If you feal that your rc knowledge is enough that you know how to rebuild a car then find one used. You can get one for so much cheaper used then new. Just make sure you get something that can have the slop and problems fixed for a minimal price. xxx-nt are great cars for bashing or racing that you can find for under $100 as rollers. If you want to go to electric then do this.
then find a cheap esc, under $40.
then a pistol grip am radio w/ one servo and end point adjust ment. $60
Then get a stock motor such as a p2k. $30
You have now spent $210 and have everything you need as far as a car is concerned. The parts have a one year warranty. Now, you get your $30 rebate.
Go and get a http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXAVN1&P=0
This should put you right out at around $250 for everything. If you are planning on racing then order two more batteries. You will also need to pick up acrylic paint at your lhs.
There is also a stadium truck version of the buggy as well. The are re released xx crs and xx ts. They are good competitive cars that are cheap.