When you want to start driving on track, there's the temptation to get something with a ton of horsepower and grip. But that's not the right way to go. What you actually want is something that will teach you how to get the absolute most out of every ounce of horsepower and grip. Here are a few cars that fit the bill.
The CRX is great because it's simple. There's no complex engine tech or wild suspension setup—it's just a light, nimble car that begs to be thrown around corners. Sure, you won't be the fastest car at your local HPDE event, but you'll certainly be having the most fun. you can buy on eBay right now.
If you're not the Miata type, but want something nimble, reliable, and fun, it's hard to go wrong with the MR2. Its mid-engine layout makes it a natural on track, and parts are cheap. Just be sure to steer clear of the second-gen turbo models—they have a reputation for snap oversteer. has low miles, and it's for sale.
Used 350Zs have gotten incredibly cheap. You can easily scoop one up as a track car . For that, you're getting a 300-horsepower V-6-powered sports car with rear wheel drive and solid styling.
Though some people may think a Corvette is a bit overkill for a beginner, we think the base C5 is perfect for the job. It's not as fast as the Z06, and it's perfectly balanced. But it still has plenty of grunt so you won't get left behind on the straights. with low miles up for bidding on eBay right now.
The S2000 carries the same balanced roadster ethos as the Miata, just with 100 more horsepower. It's the perfect sweet spot, making this car great for beginners and veterans alike. And because it's a Honda, it's reliable, and parts are easy to source. painted in a lovely shade of red, and you can own it.
The Cobalt SS remains a fairly underrated choice in the world of cheap used performance cars. It provides plenty of fun on track, and parts can be had for cheap. If you want to drive something different, the Cobalt is the car for you. for sale right now for under $7000.
If you want a car that can truly do it all, it's hard to go wrong with the WRX. Aside from being a great all-weather daily-driver, it's economical, spacious, and capable enough to hold its own on track. you can own today.
The 944 may be getting a bit old, but it still deserves a spot on this list. Because they're cheap to buy, tons of grassroots race teams and HPDE veterans have taken the 944 under their wings. Parts aren't as cheap as, let's say, a Miata, but they're still relatively affordable compared to other Porsche models. can be yours for just $6000.
In case you haven't noticed, used Fiat 500 Abarths have gotten cheap. Really cheap. Cars with around 50,000 miles in good condition can . For that, you get an ultra-lightweight, great sounding hatch that's perfectly capable of giving you many smiles during an HPDE event.
While it may just seem like any old luxury sedan, the IS300 is a sports car in disguise. Under the hood sits a naturally aspirated version of the legendary 2JZ straight-six engine, sending power to the rear wheels via an available five-speed manual transmission. Upgrade the brakes, and you've got yourself a bulletproof four-door track rat. sports the manual, and you can own it today.
There's a reason the Nissan S13 is a wildly popular drift car: It has an excellent rear-drive chassis and nearly unlimited modding potential. Start with the 240SX's underpowered KA24 inline-four, and swap it for something more powerful when you acquire some skill. Unmodified examples are in high demand, so if you find one for cheap, you better jump on it quickly.
Generally, a mid-engine car isn't great for an inexperienced driver—some of these cars can have hairy tendencies at the limit. The Boxster, though, is totally docile and packs just enough power to have fun without overwhelming a novice. First-generation cars are a bargain right now, so go find a good one. .
Don't want a drop-top? The Boxster's hardtop Cayman sibling is an equally fantastic choice for hitting the track. Its chassis is even stiffer than the Boxster's, and first-generation examples are starting to depreciate to reasonable prices. has low miles and a manual transmission.
No, a rotary engine isn't the most reliable thing in the world, but its high-revving nature makes it great for track driving. With balanced, forgiving handling, the RX-8 is perfect for track novices. Best of all, you can now buy RX-8s .
It's easy to dismiss the Neon as a beater, but these things dominated SCCA racing in the 1990s. They're cheap, incredibly light, and have surprisingly sweet motors. You really want an ACR or an R/T (pictured here), which came track ready from the factory. on eBay that's already been prepped as a track car.
You can't go wrong with any generation of the Civic Si, but we went with the eighth-gen since it's new enough to be modern, but old enough to be affordable. A sweet engine and gearbox combined with a nimble chassis and unwavering reliability make this an excellent choice. brand-new, and you can own it right now.
If you want a new car you can daily drive and take to the track, you could do a lot worse than the Toyobaru twins. They're not the most powerful cars in the world, but they have just enough thrust for joyous drifting. A robust aftermarket means you can turn one into whatever you want. you can buy today.
With the E30 becoming a bit of a collector's item, the E36 3-Series has become the track rat of choice. Cheap to buy, sweet handling, and quick enough with a six-cylinder, the 325i sedan seems to be the E36 of choice, but you really can't go wrong with any version of this car. has under 100,000 miles on it, and you can own it now.
The Focus RS might be the hottest Ford hatchback, but don't forget about the lovely Fiesta ST. It's a little firecracker of a car on track, and an amazingly efficient daily driver. At , it's hard to want more.
Yes, the Miata is the most painfully obvious choice, but it might be the best car for the job. They're still cheap to buy, reliable, imminently tunable, and an absolute blast to drive. Short of getting an automatic, you simply can't go wrong with a Miata. sports the hardtop and looks incredibly clean. It's for sale right now on eBay.
The Volkswagen GTI is the perfect hatchback for someone who doesn't want compromise. It's one of the most livable cars on this list, with plenty of performance capability. The current generation is excellent if you want a new car, but if you go used, the Mk 5 and Mk 6 are excellent choices. you can own right now.
While the E36 remains a solid choice for new track-day goers, the E46 deserves a mention as well. Base, rear-wheel drive models are cheap enough now that people are taking them racing, proving there's a lot of potential for the car on track. with a manual you can buy off eBay today.
You can't go wrong with an Acura Integra. No matter the trim, you get a lightweight, expertly dialed-in car that's tons of fun to drive at any speed. Plus, it's reliable and parts are cheap. has low miles, and it's up for sale now.