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Thread: Right car for learning to drive fast

                  
   
  1. #1
    Senior Member agreatham's Avatar
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    Right car for learning to drive fast

    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.
    Mike, 2005 E46 M3 ZCP SMG, 2005 E46 325xiT

  2. #2
    Senior Member flohtingPoint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agreatham View Post
    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.
    Last edited by flohtingPoint; 04-21-2010 at 05:53 AM.

  3. #3
    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.

  4. #4
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    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.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



  5. #5
    Senior Member agreatham's Avatar
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    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.
    Mike, 2005 E46 M3 ZCP SMG, 2005 E46 325xiT

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by agreatham View Post
    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!

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    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.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



  8. #8
    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.

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    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.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



  10. #10
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    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.
    Woody
    96 328is, 99 M Coupe, 04 330Ci

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    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.

  12. #12
    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!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by woodym3 View Post
    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.

  14. #14
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    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.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



  15. #15
    Senior Member agreatham's Avatar
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    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?
    Mike, 2005 E46 M3 ZCP SMG, 2005 E46 325xiT

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