LeMons Torture Test Revisited: A 2013 Update, #60-51


In the 2013 Torture Test’s first two posts, we saw the worst of the worst. Today, we’ll get a look at some more subpar $500 beaters, though the cars are getting slightly better. Today’s 10 includes some Italians, the best British brand, and proof that Pony cars are awful. Read on after the jump for more.

Read The Introduction,  Honorable Mentions, and #74 to 71 Here
Read #70-61 Here


60. GM F-Body (Chevy Camaro, Pontiac Firebird) – DOMINATION Factor: 0.914 (2010 Rank: 35/38)


That dang-ol’ Camaro (or Firebird) just is not going to win. The very definition of cheap speed emphasizes “cheap,” as the typical Camaro team will consume just about every single part on the car within its first four or five races—just in time to start over again. The only Camaro ever to win overall needed about 10 races to sort their car and it only held together because the team burned candles in front of a Louis Chevrolet idol in their paddock space. Fun Fact: At least 5 percent of teams running one cannot spell “Camaro.”

59. Triumph – DOMINATION Factor: 0.914 (2010 Rank: 38/38, included all British cars)


The very name “Triumph” is fitting here. Not only are the little roadsters the best British cars in LeMons (Take that, MG!), but they also just narrowly outperform America’s favorite burnout-mobile, the Camaro. I can only imagine Triumph owners everywhere are celebrating with a splash of wry whiskey.

58. GM Full-Size FWD – DOMINATION Factor: 0.929 (2010 Rank: N/A)


This is a broad category that contains mostly GM W-Platform and similar cars like the Pontiac Grand Prix and Chevy Impala. If there’s one thing GM does right, it’s build quality V6s and the Buick 3800 V6 is one of the most unbreakable motors in the crapcan world. It can produce tons of power, but like most GM products, these cars go through wheel bearings, brakes, and wheel studs like a sorority house goes through cranberry juice and vodka.

57. Nissan 240SX – DOMINATION Factor: 0.930 (2010 Rank: 5/38)


This is a surprising result from a car that should be perfect for LeMons: A RWD sportscar with performance parts galore and a truck-based (Read: Durable) motor. After finishing near the top of the 2010 Torture Test, the 240SX tumbled down the standings. The reality is that the 240SX suffers from that rarest LeMons trait: actual desirability. Most $500 240SXs become someone’s ham-fisted drift project, leaving only utter basketcases for LeMons duty.

56. Fox-Platform Ford Mustang and other related Foxes – DOMINATION Factor: 0.948 (2010 Rank: 28/38, included all Mustangs)


For a car with an absolute ton of entries, Foxes have fared poorly. But hey, at least they’ve outdone their pony-car rivals from GM, if only by a slim margin. Your best bet with a Fox Body is to bring an older, less-assuming variant like a Mercury Zephyr or Ford Fairmont to try to win Class B or even Class C. A few Fox-Body Mustangs occasionally compete for the win but seldom get it because of some tiny issue, which must be more frustrating than having a car that doesn’t work at all. Plenty of Fox Mustangs do that, also.

55. Fiat and Maserati (Non-Alfa Italians) – DOMINATION Factor: 0.953 (2010 Rank: N/A)


Most Italian cars live up to their notorious street reputation with equally poor LeMons reputation (except Alfa Romeo, as you’ll see eventually). However, this is not a poor result at all for cars so finicky in most respects. Nearly finishing midpack on average with a $500 Fiat 131 is nothing to scoff at. The couple of Maseratis in LeMons probably bring this number down a bit, even.

54. Volkswagen Mk2. Golf/Jetta/Corrado – DOMINATION Factor: 0.959 (2010 Rank: 19/38, included all liquid-cooled VW)


The worst of the liquid-cooled VWs come from the Mark 2 (A2) generation. They can absolutely fly with the right setup, but they’re just as likely to spend most of a weekend in the paddock with the hood propped open, surrounded by confused team members who have never seen motor oil that so closely resembles Capuccino.

53. Saab 900/9000 – DOMINATION Factor: 0.959 (2010 Rank: 24/38)


Like the Mk.2 Volkswagens, Saabs–especially the turbocharged ones–can get around a road course rapidly. However, the complex Swedish machines also fail early and often. The all-too-common trackside engine swap is like building Ikea furniture using only surplus ABBA 8-tracks and caribou bones instead of those crappy little Allen wrenches.

52. Porsche 914 – DOMINATION Factor: 0.960 (2010 Rank: N/A)


For basically a Volkswagen Beetle with sporting aspirations, this is pretty dang respectable. Sure, a Porsche should utterly dominate based on the badge alone, but most $500 914s are pretty rough examples. Nearly averaging a midpack finish each time out with only the air to cool the motor? That’s impressive. The 914 is yet another toward the bottom of the list that will likely always be a Class C competitor.

51. Alfa Romeo Spider – DOMINATION Factor: 0.970 (2010 Rank: N/A)


These Italian roadsters came out of the factory as some of the most gorgeous two seaters ever built. Naturally, most LeMons examples look to have been whacked with the Ugly Hammer a few times. They hold true to most of the Italian stereotypes and they even manage to fail spectacularly on occasion.

Be sure to check back tomorrow as the next 10 cross the threshold to mediocrity.

[Photos: Murilee Martin]

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8 responses to “LeMons Torture Test Revisited: A 2013 Update, #60-51”

  1. Tanshanomi Avatar

    So, what you're saying is… if you put a GM 3800 in a Mk2. Golf…

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      Mk2 Golfs love crazy engine swaps.

    2. Prince Halibrand Avatar
      Prince Halibrand

      it would make for one badass explosion.

    3. Zaxbys Avatar

      No, No, No! You put the drivetrain from a 4.6 FWD Lincoln Continental in the back of a Fox body Stang. Voila! The Horr'd GT. Not that I've thought about this or anything….

  2. LTDScott Avatar

    A good friend of mine built up a 3rd gen Camaro for LeMons and ran it in a couple of races. Unfortunately the car was seriously lacking in gauges to monitor… everything… and the car famously overheated so bad at Reno that water started shooting out the exhaust manifold ports. The video of his car doing this made it onto Good Morning America.
    He has since sold the car to a bunch of Kiwis who still race it, and now sticks to dirt oval track stuff in his Chevelle. Much easier to keep a car running for 20 minutes than 900.

    1. James Avatar

      That sounds impressive! Link?

    2. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      The COWmaro! I met Aaron who runs it now and those Kiwis love that thing. His brother runs this wretched old RWD Celica in the Midwest:
      Somewhat relevant:

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        Huh, I didn't know it was re-themed as the Cowmaro, but a Google search reveals you're probably right. Those were the wheels he had:
        <img src="http://i48.tinypic.com/2lbymp4.jpg"&gt;
        Last time I saw it (at Chuckwalla), it was themed up as a Peter Brock Aussie touring car.
        As an Aussie and big fan of Flight of the Conchords, that link was pretty darn funny.

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