What’s the most fun you’ve had with cars on a budget?

More fun than it looks. Sajeev Mehta

This week we are hoping that members of the Hagerty Community can share some value-conscious ways to have fun with your car. And we don’t just mean a car, specifically; one of the most enjoyable events I ever participated in was both a great value (less than $100) and only required a jaunt in my Ford Ranger to a nearby defunct golf course.

Sajeev's 2011 Ford Ranger
Fox Eye Photography

While I don’t recommend a compact truck if you’re actually trying to win a regional SCCA Rallycross, it was a shocking amount of fun for dirt cheap. The aforementioned golf course had interesting terrain and surface changes (the cart path, still present, made for a fun twist in this course) and the closed course nature of the event meant things like catching air on hills, Scandinavian flicks, and full ABS braking (pictured above) were highly encouraged.

I had an absolute blast, and I woulda had more fun if the Ranger was a secondary vehicle (instead of being my daily driver). That’s only one example, so here are some other examples offered by our very own Kyle Smith:

So tell us, what’s the most fun you’ve had with cars (or trucks!) on a budget?

We look forward to hearing from you because we know your input will help everyone else enjoy their vehicles!




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    (1) local back roads in one of my toys

    (2) Denver to Montrose in a company rental (cheaper and I generally arrive sooner than the flight)

    (3) track day in an Indy (style) car

    Autocross your daily. Our local club charges only $35 per day.

    Perhaps not “budget” but definitely “high value per dollar,” get your friends together and race with 24 hours of lemons.

    I had a reservation for an exotic car in Las Vegas, which I was planning to drive to Zion National Park with a best friend. The rental outlet couldn’t come through with the Aston-Martin that I had requested so I was given a new 911 for a significant discount. We drove to Zion (very quickly) and then the next day received record, unexpected snowfall once we were deep in the park. Was a harrowing, yet exciting drive getting out. Lots of fun, lots of memories, for a fraction of the price of the Aston.

    Honestly, giving away my Volvo 240 to a fellow Hagerty reader on this site. Yeah, yeah, I’m a kiss-up, but it didn’t cost me anything and it was a blast.

    ’47 Willys CJ2A at the new Holly Oaks off road park. If you want to go sometime, you let me know. 60 horsepower, but 40:1 gear reduction.

    Found and bought a Volvo P544 from a field. Was able to get engine unseized without pulling the head off. Then one day when on a date, drove some rough trails around Hamilton, Ontario. Someone must have reported the “joy-riders” to the police that we subsequently met on the way out. “Oh, you’ve got a girlfriend with you”. They didn’t say anymore and we drove off (on the road). My now wife never lets me forget this run-in with the police (who are real fun-loving people too).

    Participating in an “icecross” (autocross on a snow/ice-covered course laid out on a kinda plowed out dirt field), upstate New York in the dead of winter. I was driving my $50, pulled-out-of-the-junkyard Renault 4CV, which actually has amazing traction (31-69% weight distribution front to back) even on regular tires. Glad I was wearing a helmet…the course was so rough the helmet smashed the dome light on the driver’s side. The car was pretty rusty so I wasn’t sure it would hold together, but it did. No trophy, but a lot of fun sliding around and cornering on the snowbanks.

    Racing at Thunderhill in the 24 Hours of Lemons series with a 4-door 1963 Plymouth Valiant sporting a stock slant 6 and push-button A904 automatic. Duking it out in a bunch of hoopties on a racetrack while shifting with your left hand is insane fun.

    Doing the Gambler 500 for actually $500, at the peak of the used car market recently. My friends and I found a ’95 Honda Passport for $500 that had no brakes, a bent tie rod, a cracked valve cover that literally spit oil, and many other smaller problems. We fixed it up with exclusively junkyard parts (total parts cost under $400, so we spent the last hundred of our parts budget on stickers and paint) and got some used (nearly dead) 35″ tires for free, cut the fenders to make them fit, and ran the Gambler in it! One of the crew’s daily broke down and he’s been daily driving our Gabler car ever since, which is a testament to how well we fixed it up for so little money. Great way to spend a season’s weekends with your friends.

    So I bought a Sprite that was in rough shape, boxes of parts, but it did come with an extra engine, transmission and rear end. I vowed not to put any money into it until it proved itself as something fun. I bought a few odds and ends at the hardware store, brazed some fuel vents, spliced some wiring and pressed out some body panels, chiseled bondo but no real money, (ok I did buy a master cylinder). The project took time and the car would barely run to the end of our dead end road, and I ended up pushing back more times than I can count. Still it was fun and after months maybe even a year I remember chugging up a little test grade in the neighborhood-it felt like such an accomplishment! Then back down through a fantastic sweeping turn, only to enter a busy albeit downhill boulevard and have the engine chug to a stop! Out of gas, I primed the carbs and pushed and coasted finally made it home it felt sooo good,
    From that point I was entertained so the expense was written off to that account and things just kept getting better and better, sure there were a few setbacks and the engines came in and out more times than I could count, but I felt ok buying new brake lines and a windshield, distributors, etc, because with each expense came a little better trip, a little longer distance and a tiny new spot of automotive wisdom. The English car community was practically throwing parts my way, taking an active interest in seeing my project through, Moss motors and British Parts Northwest supplied the supporting parts rather cheaply it suddenly didn’t feel so crazy to use the car a lot.
    The car gets great mileage, is a breeze to park and always invites comment. It is my definition of fun!

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