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What does it really cost to build a spec car- and then race it?

October 22, 2011

When i finally decided to go spec racing, i started looking for finished spec cars or projects that were unfinished. Buying  a spec car outright is probably the smartest move if the car is decent because of the cost involved, but i am so damn picky that the guys on the board suggested i just build my own. I bought a nice 87 944 8v car from a used car lot and tore it down to nothing. I had to strip out the carpet, panels, dash, all the terribly sticky insulation on the floors and install my cage on my own, welding it and then spraying the inside w/ a spray gun the color of the exterior. I built my own fiberglass dash to save weight but i also wanted the factory look, but i didnt want to spend the cash on a premade dash from gtracing or one of those guys. The factory dash weighs about 20+lbs, mine weighs in at 5lbs !!! I bought an 88 motor from a friend and built it myself on a stand i the garage and im doing my own body work, paint, suspension, bushings etc. so besides an alignment its in my garage. Even so, the cost can add up. Im not shy about what i spend on a car so i’ll make a realistic list of what ive spent so you get an idea of what you’ll need to build your own. Used parts are an awesome deal and several things on my car came from my old turbo track car, but most is new. Let me see if i can get a complete list here……

$3500- car – most people would find a car for much less to start with which would make alot of sense. I bought this one and sold off alot of very nice parts the car had on it and i am saving things like the motor for spare parts.

$1700 – rollcage. This was shipped price, standard cage w/ nascar door bar ds only and optional knee bar

$1000- 88 944 8v high compression motor- ive been trying to get this motor for over 10 years so finally its going in my race car!

$1000 approx    – engine rebuild, -main and rod bearings, upper and lower end gasket kits, kevlar timing belt, new balance belt –D&D racing -polish and mic crank, lindsey oil pan baffle and installation, waterpump – parts only + my own labor- kept stock rings in great shape

$120 – a/c delete braket w/ belt – – loose the a/c pump and drop that alternator down lower for better COG

$300- external oil cooler and lines- this was on my turbo and there are infinite variations but mine is an s2 cooler plate, welded in AN10 fitting bungs, braided 5/8″ line to an ebay special oil cooler that is also AN10 w/ custom mounting brakets.

$150- found a brand new reman power steering pump for half price on rennlist- couldnt pass this up. Luckily the car also came w/ new ps pressure lines and i had a few new lines on the turbo i swiped.

$15- mahle air filter- if you buy a used car to race, check the air filter- animals like to make this a nest which will prob. cut down on power. Basic maintenance pays off, i also picked up a new fuel filter cuz who knows how old that thing is.

$80- firebraid 8mm plug wires w/ Beru ends – – these are magnacore wires w/ much better factory boots. I also bought new cap,rotor and plugs since i want to squeeze the most power out as possible.

$75 – detachable steering wheel hub for getting in and out of the car easily

$200 – momo prototipo steering wheel- from my turbo track car, i love these wheels as they are the classic porsche race wheel

$700- Sparco Evo driver’s seat, SFI rated and solid back- also very comfortable- from my turbo track car. I picked up a passenger Evo+2 as well from ebay for $300 shipped, not SFI rated so it was cheaper but still new and i keep it for instructing w/ a 5pt harness from my old turbo as well.

$150- G-Force 6pt harness – its a must for any race car to have at least a 6 if not 7pt harness. – also bought my Safety Solutions center net ($155.)  from this guy-local to me- great guy.

$50- window net – w/ straps to allow lower to reach my nascar bar- also bought an install kit for like $20 to mount the top. Make sure this fits tight and doesnt have any duct tape holding it on.

$410 – fire suppression system- this includes the fire bottle, three nossles, hose, 1 charge and the pull chord w/ handle- good idea for just in case- got this at

$50 – sparco seat brackets both sides! Got a steal on both seat sidemount brakets from a guy on

$35 – autozone was a good place to find switches and zip ties- i picked up some single and two way switches here for my lights, wipers and an aux. switch for when i get a transponder. I cut out all the extra wiring in the car starting with pulling all the fuses and relays i would need and going to town w/ some cutters and making sure the car would still start after each cut.

$200 – front rotors- you need to stop, dont skimp on the brakes. Im rebuilding all four calipers and replacing the brake lines, flushing the fluid w/ super blue and installing hawk pads on all four corners. 

$300 – Hawk racing pads- n/a 944’s like hawk blues up front and hp+ in the rear. Opinions may vary. I got these at

$65 – braided brake lines- they sell a couple variations including DOT and not-DOT approved.

$14 – super blue race brake fluid- your brakes get hot, make sure they dont boil the fluid- flush all lines and clutch completely and put some good fluid in there

$15 x 4 – brake caliper rebuild kits seals only – they also sell kits w/ the pistons if you need them.

$30 – clutch line – hey its 24 years old why risk it. The turbo had new slave and master so im using those. I also have a new blue braided hose from the resevoir to the clutch master that someone donated to the cause.

$700- spec racing clutch- well ok i didnt pay that but i picked up a brand new spec clutch in the box from a friend for a discount. This replaces your rubber center w/ a spring center clutch w/ a stiffer pressure plate, multi-puck clutch disc and new throw out bearing.

$130-–  braided fuel line kit- i also bought their fuel line pressure gauge w/ remote hose to keep an eye on those fuel pressures. – btw pauertuning no longer sells these lines but does have them non-braided.

$90- – sent my fuel injectors out and had them flowed and new seals installed- dont start a new motor without this- my injectors ended up being way off from each other in bad shape- flowed and now they are almost exact.

$250 – 30mm rear torsion bars- solid bars that twist and act as the rear springs- these are the biggest solid bars you can use in spec racing- could also get 31mm hollow bars for more $ but opted for these. Also bought a full suspension polyeurethane bushing kit from weltmeister for the rear carrier and front a-arms since i want the car as agile as possible.

$105 – set of front 300lb hypercoil 2.5×8″ springs. I am using a set of 968 front koni strut housings w/ the stock spring perch cut off and a collar adjustable coilover kit installed and new Koni inserts- bought these from a buddy that switched to Motons. Also using a set of very nice expensive camber plates that someone bought and never used for $150 shipped.

$300- 968 MO30 swaybars front and rear- 30mm front, 19mm adjustable rears- also bought slightly used but nice. Many different sways can be used in NASA spec class as long as they are not adjustable from in the car.

$200- new rear axels- actually i got a great deal on these from paragon as they were on half price sale.

$60 – swepco bearing grease and rear trans fluid 80/90 – im telling you this stuff is super sticky and works great even when its hot out.

$80 – new outer tie rod ends. When you have the car apart check all your balljoints, inner and outer tie rod ends- mine were sloppy so i bought both new- these should be checked regularly before and after every race/track event.

$30- emergency disconnect. This cuts your battery and motor in an emergency and is mandatory for any race series. Bought mine at  – a four post disconnect- one set cuts your battery ground cable and the other cuts your alternator or as i have mine, cuts the + side of the ignition coil.

$25- Chassis Coat rust restore paint. THis stuff is just like POR15 which seals out moisture and protects oxidized and rusted surfaces from further damage. After drying this stuff turns into a rock! I used this in my rusted battery box after scraping off the flaking paint but also painted my front and rear control arms which makes them look nice and much easier to clean since bare aluminum soaks up grease and oil quickly. Apply with a brush unless you reduce and spray but if you get it on you it is not easy to remove.

$? – paint- i bought about two quarts of AlpineWeiss to match the exterior of the car and respray the inside of the car. Paint prices are crazy so its like $70 a quart plus reducers plus clearcoat if you dont use single stage. I still need to touch up some spots on the car and then spray the stripes on the car once its ready so im not sure what i’ll spend but im sure it’ll be a few hundy. I plan on leaving the stripes off of the front fenders since they get beat up front time to time and this will cut down on my paint work if  i have to replace one.  – update just spent $400 on materials for the stripes- ouch!

$800 -ish- Toyo RA1 tires- 944spec requires a 225/50/15″ tire and most guys have a full set of rain tires and then shaved dry race tires. I had mine shaved to 5/32″ but may still use these for rain tires as the faster cars are using 5 or 4/32 shaved tires to race. I located a set of late offset phone dial wheels 15×7 from my brother in law for my extra and all 8 will be sprayed orange to accent my paint job. – edit- just picked up another new set shaved to 4/32″ by trading them for an 88 motor i picked up. Steal!

$450- Hot Lap timer w/ beacon- im sure eventually i’ll move on to a Traqmate system but for now i have a hot lap timer. The kit i bought came w/ the beacon sensor that you sit at the start/finish line to mark the start time for each new lap. Traqmate does this using GPS and also can track braking/suspension movements and can be used w/ a camera, pick up rpm and speed etc.

$2 – concave mirrors- stick them to your stock mirrors and get a better view of what is next to or behind you- changing lanes can get hairy at speed so the more  you can see the better- and you cant move your head around much strapped into a race car.

Im sure i have left some stuff out but this is off the top of my head. Prices are approx but very close as you can get an idea. Now add all this up and go look at some used race cars. They are prob. alot cheaper. Sometimes buying a used car and fixing a few things is cheaper than building. Other times a used race car is just, used up so beware. Dan


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One Comment
  1. xsboost90 permalink

    i have since sold my hot lap timer and i use a timer app on my smart phone which also has an accelerometer and more. I ended up spending about $500 on my stripes and a couple hundred more on the numbers and other vinyl i needed. Would be much cheaper for a rattle can job for sure!

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