In the world of all things automotive, $350 won't get you much. Wheels? How about one? A decent size turbo? Pick your half. A car? Keep dreaming. Consider yourself lucky if you score a monthly payment below $350. It's not like this was the magic number we wanted to spend on our most recent project car. We were prepared to go big if we had to. We had at least $500 to dish out.
We'd been thinking about adding a first-gen Diamond Star to Turbo's long lineup of project cars for a few weeks. It made sense. The 4G63T powerplant is timeless and its possibilities are almost endless. We put the word out, checked the classifieds and Googled the hell out of the Web. Nothing. Shoot. Turbo models are scarce around here, and we found that those that are for sale are offered by owners who are just too proud of their 12-plus-year-old relics for us to be able to afford them.
It was chance how we came across our latest project car - a 1990 Plymouth Laser RS Turbo. While visiting a local shop on unrelated business we came across it. Just making conversation, we casually mentioned to the shop owner what we'd been searching for, not really expecting much in return. The owner's response was a trip around back where we first laid eyes on the broken down Diamond Star. With a snapped timing belt and suspected valvetrain damage, the Laser's owner was all too quick to get out from under something he wasn't capable of repairing himself and didn't want to pay for. $350 later, and it was ours.
There's a lot of work in store for what's under the Laser's hood. Heck, there's a lot of work in store for the Laser. Some might see this as a bad thing, but I don't. The satisfaction we get from bringing a car like this back to life is hard to beat. And to build it up into something special, something fast, something fun to drive - that's just unreal.
As with most of Turbo's project vehicles, we'd like Project Laser's upgrades to reflect what you, the readers, might realistically do, or at least dream about doing, to your own vehicles. So don't expect to find a write-up six months down the road about some custom, top-secret stroker crank made just for us that you can't have - for any amount of money. Or a turbo setup that you probably can't afford, and if you can, will only run on octane you can't afford to pump in weekly. Nah, we're keeping things realistic here.
So drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you're looking for in this project car buildup: What would you like to see it become? Where would you like to see it go? Now's the time to speak up since we don't even know which direction we're headed with it yet ourselves. Autocross? Drag? Both? Both, and in full street trim? Sell it back? Junk it? Uh, on second thought, we might not be taking all suggestions, but we'll definitely listen. In fact, all ideas will be considered, and with your help, we can put something together that everyone wants to read about and we all can learn from. That is, after all, what I believe project car buildups were meant for - a way for us as editors to test what we can and cut through all the crap so that readers can spend their money in the best way possible.
So speak up. Now. Let us know what you think. Shoot me an email. Even if all you want to say is that you just don't care. Just don't say we never asked.