I have been having a blast driving the Fiesta on the track this year, but the faster I get, the more I think it's important to have more appropriate safety gear. I'm approaching Spec Miata lap times in a car that has no roll cage, standard shoulder belts, and no rescue features like tow hooks or engine kill switches.
I've come to the realization that if I ball up the Fiesta, I'm down at least $20K, my daily driver, and not least, hospital bills. If I ball up a reasonably priced track car with track-appropriate safety equipment, then I'm out the reasonable cost of the car, I would likely walk away from the incident, and drive to work on Monday.
So my friend Mike said I should consider a Porsche 944. They're relatively inexpensive, easy to work on, and there are lots of them out there on the road and on the track. Eventually he sent me a link to one for sale, and I think it was the perfect thing for me. Yes, parts are still Porsche expensive. But at least I can do a great deal of the work myself without a lift, as opposed to just about any task you'd want to undertake on a Porsche 911.
So here it is: a 1988 Porsche 944 naturally aspirated coupe. It has been built up as a track car by a guy in Northeast Ohio. He had much of his work done for him by professionals, and I've got the receipts. Quite a lot of money has gone into this car. I bought it from a guy in Buffalo, NY, who had bought it for his wife in the hopes that she would take to track events. I guess she didn't take. So the car basically lived in a garage for a year before he got around to selling it.
The car has 87,500 miles. I was skeptical, but the CarFax report corroborated the number. It has been fairly heavily modified for the track, but it's still street legal. It had been safety inspected and registered in New York in 2014.
The good things:
- Full bolt-in cage
- Momo racing seats (expired for racing, but great for DE's)
- 5-point cam-release harnesses (expired for racing, still ok for DE's)
- A/C delete
- Bigger brake swap from a 968
- three sets of wheels (street tires you see, two sets of yellow phone dials with Nitto NT01 racing tires)
- Momo steering wheel
- 500# front springs
- Kokeln front and rear anti-sway bars
- Timing belt / balancer belt / water pump replacement within 5K miles
- Aftermarket clutch
- No oil leaks
- No coolant leaks
- No interior leaks
- No rust
- It drove up onto the trailer under its own power.
- Everything seemed accurately represented in the advertisement. Many good things were actually left out!
The bad things:
- It had been sitting a while. The condition of the fuel and fuel system was unknown.
- The paint is in poor shape... the clearcoat came off with decal removal by the previous owner, and any forward-facing paint surfaces look like a starry sky from rock dings.
- There was a missing bolt connecting the front driver-side lower control arm to the very fancy anti-sway bar end link.
- It's a pain to get in and out of because I'm such a big lump.
So, not too many bad things, actually. That I've come across yet.
My plans for the car are to drive it at HPDE events (aka Track Days), and to drive it to and from HPDE events. I don't intend to modify it much further at this time. I bought it because it's ready to drive, and I hope to get some considerable quality track time with it before I would consider any mods.
944 N/A cars are known to be great handling, but on the slow side. That's ok with me. I'm looking forward to gaining a lot of RWD experience with this puppy, and I am not out there to break track records. In any case, it should be a lot of fun to drive on the track.