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To buy stock & tweak or buy cheap & build? e.g C63 vs MR2 V6

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  • To buy stock & tweak or buy cheap & build? e.g C63 vs MR2 V6

    Hi all,
    I'm starting to look at cars to have fun (get my adrenaline fix) over the next few years & wondering what path I should take. Here's my objectives;Ignoring costs to meet safety requirements, licensing, etc I am considering either;
    • Purchase mid-2000's Merc C63 or similar (~$25k) & then engine / ECU mods to get 3:1 (~$5k+) & then ??? to seek 2:1 ($???)
    • Purchase mid-90's MR2 sw20 (~$5k), V6 engine swap (~$5k) then ECU & boost to get 3:1 (~$5k) & internals, etc over time to seek 2:1 (~$15k over time)
    What do you think would be the better path to take?
    Do you have any suggested alternatives to achieve the above?

    Thanks & I'm looking forward to everyones ideas. Cheers!

  • #2
    Hi Garbo, sounds like an exciting project for sure!

    I have no experience of the type of rallying and hill climb you are hoping to compete in, but if it was me I'd definitely start with a light car that handles well. That's why I'd be hesitant when it comes to the C63 as it would be relatively heavy meaning it needs more power and suspension work to make it quicker, which means more money. Parts are also no doubt expensive.

    How about using a trusty MX5 as a base to start from? Lots of aftermarket parts and all that, even though it probably is not a very imaginative choice. Just my tuppence, as I'm sure whatever your budget really is you'll probably end up spending double that before you're happy with your track weapon, so best to use something with great aftermarket support. Or perhaps a BRZ/GT86?

    Handling and braking would anyway be my first port of call for improvements regardless of car, the type of competitions you are considering I'd assume will favour nimble handling and late braking (and the lighter the car the later you can brake!) more so than just brute power.


    • #3
      I just leave this here.

      Mk2 Escort is the best race car ever.
      1982 Ford Taunus

      1984 Ratty Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser

      1963 Oldsmobile Super 88

      1974 Chevrolet El Camino


      • #4
        Can't argue with that!


        • #5
          Thanks Kaktus - yep, the mx5 is on the list of possibles but not that cheap in nz & a bit... uninspiring
          Certainly agree with you on brakes, etc & is part of the process to be road legal here.
          SBC - yep, that's the idea!! Just a bit less harsh / more modern / low key to allow weekend romps through the countryside & surprise people at the lights.
          Thanks for the posts


          • #6
            With a budget that big, and him wanting a project;
            You're ALL doing this wrong:



            • #7
              Ah yes, now you're talking! For that price it's hard to even consider anything else!!


              • #8
                ummmm... yeeeaaahhh.... naaaahhh.... $20k (mx5 $ = mr2 $ ~5k) for a VERY narrow use case. Top Gear / Grand Tour "can I use a track day car to drive to the track and back?" episodes never left me feeling like open roads were an enjoyable Sunday drive :O
                reason why I haven't considered a LowCost7 build or similar
                but thanks for the suggestion


                • #9
                  Btw, one slightly left field alternative could be a Phase 2 Peugeot 106 Rallye or GTi, especially the Rallye would be a good base to start from. You could also swap the revvy 8V (105bhp) for a 16V (120bhp) 16V engine out of a GTi. The Rallye is though really light, revs to about 8500 and has really short gearing so accelerates rather nicely even as stock, and it has a few factory modifications to make it stiffer and so on. It was essentially built for racing with adjustable suspension and all sorts of interesting bits.

                  I've no idea though how easy it'd be to find a good one in your neck of the woods, but if you can find one at least test drive one and see what you think.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Garbo View Post
                    Top Gear / Grand Tour "can I use a track day car to drive to the track and back?" episodes never left me feeling like open roads were an enjoyable Sunday drive
                    Then you haven't tried it.
                    You get the advantages of an 'open top' car, so you get to take in the country side and enjoy the world, AND you can throw it around if you wish.

                    The ONLY part that can make it unpleasant is that track suspension is often much stiffer; but a simple 2nd set of ebay coilovers (which are often too soft) for Cruise weekends fixes that.

                    If you want to experience it; try test driving an Aerial Atom or Caterham.
                    You'll see the appeal


                    • #11
                      Thanks both.
                      The old euro hatchs can be hard to come by but if I go 'hot hatch' route I always liked the idea of some of the older rally legends (in name any way) the 206 always got me excited as well as mazda 323 awd (Carlos Sains dominated in rally NZ on the roads I drove myself )
                      & yep, if I went open top Caterham/Lotus7/etc does suit my taste for a more retro look (they remind me of morgans) but, to be honest, if I had the budget I would be getting an Shelby / AC Cobra replica