What It Takes: Turning A Hatchback Into A Race Car

We’ve spoken a lot about building race cars here at Hackaday, but what does it actually look like to go out and do it? The boys from [Bad Obsession Motorsport] dived into that very question with their Bargain Racement series last year.

The CityCar Cup championship aims to keep entry costs low and racing competitive by racing cheap hatchbacks with a strict ruleset. Credit: Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup

The series follows the duo as they build a Citroen C1 into a competitive race car to take on the City Car Cup, an entry-level racing series focused on keeping the field competitive and the racing close.

Even at this level, there’s plenty to do to prep the car for competition. The rollcage needs to be installed, seats changed out for race-spec gear, and plenty of wiring to do as well. [Nik] and [Richard] have plenty of experience in the field of motorsport, and shine a great light on how to do the job, and do it right.

All in all, building the car cost £5995 pounds, starting from a used £850 Citroen C1. However, actually going racing costs more than that. Between race suits and boots, a helmet, club memberships and race entry fees, it cost a full £8273 to get to the first race. It’s steep, though much of those costs are upfront. Keep the car off the walls and year on year, you only need to keep paying for entry fees, memberships and consumables like fuel and tires.

It’s a great look at everything from building a race car, to testing and then actually competing as well. It serves as an excellent real-world example of what we talk about in our series on how to get into cars, which just recently touched on prepping a car for endurance competition. Video after the break.

24 thoughts on “What It Takes: Turning A Hatchback Into A Race Car

      1. I guess you have never been to a circus or a parade, at least not in America. In a parade for example it is not uncommon to see clowns in tiny clown cars driving around in reckless ways raising mayhem. The whole thing looks foolish, something only a clown would do. Same goes for circuses because well, circuses have clowns and only clowns drive clown cars :o|)

  1. [Drone] – The Citroen C1 / Peugeot 107 was a very popular cheap car in Europe in the 00’s.

    [IIVQ] – They built it to comply with a strict one-make racing series. Nitrous is definitely NOT allowed.

    Just wait until you find out about their “Project Binky” (in color)!

    1. Am I the only person who thinks that Project Binky is a bit … meh? They’re not shoehorning anything. As with most Mini projects, they’re putting a Mini dress on whatever they’ve fabricated for underneath.

      I think the most impressive Mini project I’ve seen was back in the early ’90s when some Finnish(?) bloke stuffed a Rover V8 (I forget whether carb or EFI) under the bonnet with no visible modifications, and retained FWD through a Princess gearbox.

        1. I was also aware of Spag’s mini. Not quite “no visible modifications” though :). He was Megasquirting it at the same time as I was Megasquirting my RV8. I also like the much-maligned K-series, and have seen some pretty impressive builds there too (>200bhp NA)

      1. As far as I can see they didn’t?? The majority of the shell is still bog standard Mini. Yes they had to do modifications (most notably new rear arches, boot bulkhead and front end) but that’s to be expected if you’re slotting a big turbo engine into a mini. Overall the thing is exactly the same size as a standard mini and all the exterior panels are standard. From the exterior, apart from the oversized wheel arches, it is a standard mini. Interior, it’s mostly standard mini.

        I’ve seen other mini builds where it’s literally a cut up mini body on top of a different chassis which I agree is far less impressive. In that case I’d agree with you. But that’s not what BOM has done with Binky. It’s not just a shell on a different car. It’s a Mini, with upgraded axles, modified front and rear suspension, modified center tunnel, custom modified front end and chassis rails, custom heating and AC, custom wiring, custom interior and upgraded engine and drivetrain. Take out the mini parts and what’s left definitely isn’t a car anymore.

      2. I would say yes.

        I would contend that they have very much not put a ‘mini dress on’ – Binky is properly custom built using as many mini panels / parts as possible whilst upgrading it to 4WD and a turbo 2L 4-pot.

        If you haven’t watched the series yet it’s well worthwhile – Nik is an engineering wizard!

    2. I once parked my Jeep Cherokee XJ next to a new (not classic) “Mini” Countryman and the mini was taller and probably longer too.

      That surely is an offence against the Trades Description Act (1978)

    3. They have the escargo as well that they need to get on with! I reckon it’d be a laugh if they turned it up a bit and went drifting with it.

      They also did a video about “careful/”creative” rulebook reading” in the C1 series which is worth a look. I think the race organisers should have let them run their mods for one race at least, just to see what difference they made.

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