Autocross Buying Guide – Select the Right Car

In my knowledge, autocross can be a very pleasurable and fascinating sport. I have participated in numerous occasions in my nearby area. I identified the interest to be very addictive as properly.

Out of all my other hobbies, I feel this a single is the finest “bang for the buck” as considerably as thrills go with your car. Everyone can participate. Each individual car (some clubs have exceptions to this though like no SUV’s, no Trucks) can race. The good thing about this type of race is that you are competing from many others in your course generally described by the SCCA, however, you are on the study course by yourself so there is minimal possibility of hitting other cars.

The most difficult portion about autocross (apart from studying how to race) in my belief is finding the suitable car. Absolutely sure, you can use a each day driver, but that is not suggested if you are going to participate in numerous occasions a year. Autocross can build have on on the tires and other factors very rapidly and can get expensive very speedy. I would endorse to get a vehicle that you can use for autocross. This can be a “trailer car” or a car that you can however drive on the highway, but use only for this interest.

There are 4 vital factors to consider when picking a car for autocross:

one) What type of car to get
two) The Price of the car
3) The over-all situation of the vehicle (if used)
4) Aftermarket updates/modifications


For autocross racing, some people would think that the car has to be very effective, modest, 2 doorways and modified. This is not solely correct. When that type of car would be good, it is not necessary to be competitive in autocross.

Remember that most autocross occasions and clubs have the cars grouped in to some sort of course. The club I participate with follow the SCCA Class rules. The courses aid group the cars so the identical “degree” of motor vehicles can continue to be competitive inside just about every course.

This is completed to prevent the “largest and swiftest is finest” state of assumed. It would be unfair to set a heavily modified Porsche GT3 up from a stock Ford Focus. This is why they do that.

So, to pick the suitable car for autocross, you would likely want a coupe or convertible Initial if doable. Sedans can perform properly far too, but some sedans are not geared for modifications, despite the fact that, the sport sedans of these days are actually starting to acquire about.

Handbook transmission would be suggested, however, if you have an automatic that is Ok far too. You may possibly want to consider investing it for a guide in the future to continue to be competitive. All over again, there are however “sport shift” type automatics out there that are getting far better and far better just about every working day.

Preferably, you would also want a rear-wheel drive car for autocross. RWD cars ordinarily supply far better manage and managing in most cases. I know some fans out there will disagree with me, but that is Ok. On the other hand, I have used numerous front-wheel drive cars that run with the finest of them.


The price of shopping for a car for autocross is normally the element for me. I, like many many others, are not able to afford an expensive vehicle for autocross. There are, however, those that can afford it and price is however something for them to consider.

The $-$5000 range:

This is the range most of us beginners want to start off. Of course, cost-free is Very good, but consider the third element (over-all situation) when this option arrives to intellect. Many cars that can conduct properly and have a good deal of upgradable selections are the next:

1989-1997 Mazda Miata – Really good power to bodyweight ratio. It is Really popular at autocross. 1979-1991 Mazda RX7 – Speedy modest car, handles properly. Lots of updates obtainable. 1989-1998 Nissan 240sx – Many aftermarket updates, handles very properly. 1990-1999 BMW 3 Series – Really adaptable car. You can obtain very good models in this range now. 1988-2000 Honda Civic/CRX – I have witnessed numerous models contend properly in autocross. 1984-1999 Toyota MR2 – Minimal middle of gravity, excellent performance, mid engine. 1990-1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon – Lots of updates, some models Turbo AWD. 2000-2007 Ford Focus – Really competitive cars. SVT models obtainable in price range. 1997-2003 VW Golf – Hatchbacks normally like autocross. VR6 models obtainable in range. 1990-1999 Acura Integra – Like the Civic, very competitive with many updates out there.

There may possibly be a several more cars that I skipped that slide less than this price range. The process I use to hunt for cars can vary based on the type I am wanting for. I will use nearby categorized ads, Craigslist. I will also use the more substantial car lookups and develop my common “hunting” area. I have effectively identified excellent cars making use of VEHIX, AutoTrader as properly as Govt Auction Sites.

But what about the autocross cars above the $5000 range? Nicely, I am happy you are feel that for the reason that I am about to list them down below.

If you have some money to perform with and want to get something newer, you can consider the next cars:

The $5,001-$20,000 range:

This range can contain newer cars as properly as pre-owned cars that are no more than a several many years outdated. Remember, cars generally depreciate very speedy, so as the many years go by, some of the newer cars can be inside attain for significantly less money and are excellent for autocross. The cars down below appear to intellect in this range:

1998-Present Mazda MX-5 – Continue to identical simple car, but more power as they acquired newer. 2003-Present VW Golf – Even more modified than the preceding versions, contend properly. 1992-1997 Mazda RX7 – third Gen is twin-turbo and can contend in autocross. 1992-2006 BMW M3 – M3’s are designed for racing. Some newer models will slide in this range. 1998-2003 BMW M5 – M5’s are very effective and contend in their course properly. 1994-Present Ford Mustang/Cobra – Really adaptable car. Competes properly in course. 1994-2002 Camaro/Firebird – Competes properly in course. Lots of autocross updates. 2007-Present Mazda Mazdaspeed3 – Turbo, hatchback, competes properly in autocross. 2003-2008 Nissan 350z – Terrific autocross car, very popular on the track. Exclusive Autocross Package cars these as the V6 Stalker slide in this range as properly.

Now, this price range can vary in motor vehicles. A good deal of these cars are however new and may possibly need loans to purchase them.

The $20,001 spectrum will consist of some of the recent-working day models as properly as the apparent “super cars” we all regard these as the Corvette, Viper, Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus and many others. I will not contain a list for those for the reason that if you are shopping for a single of those for an autocross car, you did your investigate.

Over-all Problem OF THE VEHICLE (USED):

When shopping for a 2nd car for autocross, treat it like when you are shopping for your each day driver car. You want the car to be comparatively cost-free of significant troubles. Autocross racing can set pressure on the car’s body, the suspension, the brakes, the tire and the over-all body of the car.

You want to be sure that the car has not been in any significant mishaps. Frame repair or body problems can be very unsafe combination when you autocross. That is the MOST critical thing to examine for when shopping for a car for autocross. I have professional and used the services by Experian referred to as AutoCheck. They provide an endless selection of VIN checks for a single of their services selections and the price is way far better than the other companies out there. I have used it when purchasing and arrives in very helpful when you are checking the historical past of a vehicle.

The future critical product to examine on the car is significant element troubles these as smoke coming out of the again of the exhaust, significant oil leaks (modest leaks are predicted on most used cars) slight/significant overheating of the engine. Autocross is outdoors and you press the car to the limit. You want the significant factors to be in the finest form they can be. The pointed out troubles can go away you stranded at the track if you do not seem out for them.

I generally have some expectation to do minimal repair or preventive repairs on my motor vehicles when I am shopping for to autocross them. As I said above, modest oil/fluid leaks are “Ok” and can generally be fastened very effortlessly. Smaller leaks tell us that the car is just used and may possibly not be suffering from the leak as a consequence. Large/significant leaks tell us the car may possibly have been neglected by the preceding operator and may possibly carry residual troubles unseen at the minute. When wanting at a car, start off it up, drive it around with the A/C engaged (even if it does not perform). When you are finished with the check drive, go away it idling although you walk around the car continuing to inspect it. If the car has an overheating dilemma, typically this is the time it will show. This idea has served me prevent numerous gorgeous autocross cars that experienced an overheating dilemma.

Belts and hoses are my most repeated “preventive” repair I do, even if they are not a dilemma. It is normally finest to know when an critical element has been changed somewhat than to “guess” and believe in the preceding operator. Drinking water pumps, far too, slide in this classification occasionally.

1 thing people normally examine when shopping for a used car are the tires. Sure, this is critical for an autocross car, but not to see how “superior” the tires are, but to see if the car requires an alignment. Autocross is about managing and you want to be sure the car’s stock “managing” skill is the place it ought to be.

Why not stress about the tires? Nicely, tires ought to be a single thing to consider shopping for for your autocross car to begin with, so the present tires ought to be removed in any case. Tires are likely the most purchased have on product an autocross member will invest in. A good deal of autocross racers will bring a set of tires for racing, a single for driving dwelling (those who do not use a trailer) and some will even bring spares for the racing tires. This is so typical that Tire Rack delivers tires just for autocross. I have used them and they are the finest place to get tires for this.


If you ever seem into the aftermarket planet of the auto business, you know that there are virtually countless numbers of destinations to seem and invest in. I will list a several places that most people do not feel to seem, but amazingly have issues for the autocross supporters.

Initial and foremost, autocross cars do NOT normally want significant updates to be competitive. A driver can use a stock vehicle and contend from fellow stock motor vehicles and continue to be competitive. After you start off to modify or improve heavily, you may possibly start off to go into distinct courses and contend with other cars that are equally modified. Hold that in intellect when you want to change something.

Usually, I say modify the straightforward issues 1st: Ingestion, exhaust and common tune ups. Most autocross drivers do not go considerably from that. These ought to be the 1st issues you try out to improve although you participate in autocross to get the most performance out of your vehicle.

If you determine to go additional to be more competitive, my future advice would be suspension and body roll modifications. Remember to recall, particular updates in this area may possibly change your course. Be sure to examine your club or groups rules with these modifications.

Usually, the swiftest improve to an autocross car would be front and rear strut tower bars/braces. They are generally cheap to invest in and straightforward to set up. They are also very modular this means that when you invest in these, they will perform with other suspension factors in place (generally). This modification can help stiffen the car’s suspension and body and can help with cornering.

The future modification advice would then be the front and rear sway bars and back links. These sections also aid the body roll although cornering and managing and can occasionally be modular to the suspension program as a whole.

The remaining suspension improve is generally the most expensive: The struts (shocks/springs). This improve generally operates properly with the above merchandise, but ads more stiffness, more response to the managing and occasionally decrease the car over-all for a decrease middle of gravity.

After you have modified the full suspension, my future advice would be to improve the brakes (at least the pads). This will aid your halting skill for those times the place a faucet of the brake is essential in the course of a lap. Remember to hold in intellect that superior performance brake pads generally have on considerably faster than OEM.

1 of the previous issues I endorse to improve is the tires. Now, I’m not indicating that you ought to not Initial invest in new tires when you autocross, but I am indicating not to Enhance them to an autocross/race tire just but. Most autocross fans will tell you to get used to the stock/frequent tires on your car 1st.

After you get used to stock type tires, modifying them to a race tire or softer tire will essentially enhance your lap occasions (that is the idea in any case).

1 previous note. I endorse replacing the fluids in your car with as many synthetics as you can. Artificial fluids have higher heat resistance and can acquire the extreme times you will be placing on the car in the course of the autocross laps.

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