$2000 Challenge: When $800 could get you a turbo Starion

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Mar 13, 2024 | $2000 Challenge, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Low-Buck Racing, Mitsubishi Starion, Chrysler Conquest

Photography Credit: Mark Langello

Entrant: Tom Caimano

Event year: 2004

Budget spent: $1840.93

Once upon a time–before Radwood, before Bring a Trailer, before the ravages of the day’s import tuner scene–you could buy a turbo Starion or Conquest at a fair price. Box flares for all.

Tom Caimano, of Rochester, New York, brought this 1988 Mitsubishi Starion ESI-R to the $2000 Challenge back in 2004. He paid $800 for the car–no one cried foul–and then spent another grand adding a custom intake, two-stage boost controller and a “big-ass exhaust” while also porting the turbo housing and exhaust manifold. It ran a respectable 14.3 down the strip.

Make your own low-buck memories at the Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge Presented by Tire Rack, which returns to Gainesville, Florida, April 6-7, 2024. Visit 2000challenge.com for details.

The Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge is presented by Tire Rack, in association with CRC, Miller and BendPak.

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
3/13/24 2:57 p.m.

A not-so-gentle reminder for the class that the $2000 Challenge is less than 30 days away. wink

alfadriver MegaDork
3/13/24 3:45 p.m.

It's interesting how things have evolved.  I was just reading the recent CM, and noting how many times CM sees cars that have been Challenge competitors as good investments now.  Crazy.  

I've not seen an Alfa less than $5 for years, Corvettes are less easy to find that cheap, will an 2002 ever be seen as a challenge car?  Or even a CRX?

Time does crazy things.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/14/24 12:40 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

Good call about CRX and 2002 donor prices. How much of each can you even get for $2000? A rusty shell? 

alfadriver MegaDork
3/14/24 1:24 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

So to predict future classics, just look at Challenge results. 

Appleseed MegaDork
3/14/24 1:30 p.m.

The days when we scoffed at someone expecting $7,000 for a rust free 240SX?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/14/24 1:57 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

Yeah, good way of looking at it. 

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