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 Post subject: New member intro
PostPosted: December 11, 2015, 1:16 pm 
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Joined: December 10, 2015, 12:39 pm
Posts: 17
Greetings from Cleveland!

I thought this the best place to post this due to the racing emphasis...sorry if this was an incorrect assumption.

I'm not currently a Locost/7 owner, but I will be at some point - maybe soon. I am in the process of selling my current "toy" (a '65 C10 if anyone is interested) to get a vehicle that I can track. A few years back I had a Mini that I would take to track days and auto-x and had an absolute blast and have always wanted to race consistently. Right now, I'm about eye deep in the restoration of an Austin Healey 3000 that I plan to vintage race once it's finished. Because of that, my new "toy" has to be trackable as well as street legal.

I was hoping that those of you who race their Locosts could help me though a few things. First of all, I've kind of narrowed my list down to two primary options: an E36 M3 or a Locost. Very different vehicles, I know, but here are my thoughts for both (my budget is going to be <$10K);

E36:
PROS
- Easily found under $10K
- Lots of parts made for track use
- Moderately practical (although this isn't a huge concern)
- Pretty reliable
- I love a straight 6 BMW
- I know my wife will drive it a lot and enjoy it (this is not a priority, but would be nice)
CONS
- BMW parts, on top of that BMW M parts $$
- Insurance cost (I'm 25 but it'll still be up there)

Locost/7:
PROS
- Can be found under $10K
- Perfect for the track
- Simple
- I'd guess reliable (Miata, Zetec, BEC...)
CONS
- Not at all practical
- Build quality could be questioned (This is not meant to offend anyone at all and all the builds I've gone through here look great, but I've got a bit of a mental block about pushing a machine to the limit that was built by an amateur. To be fair, I'll be doing this with the Healey eventually, but I'm the builder which makes a difference. I'd also clearly go through the car front-back before taking it to the track.)
- Not certain if my wife will buy into it at first. She likes the look of them but I don't know if she would choose to take it out for fun, while she would fight me for the M3!

I guess this is a rather open-ended post/question but I was hoping you all could talk about what you like about tracking/auto-x your Locost, what you don't like and if you built it, maybe what you would have done differently so I know what to look for when shopping (I'm thinking here; power plants, frame reinforcements, suspension set-up, etc.)? I'd also be driving the Locost to the track, racing and driving home.

Thanks for anything you care to share, I look forward to learning!


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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 11, 2015, 5:32 pm 
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Joined: November 16, 2015, 2:38 pm
Posts: 729
Location: Outside Hartford, CT
So, are you planning on building a Locost? Or buying someone's already complete project? have you looked into your states titling laws for cars of this nature? This second question could make or break your decision right here.

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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 11, 2015, 6:38 pm 
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Joined: December 10, 2015, 12:39 pm
Posts: 17
Sorry if I wasn't clear. I'd be buying a completed car.

I am in Ohio and I know of at least one locost for sale right now in the state and believe it to be registered. I also know there is a procedure for registering custom/home built vehicles and I assumed that I'd be able to get it done, especially if it were titled previously. I could be wrong.

If anyone has specific experience with registering in Ohio, please feel free to chime in, but I know you've got an entire section dedicated to that so I'll start combing through.


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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 11, 2015, 8:45 pm 
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Joined: December 17, 2010, 1:24 pm
Posts: 1430
Location: Gainesville, Mo.
Well, since 1055 dropped the ball here, allow me to give you the standard Locost USA greeting. "Welcome to the Funny Farm"! We've got a great bunch here, and you can learn a LOT! :cheers:

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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 12, 2015, 1:05 am 
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Joined: July 29, 2006, 9:10 pm
Posts: 2992
Location: Oregon, usually
Well, if you get and prepare a Locost for autocross, you might go home with TTD. I think you'll be well over $10k to get similar results from an E36.

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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 12, 2015, 9:21 am 
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Joined: July 17, 2008, 9:11 am
Posts: 5124
Location: West Chicago,IL
Quote:
....my new "toy" has to be trackable as well as street legal.

E36 M3 Pros: - I know my wife will drive it a lot and enjoy it (this is not a priority, but would be nice)

Locost Cons: - She likes the look of them but I don't know if she would choose to take it out for fun, while she would fight me for the M3!


I think you have narrowed in on the big question. Is the car for you or your wife. Once you answer that question honestly, then you will know which one to choose.

Oh, I almost forgot. Welcome! :cheers:

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“Any suspension will work if you don’t let it.” - Colin Chapman

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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 12, 2015, 9:31 pm 
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Joined: December 10, 2015, 12:39 pm
Posts: 17
Thanks for the welcome guys! Glad to be part of the funny.

Jack - I think you're probably right in this assumption. Good point, thanks.

rx7 - The car is very much for me and not her. That being said I do want her to enjoy it as well. She never drives the truck I have now but I think that's mostly because it's a column shift and a workout to drive (see no power steering in a big heavy vehicle). She loves going out for a good drive and I want her to be comfortable doing so. I think after driving the locost the first time she'd be hooked.

The more I think about it, the more appealing a locost seems and the less I want to deal with bmw parts prices. :)


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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 12, 2015, 10:10 pm 
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Joined: November 16, 2015, 2:38 pm
Posts: 729
Location: Outside Hartford, CT
AxeHealey wrote:
Thanks for the welcome guys! Glad to be part of the funny.

Jack - I think you're probably right in this assumption. Good point, thanks.

rx7 - The car is very much for me and not her. That being said I do want her to enjoy it as well. She never drives the truck I have now but I think that's mostly because it's a column shift and a workout to drive (see no power steering in a big heavy vehicle). She loves going out for a good drive and I want her to be comfortable doing so. I think after driving the locost the first time she'd be hooked.

The more I think about it, the more appealing a locost seems and the less I want to deal with bmw parts prices. :)



Not to play devils advocate here, but most of the parts on locost are fabricated. IS this something you'd be up to to change your suspension? Say for example.. You whack a pothole well enough that you send your lower control arm out of whack. There isn't (well there kind of is) a direct off the shelf replacement part for it. Would you be comfortable building a replacement?

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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 13, 2015, 11:06 am 
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Joined: December 10, 2015, 12:39 pm
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1055 - This is exactly the kind of thing I need, so thank you. Yes, I am comfortable making a replacement but certainly would rather have a replacement available.

Do you guys find that you run into this kind of thing often? I know it surely depends on design and build quality but when something breaks, is it usually one of the custom pieces or things you can buy off the shelf (suspension and otherwise)?


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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 13, 2015, 2:18 pm 
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Joined: August 27, 2005, 1:04 am
Posts: 1391
Location: Kamloops, BC, Canada
I built my car using a CMC frame that I bought back in the day and the only suspension pieces I used that came with it were the front lower a-arms. I autocrossed the car for a few summers and drove it on the street a little bit before one of the store bought a-arms broke at an autocross this summer. It broke because it was a piss poor design, and I built new ones that are much better. Depending on what you build, basically everything on the car is a custom part. The only parts on mine that can be purchased and used without modification are brakes, rotors, drums, wheel bearings and hubs, clutch slave, clutch and brake masters. The rest of the pieces are either custom built, modified from something else, or mail ordered from somewhere like Summit or Speedway.
Kristian

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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 13, 2015, 9:13 pm 
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Joined: December 10, 2015, 12:39 pm
Posts: 17
Kristian - thanks for the insight there.

It kind of sounds like it would make sense to make jigs for the suspension parts (if they're custom units) before auto-xing/tracking the car just in case one breaks so I can make a perfect match to replace it? Especially considering it may be a design thought up by the builder. Thoughts?

Also, are there any chassis weak points that have shown themselves after use? Again, understanding that every Locost is a bit different but, for instance, do the "book" chassis that presumably would be very similar develop any particular issues over time that I should look for and/or nip in the butt before they happen? I'm thinking gussets on suspension mounts, diff mounts, etc.

I really appreciate all of you chiming in on this, it's very helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 13, 2015, 11:00 pm 
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Joined: August 27, 2005, 1:04 am
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Location: Kamloops, BC, Canada
I haven't had any other failures with my car, but I've seen mentioned that the book style front suspension arm mounts are a weak spot as well. If I were doing it again, I'd use bolt on tabs like Marcus used in his Car9 design instead of welding on tabs. A simple jig for control arms is a good idea too, that's what I did when I made my new lowers. They're the same on both sides, and I kept the jig when I moved, just in case.
Kristian

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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 13, 2015, 11:29 pm 
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Joined: April 19, 2012, 9:43 pm
Posts: 419
Location: Colorado
I can't speak to a locost yet, as I don't have one, but I do own (have for 10 years now) a 97 M3. It has been an exceptionally reliable and durable car. If you are doing your own work, and buying parts off the internet and not from the dealer, then it is about as cheap as any car is. One thing that caught me off guard after buying it was how quickly it eats tires (30k, absolute max with hard as rock all seasons. A set of Azenis RT615 lasted only 5k on the street), and how many quarts of oil it takes (7 -7.5qts). They also all drink oil. All to varying degrees, but it seems like 1 qt every 3000 miles is pretty standard with some drinking a lot more, and not many making it further than 5k before needing a top off. If you try different oils, often the car will use less of one brand. I found my car doesn't use nearly as much valvolene (3k per qt) as it does castrol (1k per qt) or mobil 1 (500mi per qt).

If you like your cars to be squeeky clean and not leak anything, an e36 isn't for you. Most people struggle to keep the power steering system from leaking to some degree. Most just slowly weep oil and it turns to sludge on the hoses and rack. Worse cases will drip on the ground.

Another thing to note: as the clutch ages, the fingers on the pressure plate deform a bit and the pedal effort goes up. My car has 180k on the original clutch and the pedal effort is pretty intense. My wife does not enjoy it.

That said, I couldn't recommend a E36 M3 more highly for someone interested in spirited driving. I don't know if you've driven one, but you definitely need to try it. It is a very predictable and, as mentioned above, durable car that won't be constantly breaking from abuse. I also found that the more I modified it, the less predictable it became. All the aftermarket junk just made it more difficult to consistently get to the limits of adhesion. You might be going faster, but it wasn't a better experience. Bigger front and rear sway bars and a 235 square tire setup are all I run now, which does a nice job of neutralizing the chassis and keeping transitions neater. I ran poly bushings everywhere for 3k miles maybe 7 years ago and then quickly switched back to fresh OEM rubber. Your mileage may vary, but there is no denying that the car is better than 95% of drivers out there. As with all enthusiasts, it seemed everyone liked to tinker (the aftermarket is HUGE), and used the car as the convenient excuse for why they couldn't shave any more time off their runs, but I had a pro drive me around and was absolutely shocked at how much speed I wasn't carrying everywhere.


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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 14, 2015, 1:33 pm 
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Kristian - Thanks again. Very helpful.

esp42089 - This write-up is exactly what I need on the E36 side, so thank you very much too. I know from my E28/Mini ownership that doing your own work is the way to make owning a BMW reasonable. It was the couple times where I had no time/was in a pinch and had to have a shop do work that was painful.

I'm not too worried about things being squeaky clean as it will be tracked and such and I have read about the PS issues. Have you had issues with the cooling system as well? I hear that can be a weak point. I'm also familiar with BMW clutches getting heavier over time. My E28's clutch had about 150K on the clock when I sold it and had stiffened up (not a ton, but some) from when I bought it at ~120K. The travel also changed, not sure if you've experience that with your E36.

I'm very interested in the fact that you switched back to rubber from poly bushings. I'd say most E36 M3's for sale that I come across have switched over to poly. Sometimes the way the car was intended to be is just better I suppose.

I have driven many a 3 series (E21, 2002 (kind of a 3 series), E36 (non-m), E30, E46 M, etc.) and I have loved them all, but never an E36 M. I'm very excited to test one out soon.


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 Post subject: Re: New member intro
PostPosted: December 14, 2015, 5:42 pm 
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Joined: November 16, 2015, 2:38 pm
Posts: 729
Location: Outside Hartford, CT
From my lengthy experience repairing mid to late 90's bmws over the course of 7 years.. the first thing I can tell you is DITCH THE STUPID PLASTIC COOLANT TANK!

Replacing the coolant expansion tank, and adding an aluminum radiator and electric fan is the simple best thing you can do for those cars. After that, most common things I saw were oil leaks from the valve cover gasket. M50/m52 were good for an external headgasket coolant leak too. But, an MLS head gasket and ARP studs basically bulletproofed those motors.

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