We’ve come back and retrospectively changed this post, so as to put some extra knowledge we wish we had had, in it.
So, we wanted to buy a race car. The choice was between buying a road legal car and building it, or buying something already “baked”. We chose to purchase a car with some good heritage, what appeared to be reasonably well cared for, and generally seemed to run nicely.
How did we get there?
There are two main sources of race cars on the web: RaceCarsDirect, and eBay. Ours came from RCD which is a bit like Autotrader but for the racing community, it would seem. This very nice Orange MX-5 had been appealing for some time, but the chap was after about £1.5k more than we wanted to pay for it.
We went to go and view the car one evening after a £500 price drop, not really knowing what to look for – there aren’t really any guides on buying used race cars readily available. A nice chap named Andrew showed us around the car and everything seemed to be in order; it started, it stopped, he hadn’t used the handbrake, he clearly knew what he was talking about. Very few checks and some negotiations later, we arrived at a figure of £5,500 for the car (still £500 more than we wanted to pay, but the bodywork was almost spotless.)
Knowing what we now know of the car and having run it for a few hours on track ourselves, our suggestions would be as follows:
- Check the dates on everything. Seats, Harnesses, Extinguisher.
- Check the steering wheel for matted felt – it will want replacing if it has some
- Check and adjust the harnesses and ensure they fit COMFORTABLY (particularly the 5th strap between the legs)
- Ask when the suspension was last renewed and how to adjust
- Ask how to open the fuel lid
- Ask for any bills, receipts, or proof that work has been completed
- Take a torque wrench and spot check a few bolts – see if they’ve been done to spec or not
- Take some ramps and get the car up onto them. They’ll need to be low entry. Then take a torch and get inspecting.
Very often, people running their own cars won’t have much in the way of paperwork, so you have to really try to get a good look at everything you can and use all of the clues around the car you can find, to tell whether it has been looked after or not.