Best Value Race Cars: Elan DP02

By Tom Martin

November 21, 2017

Race cars are expensive by some measures, but that doesn't mean there isn't a value equation at work. There can be complex elements to that value equation, like the level of competition, connection to ladder systems and exposure to target audiences. At a pretty basic level, though, value in a race car comes down to speed/cost. And if that is your measure, we want to suggest that the Elan DP02 has a shot at being the best value on the market.

The DP02 is most often known as an IMSA Lites car, because it has formed the basis of entry-level prototype racing in IMSA for years. Most recently, it has formally run in the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda. It is an open cockpit sports racer, with an aero chassis and Mazda 2.0L MZR power. The cars weight about 1200 lb., and the engine develops around 250 hp.

The DP02 will run its last year as a Prototype Challenge car in 2018, as IMSA makes way for P3 closed-cockpit cars. IMSA's loss is your gain, since DP02s are now entering the used market. Elan built over 50 cars during the DP02's heyday, so there should be quite a few moving on to amateur racing in NASA SU, SCCA P1 and SVRA.

To understand the value proposition here, you can think about these cars as $70k - $100k cars depending on condition and spares. That's not cheap, but it isn't the $120k of a new Radical SR3 or $300k of a new Porsche GT3 Cup car. Older used GT3 Cup cars and TA2 cars and Radicals often sell in the same range as a DP02.

The value comes in when you consider that the DP02 is faster, by quite a bit, than any of those alternatives. As an example, the DP02 is a 2:04 car at COTA compared to a 991.2 GT3 Cup car at 2:12. At Road Atlanta, the DP02 does a 1:20, while the latest GT3 Cup runs a 1:24. Usually TA2 cars and Radicals are a little slower than these GT3 Cup times. So, as you can see, you get a lot of pace for the money.

We would also argue that the DP02 is on the low end of the maintenance cost scale for cars of this pace (along with TA2 cars). The MZR is pretty reliable and doesn't have a huge rebuild cost (whereas the Porsche...). And, with over 50 cars in existence, some DP02 vs. DP02 competition could evolve.

If you are interested in sourcing or running a DP02 in 2018 with Winding Road Racing, contact Todd Therkildsen: therk@windingroad.com