Exactly how are they "rivals"? They are hotrodders that march to a different tune, thats all.
If you ask me you could drop $12K on a really pristine BB Chevelle and have a nice 12-13 second car with only a little tuning and be as reliable as a bank vault, or you could drop $10K on a used Eclipse and then spend another $10K in parts and tuning to end up with a turbocharged grenade that won't be worth a dime in 10 years.
Sounds to me like you have pocket book envy not fast car envy.
Spend another $400 on gears and hang on, I once had the 400M in my garage in a 78 XR7 with a set of 2.50 gears out back and at 130+MPH I lost my nerve. Car felt like it was going to leave the road with the brick front end and jello suspension.
The engine was willing to go faster but my survival instinct wasn't. Sounds to me like you already know the answer to your question anyway.