24 Hours of Lemons: Engine Swap Adventure

I will have more on this soon, as I’m still waking up from a weekend at a 24 Hours of LeMons race. But I wanted to share that lead image. That’s our oil pan after the initial parade lap on Saturday morning. On lap ZERO, our engine turned on the tumble dry setting and sent stuff to places they should not be.

We pulled the pan to assess the damage. The assumption was we would all go “…well shit”, rip off our wristbands, and crack a beer as soon as legally able to at a hot track. But Tim (Mr. Mad Science) suggested a quick look at Craigslist to see if maybe someone was selling a Ford inline-6.

24 hours of lemons ranchero

And someone indeed was. The engine was cheap with low miles. And it was an hour and a half away. So soon I’ll tell you the full story of the weekend that saw us race zero laps on Saturday and around 100 laps on Sunday.

24 hours of lemons ranchero


  1. 100 post-swap laps is unbelievably fortunate for a team that showed up without a spare of an engine family that has been out of production for decades.

    I hope you were able to strap the broken engine into the bed of the Ranchero and take it around the track. I know that it’s highly unlikely you could secure it in a way that would get through tech, , but still…

    1. Yeah that would’ve been great, but that engine is toast. Even Tim didn’t want to salvage it. Thankfully the track allows you to leave it outside the garage and then come and haul it away, haha.

      I saved the #2 piston, JeepJeff took the cam lobe. The rest is going to the scrapyard.

      But yeah, finding a 250 I6 in Fresno – hilariously amazing. It was pulled from a Maverick, that got a V8 swapped in. We fired the car up around 1am. Sorted it further in the morning before green flag, and ran the full day. Full story coming when my brain is firing on all cylinders.

  2. “…a quick look at Craigslist to see if maybe someone was selling a Ford inline-6. And someone indeed was.”

    In my experience that approach is generally less effective mid-race when the engine in question is a SAAB three-cylinder. At least we didn’t have to deal with bent pushrods. Or mangled bearing shells. Or an oil pan. Or oil. Congratulations on getting back on track, which is more than we managed to do when our engine came apart!

    1. What is that casting with a hole in it then, or don’t you use the term oil pan if it’s cast in aluminium?

      1. The factory just called it the lower half of the crankcase. It’s made of cast iron, supports the ball-type main bearings, and contains the lower part of the chambers through which fuel-air mixture passes. Here’s a slightly less ventilated example:

  3. At least it is one of the more popular engines ever produced. Nice outcome and a good reward for your hard work

      1. They are pretty forgotten now but went into millions of cars over there too from 1960-early 80’s, and they can’t all have been turned into razor blades and tin cans. In a pinch I imagine a 2.3L 4cyl from a Tempo would go in, being a cut-down 3.3!

  4. Looking forward to the full write up! The venerable Ford inline six is one of my favorite American engines, despite its modest output.

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