Recently I asked you to give me the best car on eBay that could deliver groceries to the elderly during the day, and demolish a racetrack at night. Here are your top ten sleepers for under $10k:
This Swedish gem, on top of being a mainstay in both the architect and "No, I'm not a hipster" communities, can take a metric ton of power on the stock block.
Saab 9000, any manual turbo 4 from 93-97 can take over 600hp on stock internals. The recipe for 500 is fairly cheap. Buy a holset hx35, 1000cc+ injectors, walbro 255, cams, Volvo valve springs, uprated clutch, intercooler, new head gasket. Get a t3 exhaust manifold from the 92 or earlier 9000, it'll bolt right up. Call exhaust shop for a turbo back. Run e85.
Stock trans and cooling system is capable of handling the abuse, as long as you don't do clutchdump launches. You'll want wider wheels and tires, stiffer shocks and springs, and to replace all bushings. This is good for 500hp and 7k redline. Will be at full boost at 4k, giving decent powerband. Best anyone's seen on the stock internals to my knowledge is vigge on the various Saab forums at 666hp. The b234 in the 9000 is insanely overbuilt.
The ng900 can take a beating too, but the steering and handling in general is just not as tight as the 9000. 90s Saab's are dirt cheap now. I'd advise buying from the saabnet classifieds, but if you have to go the eBay route, there's this.
This one's an auto, but people have made a lot of power on them, too:
All tuning is done using the stock ecu, which has exceptional knock detection and correction. Accidentally put in 87 instead of 93? It'll pull timing, and if it still knocks, it'll pull boost.
Anyways you can pick these up for cheap fairly frequently. There's an aero manual in my area for 1.5k.
(Suggested by cbgoding)
Even though this one has "speed" in the name, the car is unassuming enough to blend in with the crowd and be inconspicuous enough that it wouldn't warrant a second glance.
mazdaspeed 6 at $7k so cash left for a tune and a downpipe
(Suggested by Markedly Zany Fop)
It's the smallest MOPAR performance sedan money can buy. And it still has extreme cost-cutting hallmarks, such as rear roll-up windows and the interior build quality of a used potato sack.
No one suspects the wagon. Ever.
2.7T V6, very potent motor, stock is good for 250HP, stage 2+ puts it around 320-340HP... nice german wagon sleeper!
(Suggested by Maxidrom)
Sure, it has the looks of a gorilla, but it has the legs of a significantly faster gorilla.
(Suggested by Maxallu)
With the MT I've seen numbers quoted at 5.9 seconds for 0-60mph, fast enough to embarrass a shiny new Toyobaru, the AT puts up 6.9 seconds 0-60 which still beats out an AT Toyobaru (7.3s).
(Suggested by dropdeaddate)
Sit down folks, let me explain what a sleeper actually is.
A sleeper is when someone takes a car that isnt fast or sporty, something that is dull or dare I say "beige", and makes it a car that can dominate most others on the street or strip without giving away its secrets. You leave the outside all stock and work on the engine and drivetrain only.
For instance, this is becoming pretty popular.
Step 2: buy a LSx/4L60E or 4L80E from the junkyard
Step 3: build your own turbo kit, or do a crazy H/C/I setup, or nitrous, whatever you prefer
Step 4: Go kill everything on the street and strip
You could build this car for well under 10 grand, hell I bet if you are smart you could do it under 5 grand easily. When was the last time you've even seen a fairmont on the road? Most people will start off saying "What the hell is that thing?" and end with "What the hell is that thing that just beat my ass!"
(Suggested by offroadkarter)
Just take off the badges and get some stock Cobalt LT wheels and you'll have something that will truly destroy some V6 and V8 egos. Or better yet, get the 4 door.
The Nissan Maxima has a special place in my heart as being my first car, and it's responsible for my love affair with the automobile. The 3rd-5th generations are relatively lightweight for their size (around or less than 3k lbs), and they have absolutely awesome engines that are easy enough to interchange for more power. They're an absolutely phenomenal performance value for money, rock solid in reliability, and you really owe it to yourself to drive one. Go find one on ebay now.
It really doesn't get any better than a silver Volvo that happens to be All-Wheel-Drive and turbocharged. This one comes complete with a Ferrari emblem that replaces the prancing horse with a moose:
Yeah, it's awesome.
(Suggested by TheCrudMan)
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.