This is the third post in our Rally 101 Series.
Is there anything better than getting a new car? Especially when you know it will become a race car? The excitement and opportunities presented by such a blank canvas can be overwhelming, so it’s important to keep a cool head and define the criteria you’re looking for.
While there are many different variables that could go into the selection process, we will limit the discussion to the things that are good to keep in mind when building a car on an amateur level budget, with reliability and competitiveness as our priorities. This is the first step in our build plan, and the ultimate goal is to keep our driving-to-wrenching ratio as high as possible.
Can I use a car I already own? The cheapest car is one you don’t have to buy at all, and there is something to be said for driving something you are familiar with. I usually rule out anything that is particularly nice, since selling a daily driver that’s a couple years old is probably enough to finance your whole build and first season of competition. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s not worth more as parts (or scrap) than it is whole, it’s probably too nice.
Do I have parts/experience with a specific make/model? If you’re reading this, you’re probably going to be the one doing all of the wrenching on your car like we do. Considering the wear and tear that goes along with racing, it’s great to have the familiarity to quickly diagnose and fix issues. Of course, a garage full of parts, and knowing people in the community helps as well.
Can I get parts from a local junkyard? Sure you can probably Amazon Prime a new door these days, but it definitely helps when you can just drive down the street. I once crushed the front passenger side of my Impreza by doing a slight roll, so being able to walk into a junkyard and sawzall off a quarter of a car is an important factor for us.
Getting a wrecked, or salvaged car can be an awesome way to go since you can usually get a newer car for not a lot of money if you’re able to do a bit of bodywork,. Considering that body panels are a “wear” item on rally cars, having it pre-smashed is really not a huge deal. Copart.com and iaai.com are great places for insurance auctions, if you’re interested in persuing this route.
Should I buy a rusty car? No way. Unless it’s basically free and limited to things like doors, I stay away from rusty cars. Sure, you can fix pretty much anything with a welder and a grinder, but having a rusty car makes every single thing approximately 247% more difficult until all of the hardware is replaced.
Does someone make a proper rally shock for this car? This was a huge consideration for me, since suspension is critical in rally and not easy to get right. Having proven off-the-shelf solutions saves you money and keeps you from being a beta-tester on the stages.
Interior space is an important factor for us. Doing a stage rally means you’re spending 12 hours in the car, so it’s almost like going on a road trip in terms of how much stuff you end up bringing in the car with you - tools, spares, clothes, snacks, drinks, and usually a frisbee to throw around. Having a sedan or a hatchback is extremely convenient.
With these things in mind Molly and I scoured the internet for a few months. Since I had pretty much an entire Subaru Impreza 2.5RS rally car in parts, we were looking for a bare chassis or something pretty close to that.
Many close calls later, Facebook came through with an awesome 2002 WRX shell for sale in our area. It’s probably the most rust-free Subaru I have ever seen in Michigan, and mostly complete except for the engine and transmission.
Deal made, and the car on the trailer, the build has now officially begun!
Next up we’ll be covering the steps we took to get our car cage-ready. So keep checking back for updates.
Tachyon Racing is comprised of a Michigan- based driver Dmitriy Martynov and co-driver Molly Disend blasting their way through the motorsports scene. Dmitriy is a veteran driver who enjoys rallyX, autoX, and ice racing in addition to dirt biking and motorcycling. His passion and competitive drive lured Molly to join him in both TSD and stage rallies. Stay tuned for updates as we develop our team, build a rally car, and post occasional pictures of our lovable rally dog, Gogi. https://www.facebook.com/TachyonMotorsp…