Every once in a blue moon the stars and the planets (and the blue moon) align and there's a big "DING!" sound that rings out as the proverbial light bulb goes off in the ole' noggin. Well, that all happened this week. Yep. Blue moon, planets, stars, ding. For years (since I lost the Volvo 850 Turbo
, in fact) I've been debating what car I really want as a long-termer. At one point I thought I had it
, but that didn't really work out as well as I needed, so I ended up downgrading
to something cheaper
and more practical to tide me over while I reset, licked my pride-wounds, and prepared for an all-new search
That search has had its ups & downs and dragged on just like it did the first time. There are a handful of things that I want, but unfortunately I just can't get all of them in one vehicle. It's just not possible. Practicality, utility, speed, and efficiency? There are plenty of vehicles that can do some of those things really well, and plenty that can do all of them to various degrees of "good enough." Well, my main operating motto is, "Good enough, isn't." So, I opened myself up to the possibility of a track car plus a utility vehicle that'd pull it around. Well that didn't work out since California requires that you have a full-size gas guzzling truck now to tow another vehicle on the highway. Oh, but wait! I could always have one solid practical vehicle, and one solid street-legal high-performance wheeler. Oh, but that wouldn't make economic sense. Argh!
So, I've been playing Forza 2 on the XBox lately, and in the process of developing a solid car to take into online competition, I found myself endlessly amazed at the level of performance achievable with small, inexpensive cars, without even doing any
engine work. I also recall seeing a video once of a (real) stock-frame, old-school Honda CRX making laps at Thunderhill Raceway and absolutely killing
everything out there. Then I found out what number was going to be on my Q2 bonus check from work, and that's when the "ding" happened. A street-legal (even in California) high-performance car doesn't need to be expensive at all. It just needs the right combination of power, weight, and chassis tunability. This can work. It can really work!
A New Beginning
My mission is clear and simple. I want a fun & fast project car that'll be California street legal, handle like a dream (or a go-kart, whichever
), and be cheap. Shouldn't be too hard, right?
I'd like to spend no more than $5k on this car in *total*, after all modifications & upgrades. Thus, I want to spend no more than $2k on the base car itself. I'd consider going outside of this range only if something too good to pass up became an option.
Yes, again, 100% California street & highway legality is a must, and of course must pass smog. In this interest, I hope to do absolutely minimal engine/emmissions modifications.
Size & weight.
To be quick, this car needs a good power-to-weight ratio. To handle well, it needs to be light and compact and have short overhangs. Two-ton 20' long sloppy solid axle American cars are OUT of the question, sorry. Let's keep it well under 3,000lbs, preferrably to where it can be under a ton when fully stripped out.
I want something I can get upgrade parts for. Without having to go to the ends of the earth. A respectable aftermarket is a must. I need to be able to upgrade the suspension, driveline, clutch, among other things. It needs to have room for wide
wheels, and if it doesn't, it needs to have available widebody kits or options for rolled and/or flared fenders to fix that.
Style & rep.
butt-ugly would be nice. And it's got to be a vehicle that people will respect. It's going to be the URC mascot car.
Alright, let's do this...
(Last edited by theJANG : 5.11.08 at 10:02 pm)
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