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agreatham
04-21-2010, 01:19 AM
I've been told that you learn to drive fast quicker in a lower HP car than you do in a higher HP car. Is this true? If so, does anyone have any recommendations? Thanks.

flohtingPoint
04-21-2010, 05:50 AM
I've been told that you learn to drive fast quicker in a lower HP car than you do in a higher HP car. Is this true? If so, does anyone have any recommendations? Thanks.

You can definitely learn car control much quicker in a lower hp car than a higher hp. Your amount of time at max or near max throttle is far greater and you really have to push the thing for all it's worth to nab a decent time at an autox. You also have to rely much greater on carrying speed in a lower HP car because you dont have the crutch of mashing the throttle when you come out of the pocket and regaining everything you lost.

Any reccomendations on low hp cars? Take your pick, there are tons to choose from. Honda's have an abundance of parts/wheels to choose from on the used market so they're never a bad choice. Try to steer clear of obscure cars as when (not if, when) you break something, you're going to want to go to a pick and pull to replace your busted part.

Ethan Blank
04-21-2010, 08:41 AM
I 100% agree with the statement that it's easier to learn to get fast in a low HP car.

I autocrossed and HPDE'd with my 335. My instructors would give me suggestions, but I really did not understand their input fully. In large part, the incredible HP and torque of the 335 (which I do enjoy!) was masking my lack of skill.

Due to advice from NCC members on this website, and other BMW and non-BMW friends, I reached the conclusion in this thread -- I would be better served learned how to drive in a low HP car.

My search for such a car led me to the Miata I now drive. Although I can't participate in the chapter's driving schools (A MAJOR BONE OF CONTENTION FOR ME!), I still enjoy the Miata and participate in other club's HPDE events. Haven driven VIR in both my 335 and the Miata, I now understand what my instructor in the 335 was saying; I didn't "get it" when in the 335, but when I drove VIR in the Miata, the mistakes I was making in my 335 that were masked by the power became unmasked, and now I am a better driver for it.

Nick325xiT 5spd
04-21-2010, 09:33 AM
Miatas or E30s are great learning cars. Basically, you want a car that you a) don't really care about, b) has good handling characteristics, c) isn't too powerful. An E36 or E46 323/325 aren't bad either.

The problem with the M3 (especially one as nice as yours) is that you can't help caring, the E46 M3 has some pretty hideous tendencies (oversteer is ugly on the E46 chassis, and the stock suspension's tendency towards understeer isn't fun either), and finally, of course, it's got enough speed that it's hard to keep up with the car when it's doing all kinds of interesting things.

agreatham
04-21-2010, 04:48 PM
That settles it. I'm getting me an E30 next year, that way I can still take it to chapter driving schools. Maybe a nice tame 318 or an eta. Thanks for all the input.

mcoupemindy
04-21-2010, 06:19 PM
That settles it. I'm getting me an E30 next year, that way I can still take it to chapter driving schools. Maybe a nice tame 318 or an eta. Thanks for all the input.

One of the lower models of the z3 would also be great choice too. 1.9 z3s are really coming down in price. But you most definitely cannot go wrong with a e30!

Nick325xiT 5spd
04-21-2010, 06:47 PM
Eh, don't get less than an M42 powered car. There's slow and then there's silly slow, and an M10 or eta powered E30 is the latter.

SamB325es
04-21-2010, 07:44 PM
I don't think my times at the last autocross are silly slow. I was faster than Robin Sparrow in his sticker-ed up one lap 335. An eta with a chip has almost 200 lb-ft o' torque, that's not bad.

Eta engines are pretty reliable, and cheap.

Nick325xiT 5spd
04-21-2010, 10:33 PM
With something other than the unpleasant stock gearing, an eta can be fine. But I still wouldn't recommend one. The cost difference isn't worth it. I'd buy an eta if it had a really nice shell, but I can't see any other reason to justify living with that engine.

woodym3
04-22-2010, 08:06 AM
Robin Sparrow admits that the stickers on his 335 do make it faster, but that was only his 3rd autocross ever Sam.

+ one on the E30 325i rather than an eta. Remember with a Z3 you'd be shut out of many track events, unless you get a coupe. I know of a nice Z3 3.0 Coupe that's coming up for sale soon. If interested, shoot me a PM.

noelleslie
04-22-2010, 11:07 AM
If you can't find an E30, you will not be disappointed with the Mazda Miata. I have a 1994 M edition with torsen LSD, and it is just the best car. It is so predictable it is silly. It is neutral in balance, inexpensive, is not slow, but not fast, but can get around a course very fast (like a good old E30, I will concede that).

Plus, you can get into like 10 zillion SCCA classes with a Miata.

Ethan Blank
04-22-2010, 01:53 PM
Noel,

Completely agree!

I just learned yesterday that the original Miata (NA) series, historically, had a weak diff (the "viscous" lsd). I learned that in my case last Saturday, when the diff failed and the car no longer moves.

I just today found on the internet a guy selling a Torsen diff that will fit my car, but will require swapping out the driveshaft and the rear axles.

So, once I complete this project, I will have a Torsen diff like you! (But, I believe that in the '94 Miata, the diff was a 4.1 ratio, whereas in my car its a 4.3 ratio). The later generation Miatas went to the 4.3 ratio Torsen diff. The "new" diff I'm installing came from a 2000 Miata and matches my current 4.3 ratio.

Also, beyond SCCA events, there are many clubs (including the NC BMW club) that will let you on track with the Miata. I participate with Track Daze and Mazda Drivers (they are both excellent), and they have events at Summit Point and VIR, among others. Most clubs will require a roll bar in a convertible, and I for one would not participate in any motorsport without it!

SamB325es
04-22-2010, 04:33 PM
Robin Sparrow admits that the stickers on his 335 do make it faster, but that was only his 3rd autocross ever Sam.

+ one on the E30 325i rather than an eta. Remember with a Z3 you'd be shut out of many track events, unless you get a coupe. I know of a nice Z3 3.0 Coupe that's coming up for sale soon. If interested, shoot me a PM.

I just took offense to my car being called "silly slow", and was trying to offer evidence to the contrary. No offense to Robin.

Nick325xiT 5spd
04-22-2010, 04:37 PM
A Z3 3.0 is too fast, IMHO. You want to be under 200hp, and the M54B30 has way too much area under the curve.

agreatham
06-09-2010, 10:14 PM
I'm looking at a 1994 E36 318is coupe with 150k miles and what I expect to be the M42B18 engine for $2,400. I'm having BMW of Fairfax do a pre-purchase inspection. Any thoughts before I pull the trigger?

Nick325xiT 5spd
06-09-2010, 10:22 PM
I'd do a 325, honestly. A 325 would carry you all the way to wheel to wheel racing if you want to go there. E36 318s are, well, something that you can't really grow with. The M42 is a completely different beast in an E30.

agreatham
06-10-2010, 05:07 PM
Good to know about the M42 in an E36 being different from it being in an E30, people just ask too damn much for E30s. I'll look for an E36 325. Thanks again, Nick! By the way, every time I see one of your posts I get the strange impulse to go out and buy hood pins ...

Nick325xiT 5spd
06-11-2010, 11:11 AM
Well, hood pins were the issue, Mike. The stock BMW latch is great.

I think you'll find the title of the video pretty self-explanatory:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNYFTkqgfRQ

SamB325es
06-14-2010, 06:18 PM
PM sent

agreatham
06-26-2010, 04:04 PM
For an E36 325 that I could take to wheel to wheel racing, should I get something that I can customize myself for say, spec e36, or am I better off buying one that's already been modified like this (http://www.bmwcca.org/classifieds/showproduct.php?product=7079&cat=660)? If I'm customizing it myself, I would imagine I'd want a 1992-1995 325i coupe w/o sunroof.

I've read that you only recoup about 50% of the cost of any modifications you put into a car, so I guess it would be cheaper to get something that someone else has already modified.

Nick325xiT 5spd
06-26-2010, 10:25 PM
First off, forget about finding a slicktop E36. They are unbelievably rare.

At $12.5k, that's pretty damned high. If that car were 6-8, I'd say jump on it - there's nothing that's been done that can't be reversed as needed. Mind you, the seller's inability to describe what he's done to the car in the ad is puzzling. It may have to do with the fact that he hasn't done all that much.

...and you can only recoup 50% of the cost of modifications if you DIY them. Forget about labor. AND you only get that generally if you take them off the car and sell separately.

IMHO, you want to start with a well maintained stockish car. You actually don't want a car that's too well set up as it will cover up mistakes too easily.

agreatham
06-27-2010, 12:23 AM
Thanks again for the tips. Let me buy you lunch one of these days, I work in Bethesda.

agreatham
07-10-2010, 09:35 PM
Still no luck finding a well-maintained stock E36 325 but the search continues ...

agreatham
07-18-2010, 10:44 PM
On the way home from AX last Saturday and after signing the death warrant for my 98 Jeep ZJ at Fair Oaks AutoPark, I took a 2010 Mazda MX-5 (Miata NC) for a test drive. The sales staff were swamped so they let me drive by myself for 30 minutes. Big mistake for the dealership. I found an office park two blocks down the road with a nice big empty parking lot and recreated some of my best moments from my 2010 autocross season. After a couple of minutes re-familiarizing myself with the concept of a clutch pedal, I did a few slaloms, a lot of showcase turns, and a couple of Scandinavian flicks. The car was glued to the road. Glued. This is what you get when you remove the luxury from a luxury sports car. I know it's heresy saying this here but if you haven't tried driving a Miata, any Miata (I'm told all years drive the same), you should try it. But pick a time when sales staff are busy.

Car54
07-19-2010, 08:33 PM
Anders's might still be selling his 318is. I hear it's back in N. VA now. It's decent quick without a ton of go fast mods. Good part is that it is already fitted with rollbar/seats/harness.

agreatham
08-22-2010, 10:18 AM
Update: this project on hold since the water pump failed and claimed the head gasket on my daily driver / grocery getter / canine transport 98 Jeep ZJ. Dumped the Jeep, need a replacement.