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nhill40

A "fun" car for a daily driver - why bother?

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kludger   
On 12/13/2016 at 0:23 PM, Doug Atkinson said:

Semi off-topic

Would be nice if Toyota in North America started offering TRD components as extensive as these for the 86 sold here.
http://www.trdparts.jp/english/86_performanceline/parts_interior.html

I think you can pick up a FR-S with a bunch of TRD options by buying the FRS Series 1.0 and the parts for it are probably available via the Toyota US dealers:

http://pressroom.toyota.com/releases/scion+frs+release+series+1+arrives+dealerships.htm
 

Quote

 

With just 1,500 Release Series 1.0 vehicles produced, FR-S enthusiasts must move fast to own the limited edition coupe. Striking with a coat of Yuzu exterior paint color, the Release Series 1.0 comes equipped with enhanced features from Toyota Racing Development (TRD), including TRD Quad Tip Exhaust System and TRD lowering springs. Other highlights are the custom-designed aero kit with a rear spoiler and side fender garnish. Highlighting its exclusivity, each vehicle contains its sequential release series badge (1 of 1500) inlayed on its brushed aluminum shifter surround plate

Additional FR-S Release Series 1.0 features include:

  • TRD steering wheel
  • TRD shift knob
  • Black seats with T-pattern
  • HID headlamps with LED daytime running lights
  • TRD logo cargo mat
  • Smart Key with Push Button Start

 

Otherwise I've ordered a couple of JDM STi parts for my BRZ from Japan via Japanparts.com (keyless startup button and rear spoiler gurney flap) back when those parts were not yet available in US models, and the prices and shipping weren't too bad, you might want to check on there, lots of ft86club.com BRZ guys have ordered the full JDM STI kits and rims via that site.

https://www.japanparts.com/parts/list.php?skwd=TRD+FR-S&x=0&y=0

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nhill40   

Hmm, the plot thickens.  I've inadvertently managed to scare my wife bad enough with all the BRZ talk that she seems to be softening her stance on the "no extra car" policy.  Meaning, would a NA Miata get me to shut up? :D

Even a good condition NA Miata can be had (especially in a snowy place like where I live) easily for cash.  Then, saving up the equivalent of a handful of BRZ payments, a roll cage, racing seats, removable wheel, etc can be added.

So, all other factors being equal, I would personally take a NA over a BRZ (or FR-S, etc) by a pretty wide margin (key word being "personally" - i.e. just my personal preference/opinion; your own may deviate significantly from mine! :) )

Unfortunately, as with a lot of things in life, all other factors aren't equal.  First and foremost is the track day question, which the missus is still showing a great deal of resistance to.  I think I finally have her convinced autocross is harmless to both driver and car, but any mention of a track day seems to bring out "that face" (presumably because she is picturing my headstone in a cemetery somewhere!)

So, that's where I stand.  Really don't know what - if anything - is going to come of this, but I am very happy that I committed to taking my time on this decision.  It's very easy to get tunnel vision when the prospect of a new toy is on the table...

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Grave   

I've got a 2015 Subaru BRZ manual myself. It's a great car and one that will you will enjoy daily and more so at the track! I only took it once this year (in torrential rain) and it was mega fun with zero grip. Looking forward to next year.

It's also fairly practical for this kind of car, the rear seats fold down and there is quite a bit of space in the trunk. The rear seats are only good for 1 person with no legs, but I did do long 450km road trips with a person in the back. (RIP)

The handling is incredible, no body roll at all, very good balance. The engine is good and if your mission in life is not setting lap records, its plenty of power for daily and track use.

I've put winter tires on my BRZ now and its holding its own in snowy conditions as well... give it some gas out of the corner and it'll give you a smile. :D 

sub.jpg

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nhill40   

Great looking car, Grave!  Love the color - thats my favorite (evem though my wife informs me "sports cars are supposed to be red" :D )

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nhill40   

Oh, and if you're half as fast in real life as you are in AC, you probably stand to make some cash on the side charging admission for "ride-alongs" at your next track day excursion!!!  :hahaha:

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Grave   

I wish I was, I don't know really. Don't have enough track experience, but I was pretty good in karting a couple of times! :P It's not a FERRARI to be red, its not that exotic. ;)

Edit: Oh, and when I went to Maranello, Italy as a tourist and tried their (AC based) F1 sim at Monza in 2013, I posted the fastest time. The Ferrari person asked me if I race professionally and I said only play games. :(  I thought he'd ask me to replace Massa at the time.

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@nhill40  I'll always endorse a Miata, wholeheartedly.  I just put a cheap header and used starter on mine.  Runs like a boss.  An ugly, chipped, dented, faded (but straight!) boss.  It won't be ready for the track for a while though.  But I want to keep it street legal, since having something take up my garage hole and only get driven a few times a years seems silly.

I've never done autocross, but should look into it eventually.

I know "that face".  My mom makes it when my dad joins me at the track (I guess she's done worrying about me :P ).  But he gets an earful.  BTW, that RS I've been borrowing is his, and hopefully he will be ripping it around VIR in March.  My wife doesn't worry about me at the track, and she shouldn't.  She should worry about my 30+ minute Interstate commute every day.  Much more dangerous than driving on track.  Nobody on track is on their phone, eating a bagel, or applying makeup.  Everyone is paying attention to what they're doing.  Plus, I don't wear a helmet to work.  Maybe I should?

@Grave , lovely BRZ!  

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nhill40   

Yes, there is something about those first gen Miata's that is just pure magic for me.  I met my buddy for lunch the other day and he drove his '91 - I had to fight to keep myself together because it made me miss mine so much!  :hahaha:

A '91 Miata is a 25 year old car (which seems hard to believe!), but when you factor in that even back in '91 it was already a tribute to a much simpler (and more exciting) time in automotive history, there's just something special about driving one.  Plus, Japanese reliability on top of it all!

Granted, if my buddy had rolled up in a brand new BRZ, I'm sure I would have been swooning over that, too...so who knows!  I do know myself well enough to know I need to let this run it's course and be really sure I'm not going to be sitting at a stoplight in a BRZ someday wistfully gazing at someone's beater NA...

As far as the track question goes, that will be a work-in-progress with the missus over the coming weeks/months.  I really believe track days to be safe ventures - yeah, I'm sure people have gotten hurt and totaled vehicles unleashing their inner Mario Andretti, but the overwhelming majority of people leave track days with unscathed cars and big smiles (which is more than you can say for a lot of people you see on the side of the road on the interstate every rush hour!)  I did see a statistic once (can't find it now, of course) where someone had estimated how many lives would be saved a year if all vehicle occupants would be required to wear helmets - it was quite staggering.

On a guilt-induced side note, I have kind of given my wife a bit of a hard time in this thread and I've inadvertently probably made her out to be a bit of a control freak but, honestly, she just loves me and doesn't want to see me hurt...and (thankfully, for my sake) she is also very responsible with money and wants to make sure I have done my homework before jumping into anything.

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Piotr   

Your wife is very smart. Better to let you heal your "middle age crisis" by chasing 25 years old cars than chasing 25 year old... mistresses

:neaner:

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kludger   

Hehe @Piotr:thumbsup: 

Nice BRZ @Grave

@nhill40 I think we all drool when we see a nice MX-5 at a light no matter what car we're driving, my wife keeps thinking I want to trade in on one, but I just appreciate a nice car.

My '13 BRZ I just got new snow tires and an oil change, in a couple of weeks I'll be driving it from Seattle to Philadelphia (2,800mi) as part of our move to the other side of the country, really looking forward to the drive despite the time of year and potential crappy weather.

Even crappy weather is fun when driving a fun car on decent roads:

 

 

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nhill40   

Some updates...

I've got the thumbs up on doing some track days, which is awesome.  I just hope if I do crash, it's fatal...because being dead will be far preferable to me than having to  make a phone call to my wife to let her know I need a ride home from the track cuz I crashed!!!  :D

I've kept a pretty close eye on the NA Miata market over the past few weeks, and I'm a little less optimistic.  If you want one that's either (1) junk or (2) been modded to hell and back by some knucklehead, you are in luck.  If you are like me and hoping to find one that is bare stock with something like 85K miles (plus or minus 20K or so - ha!), things are a bit tighter.  I've expanded my search to also include NB's, which I'm not quite as enthusiastic about as the NA's, but it's still a Miata.  Low mileage (relatively speaking), un-modded NB's do turn up on a reasonably frequent basis, but they do go fast.  The watch continues...

On the BRZ/FR-S front, I finally test drove an FR-S today.  I really did not trust myself to do this because...well...I don't trust myself!  But, I decided to be a grown-up, make a pact with myself, and give it a no-commitment whirl today.  My experience with a lightly-used FR-S today narrowed the margin with the Miata by quite a bit, as I thought the FR-S was great.  

In hindsight this was totally naive, but I really think I had an expectation of a more "polished" (in a bad way) experience with the FR-S than it actually was...in reality, the car felt deliciously crude (in a good way).  All of the non-essentials were quite utilitarian/spartan and, in a lot of cases, even borderline "cheap" (I know that sounds like a bad thing but, believe me, in my book that's a compliment).  In short, it felt like the car had a lot of  character and "spoke" to me in a way that was very NA Miata-esque (kind of like "I'm built for driving - if you want noise dampening, dual climate control, and a nice stereo, the BMW dealer is right over there").  Loved it!

As far as what actually matters - the driving experience - as far as I could tell from the limited work-up I gave it, the car is as good as advertised.  I had my son with me, so I think the dealer felt like he could trust me to not get the thing up on 2 wheels with my 7 year old riding shotgun, so I was able to take it solo.  There was a nice twisty section of road through a large, empty business park across the highway from the dealer, so we had the chance to try out some curves...the car felt planted, balanced, and like it was begging for more.  

The steering was absolutely phenomenomal - the wheel felt weighty and informative (though, if this were a sim, you'd be checking your control properties to try to figure out why you weren't getting much FFB - LOL!)  The delay between steering input and change in direction was so narrow as to be almost imperceptible.

The transmission was a bit different - felt very "notchy" for lack of a better term, but still very good.  Very short throw and I think designed in such a way that ensures you will not miss any shifts, as there was a very disinct feeling when you found the gear.  The clutch bite point was great and well-defined (I couldn't believe how sloshy the clutch felt in my Mazda 3 by comparison).

Acceleration was about as advertised.  If you want smoking tires at every green light, the used car sites are absolutely jam-packed with used Mustangs/Camaros (in the States, at least).  Truthfully, I would be hard pressed to gauge which car is faster out of the chute - the FR-S or my Mazda 3 (I think on paper, the FR-S is a hair faster, but not by much)...all the same, it was really fun to run it through the gears with the center mounted RPM gauge and really sporty exhaust note filling the cabin.

All in all, I came away very impressed feeling as though I'm a long way from making any decision.  If I do go the BRZ/FR-S route, my inclination right now is to lean in the used FR-S direction.  First and foremost, they are ridiculously cheap.  I'm not sure I've ever seen a car brand so hated as Scion - even people who really aren't into cars seem to have extremely poor opinions of Scion (I think perhaps only bringing up Hyundai brings out the same level of disgust), and that seems to be reflected in the resale value.  Secondarily, while I doubt the BRZ feels anything like a luxury car, as a general rule the BRZ trim packages seem to be a bit nicer and I'm afraid to lose out on some of that spartan/borderline cheap feel I got from the FR-S.

Well, that's a pretty long write up for very little action, but honestly it helps me organize my thoughts and I'm really glad to get the opinions of a lot of like-minded drivers here.

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That was very enjoyable reading your observations Nick. So glad you got to drive it and the elements in the more "frugal" FR-S appeals to me also. Not to say the BRZ isn't top notch, just that it isn't quite as spartan and that has its own appeal. You can always replace the FR-S badges with Toyota badges from the 86.

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Roenie   

Lots of cool but expensive (and/or impractical) cars in this thread, so let me add some info for those who don't make more money than most, don't want to take a loan and can afford only one car.

The OP helped me make what I think is a wise choice: I'm in queues (traffic jams) twice a day. With a sportscar I would be at a racetrack only once in a blue moon. A commute is not a race and you cannot race on public roads (especially in a crowded country such as this), so all I need is enough power to safely (read: quickly) overtake a slowpoke when I need to so I'm not late for work. But I don't want a completely boring car either. I need it to handle nicely so I can be quick on that narrow windy road along the highway I'll be on when said highway is over crowded.

The affordable used "fun" cars I ended up narrowing it down to are the BMW 320i (170 hp), Audi A3 1.8/2.0 (160/200 hp), and Mazda 3 2.0 (150 hp). A Mazda 3 2.0 would be a good, more reliable daily that is a bit of fun and would have much more reasonable repair costs compared a faster Audi A3 or BMW 320i. Lighter weight than the other two (which in this country also means lower road tax), it's no miata but it's a practical all rounder with better handling than the average car. Cheaper to buy, nice interior. Likely to have very few technical problems. It's a great bang for your buck car. There's 2 versions with wider tires and 17" rims, named Active and GT-M. The latter has a 6-speed gearbox. I much prefer the look of the sedan, but there's hatchbacks as well.

I'm shopping for one that's about 10 years old due to budget constraints, but if you're looking for something more recent, for the same price as an A3 used you can just about get a new Mazda 3.

I currently drive one of the worst handling and slowest cars in existence that bodyrolls and understeers like mad, but pushing the car to its limit is still fun. It's fun to do regardless of where the limit is for your car, as long as your car isn't too heavy.

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nhill40   

I think a Mazda 3 would be a great choice, Roenie.  I really like how mine drives and it has made my decision a very difficult one (probably because deep down I know the right choice is to keep it).

So you would be looking for a circa 2007?  That is my favorite generation from a style standpoint (and they were also lighter and more fuel efficient back then, too).

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Roenie   

Glad we agree on best generation, I hate those pointless folds practically all newer cars have, running along the side. You know the ones. Though I was simply looking at the newest I can afford without financing it.

With the money saved from driving a daily more suitable as a daily and lower cost of ownership than a sportscar, you could probably rent a proper race car for the track once in a while and have enough left over to buy the wife a day at the spa.

Different tools for different jobs.

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nhill40   

Yes, I'm afraid you're right, Roenie.

I do like cars but, at the end of the day, they really are just tools.  First and foremost, they are tools to allow the auto companies to get people to part with their hard-earned cash!  :D

So much of this ends up being image and marketing, I'm afraid.  Truth be told, sitting at a stoplight is fundamentally the same experience in a La Ferrari as it is in an FR-S as it is in a Mazda 3.  The big difference is I already own the Mazda (and it's practical and reliable).

 

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Roenie   

Meet my new not quite so little friend from 2011.

First place: The 118 by miles. BMW's really are not just brand image and soft touch plastic. As soon as you sit down it's obvious: everything is next level including the comfort. Forget its awe inspiring handling and smooth engine performance, seat adjustability matters.

Runner up: Fiat Punto Evo  1.3 turbodiesel chip tuned for an extra 30-40 hp, and 17" rims instead of stock. Transformed the car from boring and indirect into one that will put a smile on your face for VERY little money. 6000 euro gets you one stock in very good condition. Make sure you  get one with the coloured dash inlay. Lifts the whole interior. Comfortable seats, handles great. Definitely the bang for buck fun car to beat. Excellent fuel economy, will be rather fuel efficient even after tuning.

Third place: Mazda 3. It's expensive, prone to rust and you can almost get 3 Evo's for the price of one Mazda 3. That's why they call it the 3. Or get a 118 bimmer like I did, not a lot between them in price, assuming both are used cars. Mazda 3 handles well, has very comfortable seats even though they lack adjustability for tall people - no upper leg support, but just stick with fabric seats - the fabric is high quality and easy on the eyes. The leather is not that great and a little slippery. The fabric holds you in place and always looks new no matter what 3 occasion I look at.

Somewhere around 50th: Ford Mondeo 1.6 ecoboost. It's so big. Just how big won't sink in until you actually drive one. The dash and hood in front of you are gigantic. It doesn't body roll but it still is heavy and it feels like it. Feels like driving a huge boat, and you're the captain up in the cabin. The steering is responsive and it's not a slow car by any means, but not quick either. Good for relaxed motorway cruising, not for chucking about. Avoid narrow roads with any sort of traffic. Be advised, if you do decide a Mondeo is for you because, say, reproduction is your sole purpose in life and you need to fit a family with 4 tall fat kids and don't like pickup trucks, do yourself the favour of avoiding the heated windshield option, as comes standard even in the mid-range titanium trim. It seems handy for certain occasions but the individual wires throughout the windshield will be in your vision year round, darkening your view. Only the Trend trim (base trim) lacks these wires, but lacks a ton of other features including sport seats. Most of which *can* be added as separate (packages of) options, but the stock Trend trim's seats aren't great to look at.

My 2ct after test driving lots of cars.

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