You are starting a JNC grassroots motorsports team, and you’re going to compete in three distinct racing types:
- Autocross: Generally SCCA, but also marque clubs like the Porsche club if you want to. You’ll want a car with quickness and agility.
- Road racing: This includes NASA and SCCA, or vintage racing like HSR or SVRA if you prefer. Both, if you have the right car. This would mean actual racing and not just track days/HPDEs.) No 24 Hours of Lemons or ChumpCar. You’ll want a well-balanced car, preferably with a fixed roof, that gives you both speed and durability.
- Rally: We’re talking amateur performance rally — as in “on dirt” and not Time Speed Distance events — as well as rallycross. The temptation is to get something AWD. However, beginners are often advised to start out in an FWD car. Also, it’s pretty much 100 percent certain you’re going to crash at some point.
You’re going to need one dedicated car for each of the three series. You get a $25,000 budget, including any performance-oriented modifications. We’ll say that for the sake of this game you don’t have to budget for things like roll cages or running costs such as fuel, entry fees, or a tow rig; the budget is just for the race cars. The only restriction is that each car has to be a JNC. You can import something from abroad if you wish, and since they’re race cars you don’t have to worry about federalization. However, you will have to factor in shipping costs if you go that route.
What’s your $25,000 autocross, road, and rally race garage?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What are your favorite automotive-themed watches?“
Like we said when we asked the question last week, no one on the JNC staff really knows much about watches. There were several that caught our eyes when perusing the answers, though, like Ridgeway‘s Honda MP4/4 F1 commemorative Seiko, j_c‘s Mazda rotary-inspired MB&F, and Ian N‘s Subaru 360 anniversary Orient Star. Some of those timepieces cost over $100,000, but the most entertaining watch story goes to CycoPablo, who spent a total of $10 and, as you will see, probably overpaid (note the classy “TWIM CAM” print on the wristband):
It was the best of watches.
It was the worst of watches.
The year was 1993. I was at a work-related function on a Friday night in Fremantle, Western Australia. I’d had a few drinks, comfortable in the knowledge I didn’t have to drive that night.
My 1988 CRX was back in the work car park.
Late in the night, we stumbled into an amusement arcade on the main road. In a large, circular glass skill tester I saw this watch:
Mugen Power. I had to have it!
Long story a little shorter, this POS watch cost me 10 or 12 dollars. Something ridiculous anyway. The buttons on the left of the case are fake. What some think is a solar collector at the top is just faceted plastic. It’s the most basic digital watch you can get.
But at the time, I loved it. I wore it proudly for 3 years, alternating with my Swatch — which I also still have — until the battery died.
It lived in a little box until I removed it today to photograph it. Call me sentimental, but I think it deserves a new battery.
Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!
The answer is Miata. Autocross prowess is well-documented, and it’s the most popular amateur road racing machine on the planet (hello Spec Miata). And I’m sure it’s been rallied. The only real challenge is seeing if you could be competitive in all 3 categories with physically the same car…
But if I really have to be creative, then I’d like to do an EV-conversion S600 coupe in Autocross, an SA22 (done up in classic IMSA flared-fender style) for road racing, and I’d go rallying in the Subaru BRAT from hell with an EJ engine swap.
SA22C…all day every day
I have a poster for this RX7…
I’d say 240z but to save money I’d go with a 10,000 dollar 280z. Not a 2+2. Then I’d put it on adjustable air shocks for a variable ride height. Rally lights for the front and grippy all season tires. If theres any money left I’d go for a little tune and a half roll cage.
1st Gen Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX.
I remember Road Race engineering’s eclipse.
Lets go with the classics that everyone seems to overlook…..
Rallying? Sorry Front-wheel drive is a no-no here….and AWD? come on…..Mitsubishi Jeep from the Korean war era with some gentle modifications such as a Evo X engine, bumpers chopped off and go completely open with a bare roll cage The Jeep was designed to take on war zones and the early Mitsubishi-made versions sold to the South Koreans are no exception. Mechanically identical to their Willys-Overland counterparts from which they were cloned, so simple, indestructible.
Autocross? Given James May already proved the MR2 to have a advantage here but Richard Hammond also gave FWD a good case….and for the sake of the game we have to go Japanese…..Honda EF Civic….light, popular at Autocross for a start….seems like a good choice…
Road Race is (don’t bite my head off with technicalities such as 25-year rule) Toyota Caldina GT-T because Celica GT-Four drivetrain and a Turbocharged engine ….I mean Come on man! Price here is also a factor, at about $10K apiece that leaves a $15K budget for mods….2JZ swap anyone?
With the requirement of three cars, one setup for Auto-X, one for Road Racing, and one for Rally I would be inclined to run the same chassis and drivetrain for all three, and standardize all of my supporting modifications that aren’t series specific. This gives you the ability to plug and play a chassis or drivetrain if you wipe one out, as well as focusing on really KNOWING that car.
To that end, you want something at least reasonably competitive for all three events. Most vehicles are going to be good at either the road based OR the rally; few will be even remotely competitive at all three.
A few that jump to mind immediately are the GC Impreza, DC2 Integra, or the ST203 Celica. Given the cost ceiling and prices for decent ones, I’m inclined to go with three ST203 Celicas outfitted with 3S-GE “Red Top” BEAMS engines (200HP), outfit the road-going versions with the SuperStrut front end, and possibly keep the standard struts for the rally chassis (they handle better but are far more fragile and wear faster). This gives you a vehicle that slots in between a DC2 GS-R and Type-R on the road courses, but has a championship rally chassis (minus AWD) that traded blows with the GC to compete in the rally portions, all while keeping your knowledge and tools focused on the one chassis and drivetrain.
Bonus points because noone else will be running what you do.
I’m surprised no one has mentioned Toyota’s little fuel saver the Starlet. More specifically the KG61 this little battle box is light weight and and has space for a 4AGE to satisfy your speedy needs. The short wheel base and rear wheel drive set up is for carving up the canyons or through tight corners. The catch is finding one that is more car than rust. Or ones that haven’t been drag converted. But I think this is the best jnc autox or rally build for under 25k
The USD $25k budget converts to GBP £20k. As ever in the UK, our selection of older JNCs is thin-to-nonexistent, but we’re spoilt for choice and value among those most recently elevated to the Nostalgic pantheon.
I have a feeling that the best way to cheat, sorry to win at Autocross is to drive as small a car as possible, luckily the Japanese government have defined the Kei class just for this purpose. Of the ABC Keis the AZ-1 is a unicorn and the Beat is naturally-aspirated, so my choice is a Suzuki Cappuccino for £5k ( https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1235162 ).
The standard 63hp isn’t going to win many competitions, so I’d be getting aftermarket ECU, intercooler, injectors, strut brace, and fresh tyres – maybe another £2000 all in buying secondhand parts. With 140hp in a 700kg car I’d be packing 200hp/ton while the tiny dimensions would let me flick around cones with abandon.
Total spend so far: £7k.
Moving onto full size racetracks, everyone knows that the fastest way is mid-engined, so it’s time for a trusty Toyota, in the form of an MR2 SW20 Turbo for £6500 ( https://www.gumtree.com/p/toyota/toyota-mr2-2.0-twin-entry-turbo-coupe-rev-2-lovely-extras-must-be-seen/1378455473 ).
Mods for circuit would be some good tyres, probably AD08R, Carbon Lorraine brake pads, intercooling and wind up the boost to 1 bar, should be about another £2k.
Total spend so far: £15,500
You may have noticed we’re getting close to our budget limit. Should we settle for an inexpensive front-drive car for rallying? Of course not, why would you compromise with a shopping car when you can buy a genuine rally-bred Subaru Impreza Turbo, already rally-prepped, for just £3400 BIN ( https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Subaru-Impreza-uk2000-track-car/143656016702?hash=item217290db3e:g:CwUAAOSwqZpe~koa ). The welded in cage, strut brace, bucket seats, and included spares would make a great start. The remaining £1100 could go on ensuring the brakes are fit for purpose and replacing the tarmac-oriented coilovers with some new stock suspension – coilovers are never going to work on bumpy dirt tracks.
So there you have it – an FR Kei convertible for Autocross, an MR sports car for the circuit and a 4WD rally car, all for less than £20k including mods to make the most of each car in its chosen environment. Short of bringing Ayrton Senna back from the dead, I honestly don’t see how anyone else is going to beat my newly formed hi-boost racing squad over the season.
A GC Impreza, a GC Impreza, and a GC Impreza. You should be able to get three relatively clean cars that don’t need any maintenance for about $15,000, leaving ten grand to modify each of them appropriately. (Hint: L cars are typically a few hundred dollars each!) If I assume that you’re not going to be racing all three simultaneously, you can use parts from one car in another. This allows you to budget for a standalone engine management system you can quickly disconnect and swap between cars. The remaining money can go into suspension and engine modifications. Three full STI swaps aren’t likely with the budget, but you can grab an EJ253 for a couple hundred bucks, rebuild it with new internals for about a grand, and then add a used stock turbo setup from someone who’s upgrading. If you road tune it yourself, you’re looking at three built GC8s running about 350-400AWHP with suspension set up for each individual kind of racing. If you go cheap with the body, you can even splurge on some interior goodies like a nice seat to hold you in place and a functional A/C, or some reinforcements on the suspension mounting points for the rally car. At that power range you shouldn’t have to worry about breaking the driveline, and depending on the course, it should be highly competitive.