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Advice on my next car purchase?

 
Old 03-02-2014, 09:45 PM
  #16  
TXE36
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Originally Posted by rlm328 View Post
M3s are known for overheating on the track.
E36 M3s do not overheat at the track provided the cooling system is intact as well as the under tray. My coolant temps might touch 205F at TWS in July/August. I am running an OEM S54 M Coupe 3 row radiator and a Stewart water pump.

That said, I had overheating issues that were self inflicted as I installed a Mishimoto all aluminum radiator to get rid of all that evil plastic. It did get rid of the plastic, but its cooling efficiency was horrendous and without a full undertray to duct the air through it, it was inadequate to keep the temps down. Adding ducting helped, but the temps would still touch 218F. Going back to the stock S54 radiator dropped it down significantly. On most days, it won't hit 200F even after 40 minutes on the track.

One thing I've learned about tracking an E36 is to be extremely picky about aftermarket parts to "improve" things. Almost all the ones I've tried have bitten me. BMW does actually know something about designing cars and it is tough to beat the factory parts in most cases. I suspect the same is true for P-cars. Often the best upgrades are BMW parts from newer models such as the OEM S54 radiator I'm running with my S52.

The S52 does have a reputation for popping head gaskets, but I strongly suspect that is due to plastic component cooling system failures that cause an overheat event. If you do pop a head gasket, it will most likely overheat. Keep up with the cooling system maintenance, and it will likely never be a problem.

-Mike
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Old 03-02-2014, 09:46 PM
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One thing that I noticed that hasn't been touched on is the fact that the SLK, being a hardtop convertible, may not qualify past the initial beginners DE group. There are some that may not allow it period. Not sure, but I believe BMW based DEs have a national rule of no convertibles - unless this has been changed in the last couple of years.
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Old 03-02-2014, 11:10 PM
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E46 M3 is a great dual purpose car. You can find plenty that are well maintained
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Old 03-03-2014, 12:56 AM
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Boxster for street

Spec miata for track


You could get both of those for 20k total. No problem.
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:12 PM
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Would there not be concerns running the Boxter with these IMS and other issues?
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by 333pg333 View Post
Would there not be concerns running the Boxter with these IMS and other issues?
I believe there is a kit to deal with the IMS issue that is relatively cheap provided it is done before the IMS fails.

-Mike
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:07 PM
  #22  
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The IMS bearing can be upgraded with Trans removal. LN Engr bearing prob the most common. Bearing is like 600 bucks. Most do it together with clutch, flywheel if needed and RMS. About 3k all in at an indie. Deep sump is also common for track cars. Motorsports AOS too. Depending on mileage and maintenance history- waterpump, coolant tank, CV boots can all need atention. It adds up. That's what I've learned. Fun cars though.
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Old 03-04-2014, 12:53 AM
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OP, your heading down a road that many of us have traveled. It is very difficult to find a car that is great at both street and track. I owned a 2004 E46 M3 and used it for my daily driver and occasional track car. It was totally stock and one of my favorite cars. They are very reliable and have a ton of space in the trunk with the seats down. You could buy a set of track wheels and tires and be in good shape for a few years. I drove my M3 year round in the snow with Blizzaks and it was a machine, even with the factory 19s. However, DON'T buy an SMG, 6 speed only. This should satisfy the significant other as they are great looking, quiet and very comfortable.

On another topic, I would not suggest building your own race car as the cost is very high compared to buying one already built and developed. You will easily spend an additional $20K building a SPB from a '97 to '99 street Boxster on top of the purchase price. My advice is buy something like the M3 that will allow you more time to see if racing is in your future. If it is, then save your pennies and buy a dedicated track car. Racing is a steep slope that sucks you down and never lets go. Absolutely one of my favorite hobbies but you will spend $50K to $100K to get properly setup (car, truck, trailer, tools and spares) and then you have the consumables to consider.....

Take your time and enjoy the process. If you are like me, this car will be one of many you own in a short period as you decide what you want. Good luck in your decision.
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:37 AM
  #24  
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A c5 Z06 is very hard to beat for the money, you could easily find one for less than 20k, very fun to track and I don't think any of the cars mentioned so far could compete lap time wise. Cheap to fix, great gas mileage. And you can fit about anything in the trunk. Don't let the sleaze scare you
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Old 03-04-2014, 09:56 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by TXE36
I have to admit, I'm tempted by a Boxster. Here in the south, Spec Boxster is very popular and they are fun cars in their own right. More expensive to buy and run than an M3, but not that much more. "Economical" for a Porsche. The BMW is also a dead end wrt PCA club racing.

E36 and E46 seat installs are similar and both challenging. The seat mounting bolts are not centered on the seat and it is difficult to get the seat close to the transmission tunnel. I would search through the numerous BMW forums for seat installs, I'm sure it's been done.

My E36 is pushing 160K miles, and 60K of those have been in the last 5 years where it hits the track a dozen times a year. They are getting long in the tooth. Sometimes it's better to get one in worse shape so you can do the refresh with what you want. Boxsters are a bit newer as are E46s, both are more expensive. I suspect a Boxster with an IMS failure or D chuck failure is going to be *a lot* more expensive to fix than a blown S52 or S54.

All that said, you really can't go wrong with any of them.
Thanks Mike, that's very helpful. I'll do some more research on the e46 seat mounting, hopefully Stable Energies will have something that's relatively plug-and-play. Based on your comments and others', I'm definitely thinking a lot more about the e46 M3.

Originally Posted by Circuit Motorsports View Post
Boxster for street

Spec miata for track

You could get both of those for 20k total. No problem.
Unfortunately, even if I could buy 2 cars, I couldn't afford to park both in NYC right now. Down the road, that will (hopefully) change, so that is when I could consider a dedicated track car. Initially, I wouldn't be looking to build a full race car, but some day I would like to do a proper build - I know that its not the cheapest way to get racing, but I think the engineering process is part of the appeal to me (of course, that opinion may change by the time I'm ready for a race car).

Originally Posted by zedcat
The IMS bearing can be upgraded with Trans removal. LN Engr bearing prob the most common. Bearing is like 600 bucks. Most do it together with clutch, flywheel if needed and RMS. About 3k all in at an indie. Deep sump is also common for track cars. Motorsports AOS too. Depending on mileage and maintenance history- waterpump, coolant tank, CV boots can all need atention. It adds up. That's what I've learned. Fun cars though.
That makes sense, and the price is about what I thought based on research online. It seems like almost every Porsche has some achilles heal (timing belts/water pump on 944, IMS/RMS on 986, fuel pump on 987.2, etc. etc. etc.) I won't let it stop me from going with a Porsche, but I will be mindful of that cost when considering the purchase price and my budget.

Originally Posted by mmporsche
OP, your heading down a road that many of us have traveled. It is very difficult to find a car that is great at both street and track. I owned a 2004 E46 M3 and used it for my daily driver and occasional track car. It was totally stock and one of my favorite cars. They are very reliable and have a ton of space in the trunk with the seats down. You could buy a set of track wheels and tires and be in good shape for a few years. I drove my M3 year round in the snow with Blizzaks and it was a machine, even with the factory 19s. However, DON'T buy an SMG, 6 speed only. This should satisfy the significant other as they are great looking, quiet and very comfortable.

On another topic, I would not suggest building your own race car as the cost is very high compared to buying one already built and developed. You will easily spend an additional $20K building a SPB from a '97 to '99 street Boxster on top of the purchase price. My advice is buy something like the M3 that will allow you more time to see if racing is in your future. If it is, then save your pennies and buy a dedicated track car. Racing is a steep slope that sucks you down and never lets go. Absolutely one of my favorite hobbies but you will spend $50K to $100K to get properly setup (car, truck, trailer, tools and spares) and then you have the consumables to consider.....

Take your time and enjoy the process. If you are like me, this car will be one of many you own in a short period as you decide what you want. Good luck in your decision.
Thanks, this all makes sense. I enjoy learning about different cars, so my hope is that I can avoid too many costs of getting too many cars in a short period (makes saving for the race car someday easier!), but then again, I owned my last car for over 7 years - I need to remember that I don't have to commit to the next one for quite so long haha.
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Old 03-04-2014, 10:15 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by J richard View Post

I would not consider the Benz for track use, square peg round hole, the motorsports parts and equipment is thin and $$$ by comparison. More tuner stuff than MS.
I noticed on tirerack.com that they have some components for the SLK such as Bilstein shocks or KW coilovers that were also available for the 944. In the 944, I think people generally considered those parts to be up to snuff for track use (at least for DE). There is definitely not as much variety of parts for the Benz, but am I naive to assume that if a given shock type is well-suited to track use on a 944 that it would be well-suited to track use on another car?

I know what you mean about the integral roll hoops vs. a proper half/full-cage, and that is a drawback for me for both the Boxster and the SLK (the SLK at least has a hardtop of sorts). For Metro NY PCA DE events, I can't imagine the SLK would be barred - they allow both non-Porsches and unmodified Boxsters (the rules require 996 and 997 cabrios to run with a hard top in place, so the SLK would have that covered), and the SLK's setup is comparable to the Boxster's. I believe Schattenbaum also has similar rules (just thinking of the groups I have run with before).

Obviously, a true coupe offers better rollover protection, but as long as the car is kept close to stock and I pass the broomstick test, I am inclined to feel comfortable using either the Boxster or SLK for DE events. Obviously this puts a ceiling on how far the car can go, performance-wise, so I will need to consider that.
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Old 03-11-2014, 01:42 PM
  #27  
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S2000
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