Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! After a 24 Hours Of LeMons race, I like to do a PCH pitting the #1 and #2 cars against each other, but this time it's going to be a bit different. You see, the #2 car in Houston was a 2nd-gen Camaro, and they're really easy projects- cheap, simple, and with ridiculously easy parts availability. That means we'll be going for a Japan-versus-Germany 80s Hot Hatch Challenge today, and you Camaro fans can console yourselves with the fact that you can fix most problems on your cars with a pipe wrench and zip-ties.
For that matter, the Toyota Corolla FX16 is almost too reliable to show up here, but most of them spend their entire lives with the tach needle bouncing around the 8 grand mark and the body panels scraping telephone poles, with repairs performed by 19-year-old hoons with $9.98 Taiwanese socket sets and 12-packs of Steel Reserve to provide inspiration. They're not so easy to find, but if you're willing to make a few compromises you can find something like this '87 Corolla FX16, which has a selling price we're pretty sure will be far below the asking price of $350. It's got a rod knock (or worse), so you'll need to open up the engine and fix stuff. It's also got an automatic transmission, so you'll need to remove it and leave it on a shredded couch in your front yard- this sends a message to your neighbors that you're no one to be trifled with- and then head to your nearest junkyard and find a 5-speed to install. Sell off some interior parts and you might even have enough left to drop in a hot cam and buy some nice suspension goodies.
Revving the piss out of a really nervous naturally-aspirated engine sure is fun, but why limit yourself to mere atmospheric pressure when it comes to obtaining oxygen for the combustion process? You need turbocharging! Now, VW didn't make a MK3 GTI with a turbocharged gasoline engine, but that doesn't mean you can't reap the rewards of some "Golf tuner's" aftermarket turbo kit installation. Say, for example, this '91 GTI with "many upgrades" including a turbo kit. Sadly, the motor is "blown due to overheating. there was a problem with the thermostat," which your Gloomy Gus types out there might interpret as "every component under the hood is totally destroyed, from the burned valves to the spun bearings" but which we think indicates that everything will be just hunky-dory in a single afternoon of easy wrenching. The seller wants $700, which means you'll have no problem negotiating it close to LeMons-grade pricing and then selling the interior stuff for an extra few bucks for your budget. What could possibly go wrong?