The term sleeper gets tossed around automotive circles so much that the average car guy is going to assume that the ugly car is faster than the nice one. So, how do you build a sleeper when everybody expects the ratty cars to be fast? Easy -- you build a car that looks like a show'er, but is actually a go'er. Find this 1980 Chevy Malibu with turbo 5.3 V8 offered for $12,800 in Reseda, CA via craigslist. Tip from Mike.
No matter which way you cut it, $12,800 is all the money for an 80s Chevy Malibu...and then some. The 1987-1983 fourth generation Malibu is famous for being the subject of an odd international deal involving Saddam Hussein's Iraqi gov't and a clutch bearing replacement done by Canadian GM employees in the wilds of the Arabian desert. This car isn't remotely similar to the 3.8 V6 and Saginaw 3-speed spec of the Iraqi Taxis, but it sure has a taste for that middle eastern crude...
Under the hood is a 5.3 liter "LS" (likely LM7) V8 that is force-fed by a non-intercooled GT45 ball bearing turbo (taking the seller's word on that part!) to the tune of 500...600...700? horsepower. Power is probably directly related to fuel octane and how much you are willing to dial up the boost and risk a catastrophic core meltdown, but you'll hear Scotty screaming "She cannot take much moooohr captain" every time you adjust the wastegate control.
The part that makes this car even more of a sleeper is the fact that the paint is nice, the interior isn't disgusting, and only a dinner plate sized tach and a B&M shifter hint to the lunacy under the hood...also the cut-out in the hood for the intake pipe...that says something too.
Live in a state where you could register this thing for the street? firstname.lastname@example.org