slow4drsi, I understand where you are coming from with the stage 2 cam idea.
I used to run stage 3 cams (crower 403's) on my b18a, upgraded valvetrain and everything. I will never run anything over stage 2's again. The car would idle and die, ran very rough, and wasnt good for a daily.
But here is why I think you are wrong and why:
Stage 1 cams, relatively easy install. unbolt Valvecover, unbolt cam retainers, remove belt, remove cam shafts/cam gears, remove cam gear, install cam gear onto new shafts and install.
I did my own cams for my old stage 3 build, and the cams were easy.
Springs are retainers($350) I had to pay $300 bucks for install, and another $50 to deck the head, and a new head gasket($50) and to be safe ARP headstuds($75)
For a stage 1 cam. you can do the install yourself IMO after reading a DIY, and do not need springs retainers/install/head shaved/head gasket or new headstuds. Sure some of those arent manditory, but they are recommended.
So to tally it up we have:
Stage 1 cams: $500 for cams, maybe $100 for additional parts + tuning
Stage 2 cams: $500 cams, $300 for springs/retainers, $200 install, $40 head gasket, $100 for addition parts + tuning (more expensive than stage 1)
Stage 1 grand total: $600 and about 2 hours of time
Stage 2 grand total: $1150 and a few days, as many shops wont install the springs/retainers the same day u bring it in.
Using the low side of your numbers.
Stage 1: 210whp no headache's and only $600
Stage 2: 220whp a few more headaches and $1200.
Not everyone needs stage 2 cams, sure they make more topend, but they usually lack midrange.
People are paying $800 for a header to get 10whp, why not pay $600 for cams that net an equal gain.
IMO they are 2 very different beasts, and neither one is "better" than the other. All depends on what type of car you need.
After dealing with the headaches I went through, I will never buy a super lumpy bumpstick again.
*Edit* my damn post took so long everyone beat me to it