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Thread: Just a bit of fun - my track day car

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    Member daveyboydave's Avatar
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    Just a bit of fun - my track day car

    So I've been lurking on SXOC a while now, guess I should contribute something...

    I few years ago I caught the trackday bug. Until recently my weapon of choice was a supercharged Exige, which was incredibly quick, but very twitchy on the limit. I was always very aware that a relatively light excursion into a tyre barrier could end in 1000s on repairs, which did not encourage me to explore its limits of handling very much. In the end it was a better car than I was a driver.





    My partner in track-daying crime runs a modified mk1 MX5 and, knowing I was having a doubts about the Exige, let me share his car for a day at Mallory. It was a bit of a revelation. Despite having half the power and half the grip, it was twice as fun by virtue of its forgiving on-limit handling.

    A few months later and the Exige was sold. A sad day, but it was time to move on. My criteria (cheap, rwd, lots of tuning potential) for its replacement had led me to either an MX5 or 200SX (although I had seriously toyed with the idea of stripping out an old Jag XJS or XJR). I happened to be browsing Pistonheads when my new car showed up. About a week later it was mine.



    It’s a UK ‘98 S14A Touring with around 100K on it. It was previously a Class C write off two owners ago, but the seller had spent a lot of time represerving the underside. It was a bit of a punt, but the HPI checked out, the price was good, and I figured the guy wouldn’t have spent so much time and effort preparing it for a long and healthy life if it was structurally unsound. It has SXOC stickers on it so I guess at least one previous owner was on here – perhaps it will look familiar to someone….?



    I got it home and a few shake-down drives revealed that it was quick, felt solid and mechanically sound, and had few niggles. The bodywork is a bit tatty with a healthy ‘patina’ of scratches and dings but this was to be a track-day car and this didn’t bother me in the slightest. Nonetheless, I had lots of work to do to get it how I wanted it.









    One real bonus was, having bought a little blind and without knowing a huge amount about 200SXs (having only happened across this car early on in my research), the more I looked, and checked on SXOC the more good mods I found, to the point where I reckon I have a bit of a bargain as the upgraded parts alone must almost have cost most of what I paid for the car. These are the mods I know about:

    • Stage 1a tuned with a dyno plot showing 287BHP, including Wallbro pump and Apexi AVCR, HKS BOV, Apexi induction, FMIC
    • Greddy turbo timer
    • Uprated exhaust, silenced de-cat
    • Nismo S-Tune with Whiteline ARBs, Driftworks poly bushes, Apex alignment arms
    • Big brakes up front (R33s I think? Brembo callipers for sure), braided lines, Project Mu discs/pads
    • DW rear subframe bushes
    • RPS clutch and lightened flywheel
    • HID headlights


    With the exception of some dubious luminous-green-rimmed Works Rezaxes it looks standard from the outside, which suits me fine.

    Work was a bit slow on the car as in the following few months I moved home and had a baby. Nonetheless, I’ve found time to do a few jobs,





    One of the first jobs was to sort out the controls. The pedals seemed less than ideal for heal+toe so I bought the plainest looking OMP pedal extensions I could find (not wanting this car to look like the result of a trolley dash through Halfords) to bring the throttle and brake closer together. I splashed out on a 320mm OMP Corsica steering wheel and HKS boss as I prefer a small wheel after several years of driving a Lotus. The wheel looks and feels great, it’s amazing how such a small mod makes such a subjective difference.





    A full bolt-in cage will go in at the same time as buckets and harnesses, once the Apex group buy is available and I get a chance to drive up to Demontweaks to choose some seats.

    I replumbed some of the boost control hoses in the engine bay and removed the mechanical boost gauge that had been installed in the driver’s door vent. I figured that a boost gauge is mainly for diagnosis during tuning, and the AVCR does that just as well with graphical displays etc. I got an OEM vent instead, which gave me more cooling air and about 3m less vacuum hose snaking through the car.

    The rear wiper and aerial didn’t work so I figured they might as well go for some free weight saving. I replaced the robot-cock aerial with a stick-on window jobbie from eBay, which occasionally gives some radio reception. At the same time I removed the OEM rear wing (looks crap, more weight saving) and rear speakers (can’t hear them over the exhaust anyway) and tidied away the wiring that lived under the parcel shelf. I got a 2nd-hand rear strut brace to complement the front brace that a previous owner had fitted.

    On another quite weekend I decided the rear seats were pointless, so they and a load of rear trim came out. Being a massive geek, I weighed everything I took out, and the total was 29kg including the airbag steering wheel. Not bad. My philosophy is to remove items only if I don’t need them as I’m not setting lap times and therefore absolute weight isn’t critical. That said, Colin Chapman’s “add lightness” is always a good philosophy, and a lighter car creates less tyre, brake and clutch wear, and generally will be more responsive.

    I’ll remove the remaining airbag system when I install the cage and harnesses, and the bucket seats will be significantly lighter than the OEM armchairs. I guess I will have taken out about 60kg in total, for free (noting that I’ve bought the wheel and seats for reasons other than weight-saving), which isn’t too shoddy. This will be offset by addition of the cage and things like the FMIC, but as I say absolute weight is not the issue here and the 200SX is fairly light anyway. Overall I should be lighter than standard, which is a bonus.

    Having found what seems like a goodun, I want to keep it that way. With 100k+ miles on an engine running on track at 50% more power than it left the factory with, I decided that a some oil system upgrades are sensible. To this end, I have a Japspeed baffled sump waiting to be fitted, and am about to order an oil cooler and in-line thermostat. To make sure that everything is running as it should, I splashed out on some Stack Pro Control gauges for oil pressure, oil temp and water temp (there’s no point fitting a gauge you can’t rely on when it comes to monitoring important things like oil pressure). I figure these 3 gauges are the minimum requirement for health monitoring.

    This gave me the problem of deciding where to fit the gauges. I am not a fan of clutter and things getting in the way of my view out the car, so the A-pillar or dash-top were dismissed. This left the centre console. I worked out the three 52mm gauges would fit nicely into a DIN space. A previous owner had botched together a centre console panel from bits of plastic and glue to hold the head unit, AVCR and turbo timer. It was effective but, being covered in now dirty brown suede, looked crap and couldn’t be modified to what I wanted. I decided I would be it and make up an aluminium panel from scratch to take the three gauges, head unit and AVCR. The turbo timer would have to go elsewhere (but doesn’t really need to be looked at whilst driving so could be tucked away) and I would reinstate the ciggie lighter elsewhere (it had been removed) for charging things on trips to the Nurburgring and such like.

    The centre console seemed a good place as I don’t need to continuously monitor these gauges; a quick glance is fine – unless things start to go into alarm. The Pro Control gauges are excellent and can change back light colour and flash when alarming etc., but I was concerned that out of my direct line of sight, on a bright day with a helmet on, I might not notice the alarms straight away on, say, fluctuating oil pressure. These gauges feature signal outputs for controlling devices (fans etc. and data logging) so I build a little audible alarm system in a small project box. This box also allowed me to take a single fused 12V feed from the ciggie lighter supply, to feed all three gauges (and my shift lights, see below) through a loom I made up. It emits a loud tone when any of the gauges reach their alarm points, which should get my attention instantly. Noting that the oil pressure gauge will be in alarm all the time the ignition is on but the engine not turning, I figured it would be a good idea to be able to silence the alarm, so I build in an override switch that disconnects the buzzer from the circuit.

    Panel started with a cardboard template;





    Much DIY metal work:





    A bit of DIY electronics to control the buzzer and power everything:





    The wiring is pretty crammed behind the panel, especially with the head unit at a lower position (where there is less space behind). I may make some improvements when the dash comes out for the cage installation, like shortening and using thinner gauge wiring for my gauge loom, a smaller box for my little buzzer circuit, relocate the NATS box and, and try to cut out a lot of excess cabling behind there. It all currently fits, just about, but I don’t fancy having to work behind there again as cramming it all in took a good hour of faffing about. I may get one of those MP3 and radio-only head units that are much less deep, since I don’t tend to use CDs anyway.







    Installed:





    I bodged up some little brackets from ally to screw the turbo timer too, and slotted it in a join in the trim next to the steering column. It’s not going anyway, accessible, visible (I found out it has all sorts of useful functions like a stopwatch, 0-60 timer and battery voltage read out, which is quite handy) but out of the way and seems to work well there.







    I also splashed out on a Shift-I sequential shift light system. Bit of an indulgence, but the Lotus fraternity rave about them and a figured it might save me bouncing off the limiter too often, given how easily it spins its wheels and the speed that it gathers revs once the turbo is on song. It’s is a brilliant bit of kit, loads of options and easy to wire up, it just works so well. I stuck it on top of the steering column surround where it is subtle and out of the way but still in the periphery of my vision. I originally stuck it on with the sticky pads it came with, but it didn’t feel secure so instead I used some black furniture corner jobbie things I had lying around, the things that allow you to join screw panels together at 90 degrees. I found some longer screws of the same thread pitch and diameter, and used the original casing screw holes to attach the plastic fixings and screw it all together. I then screwed this into the steering trim and voila. Sturdy and neat.





    Dash all done (ready to all come out again when the cage turns up!





    Only other job of note was to fit improved towing arrangements for when I inevitably end up in the gravel. Front will use a strop I think; for the rear I bought two laser cut steel (yes steel! Was hard to find but I didn't fancy one of the ally fashion-statement jobbies that are all over eBay) tow eyes, cut one up to make a mounting plate, primed and painted up to match the green theme the previous owner adopted and bolted to the back.





    Next jobs are to drain and flush the coolant prior to fitting the sender gauge and adapter to the top rad hose. Then I need to order the oil cooler bits, and fit it, the senders and the baffled sump.

    First trackday in this beast was booked at Silverstone (full GP circuit) on Sat but it's just been cancelled because of snow. Am dying to see what the suspension’s like on track, how the brakes cope, and whether I need to make any significant changes to the handling, but I guess it will have to wait. Next one is probably going to be Llandow in Feb.

    After that, and once I know what handling adjustments are required, I will order some new wheels (something 17”, not luminous, probably from Rota) and get a good alignment done.

    Longer term, I have a list of possible mods to do. I have no desire to increase power, 290BHP is plenty enough for having fun and should guarantee engine longevity. I may look into a different diff, perhaps 1.5 or 2-way, to sharpen the handling and also improve acceleration by dropping the gear ratios. Any other mods will be aimed at handling, braking and reliability. Depending on how the brakes cope I may look at ducting air to the back of the discs. Coilovers may be another option if it feels too soft.

    So that's it. Hope to see some of you guys on track!
    Last edited by daveyboydave; 27-06-2013 at 08:47. Reason: spelling idiocy

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    Member daveyboydave's Avatar
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    New wheels (Rota Grid Drifts) and tyres (F1 Asymmetric 2s) ordered... car will be wearing new boots by this time next week!

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    Guest ANDY black s13's Avatar
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    Looking very good already,be interesting to see how it compares to other cars on track and how effective future mods turn out

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    nice write up mate looking car.
    I used to have a S14a on s tunes and white line arbs. I did not have up-rated bushes however. She is going to roll quite a bit on track, well mine did, it feels like quite a bit in the car, but from the outside it did not look to bad.
    If its a dedicated track car, this i fear might be too much for you, but the balance for the on road performance I was more than happy with it (mine was a road car). One of the plus sides you can push right up to the limits and you know when it will break away so with more practice I was getting much quicker. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts once you get out there. Good luck with it.
    Last edited by SXRORY; 02-02-2013 at 08:24.

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    Guest zeppelin101's Avatar
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    Genuinely think you found the Exige tricky on the limit due to tyres. Don't think you'll regret going to something a little less aggressive like the Goodyears

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    congratz on the baby!
    and on the s14, sounds like a good buy!

    are you a ring regular?
    funny thing is that the same photograper of your exige made a pretty cool shot of my car!

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    What a write up!! Didn't have time to read through it all so will be coming back to this tonight

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    Member daveyboydave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppelin101 View Post
    Genuinely think you found the Exige tricky on the limit due to tyres. Don't think you'll regret going to something a little less aggressive like the Goodyears
    Yeah, you're probably right, though I suspect the mid-engine and short wheelbase also didn't help... I did think about keeping the Lotus and ditching the semi-slicks for something less grippy, but it would have seemed like a backward step suddenly have to deal with such annoyances as understeer! And it still didn't make the prospect of 'excursions' off the track any less scary (or expensive).

    Also I wanted a bit of a project to tinker with and the Exige is pretty much a road-legal race car already so the options formodification are limited unless you want to spend a lot.

    Plus there's a lot of great cars that I'd like to own and experience, so after 3 years it was time for a change.

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    Member daveyboydave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SXRORY View Post
    nice write up mate looking car.
    I used to have a S14a on s tunes and white line arbs. I did not have up-rated bushes however. She is going to roll quite a bit on track, well mine did, it feels like quite a bit in the car, but from the outside it did not look to bad.
    If its a dedicated track car, this i fear might be too much for you, but the balance for the on road performance I was more than happy with it (mine was a road car). One of the plus sides you can push right up to the limits and you know when it will break away so with more practice I was getting much quicker. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts once you get out there. Good luck with it.
    I'd already suspected the S-Tunes might be a bit soft for the track - looks like your experience confirms this. They really are excellent on the road, however. I think with the downsize to 17" wheels, the car will handle brilliantly on the street.

    I suspect I'll be adding some stiffer coilovers to my list after Llandow, however....

    How's the M3 working out? I had an E46 M3 before I bought my Lotus. Incredible car, I'd buy another in a heartbeat if I needed a single car to do everything (ie both fast & practical).

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    Member daveyboydave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreaKlistic View Post
    congratz on the baby!
    and on the s14, sounds like a good buy!

    are you a ring regular?
    funny thing is that the same photograper of your exige made a pretty cool shot of my car!
    Thanks!

    Nah, only done one trip to the ring. I guess that photographer is a regular. I just nicked that photo off the website - think I was even too pikey to pay for a copy without the logos all over it!

    Notice the Herbie style Beatle in the background - that place really is mental...
    Last edited by daveyboydave; 02-02-2013 at 13:34.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daveyboydave View Post
    How's the M3 working out? I had an E46 M3 before I bought my Lotus. Incredible car, I'd buy another in a heartbeat if I needed a single car to do everything (ie both fast & practical).
    Like you said it ticks so many boxes as we only have one car. Wife likes it with the extra space big boot can carry 4 no problem....etc I love the rasp 5-8k I can see me keeping it for some time. I'm starting to feel the m-tax now though, it loves super and I need two rear boots 440 ouch.

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    Member daveyboydave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SXRORY View Post
    Like you said it ticks so many boxes as we only have one car. Wife likes it with the extra space big boot can carry 4 no problem....etc I love the rasp 5-8k I can see me keeping it for some time. I'm starting to feel the m-tax now though, it loves super and I need two rear boots 440 ouch.
    Best thing I did was get a K&N induction kit for it - complements the high revs exhaust rasp with a low revs NASCAR induction growl. Absolute quality.

    But handing over a grand for 4 tyres wasn't fun. M-tax indeed!

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    Member daveyboydave's Avatar
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    So, Saturday saw the first track day in the SX at Llandow. Car was brilliant; no issues, controllable on the limit - everything I was hoping for. Probably not the ideal circuit for the car (could only use full throttle for a short burst on each of the two small straights) but it was a fun little circuit.








    Only real issue was some brake fade after a good few laps. Will aim to fix that...

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    Guest sprout's Avatar
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    Looks great, good additions to the car! Hope you have fun and enjoy the car, they really are great fun.

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    yep theres the roll i was talking about, but you seem to be wearing the smile I used to sport too What do you reckon then? are you keeping the s-tunes or a bit soft. It still handled great I thought.

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    Back in sunny Cornwall! Clouder_sx's Avatar
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    YES it's still alive will reply properly later when not on phone. See my previous posts from aug 06 to may 09 for history on the car, and if you really want 'wallers' for pre-06 looking good

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    Back in sunny Cornwall! Clouder_sx's Avatar
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    Will keep it short as I know it's your project thread, but thought you'd like to know a bit about the car. Dan bought it off me in May 2009 the day after Japfest, it was on about 84k then. I bought it off Wallers on here on 62k in August 2006 as a write-off but needing a simple repair - the car is straight. It had the flywheel in when I got it, but the clutch died on about 70k so I put a RPS Max Street in it, which I expect it's still running.

    If the print out you have for 287 is dated from my ownership (which I expect it is) and it's not been touched since, then it is stage 1, not stage 1a - this is an ideal upgrade opportunity for you. If you plan to track it all the time, I wouldn't run it at the boost it was running when it left my hands (maxing out the injectors pretty much), but I expect you know that already

    The S-tunes had done some miles when I put them on, good to see they are still going - make for an awesome fast road car but I agree a bit too much roll for track work.

    Any chance you're bringing her to Japfest?

    Will keep an eye on the project anything else you want to know either pm me or flick through all my old posts - loads of info.

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    Member daveyboydave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clouder_sx View Post
    Will keep it short as I know it's your project thread, but thought you'd like to know a bit about the car. Dan bought it off me in May 2009 the day after Japfest, it was on about 84k then. I bought it off Wallers on here on 62k in August 2006 as a write-off but needing a simple repair - the car is straight. It had the flywheel in when I got it, but the clutch died on about 70k so I put a RPS Max Street in it, which I expect it's still running.

    If the print out you have for 287 is dated from my ownership (which I expect it is) and it's not been touched since, then it is stage 1, not stage 1a - this is an ideal upgrade opportunity for you. If you plan to track it all the time, I wouldn't run it at the boost it was running when it left my hands (maxing out the injectors pretty much), but I expect you know that already

    The S-tunes had done some miles when I put them on, good to see they are still going - make for an awesome fast road car but I agree a bit too much roll for track work.

    Any chance you're bringing her to Japfest?

    Will keep an eye on the project anything else you want to know either pm me or flick through all my old posts - loads of info.
    Awesome! With the SXOC stickers I knew someone on here must know the car - even better to have found a previous owner!

    Dan didn't have a huge amount of info about the car when I bought it, and I was wary about buying a modified car and ex-write off at that, especially given that I hadn't done a lot of research on SXs at the time. But both car and seller seemed honest and it's turned out to be the best punt I've made in a long time!

    Always wanted to know about more about the history and the modifications done, so I'll be perving your old posts and expect a few PMs!

    Hadn't planned on Japfest but maybe I'll look into it...

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    Member daveyboydave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SXRORY View Post
    yep theres the roll i was talking about, but you seem to be wearing the smile I used to sport too What do you reckon then? are you keeping the s-tunes or a bit soft. It still handled great I thought.
    The roll looks worse in the pics than it felt onboard, though it will probably feel worse once the buckets and harnesses go in. I think more pressing is some work on the brakes, plus the cage and seats; suspension will do the job for the minute I think.

    Besides, a bit of compliancy helped keep things predictable and progressive, which is perfect for learning driving on and beyond the limit. The S-Tunes will be getting a few more months of hammering yet

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    Back in sunny Cornwall! Clouder_sx's Avatar
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    Yea feel free to pm me whenever I took it from near standard, and most bits seem to be on there still so can possibly fill any gaps you might have

    I took it to Japfest a few years in a row, so it likes a quick blast round Combe - you should grab a ticket/stand spot and a track slot for a laugh - check the events section.

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