So you’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and go down the race car route? Be warned, once you start, there’s no going back. The excitement is contagious and you’ll want to keep coming back to the adrenaline-filled sport time and time again. That being said, the vast amount of race cars for sale currently on the market can make choosing the right one somewhat overwhelming. Fear not though, we’re here to help you find the perfect race car suitable for your needs and requirements, hopefully giving you some advice along the way.
Porsche 911 GT3/Cup Race Cars for Sale
This one’s a no brainer. Take a look at any race car championship, and what do you see? That’s right, Porsches. More to the point, Porsche 911s. They’re everywhere. From top-class endurance racing to the more subtle GT3 championships like the. The combination of a reliable flat-six Blancpain GT3 Championship “Boxer” engine and amazing traction makes the 911 a lethal weapon. Porsche has worked around the rear-engine layout and adapted it to their advantage. Rather than being wayward and unpredictable, the car is a joy to drive, with amazing traction on corner exits and a neutral balance mid-corner.
The light front end offers great turn-in with a bit of trail braking, making the 911 platform (both GT3 and Cup) one of the fastest competition cars in the world. The 997 and 991 generations are still eligible in almost all championships, but you might need to adapt a 996 or an older gen to be more competitive and meet requirements. You can find earlier cars well under the $100k mark, but expect later ones to stretch well into the $250k, especially if it’s an RSR.
If you’re after something newer which is extremely competitive, you can go for the Ferrari 458/488 platform. Although the new turbocharged V8 in the 488 is a lot faster, the 458 is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. The 458 GT3 makes some 550 horsepower, but it’s the you’re planning on running in the top-level competitions. It’s down on power compared to the GT3 iteration, with a restricted 4.5-liter V8 making ‘just’ 464 hp, but it’s got a lot more aero, stickier tires and a closer gear ratio. The 458s still fetch $100k+, but the latest 488 can cost three times as much.
Lamborghini Huracan GT3
For sheer presence, nothing on the grid can match the Huracan GT3. All race cars have a certain aura, but the Huracan is simply on another level. It just looks fast even when it’s standing still. It’s more than just a pretty face however. The 5.2-liter makes well over 550 horsepower, and with a wet weight of 1230 kg it’s easily a top contender in any race it enters. The LP 620-2 Super Trofeo designed for the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Series is even more powerful (620 horsepower), not to mention the added downforce it brings to the table. The price? A tad over $300k for a brand-new GT3 or the Super Trofeo.
Aston Martin Vantage GT4/GTS
Astons aren’t really supposed to work as race cars, but somehow they just do. The elegant body lines and amazing styling make it one of the prettiest race cars, but it’s what’s underneath which really matters. If you want the most driving challenge, go for the GT4 iteration. It uses a racing 4.7-liter V8 and, get this, a six-speed manual. That’s right, no flappy paddles or a sequential shifter here. You have to do all the work yourself. Get it right though, and you’ll be awarded with a neutral chassis balance and incredible turn-in grip. Prices are scattered all over the place, but early pre 2012 models can dip well into the sub $100,000 category.
BMW M235i Cup
If you’re after an affordable racing car, look no further. The M235i Cup racer is considered to be an entry-level competition car, but it’s in most cases a jumping board for aspiring drivers who eventually wind up in GT3 and GT2 competitions. It retains the standard six-cylinder turbo engine, but it obviously gets stickier tires, different suspension setup, more aero and a stripped-out interior. Not the fastest of race cars, but a top contender in Group A or GT Cup series with a small power bump. Depending on where you live, as low as $50,000 can get you into a M235i Cup.
Honda Civic Type R Cup
Easily the most competent front-wheel drive car, the Civic comes in various forms and iterations. Power, suspension and tires depend on your chosen race series, but it’s basically eligible for most FWD championships with the right safety equipment. It doesn’t really matter which generation you go for. The earlier models boast naturally-aspirated engines, with late models getting turbocharged 1.5 and 2.0-liter four-cylinders. Prices really depend, but a home-built Type R can cost as low as $20,000 including the car.
BMW M3 Group A
A legend of the touring car world, the M3 competed with Alfa’s 155 TI and Mercedes’ legendary 190E in the 80s German Touring Car Championship, often coming out on top. An era where regulations and restrictions were next to nonexistent, and teams were allowed to explore and innovate. An era where BMW produced some of the most glorious road and race cars of all time. Because they’re proper icons, all three legend race cars for sale are quite rare these days, but converting a 325i or a 320i into a genuine Group A or Group N race car is easily achievable. The six-cylinders in the 325i are reliable, but the four-cylinder in the M3 is a real gem. The original M3s are extremely expensive due to their rarity, but converted cars can be found a lot cheaper.
Ford Escort RS
If you’re after something even older, there are plenty of vintage race cars for sale you can choose from. None of them come even close to the Ford Escort RS though. The solid Escort Mk1 and Mk2 proved to be excellent chassis to build race, rally and drift cars on, completely dominating every championship they ever entered.
Although you can find them with lots of engine variants, the 2.0 and later 1.6-litre variants are the most popular choices. In such a light chassis, you don’t need a lot of power to get going. The Escort is a masterclass in what a car should be. Light and compact with just the right amount of power, and a design which will never date. The price for all of this? At the very minimum $50k.