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Monday, 15 February 2010

Find a niche then exploit it.

I've always enjoyed motorsport of any kind, Track days can provide all the fun of motor racing but without the red tape and regulations. Track days in the UK are quite popular these days. Most people experience their first track day to see how their car performs on a race circuit. A large percentage of these people then get the bug and want to start doing track days on a regular basis. 

I was one of those people. I have taken most of the performance cars that I own on a race circuit at some point. More recently I used a Lotus Elise S2 and although stunning on handling, I mean really stunning, it lacked top end grunt. I then progressed to a Subaru Impreza WRX. 

I bought the Subaru when it had already been stripped and to be fair it had a great spec. It was running 1.2 BAR on the turbo and came with a rolling road printout showing 279bhp at the wheels. I bought it and made some further mods namely Sparco steering wheel, different coil overs and full race livery. I wont mention figures here as the car as recently been sold but............
I lost money on it! let me explain. I did a track day in Anglesey (click here to see on board video) with it, the car went superbly until the last run when something went terribly wrong. It turns out I had cracked a piston. This resulted in me needing an engine rebuild costing £1500. As It happens I chose not to have the work done and instead sold the car for spares or repair. I will add, I only lost a few hundred pounds which given that it was sold as a non runner is quite impressive. Had I have not blown the engine I reckon I would have cleared a £1500 profit on that car and  I would have had some great track days in it too. 

Anyway, that was that. I was confident of making cash had I not have blown the engine but more importantly (at least to me) I had some great track time in it. So I'm keen to get another track toy, enjoy the summer at race circuits, improve it then sell it for a profit. Although the Subaru was ridiculously fast it was also ridiculously temperamental (exceptionally loud, the neighbours blind slats were twitching when it started up). It was highly tuned and had aftermarket ECU etc and was just too fickle. I wanted something more reliable and something more on a par with the track car that my cousin runs which is a Primera GT (you will see me pass the white nice sounding car in the video) So, I have just bought a Nissan Almera GTi which has already been part prepared in so far as it has been stripped, caged, race seats and harnesses etc, uprated brakes and so on. The car has the same engine as the Primera and so with a few more modifications I should be about level in terms of performance as the Primera GT, More importantly, I've picked this up at the right money, ok it isn't a Subaru but, give me a few months, you wont recognise this car and I reckon that there's at least a grand (£1000) in it!

The thing is, People are looking for cheap fun, Some buy bikes, others buy jet skis some want track cars. There are a lot of people who will build there own but trust me, please trust me, there are people out there who just want a stripped out car that sounds nice and looks the part so that they can do track days and feel like Tiff Needell. This is a niche, Ok so my last attempt lost money, not a lot I may add but that was due to engine failure. I'm confident this time and I'm gonna have a whole load of fun in it too! I'll keep you posted


  1. most of this was written in a foreign language ;-p! BUT I am glad you are having fun and have a new toy..

  2. About that Lotus Elise, how would you rate the power vs weight ratio?

  3. Hi Debbie - Yep having fun again!

    Muscle car reviewer - To be fair that is the whole concept of the Elise. The power to weight ratio results in a car that has more BHP per ton than many super cars. This was always Colin Chapmans intention and has been a trademark of Lotus over the years. The power is fine in such a light body especially on a technical circuit. It is only on circuits with long straights that the Elise begins to need a little more grunt. This is I suppose where the Exige steps in.
    I've tracked some impressive cars over the years but by far the best experience is delivered by the Elise. I could highly recommend one.