The idea that you need a Porsche Cayman or an exotic sports car to start tracking your car is false. Here's why, because you won't ever push your car to the limit, and there are two reasons why that's a true statement.
Reason #1 – How would you feel about the running costs of an exotic sports car? Maintaining a track car is extremely expensive. If you're doing 5-6 open track days a year, you're spending $3,000 in maintenance on a "cheap" track platform (example – Mustang 302 boss). The cost of doing the same with a 911 turbo or similar would be significantly higher.
Reason #2 – The limitations of an exotic car are so much higher than a regular sports car. The difficulty level of driving a 911 turbo to its limitations are exponentially higher than say an E46 M3 which could be had for half the cost and the same level of fun.
So where does that leave someone who wants to go experience an open track day and wants to buy a reliable, cheap and fun platform for them to start off with? Here's how my list goes.
- 1. BMW E46 M3
330bhp from a German tuned inline 6 motor with power leading to the rear wheels. Few cars are as fast around the track for the cost of an M3. It'll teach you quite a bit about car control.
- 2. Ford Mustang S-197
A reliable and relatively cheap platform to go have fun in. The car has very few issues and take a look at the Boss 302, it set the benchmark for affordable muscle car based sports cars.
- 3. Chevy Corvette C5/6
It's a proven road race platform. Active stability control, traction control and ABS will make the car easier to drive when you first start off. The car is difficult to drive at the limit and has a tendency to snap oversteer, however it's one of the most gratifying cars to drive at the limit.
- 4. Honda S2000
Roadster with tons of grip. Possibly the last car from Honda's golden age. Massive aftermarket and absolutely one of the most fun cars to drive at the limit.
- 5. Nissan 350z
V6, RWD and cheap. Tons of fun, lots of grip and NASA has come out with a spec z race series for the car. It might be hard to find a car with this much potential for less money.
Every car on the list can be had for less than 20k, all of them are track proven and absolutely some of the most fun cars to drive on a track.