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          • Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."

          Poor man's mid motor options..

          potato masher

          Member
          May 15, 2019
          131
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          On the poor man's mid motor hunt this is my thought process.. the Murray supercar got me thinking about mid motors.

          For a light weight H pattern MR.. the Toyota mr2's come close. 1st gen AW11 is a little low on power but the 2nd gen turbo had decent power to weight at 200hp. They have already began to go up in value and are getting hard to find good examples. I think even the 3rd gen mr2 spyder are starting to get hard to find good ones. Only 140ish horse but 2500 pounds. If you're not into brz miata FR layout this is the one at the top of my list.

          1st and 2nd gen boxsters are very affordable these days... If you prefer hard top, the 06-09 Caymans are getting down into the below 20k area. The S has decent torque but these cars are 3000 pounds. And then there is the elise/exige.. but pricey. The x1/9 is getting very "vintage" at this point. What options are missing here?
           

          rstrohkirch

          Golden Member
          May 31, 2005
          1,970
          194
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          For mid motor the answer is a 987.1 cayman or boxster and ideally a 987.2 if you can afford it. If you plan on track days then 987.2.

          Though if I wanted a cheaper sports car I'd rather take the traditional FR car from the ones you listed than a MR2 for numerous reasons.
           
          Last edited:

          potato masher

          Member
          May 15, 2019
          131
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          Good point, I've seen some of the motor swapped Fieros online and those can be fast. Hell even bone stock a GT offers decent pull. The later GT's have really good looks too. You forget how pretty the late ones can be until you see a clean one in person.
           

          NutBucket

          Lifer
          Aug 30, 2000
          26,374
          253
          126
          The last model year looks great. But the V6 is still a dog.

          We forgot about Esprits, Elises and Exiges!
           

          potato masher

          Member
          May 15, 2019
          131
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          Its too bad 986's are not lighter. Those things are at such a low cost right now. I don't even particularly care for them but I want to shop for one just because of the bargain they represent. I feel like they are 500 pounds away from greatness.

          Same thing with Fieros, I feel like maybe they were 500 pounds too porky to succeed in the market.

          The whole "poor man's MR" is probably a bad idea to begin with though.
           

          rstrohkirch

          Golden Member
          May 31, 2005
          1,970
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          Its too bad 986's are not lighter. Those things are at such a low cost right now.
          Not that cheap unless you're looking at ones with 80-100K+ miles? A good example with around 40-50k miles is still around 13-14k. 14K will get you a late model NC Miata with less than 30K miles. You can even find ND Miata for 15k or so with good mileage.
           

          potato masher

          Member
          May 15, 2019
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          I'd rather have an 80k good condition boxster than pay a lot more for a 40k example. I think boxsters suffer from that same hair dresser image bs thing the miata has. Not that I give a shit what other people think of what I drive. Also the egg headlight thing.. but those are the kinds of things that make for a bargain.

          I think I'm with you that an FR or even FF is the way to go if you don't specifically have an itch for an MR.. you can have a lot of fun in those. And much more many options.


          How many holes do I need to drill into a $5k boxster to make it weigh 2500 pounds I wonder..
           

          rstrohkirch

          Golden Member
          May 31, 2005
          1,970
          194
          106
          What's the big hang up on weight? None of these vehicles are particularly fast so I assume it's about how they handle. But all of these vehicles are light enough that their curb weight is irrelevant and the suspension is what matters. Put 1.5k to 2K into any of these vehicles listed for aftermarket struts/drop springs or coil overs and they will all corner very flat. The driver seats in some of these vehicles hold you back worse than their suspension.
           

          NutBucket

          Lifer
          Aug 30, 2000
          26,374
          253
          126
          Less weight means you need less power to go fast. Duh. But yes, handling too. That's the brilliance of the OG Miata.
           

          ultimatebob

          Lifer
          Jul 1, 2001
          23,391
          1,368
          126
          Wow, I never knew that the Porsche Boxster was a mid-engine car. I learn something new every day!
           

          potato masher

          Member
          May 15, 2019
          131
          26
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          I got an automagic blockster to commute and scratch that MR physics itch. Until I get something more scalpel-ish to carve on weekends. The slushie machine and fatty extra weight is probably a good thing for keeping sane in daily traffic.
           
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          JulesMaximus

          No Lifer
          Jul 3, 2003
          74,154
          620
          126
          On the poor man's mid motor hunt this is my thought process.. the Murray supercar got me thinking about mid motors.

          For a light weight H pattern MR.. the Toyota mr2's come close. 1st gen AW11 is a little low on power but the 2nd gen turbo had decent power to weight at 200hp. They have already began to go up in value and are getting hard to find good examples. I think even the 3rd gen mr2 spyder are starting to get hard to find good ones. Only 140ish horse but 2500 pounds. If you're not into brz miata FR layout this is the one at the top of my list.

          1st and 2nd gen boxsters are very affordable these days... If you prefer hard top, the 06-09 Caymans are getting down into the below 20k area. The S has decent torque but these cars are 3000 pounds. And then there is the elise/exige.. but pricey. The x1/9 is getting very "vintage" at this point. What options are missing here?
          The X1/9 is a great little car very well balanced, go kart like, but the engine requires a timing belt change every 36,000 miles and it has an interference engine.
           
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          potato masher

          Member
          May 15, 2019
          131
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          At the prices the 1g bocksters go for. If something catastrophic goes wrong, throw car away go buy another one. That tip is for the IMS worriers. Unlikely scenario from what I've heard.

          Also on the topic of the 180 whp or whatever it is they have.. if that is not enough, you're doing it wrong. See which tires make a brz fun for a hint there.

          /salespitch
           

          pauldun170

          Diamond Member
          Sep 26, 2011
          7,615
          2,994
          136
          On the poor man's mid motor hunt this is my thought process.. the Murray supercar got me thinking about mid motors.

          For a light weight H pattern MR.. the Toyota mr2's come close. 1st gen AW11 is a little low on power but the 2nd gen turbo had decent power to weight at 200hp. They have already began to go up in value and are getting hard to find good examples. I think even the 3rd gen mr2 spyder are starting to get hard to find good ones. Only 140ish horse but 2500 pounds. If you're not into brz miata FR layout this is the one at the top of my list.

          1st and 2nd gen boxsters are very affordable these days... If you prefer hard top, the 06-09 Caymans are getting down into the below 20k area. The S has decent torque but these cars are 3000 pounds. And then there is the elise/exige.. but pricey. The x1/9 is getting very "vintage" at this point. What options are missing here?
          First Gen Mr2's cam NA and SC.
          NA doesn't feel slow and definitely not the SC unless. It's basically Miata power. If you are looking at stop light to stop light then lets face it. Most 80's cars are not up to the stat chasing task. Highway driving might be loud and buzzy.
          If my kids follow instructions...this will be my birthday gift in a couple of years from them. Restored Mr2 SC. T-Tops and all

          Second gen Mr2
          Same goes but a little extra "mushiness". Much fun is to be had with a V6 swap if you can stomach the time and money to do it.

          3rd Gen Mr2
          Fun little cars ...until the precat's toast the engine.

          Fiero
          Holy crap is the interior a reality check. Taking passengers younger than 40 will fell like a prank. I recall them being fun to toss around and it felt like your anus was 3 inches from the pavement. Fond memories of Fiero GT vs Gen 1 MR2 street racing while I would cheer on from the POS I drove at the time.
          I don't know how a 2.8 would do on modern roads and I believe they are prime examples of "do the engine swap" unless you really want to relive your youth.

          Boxter - The ghost of IMS bearing gone south patiently await your check beck.

          Cayman - $$$$ Hilarious that it's in the same list as the Fiero

          Elise\Exige - Buy glue. Avoid public roads. Try not to total the car buy accidently driving on a bumpy road.

          Guy in my neighborhood has a Lotus Esprit V8. Had the
          older 4 banger prior to that as well.

          NSX?
           
          • Like
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          Mar 11, 2004
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          I just bought a 97 Boxster. It was cheap enough that I figure even if it goes to hell quickly I won't be out much other than a lesson. Likewise, if I just can't live with it and sell it quick, I'll get some idea if I'd want a little convertible but not be out much. It has some issues (namely the top and seats both were needing to be replaced, but I lucked on decent deals for OEM replacements). It is currently in process of getting the top swapped over (the plastic window that was on it had deteriorated and so it presented a weather and security issue and since I don't have an enclosed garage and park outside at work, was something that had to be fixed ASAP), so I haven't gotten to properly live with it yet. Seems to be in good shape mechanically (the early years seem to have very low IMS failure rates, but I'm sure something can happen; but I know the blocks in the first couple of years could have issues).

          If I do end up liking it, I might think about an LS swap (there's a company that makes a kit but its for the S, but I know a shop that can do all the fabrication themselves, and do it well). The two issues there are emissions testing (which I don't think would be a huge deal but would complicate things a bit) and I'd strongly prefer to keep the auto with paddle shifters for when I wanna play speed racer vs going to a manual. There's a few Boxster engines for sale (think they're newer ones, 2.7L which I believe is the S) which I could have that shop do the IMS conversion on, and rebuild and then I'd have a decent boost without getting too crazy. But even doing either of those I'd still have spent less than $10k total (unless I get bonkers and go for an LS2 or newer).

          I'd been considering an Abarth 124 (since with a pretty cheap chip tune can be making 240hp easy). I'd also been looking at the Mercedes SL/K (I'd prefer the SLK really), I like the hardtop and the SLKs "air scarf", but cooled seats on some SLs would be nice too. I checked out some SLs (that were at quite good prices and not too shabby condition but one had aftermarket wheels and and missed out on 3 SLK55 (one was at a very good price at the start of the pandemic). Also was looking at some others. Solstice/Sky, but they were either overpriced or had others issues (and they have like no trunk, which might not be too bad, but I'd like to be able to take a couple of suitcases in case I'd wanna do like a weekend trip to Flagstaff or Vegas or California). I missed out on a Sky Redline that was about the same price as the Boxster (but in very good condition). But the seller was weird (I asked if we could setup a time to check it out and they just responded "yes" and then stopped responding for like 2 weeks and then it was listed as sold). Of course the Miata - they seem to be pretty overpriced in my opinion and I wasn't finding anything reasonably priced. I just missed out on a 2003 C5 Corvette 50th Anniversary model that was about $11k. It was on the high side of what I was willing to spend on a toy so I kinda held off a bit. It was clean, had few mods (lip spoiler on the rear, split air filter intake, and then different but Corvette OEM wheels that honestly were quite nice, they look like black versions of the ZR1 wheels, I forget what model they originally came on). It was one of the few reasonably priced Vettes around. Used prices have gotten a bit silly lately, where I see people listing C5s for $20k (and they're nothing special, not even ZR1s or really low miles or anything). Then this Boxster came along and I checked it out and so figured I'd give it a go.

          Personally, I wish Toyota would put a tweaked for performance (engine can rev higher, maybe a li-ion battery pack to save weight, maybe bit higher output electric motor; dual clutch transmission instead of CVT) version of the hybrid drivetrain from the Camry in the 86. It'd differentiate it from the BRZ and Supra, and it should be able to be quite fun (electric torque for instant response), while also having good emissions and unbeatable MPG. Or maybe do that with a new MR2 or Celica. And they could put it in a hot hatch version of the Corolla. If they really pushed it, it could even be shared with Subaru and/or Mazda for WRX/MS3. There was talk that Ford was trying to do that with a new Focus ST/RS.
           
          Mar 11, 2004
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          I got an automagic blockster to commute and scratch that MR physics itch. Until I get something more scalpel-ish to carve on weekends. The slushie machine and fatty extra weight is probably a good thing for keeping sane in daily traffic.
          My feeling exactly.

          Plus I'd like to have something that I could let some others drive.

          At the prices the 1g bocksters go for. If something catastrophic goes wrong, throw car away go buy another one. That tip is for the IMS worriers. Unlikely scenario from what I've heard.

          Also on the topic of the 180 whp or whatever it is they have.. if that is not enough, you're doing it wrong. See which tires make a brz fun for a hint there.

          /salespitch
          Yeah, plus from what I gather the IMS stuff has been pretty overblown. Now sure, if you track your car or put a lot of miles, it seems to increase the chances. From what I gathered, the first few years of the Boxster (97-99) have a quite low IMS failure rate (they had a different dual sleeve design or something). The 2000-2005 are the bad years, but even there the failure rate is like 10-15% and seems like its when you're getting north of 100k miles. I think that's why the 40-60k mile Boxsters are so much higher in price. The 2005-2008 have a lower rate but I think its still a bit higher than the first few.

          I think the base Boxster had 200hp, then 225, with the S having 250-260hp. So plenty enough for fun. And you don't get completely f'ed by going with the automatic (the RX-8 which I briefly thought about loses like 40hp when paired with the automatic)

          Which, the other nice thing is say you drive an Boxster til the IMS goes or its likely to, then you have a good base to get some custom work and make it into a sorta modern hot rod that handles. I'm a bit surprised that there aren't some Carrera GT body kits for them in fact. I did see there's a like 911GT1.

          I bet you could probably rework the chassis a bit (put in a tube frame, if nothing else just most of the rear tossing the stock one behind the seats and do from there back), ditch the power top stuff (maybe switch to removable hardtop and ditch even more of the top), put in some lightweight seats, and then lightweight suspension, brakes, and wheels, and end up with a very sporty car. At the same time integrate whatever engine you'd feel comfortable with and you could probably have lighter weight but similar power out of a built 4 cylinder that'd rev, or an LS swap and get lots more power from about the same weight. You'd either need the time or a decent shop, but it shouldn't be out too much.
           

          potato masher

          Member
          May 15, 2019
          131
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          Yep yep like I say I am also stupid enough to use a Lotus or other 890kg car for a pothole daily. Luckily some how managed to avoid it so far... probably because hard to find or hard to afford.

          I feel the smaller wheels on these older MR's can be a blessing. In regards to road imperfections. Not sure if its even worth thinking about a big truck getting tangled up with one of these. Much rather think about it happening in a 1390kg car rather than an 890kg one.

          Swaps sound like work... work work work. And research and learning. Nope!

          I feel like these autos do eat up 30 or more. 200+ crank, like you say, is a high enough place that the loss is acceptable. 170 180whp is fine. Yeah its fine. I'm fine. This is fine. The sleeved down flat six motors don't have a ton of hp but they do offer a good spread of torque at least. Which is arguably better than a peaky higher hp motor. Acceleration at whether at 2k or 5k is no problem.

          There is a ammz phrime show "daily driver" that has some input on shopping for these cars and others. I think I agree with them that 'usable performance' is the feature to have. A six liter FR whatever on 20x10's is great for flexing. I've noticed the yooutube stars are into those. On the other hand a 170whp or 180whp roadster on narrow 16's or 17's? That is something you can realistically toss around on real roads in real life and have a blast with.
           

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