Journal: How Would You Build Your Racecar for Under $30K?

How Would You Build Your Racecar for Under $30K?

February 14, 2014

After many years of watching from the sideline and getting my feet wet with high-performance driving schools, I’ve finally decided to commit and begin vintage racing.

The nice thing about vintage racing is that you can get going with as little as $10,000 or less, or go crazy and spend millions. In my case, I set a budget of $30,000 for buying and fully preparing a race car. Naturally, it had to be an Alfa Romeo.

I decided to go with a 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti that already had all the necessary modifications to get started in racing:

– Lightened bodywork (i.e. stripped of everything unnecessary including crossmembers, door panels, etc.)

– Alfa Romeo 2 litre motor with hot Petatori cams, Speri head, 11:1 compression, total 186 HP

– Marelliplex electronic ignition

– Shankle headers

– Side exhaust

– Limited Slip Differential

– Race oil pump and oil cooler

– Shankle sway bars

– Sparco race seats and 5-point harnesses

– Ward & Dean springs with Koni shocks

– Upgraded brakes

– Half roll-cage

– Fuel cell

All in, the purchase and setup has cost me $26,000, leaving me enough to eventually fix up the body blemishes and paint it properly.

So, how would you build your ideal vintage racer if you had a $30,000 budget?

Photography by Aaron McKenzie for Petrolicious

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Scott Murray
Scott Murray(@fb_1079551609)
7 years ago

Love to see a kindred spirit Afshin – I think our cars may have been separated at birth ! (complete with the rear arch having a touch-up.) Let’s see some track vision ! 🙂



Adam Fairfax
Adam Fairfax(@acf321)
7 years ago

I know there is $30k in here somewhere ….. and unfortunately a whole lot more, but old school racer this is too. Enjoy the Alfa Afshin, its a beauty.

Johan Samanta
Johan Samanta(@hawkeye)
7 years ago

I have about $17-19K in a 1973 Super Beetle (including 2 engines), that some friends and I have been endurance racing for the past 4 years. Though technically it is not for “historic” racing, it races in LeMons and ChumpCar. Still our little Beetle has done battle with E30s,big block V8s and old spec miatas at tracks like Daytona, Sebring, Carolina Motorsports and Barber Motorsports. Not bad for a car with one tire in the crusher when we found it!

Stephan P
Stephan P(@alfettaracer)
7 years ago

Interesting article. I built my Alfetta for $12k with pretty much the same equipment you listed. Of course a Super is more valuable and the purchase price must figure into it, I got my Alfetta for free.(really just a shell) The need for speed keeps escalating the cost as I’m now on “phase 2”, more aggressive suspension and more horsepower.
Always glad to see another Alfa vintage racing, please post updates.

Pascal Bouwman
Pascal Bouwman(@pascalbouwman)
7 years ago

I’ve build this for just onder 25K (euro’s that is).

Christian Baumann
Christian Baumann(@controluce)
7 years ago

$ 30.000! Wow! Congrats!
My current project is a Porsche 924S from 1988! I am crazy for the Carrera GT/GTS style and like also very much the SCCA models of the 924! So lets wait and see the next 2 years what kind of Methamorphose will leave my tiny garage here in Bergamo, Italy!
Please check out my homepage:



7 years ago

$30k is a lot of money. We used to go to vintage car racing because it was cheap and cheerful. For a life of me, I cannot dare call $30k cheap and cheerful.
Just a simple comment from a poor(er) lover of everything automotive.

Bertram Wooster
Bertram Wooster(@fb_100002929454700)
7 years ago

Thirty grand?

I’ve finally come to realize that vintage racing is NOT cheap racing. For $5000 (or less) you can build an SCCA-legal car for Improved Touring and be reasonably competitive. The biggest difference is that most vintage classes allow stupid amounts of money to be put into steel cranks, 14:1 CRs, extremely lumpy cams, porting, etc., whereas over in IT, you’re not allowed to do anything to the engine other than B & B. Yes, they do check for the cheats.

Neil Bedwell
Neil Bedwell(@shed7)
7 years ago

Great challenge and love the car. Attempting the same with a ’69 911 right now (though it might creep in a little over $30k by the end of it). Logging progress here:

Learnt a few lessons over the last year. Don’t get too nostalgic about parts you pull off the car, sell them and recycle the cash. Do as much work yourself as you can (bonus is the education you get along the way). Buy everything you can secondhand (I picked up a full twin-plug set-up and fuel cell from a crash damaged race car way cheaper than new). Don’t worry about the cosmetics, clean and straight is good enough, it’s a race car. And always remember, getting to the start line is the victory you are chasing, not the podium. Build it right, build it to last, but don’t chase this few extra horses or few saved pounds. If, like me, you’re starting out, the driver will need way more tuning than the car anyway…

See you on track…

Peter Bruschi
Peter Bruschi(@fb_1708750635)
7 years ago

Those morons over had Drift Garage had some good laughs and built a missile car for under $5000.

7 years ago

I’d take a resto project Triumph GT6, TR6 big valves and ported head, forged crank from Racetorations, triple Webers, all the lightweight Alloy bits from Canley classics I can muster, fibreglass doors, bonnet and boot, rotoflex rear suspension (with the Canley Classics CV conversion) and Magnesium Dunlop Racing alloys.

Should be well under £18,000 (roughly $30,000), including Group44-style livery

The Obtainer
The Obtainer(@theobtainer)
7 years ago

A Lovely Lovely choice! We love the grungy race appearance, spend the extra money on painting those wheels gold instead of ‘fixing’ up the bodywork!

Here is a picture of the nicest 105 we have in our club, it’s an absolute pocket rocket, we can list a few things he has done, but there’s a whole lot more that we’re sure he keeps to himself.
• Alfaholic GTA-R conversion kit
• Twin Spark engine
•Short ratio box

and it is still road legal!

– Why did you choose to go down the Full Race car path?

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia(@afshinb)
7 years ago
Reply to  The Obtainer

That is just sick! I love it, you guys did a fantastic job.
I may just keep it grungy looking as you suggest – gold wheels would really make it stand out, too.
Technically speaking, it just needs lights for it to be street-legal. The motor can still barely get by with premium unleaded.

The Obtainer
The Obtainer(@theobtainer)
7 years ago
Reply to  Afshin Behnia

We look forward to seeing it with some lights and a number plate then!

The Obtainer
The Obtainer(@theobtainer)
7 years ago
Reply to  Afshin Behnia

Just a quickie a member of the team whipped up!

Derek Entesano
Derek Entesano(@derek)
7 years ago
Reply to  The Obtainer

I’ve driven this car and yes what a cracking car to enjoy on both the road and track! Very well sorted. A Giulia sedan is definitely the best of both worlds. You can take your family for a spirited Sunday drive and then take it for a burl on the Alfa club track days!. My Super is completely stock but still wonderful fun.
Many will profess that the 105 sedan is actually a better driver than the pretty coupe too!:)

Tom Hughes
Tom Hughes(@corvairdad)
7 years ago

Since I live in the Corvair world, it would have to be Yenko Stinger clone:
A late-model (’65 to ’69) 2-door hardtop [$3k would get me a rust-free, stock example]
After ripping out the interior, I’d buy and an install a SCCA-legal rollcage [$600]
Bolt in a couple racing seats (since I may want to take scare someone besides myself) [$400]
With 5-point harnesses and HANS setup for the driver [$1k]
A full suspension re-do would set me back a couple grand [$2k]
Yenko-style engine lid, spoilers, front and rear [$1k]
I’d build an engine to Stinger specs with suitable tranny upgrades [$7k]
Of course, I’d need a spare drivetrain [$7k)
Gotta’ have a set of mini-lites [$1k]
A set of slicks and a set of rain tires [$1.5k]
I’d spray my own Stinger-inspred paint job [$500]

That’s only $25k, so I can still afford a good, used open trailer and a few tanks of race gas.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson(@valvebounce)
7 years ago

I meant [url=””]here[/url]!

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson(@valvebounce)
7 years ago

It might not be the sexist car in the world but it’s hard to beat the Austin A35 as a starter for historic racing. A real giant killer in it’s day. We have a new control series started by the Historic Racing Drivers Club that provides all the bits to go racing for around £15k. Just buy a good standard car then buy the standard kits of go faster bits and bolt them in.

Details [url=””]here[/url]. I’m saving up.

Musa Suleymanov
Musa Suleymanov(@musa)
7 years ago

Definitely Porsche 924 or 944. Most cheap “classic” in Russia, but it’s rare. Would pick up one after finishing my project car.

Scott Gunn
Scott Gunn(@fb_100003947537658)
7 years ago

Lovely Alfa! I would spend about $15K total. Start with a well-cared-for, stock, used street vehicle. It would have Ohlins suspension set up for my weight, titanium headers and silencer, carbon fiber wheels and bodywork, Power Commander and free flowing filter, most of which I would find used as well. It would have half the number of wheels as yer Alfa, and I’d call it a Honda CBR600RR. Rest of the money would be spent on track fees and beer…and the occasional visit to the hospital. 😉

Vincent Basile
Vincent Basile(@civic44)
7 years ago

I had already planned such a venture for my next track car, although I never executed the plan. I would buy a BMW 635csi in as nice a condition as possible (maybe 6000-8000$) and then gradually modify it with performance parts and safety equipment (another 6000-8000$) and then have a street-legal 15000$ vintage racer eligible for Canada’s G70 class, as well as BMWCCA club racing. With the remaining 15000$, I would register for as many events as possible!

I guess the 30000$ version would involve an E30 M3 or a Porsche 911 SC.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle(@mosler)
7 years ago

This is a great question to start the morning off! Im not gonna go into detail really about this but id say find yourself a decent handling low weight car that has a nice aftermarket of parts and a good network of people online to help you out if you run into a problem. Maybe a second gen corvair would fit the bill. You can find these cars in good shape for basically nothing. They have a relatively low weight, nice suspension right out the box, easy to work on, nice fan base to help you out online if you need it.

Fernando Bunster
Fernando Bunster(@fernandobunster)
7 years ago

Love to see a video of this car in action.

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia(@afshinb)
7 years ago

You will!

Frantisek Simon
Frantisek Simon(@frantisek)
7 years ago

For me, it will be the merc 190 2.3 16v cossie. Can be found for 15k 1B condition and some mods to it. 😉

Frantisek Simon
Frantisek Simon(@frantisek)
7 years ago

if vintage – mmm… Alfa GTV 2000 by Bertone – can be found for 20k 1A and “some” mods to it – make it lighter in the first place.

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia(@afshinb)
7 years ago

I’d say the 2.3 16 qualifies for vintage!

7 years ago
Reply to  Afshin Behnia

We’ll just call it retro… like my AW11 MR2

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange(@365daytonafan)
7 years ago

Challenging question Afshin
The $30,000 budget rules out my dream track weapon of a [url=””]Ferrari 308GTB [/url]to Michellotto Group4 spec.
Living in the UK it probably has to be an MGB GT. Plenty of base cars that can brought for under $12,000 (£8,000ish) and a huge supply of tuning and race preparation parts available.
Alternatively there is the Porsche that everyone loves to hate the 924. Again very cheap to buy and here there is even a [url=””] race series [/url]for them

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia(@afshinb)
7 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Lange

A Group 4 308GTB would indeed be a dream! Agree that the 924 is quite under-appreciated. It’s nice to see there a series dedicate to them.