Hooniverse Lada Lemons Racer: Restarting a Stalled Project

The Lada showed at my friend’s now closed shop on an open car carrier a few years ago. It didn’t look like anything else; it was a tiny shell of a red car, on small wheels, with a golden roll cage inside. Dusty, banged up and beat up, it was a proper Lemons racer. I knew right away that this free car was going to be very expensive. I instantly fell in love with it.

Then life got in the way. Other priorities occupied my time. I did what I could, when I could with the Lada. In hind-side, I actually did quite a bit. Here is the rundown:

  • Straightened the frame and the body. In its second Lemons race, the Lada got tangled up with a Camaro. The result was worse than I expected.
  • Removed all graphics. The Lada originally had a communist theme. Having seen communist Poland in my childhood, I wanted nothing to do with it. The graphic of Lenin on the side was a work of art but I just couldn’t stand it.
  • Ordered a bunch of parts. There is a place in Florida that sells parts for various Russian cars. They shipped some parts to me. The windshield was broken. Other parts were missing. When I called them they didn’t speak English. Ugh.
  • Got it running!! In ran for a bit. It was started by an older Italian gentleman who spent his childhood tinkering with Fiats, using olive oil, which in itself was awesome.
  • Put it into storage and made plans for the future.

Of course, those plans did not come to fruition. It’s been some years and now I think I can restart this project. I have the help and commitment of my teammates. Money is short but it always is. Let’s see where it goes.

And the "new" Hooniverse 24 Hours of Lemons racer is…

8 Comments

  1. Don’t forget the Fiat parts. Back in the day the base car for the Lada was the Fiat 124/125. This had huge success in antipodean racing back in the seventies.

    The 125T a NZ homologation special, (86 made, all in yellow) had the full gamut of Italian tuning thrown at it and was hugely successful in local production car racing. Winning the big races against the factory Australian teams from Chrysler, (E49 Charger); Ford, (Falcon Phase 3 GTHO); and GM Holden,(V8 Monaro).
    Edit: Worth noting is the fact that these racing cars weren’t just road legal, but road registered and fully compliant with all road requirements, hence the number plate

    https://assets.shannons.com.au/ANE22B5B12S3J778/RB1F89H7K5C8W14X/kic0jmsmr6wol1hq/jpg/2400x1800x3/vehicle/1972-fiat-125t.jpg

      1. It’s all about balancing the understeer out with roll stiffness. Lightweight cars with heavy front engines and RWD roll much more at the rear, jacking the front inside wheel off the ground. See also Lotus Cortinas and Alfa 105s. Here’s Jim Clarke winning a race.And a 105 Alfa.

        https://i.pinimg.com/originals/37/65/66/3765667a8d37383f8b55b9c002627287.jpg

        https://www.alfabb.com/attachments/1750-gtam-brno-czechoslovakia-may-1970-hezemans-outright-race-winner-jpg.181009/

  2. Sounds quite familiar. In my case the ‘done list includes driving it a bit, doing a head gasket, windscreen and spigot bush in separate episodes, then it stalled (aka other things got in the way) at the start of rebuilding the carbs which was prompted by spotting fuel leaking onto the exhaust. Now project no. 2 in the queue.

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