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Old 09-18-2013, 04:45 PM   #1
jtbirchfield
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Track car: e46 m3 smg vs rx7 fd

I'm looking to get into racing on the track and was wondering if the a Rx7 or a e46 m3 would be a better track toy. I already own a e46 328i and have much experience tearing it apart, so matienance and installation would not be a problem - but have never worked on a Mazda or rotary. Parts seem to be more available for the BMW compared to the Mazda. Which would you pick as a track car?
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:20 PM   #2
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I have owned 2 fd rx7's and they are great for the track, its just a different beast. They are much older then the e46 m3 but I still love them. Just do lots of research on the fd for the track before you make your decision.
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Old 09-19-2013, 10:10 AM   #3
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Sweet, thanks for your opinion.
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Old 09-19-2013, 11:16 AM   #4
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Both are great cars. I think it will be a matter of finding one that has been well maintained. I see many e46 M3s available all the time, but many have not been adequately maintained. While the FD is a rarer car to find I am certain there are a good number on the market that haven't had the best maintenance history.

If it was me and between both cars in a non-competitive track environment I would choose the RX-7. Mostly because I have very little experience with them and I always enjoy learning whatever I can about a new platform.
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Old 09-19-2013, 12:10 PM   #5
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E46 M3 is the better choice. Here is why:

1. Maintenance and repair costs - the FD will cost you a lot to maintain, either as a street or track car. It's not just the rotary engine, the whole car is made to save weight at the expense of reliability. Even with a very clean car, I had all sorts of issues just because car is old. The car needs constant maintenance (plugs every 15k mi, oil every 2-3k mil, for example).

2. Safety - the FD is also not a very safe car. if you hit a wall at triple digits, you will be hurt. i am sure in an e46, you will walk away with a headache and maybe a bruise.

3. Performance - E46 M3 is much faster. Also, the power is linear, unlike the TT on the FD. This provides better control on power and more confidence.

All in all, i still love the FD as it's my childhood dream car. But that doesn't mean FD is a better car. Remember they are about 10 years apart in age. The only advantages the FD has over E46 M3 are more direct feel and tighter around turns. FD would do well in autocross or backroads. On open track, i would bet on E46.
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Old 09-19-2013, 02:17 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by djantlive View Post
E46 M3 is the better choice. Here is why:

1. Maintenance and repair costs - the FD will cost you a lot to maintain, either as a street or track car. It's not just the rotary engine, the whole car is made to save weight at the expense of reliability. Even with a very clean car, I had all sorts of issues just because car is old. The car needs constant maintenance (plugs every 15k mi, oil every 2-3k mil, for example).

2. Safety - the FD is also not a very safe car. if you hit a wall at triple digits, you will be hurt. i am sure in an e46, you will walk away with a headache and maybe a bruise.

3. Performance - E46 M3 is much faster. Also, the power is linear, unlike the TT on the FD. This provides better control on power and more confidence.

All in all, i still love the FD as it's my childhood dream car. But that doesn't mean FD is a better car. Remember they are about 10 years apart in age. The only advantages the FD has over E46 M3 are more direct feel and tighter around turns. FD would do well in autocross or backroads. On open track, i would bet on E46.
Some of these statements are bold. I somewhat agree with you on #1, but not with the design being focused on saving weight that in return became unreliable. This is not true. you should expect more maintenance on the Fd especially if you are going to use it as a track car.

#2. This is a blanket statement. You could be hurt in ANY car hitting the wall in the triple digits.

#3. Bold statement as well. There are many examples of high performing FD's. do some more research here, I'll leave it at that. This could go both ways with either car.
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Old 09-19-2013, 05:44 PM   #7
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It doesn't take much for an FD to outperform an E46 M3 in every way. They have so many inherent advantages in their chassis design, really they just need a little updating to modern tires and wheels and a bit of suspension refreshing to be a better track toy. They're vastly lighter and the engines are quite reliable when the cooling system, fuel system and exhaust are well looked after... anything that a track rat would be taking into account. An FD with 280-300whp is easy to obtain and will be very dependable.

They have so much more feel than the E46 chassis as well, this one is a no-brainer for me. But everyone has their personal favorite
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Old 09-23-2013, 10:33 AM   #8
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Thanks for all your opinions. Are parts for the rx7 more hard to find compared the m3? It seems like the m3 has a bigger selection of track parts.
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Old 09-23-2013, 01:31 PM   #9
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What do you mean by "track parts?" There is a wide selection of brake pads, brake kits, coilover setups, anti-roll bars out there in the aftermarket. They are still very well supported cars.
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Old 10-08-2013, 03:08 AM   #10
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It may just be the local sampling, but around here at least, all the competitive FD's either run a hefty de-tune to take advantage of their low weight in "lesser" classes, or they're running LSx swaps and making north of 500whp. I see almost nothing in between the two.
Having spent a fair amount of seat time in both more Street oriented rotary turbo motor builds and also LSx swapped cars, I think if I were to go with an FD, I'd try and getmy hhands on a nice Z06 motor.

Then again, I tend to drive more twisty tracks with few truly high speed sections, hence my choice of a Lysholm blower for my 328Ci. The instant torque is just such a huge benefit over waiting peaks power bands when you spend so much time shifting.
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:26 PM   #11
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If I had a clean FD RX7, I wouldn't put it on the track lol.
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Old 10-15-2013, 01:50 PM   #12
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I owned and tracked a 1993 Mazda RX7 for a number of years (around 12 years). Some of you may recognize my username as a former (technically still active) moderator of the RX7Club 3rd Gen section. The whole LSx or non-rotary swap, to me, was just plain wrong. However, I kept blowing engines at the track. There are ways to make a rotary as reliable on the track as most other cars, however it costs. You have to decide how much you are willing to invest. I would recommend going NA for a rotary track based car, or use a larger (single) turbo which you can run at a lower efficiency to keep the heat down. The single turbo option is the cheaper, as a peripheral ported 13B is not cheap, nor going to a 20B. A NA 20B would be a track junkies' dream.

I also have a E46 M3, but I don't track it any longer. However, you don't need much to turn the M3 into a decent track car... Between the two, the M3, overall is going to cost less to maintain and you are likely to keep your sanity. Going the FD route is not the sane choice so you just have to understand what you are going to get into. Also, there are more cars out there to consider than just the FD and E46 M3. If the FD is an option, I would also consider a Lotus Elise.

FWIW, I sold the RX7 as I couldn't take going to the track wondering if I was going to be replacing the motor the following week.

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Old 12-08-2013, 07:28 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mahjik View Post
I owned and tracked a 1993 Mazda RX7 for a number of years (around 12 years). Some of you may recognize my username as a former (technically still active) moderator of the RX7Club 3rd Gen section. The whole LSx or non-rotary swap, to me, was just plain wrong. However, I kept blowing engines at the track. There are ways to make a rotary as reliable on the track as most other cars, however it costs. You have to decide how much you are willing to invest. I would recommend going NA for a rotary track based car, or use a larger (single) turbo which you can run at a lower efficiency to keep the heat down. The single turbo option is the cheaper, as a peripheral ported 13B is not cheap, nor going to a 20B. A NA 20B would be a track junkies' dream.

I also have a E46 M3, but I don't track it any longer. However, you don't need much to turn the M3 into a decent track car... Between the two, the M3, overall is going to cost less to maintain and you are likely to keep your sanity. Going the FD route is not the sane choice so you just have to understand what you are going to get into. Also, there are more cars out there to consider than just the FD and E46 M3. If the FD is an option, I would also consider a Lotus Elise.

FWIW, I sold the RX7 as I couldn't take going to the track wondering if I was going to be replacing the motor the following week.
Sorry to bump this thread, but as my sig shows I have a TII FC and an e46 m3. Prior to purchasing the M I was in the market for an FD but figured one rotary engine to maintain was more than enough work for me but everytime I see an FD at rx7 car meets I often wonder if I made the right decision. Since you've tracked both, putting maintenance to the side (as I'm very aware of that issue lol) which car was more fun? Which one seemed easier to control? Lap times, which one was outright faster? Thanks!

Comparing the M to the FC is a no brainer, but the e46 chassis doesn't seem to talk to the driver like I'd like it to, I don't exactly feel when I've reached the limit as I do in other cars. But with that being said, it takes a lot more effort to reach the limit in the M then it does in anything else I've driven, which included a Lotus Elise (80+ mph corners, Lotus had much better grip though).
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:38 PM   #14
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Since you've tracked both, putting maintenance to the side (as I'm very aware of that issue lol) which car was more fun? Which one seemed easier to control? Lap times, which one was outright faster? Thanks!
Unfortunately, my FD was anything but stock so it's hard to compare. Not that my M3 is stock, but it's not modded nearly to the level my FD was... My FD was much quicker and I ran r-comps at the track. I never tracked the M3 with r-comps, only street tires. However, the FD was overall much more fun. The M3 is easier to control without a doubt. The FD, like my current track car which is a S2000, can snap on you pretty easily. The M3 in stock form has understeer in it. Even once you dial that out, it's still a very balanced chassis. Heck, it has a good 10-12 years of newer engineering in it over the FD.

When I bought my FD, the E36 M3 was the version that was out. I bought the FD since I could get it cheaper than the E36 however I ended up paying for the difference in many ways later. Don't get me wrong, I loved most of the years I owned the FD but I'm not sad it's gone right now. If I had more patience, I would have done a NA 20B swap which would have made it less of a hassle on the track. By the time I had the funds to do it, I didn't have the patience to deal with the shops.


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Old 12-09-2013, 09:09 PM   #15
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Thanks for the response. Is the s2000 as fun as the FD? Seems like a relatively cheap car as a track toy?
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Old 12-10-2013, 11:07 AM   #16
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Thanks for the response. Is the s2000 as fun as the FD? Seems like a relatively cheap car as a track toy?
I drive the S2000 a lot harder. With the FD, I always felt like something was going to break or give out. I don't think I ever had a track weekend where something didn't break or fail on the FD. Now, the S2000 that I bought was already built and prepped. It was Jason Kohler's S2000 which he was a NASA national champion with in 2012. I'm not nearly as fast or as brave as Jason was with it but he already did the hard part of building and sorting the car.

Given how hard I'm driving the S2000, the consumables are about the same (i.e. brake pads, rotors and tires). Fluids are much less than my FD used, specifically transmission and diff. The main benefit for me is that I'm not fixing something after every event. I could have gotten the FD into a similar position; it just would have cost more to get there (and stay there).
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