The Morgan applied a savage caning to the quasi-MG in yesterday's Choose Your Eternity poll, thereby proving that wooden frames are preferable to wooden firewalls. We're going to take a little breather from British Car Hell today (just for a little while, mind you, because most of the cars in Hell are British... although we understand the Evil One himself drives a black dual-engine Toronado) and go with some Motown Mo-chinery for your punitive pleasure. How about a car that looks like it gets driven only to Bingo Night at the Senior Center, yet has the potential for Super Boost Potential?
Everyone knows about the screamin' turbo Buicks of the mid-80s, with the GNX reigning supreme. But Buick sold force-fed V6 A/G-bodies well before the GNX did a big smoky burnout on our hearts, and this '79 Turbo Regal is the proof! For an entry fee of just $1500, you could enter a world in which your Buick can always go faster, just by adding more boost! The cool thing about this car is that a non-turbo hood is all that stands between it and utter Malaise Era sleeperosity... but, of course, there are a few minor obstacles in your path. First of all, the car has been stored for 13 years, so it will be an extravaganza of brittle brake hoses, bad transmission seals, and varnish in the fuel system. And, while the oxidized body is fine for a sleeper, the interior looks like an unpleasant place to spend any time. Then there's the matter of the engine; while it does run, you'll need to make a ton of upgrades to get any real power out of it, starting with a bigger turbocharger and continuing with a potlatch of $100 bills that will seem to keep burning forever.
The thing about the Regal is that a lot of folks are wise to the whole turbo Buick deal, undercutting the Sleeper Effect. If you want to really humiliate drivers of fast-n-flashy cars, you can't beat the turbocharged Mopar minivan. This 12-second Caravan Woody ought to make that point perfectly clear. The problem is that they're hard to find, but we've spotted this '89 Turbo Caravan for the same price as the Regal. Not only that, it's got a 5-speed! Imagine the fun of banging through the gears in a ludicrously overpowered Caravan, spinning the front tires for 50 feet on every shift... and probably torque-steering into a telephone pole, but so what? Of course, for this price you can't just expect everything to be perfect, and the sound of the 2.5's rod a-knockin' means the van won't be rockin' right away. Its ugliness shines right through in the blurry photos (what is it with the inability of Craigslist sellers to take a good photograph?), but that won't matter for a sleeper project. Then there's a no-doubt-long list of problems the seller doesn't mention... but just keep thinking about those full-boost shifts as you bust your knuckles on this thing for week after week!