With track days becoming more and more popular, you might be thinking about getting a vehicle to take advantage. Rob Griffin rounds up five of the best.
It’s one thing driving a fast car on the road – but another to be able to put it properly through its paces on a racetrack.
This is one of the reasons behind the explosion of interest in track days and other events where you can really stretch the legs of your road-legal machines.
From one-off occasions where you can take your prized possession for a spin to drifting, hill climbs and racing series, there’s something to suit every style and budget.
1. Ariel Atom
It’s hard to believe this little rocket is actually road legal. Few things in motoring life are exhilarating as strapping yourself in to an Atom and experiencing its incredible acceleration.
Remember Jeremy Clarkson’s face wobbling all over the place in that infamous Top Gear test drive? With its tubular chassis and lack of body – or roof – the Atom is devoid of creature comforts but what a ride.
There have been plenty of Atom versions produced over the years and you can pick one up second-hand for £20,000 or so.
2. Lotus Elise
Not only is the beautiful Elise a head-turner on the roads it’s also a mean track car with a dedicated army of owners. This stunning two-seater roadster has been around for the best part of two decades and models are still rolling off the production line today.
While you can’t expect loads of luxury from this mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive machine, you will be guaranteed bags of fun.
Those that really want to embrace the racing side can get involved in the Lotus Cup series, which is a factory-supported, single-marque competition for owners that runs in the UK and Europe as well as the USA and Japan.
3. Mazda MX-5
Another car that’s been around for a long time. Remarkably, it’s been a quarter of a century since an American journalist by the name of Bob Hall first came up with his idea for a lightweight, two-seater roadster.
Mazda embraced the plan and the MX-5 was created. The good news is that you can pick up a good second hand one for just a couple of thousand pounds, while a new one will set you back around £25,000.
It’s not hard to understand why this has been such a fantastic seller. It’s stylish, quick, reliable, easy to work on and a lot of fun. Seriously, what more could you ask?
4. Caterham Seven
This machine boasts a strong racing heritage with hundreds of competitors attending dedicated events around the world. In many ways this is the original road-legal race car as its history can be traced back more than half a century.
A lightweight two-seater, it was originally created by Colin Chapman and launched as the Lotus 7 in 1957.
Its performance, agility and the thrilling all-round driving experience it offered has made it a firm favourite with drivers, especially in the likes of Germany, France and Japan.
5. Porsche 911 GT3
When you think of track days there’s one marque that usually springs to mind: Porsche. These machines were built for going fast thanks to their eye-popping performance and fantastic handling.
Top of the tree in this respect is the GT3, a high performance version of the Porsche 911. Various incarnations of this car have been released over the past 15 years and the latest can carry you from 0 to 100 km/h in a scorching time of 3.5 seconds.
The only downside is that you’ll need in excess of £100,000 to get behind the wheel.