Introducing the 1926 Willys Knight LeMons Racer Project, or: What the Hell Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?


There were hints and even leaks, but here it is in all its…umm…glory: the 1926 Willys Knight future 24 Hours of LeMons racer project. Originally a four door powered by the Knight sleeve valve engine, it’s been shorted down to a two door and graced with a 4-linked axle from a Camaro. It’s also got a a leaf sprung solid front axle that’s probably worth enough to offset the already very reasonable purchase price of the car. Now it’s just a matter of engine, transmission, front suspension, fuel system, steering…

…brakes, cage, seat, and a couple hundred other things.
For a bit of context here, The San Diego Crew (my new abbreviated title for my former roommates from sort of automotive Chucky Cheese that we lived in) caught the LeMons bug pretty hard. Graham ran in the last two races, an Aaron helped wrench at Buttonwillow, former DSM addict Paul wants to get back to working on unreliable cars. Despite being fans of BMWs and/or overengineering, the somewhat portly Uberbird, with it’s 1980s styling on 1960s engineering  is not the car they dreamed of campaigning in LeMons. The plan was to have them run the Uberbird a couple of times in 2011 to get the hang of it, then work on finding something like a rusty, clapped out 2002 as a blank slate to build  into a ghettocharged beast for 2012.
Then the Willys showed up.


Needless to say, this is about as blank a slate as could hope for. In fact there isn’t even a slate, it’s just the easel. Scheming’s afoot in a big way, but the goal is to take the absurdity up a notch from the awesome, but remarkably straightforward Model T GT. Right now we’re thinking twin-ghettocharged BMW M30 for a power plant…as we know where we can get one, really cheap. Chop shop specials Legitimately parted out shells of cars with halfway decent front suspensions are surprisingly cheap, so it’s just a matter of finding the right deal on the right parts from a car. Josh, whose handywork you can see in the Mini Moke and turbocharged Mini will likely be handling the critical fab work.
Theme? Ideas abound, but right now we’re leaning towards Mr. Peanut Goes Racing: Tuxedo jackets, top hats, canes, monocles, spats, and no pants.
Stay tuned for what will likely initially be infrequent updates, but it’s gonna be one hell of a build.

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26 responses to “Introducing the 1926 Willys Knight LeMons Racer Project, or: What the Hell Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?”

  1. muthalovin Avatar

    Keira Knightly Willys
    Sorry, that even grossed me out.

  2. Alff Avatar

    Watchoo talkin' 'bout Willys?
    Paint it black, with a roving LED bar in the front and go for a Willys Knight Rider theme. Just be sure to have plenty of hamburgers on hand in the pits.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Not LEDs, but colored lanterns, preferably acetylene or carbide. Must be period correct. Go for a sort of steam punk Knight Rider.

      1. Alff Avatar

        I like it. "Desist in thy hoonage immediately, Michael".

      2. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        You sir, win the Internets today!

  3. OA5599 Avatar

    At first, I thought Willys Knight Rider would be good.
    That got me thinking of talking cars, and what TV Guide once called, appropriately enough for Lemons, the second worst show of all time (Jerry Springer took first place).
    <img src=""&gt;
    <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  4. lilwillie Avatar

    Insane….wish I could help.

  5. dustin_driver Avatar

    Theme? Penelope Pitstop.

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      Seconded. That's really the only choice.

  6. Deartháir Avatar

    In the spirit of your secret almost getting out to the world, I think you should go with some kind of WikiLeaks theme. WreckyLeaks? CreakyLeaks?
    All I know is I'm glad the story is out now, or I was going to have to send it in to WikiLeaks myself.

  7. CptSevere Avatar

    This is just insane. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with, it'll be one hell of an impressive mongrel.

  8. Lotte Avatar

    Brum!! Self-activated doors, swiveling eye-like headights, and no driver!
    [youtube cAfRzbC3nLc youtube]
    I just had a major nostalgia whatchamacallit just now. I must've watched this when I was 8 or 9. My mother used to rent this from the library and we'd spend the whole day watching episodes and episodes of it. I've totally forgotten about it, to the point where I wanted to google search the little jingle I vaguely remember that is the opening song. (British children car show worked.) Oh man oh man…but it'll seem pretty crappy when ya watch it now.

  9. Murilee Martin Avatar
    Murilee Martin

    Excellent! You really don't need much of a theme with a car this great, but if you have time after you're done with the slightly ambitious build…

  10. Robert Emslie Avatar
    Robert Emslie

    Of course the only appropriate number for this car will be 23 skidoo.

  11. tonyola Avatar

    I suggest 1920s gangster getup – striped suits, fedoras, spats, and tommy guns. Pants optional, of course. The Scarface actor Paul Muni set a good example.
    <img src="; width=500>

  12. HumpyDog Avatar

    Paint it black and white and call it "Free Willys" just keep away from Englishmen

  13. betterwrappedinbacon Avatar

    So jealous.
    Can't wait to see it!

  14. Brandon Avatar

    How about $hi++y $hi++y bang bang? I hope that's PC enough.

    1. Jo Schmo Avatar
      Jo Schmo

      I second this.

    2. Deartháir Avatar

      I think we have a winner! Not sure that name will fly with the LeMons administration, though.

  15. Jo Schmo Avatar
    Jo Schmo

    Beverly Hoonbillies!

  16. Armand4 Avatar

    You sick bastards.
    I salute you!

  17. njhoon Avatar

    Dam Hoonnibbles ate my post from last night.
    I say Mr Magoo!

  18. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Team Atomic Bathtub! Powered by an AMC or Ford Straight Six…

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