The Volvo 850 was released in 1992 as the modernized reboot of the boxy, but obsolete, 240 sedan. Even though power went to the front wheels (a first for a Volvo in the USA), it was every bit as capable a car as its predecessor, if not as boxy. The R version is the hot one to get, but prices reflect its exclusivity, and picking up a modified basic 850 might make sense for the penny pincher. Find this 1996 Volvo 850 here on eBay currently bidding for $1,025 with a few hours to go.
The Volvo 850 wasn't just the first North American front-driver, it was also the first time Volvo shoved an inline-5 sideways in a car. The combo seems to have worked because Volvo is now the go-to marque for finding slightly out of balance engines mounted off-kilter. An inline-5 has a pretty nasty sounding exhaust note, so you may as well muffle it with a turbo while you are in there.
Under the hood is what appears to be a B5234T -- a 2.3 liter inline-5 good for 222 horsepower when boosted with the stock Mitsubishi TD04-15g turbo. This one has a bigger turbo, big exhaust, and the seller claims 280 horsepower and it should be a handful.
See another manual transmission and decently quick late model for cheap? firstname.lastname@example.org