.
Avoiding vehicles with overtly sporting pretensions and sticker costs above £2000, this ragtag bunch proves that little or no cash can certainly purchase happiness.
So with the summer season now in full swing, why not give into temptation and get your self sidetracked with an unlikely track-day automotive.
MG F/MG TF 1995-2002
The right roadster during which to study the darkish arts of pedalling a mid-engined automotive with out falling off the observe and remodelling the nearside bodywork must be a Toyota MR2. However the MR2 has a repute for being good, so costs aren’t all that inexpensive. The MG F, or TF, remains to be as low-cost as chips, although, most likely as a result of these within the know are frightened about head gasket failure or the Hydragas-based suspension expiring. But snap one up with a protracted MOT and also you’ve received your self a automotive as entertaining as it’s difficult to grasp, similar to these used within the one-make MGF championship.
One we discovered: 2002 MG TF 1.eight, 60ok miles, £1295
BMW 318i 1991-1998
‘Is there a greater £15,000 sports activities saloon?’ requested the Autocar coverline of 24 April 1991. Earlier than you possibly can ponder the query, the crack squad of highway testers had answered it for you: ‘We don’t suppose so.’ Which is why budding track-day drivers ought to cease fantasising about clipping apex after apex in an E46-era CSL, and begin looking for a humble, 28-year-old BMW 318i. It was a pleasure to drive. And with a couple of new bushes within the suspension, it most likely nonetheless is. So observe one down and determine for your self whether or not the 318i is one of the best sports activities saloon – albeit for now lower than £1500.
One we discovered: 1993 318i SE, 100,500 miles, £585
Citroen ZX 1990-1998
It could price only a few hundred quid. You may be left questioning whether or not a few cylinders are on strike. And there might be misaligned panels following years of Parisian-style close-contact parking. However none of that issues one bit. What counts is that it’ll train you all the pieces it is advisable learn about automotive management in a front-wheel-drive set-up. The ZX, like its Peugeot 306 cousin, includes a passive rear-wheel steering system, and as soon as weight switch takes maintain, the tail could be coaxed into angles Ken Block can be happy with.
One we discovered: 1995 ZX 1.four, 82,000 miles, £495
Lexus IS 200 1999-2005
When Lexus launched the unique, straight-six IS 200, it was a departure from what we’d come to know of US-influenced Japanese saloons. The steering was direct, the alloy-capped, Ferrari-like gearlever had a short-shift motion and the rear-drive chassis was set as much as reward drivers who handled each journey as if they have been working late for a job interview. After which there was the inside, which was like peering into the window of a complicated watch store. Engineered to final, and surprisingly immune to rust, a well-cared-for IS 200 ought to give track-day drivers a very satisfying steer.
One we discovered: 2004 IS 200, 87ok miles, £1995
Jaguar S-Sort 1999-2007
The S-Sort wasn’t Jaguar’s best hour. Bits of the unique, pre-facelift automotive’s interiors felt like they have been lifted straight from Ford’s big components bin – as a result of they have been. A few of the switchgear was lifted straight from the Lincoln LS, a automotive that in flip appeared like a mediocre Hyundai. Nonetheless, with the V6 turbodiesel engine, it’s received loads of easy urge, but received’t run the tank dry in a handful of laps just like the supercharged V8 R model would. Discover a totally serviced, 100,000-miler for lower than £2000 and also you’ll be capable to lap the circuit – and drive dwelling – in consolation.
One we discovered: 2006 S-Sort 2.7D V6, 89,000 miles, £1500
Cadillac CTS three.6 V6 Sport 2005-2010
Wish to be loud, proud and stand out from the gang? Then think about one of the vital well-known names on the highway. The CTS is a sports activities saloon that was offered throughout Cadillac’s dalliance with the European market. Nevertheless, Brits didn’t embrace it with fairly the identical enthusiasm as rock ’n’ roll, Hollywood or drive-throughs, in order that they’re almost as low-cost as a bottle of flat Budweiser. A potent 306bhp, three.6-litre V6 drives the rear wheels, making this a correct 155mph freeway hauler for lower than two grand.
One we discovered: 2007 CTS three.6 V6 Sport, 56,000 miles, £1995
Ford SportKa 2003-2009
The success of the unique Ka took Ford unexpectedly – it outlived its deliberate life cycle. However throughout the first seven years of manufacturing, the primary query from followers of quick Fords was all the time: “When’s there going to be a sizzling model?” It was definitely worth the wait, although. To create ‘the Ka’s evil twin’, Ford dropped in a bigger, 1.6-litre engine, paired it with the Puma’s tremendous little gearbox, widened the chassis’ entrance observe, lowered the entire present by 14mm and made each the entrance anti-roll bar and rear torsion beam stiffer. The end result was an intoxicating little buzz field that price lower than £10,000 when new.
One we discovered: 2003 SportKa, 65ok miles, £990
Subaru Impreza 2005-2010
Ah, the Impreza. The wheels of selection for Colin McRae, Ari Vatanen, Carlos Sainz and Richard Burns. However don’t get too excited, as a result of a tidy Impreza Turbo will set you again hundreds fairly than lots of. As a substitute, select a mannequin with no turbo. Not solely is there much less to go mistaken, it’s lighter (possibly you possibly can persuade your self it’s some type of homologation particular) and, with four-wheel drive, the automotive will train its driver the best way to preserve momentum at each potential alternative. Higher nonetheless, test the climate forecast, e book a observe day when it’s as a result of rain and revel in humbling six-figure supercars as you name on all-wheel-drive traction to take the surface line round them.
One we discovered: 2004 Impreza 2.Zero GX Sport, 87,300 miles, £1495
Mercedes-Benz S500 1991-1999
The S-Class is the epitome of Mercedes engineering. But it’s additionally a proper outdated giggle whenever you cancel the traction and stability management methods and use the floor-hinged throttle pedal to coax the tail into the type of angles that few airport chauffeurs would have adopted on the best way to Heathrow Terminal 5. Certain, a lot can go mistaken on a automotive like this, however search one out with a totally documented, no-expense-spared historical past after which chuckle in disbelief at these unlikely tailslides.
One we discovered: 2002 S500, 111,000 miles, £1290
Seat Ibiza GTI 1993-1998
If you could find one among these (alas, we didn’t), don’t let it get away from you. The GTI model of the second-generation Ibiza had the lusty 2.Zero-litre, eight-valve engine from the Golf GTI and was a lot simpler to get on with than the 1.eight, 16-valve screamer. Seat did a surprisingly good job tuning the steering and chassis, too, which means it responded in a method none of its vehicles had executed earlier than. The working prices are low and mechanical spare components are straightforward to return by, however the difficult concern for any aspiring track-day driver on a price range is discovering one. The Ibiza GTI seems to be rarer than an RS Porsche.
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Used automotive shopping for information: low-cost quick enjoyable for beneath £10ok