Question of the Weekend: What would you run at the 24 Hours of LeMons?

It has probably been asked, but with all the coverage of the New England edition of the 24 Hours of LeMons, I thought it was appropriate. This was the race that I thought had the most unique and varying makes in one race. We had Alfa Milanos, a Fiat 131, a Two Stroke Saab, a Diesel 1963 Thunderbird, a Porsche 928 (and a 924), a Triumph TR7, a Saab Powered Nissan Z, My Corvair, a Pontiac Grand Am, 2 Buick Regals, a Pontiac Fiero, a couple of MR2s, a Civic Wagon, and a couple of Subaru Wagons, along with the usual suspects like a plethora of BMW E30s, VW Golfs, and Miatas.

So would you choose to go with historically successful cars in the hopes of winning it all, or would you vie for the coveted IOE (or other awards like the Organizers Choice, and the Least Horrible Yank Tank)? Your comments as always are always appreciated.
Image Source: Ms. Murilee Martin.

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53 responses to “Question of the Weekend: What would you run at the 24 Hours of LeMons?”

  1. LTDScott Avatar

    Well I already HAVE a LeMons car….
    <img src=""&gt;
    When we decided to enter our own LeMons team back in late 2007 (I had previously run two races with Saabs Gone Wild that year), there were only 2-3 E30s at each event. They didn't become uber popular until after we already chose one.
    When we were picking cars, we realized there were two schools of thought here: either pick a ridiculous car that everyone would love but not be competitive on the track, or pick a more mainstream car that would actually be a good racer. Being speed/adrenaline junkies, we chose the latter. The E30 is cheap to buy, easy to find junkyard parts for (plus I work for a parts supplier that has a leaning towards imports), runs pretty decently, and most importantly, was fairly compact but big enough for my 6'3" torso-biased frame to fit in.
    While we knew it was a somewhat lame-o car choice (despite the fact that we run a 325e which is about 50 hp down on its 325i siblings), we had some creative guys on the team who were able to transform our car from a sublime BMW to a ridiculous Porcubimmer and later Prickstine. I'm more autistic than artistic, so I'm very thankful for the creative forces on my team.

    1. Baron Von Danger Avatar

      Porcubimmer was awesome, Prickstine is epic.

      1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
        Jeff Glucker

        Did you make a papercraft Prickstine?

        1. Baron Von Danger Avatar

          Working on it, too many projects right now. I need to finish the Porcubimmer (90% done) first. I have the images collected that I need, I just need to modify the E30 model to fit Prickstine.

      2. LTDScott Avatar

        Thanks for the compliment. Most of our team agrees that the idea behind Porcubimmer was better, but the execution of Prickstine is the best. We're planning to run one more theme as Prickstine this year, and if we run next year (depending on financial and life situations), we have an even better theme that luckily will involve a lot of the body work we've already done to create Prickstine.

    2. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      You also look very nice in black and pink, I must say. 🙂

  2. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    How About a 58 Chevy Sedan Delivery??, That is, provided I could even find one. 🙂

  3. mgrinshpon Avatar

    I have a surprisingly rust-free 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air I bought for 500 bucks sitting in my garage. It's been on my mind as a LeMons racer. Can't go wrong there, right?

  4. name_too_long Avatar

    Sort of depends, while LeMons is cheap by racing standards it's not exactly cheap by broke-college-student standards so I would want to get as much out of it as possible, that means maximum track time and that means maximum reliability. I'd probably go with something tried and tested, Miata, Volvo, something powered by a 22r.
    Ideally, a clapped out Rolls Royce. I've seen 'em for like $900 – $1,500. Swap in a somewhat reliable engine, create a crude approximation of the interior, eat the penalty laps, stick to the outside of the track, tape top hats to the helmets, wear monocles and hand out packets of Grey Poupon.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      That would be an awesome idea… an old busted up Rolls or Bentley would be excellent. Your theme works too…

      1. name_too_long Avatar

        (Un)fortunately I live in an area with no emissions checks or vehicle inspections of any kind, so anything that rolls is grossly overpriced here in comparison to other locales. Also, the number of Rolls and Bentleys of any age in the area can be counted on one hand so I'd need to road trip it with a truck and trailer to even have a hope of finding one.
        The other issue is that I have yet to find a SFI rated tweed jacket.
        Given the number of other improbable cars that have made it to LeMons (S600, 7 series, Jags, etc, etc.) I figure it's only a matter of time.

  5. Baron Von Danger Avatar
    Baron Von Danger

    Astro Van, think about it. If you can find one with the vortec 4300, maybe even the AWD one. Gut it out and it should drive like a brick out of hell.
    1989 Chevy Astro, V6 4.3L
    <img src=""&gt;
    Paint it all sliver with a Cobra logo on the back and call it the Destro Van.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Destro Van = all win.
      If you chopped like 3 feet out of the height, you'd actually have a decent setup. S10s and Rangers can be pretty quick when properly dialed in.

  6. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    "http::// "
    Damn my HTML unskills. How might one add an image?
    If and when the series makes it to the home of past glories and stereotypical dentistry, I would run one of these: The Triumph Acclaim. The last hurrah of British Leyland, a rebadged Honda Ballade with a few slight alterations, most notably slightly worse build quality. I had one as my first car.
    It was awesome. Seriously.
    The little Honda twin-carb engine loved to rev, sixty was dispatched in ten seconds, it had zero body roll and amazing non-assisted steering. Best thing about it, though, was that it looked so improbable.
    It was a little saloon (sedan) which found favour with the loose-skinned, purple rinse brigade because of the "Triumph" badge. It had four doors. Tweed seats! The fact that it was so dowdy made it delicious that my mate in his Peugeot 306 XSi simply could not keep up with it on a back road if I stayed in third gear. I loved that car and really really shouldn't have sold it.
    Avon Coachworks even did a turbocharged version. Probably quite a lot of fun, not that it needed more power, I suspect it could suprise a few LeMoners on a track already. An Acclaim with VTEC, yo! though…. Hmmm.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Use traditional HTML Img tags…
      <img src="; width="500">

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Cheers Jeff! User error, as always

    1. BGW Avatar

      I know where you can (still) get 7 of 'em, with a couple bonus Kadetts thrown in. Just a couple grand for the lot, last I heard.
      You know you want to.

      1. dustin_driver Avatar

        That is an entire race fleet right there. Tempting. Very tempting.

  7. Maymar Avatar

    I would love to find something oddball to run, so if I were going that route, I'd just pick the most interesting thing I find on Craigslist or AutoTrader for under $1000. But that might not pull up much. I'd probably be best off running my old Cavalier, since it's just filling driveway space for now.

  8. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    I asked myself that very same question. Here's what I came up with:
    <img src="; width="500">

  9. Hopman Avatar

    I'm going to go with a vehicle that's common as heck on the roads by uncommon at LeMons: The Ford Ranger.
    Now before you guys get ready to knock me on my bumper, there is a method to my madness!
    1. There's plenty of them that can be had for cheap money.
    2. The 4.0 V6, the 2.3 4-banger, and the rest of the drivetrain componants are pretty stout. Durability is just as important as speed in an endurance race.
    3. You don't see many at LeMons. That alone is worth something.
    4. They're lightweight for a truck. My '94 regular cab with a 2.3/stick & 4×4 tips the scales at around 3500 lbs. A V6/2wd would be around 3700 lbs.
    5. There's SO MANY variations on the "Ranger" theme you can do. There's the "Walker, Texas Ranger," the "Forrest Ranger," and the "Rescue Ranger." among other things.
    6. Did I mention they're plentiful & cheap?
    Call me nuts, but if you see a Ranger racing at LeMons New England next year, it might be me!

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Some of the best racing I did was going against a Ranger at Thunderhill last year…

    2. name_too_long Avatar

      Several Rangers have run LeMons, they haven't done very well.
      The handling on Rangers is pretty poor and they're prone to roll-overs. Reliability doesn't gain you much if you spend the entire race serving penalties for going wheels off or get booted for "Why am I on my roof?"

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        As such, you make damn sure to get a 2WD model. The Sonoma that ran last weekend was an extended cab, 2WD example that sounded like it had the 4.3 (though I don't know for sure); it finished 68th of 77, but went onto the track on Saturday evening and had some mechanical woes, not to mention at least one penalty, I believe. It stayed the right way 'round and up, and seemed to do fine aside from some serious understeer (bouncing around corners with the tyres chirping).

  10. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    A DAF and a FAF to settle that old issue.

  11. dragon951 Avatar

    If I could find a running 914 for $500, that would be my weapon of choice.

    1. Mad_Science Sr. Avatar
      Mad_Science Sr.

      I agree. Simple to work on, plenty of parts. We did see one at Lemons Thunderhill. They were in the pits a lot with break troubles.

  12. Adem Avatar

    Slant-six powered Datsun 240Z.

  13. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    In Joliet at the end of October, I will be running the same car (albeit re-powered) that I ran at Gingerman in April. Hopefully the new engine will prove more successful than the Iron Duke. It should be good for a 50% bump in horsepower, and eliminate the oil starvation problem that continually took out rod bearings.
    <img src=""&gt;

  14. Baron Von Danger Avatar

    How about an effing Celica All-Trac turbo-
    Paint it up like a rally car.

  15. MattEGTx Avatar

    93-95 Ford Escort wagon.
    Dirt cheap to fix and run, plenty of junkyard tricks to make them (relatively) quicker and handle better, and plenty reliable assuming they don’t drop valve seats/eat head gaskets.
    I suppose I’m a little biased since I’ve had seven Escorts in that body style, but being quite familiar with a car you’re racing can’t be a bad thing.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      A similar vintage Escort came in 5th at Thunderhill in '08.
      It was a 5-door and it looked like they'd just driven it straight from the junkyard to the track.:
      <img src="; width="500" height="306" alt="Bigfoot Hunter Ford Escort At Thunderhill" />

      1. MattEGTx Avatar

        That’s the previous generation Escort- high-speed handling in those is, well… interesting, to be sure.
        There was a mid-90’s 2-door with the 1.9l at Stafford last year with a B-team theme, if I remember correctly- that’s the body style I’m talking about.

      2. LTDScott Avatar

        Yup, still had plates.

  16. P161911 Avatar

    Try to find one of the showroom stock/IMSA Firehawk Oldsmobile Achieva SCX W41s or even one of the older FWD Olds 442s. The 190HP Quad 4 has a chance for IOE and maybe even an overall. Better yet find a really crappy regular Achieva and a SCX W41 to transfer all the trick parts from. The judges would never suspect a crappy GM FWD of being a real race car.
    Or maybe a Fiat 850 with a big V-twin motorcycle engine to power it.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      I remember seeing an SCX a couple of years ago on the local Craigslist for around $900. either way might require a little creative accounting.

  17. DeadinSideInc Avatar

    A long harboured fantasy of mine:
    1) Dodge/Plymouth SWB gen 1 minivan
    2) Chrysler Turbo engine
    3) Mid-rear mounting
    4) Centre driver's position
    5) Possible active aero suction device

    1. discontinuuity Avatar

      I'd settle for a regular turbo minivan:
      <img src=""&gt;

  18. vwminispeedster Avatar

    We will be bringing "Eleanor" back to Thunderhill this weekend since she did so damn good at Sears Pointless.
    I'm trying to persuade a friend of my dad's to get his Citroen SM ready for Arse-Freeze this December.

  19. KAH Avatar

    Good one Jim thanks
    I quick craigslist check came up with these potential champions
    1978 el Camino
    1984 Isuzu Impulse
    87 toyota mr2 $500 obo automatic, needs a new head gasket
    1988 Saab 900 – $500!! 132k miles on it, still runs well,
    982 Toyota Supra $500 obo runs, 5 speed manual, 180k lots O rust, no batt, over a half tank of gas> so it's got that going for it.
    91 Ford Taurus Wagon MUST SELL NOW! 1991 Ford Taurus Wagon, good condition,, runs
    Oh! sweet wounded jesus we have a winner.
    1984>Cadillac Fleetwood V8 5.7 IT RUNS GOOD, CONDITION IS OK trouble with he title but who needs to register it Lemons anyway.
    <img src=""&gt;
    Actually, I'd go for an old Saab 900 5 speed I have put well over 200K on one and would know how to flog them they are build like tanks and I feel pretty vulnerable in such a race. A 99EMS would be sweet but You'd never find one and get it going for only $500

  20. retro Avatar

    <img src=>

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I have little doubt you could buy the Allegro and the woman for well below 500 sheets.
      Might not be an Equipe special edition, though, that's a blue chip classic in the same vein as a Benz Gullwing or Bugatti Royale

  21. Feds_II Avatar

    I'd have to go with the MX-3. Find a couple of v-6 versions, gut the hell out of the best one, and install drivetrain 2 in the back of car 1. V-12 MX-3. Handling be damned.

  22. CptSevere Avatar

    I blew it. I had a chance at a '53 Packard Clipper, for pretty much nothing. Damn thing ran, too. That would have been legendary, to run it at LeMons, especially if we drove it to Vegas for the race there.

  23. mdharrell Avatar

    Last week when I said "If the next polls are about the ideal British subcompact or the best Swedish two-stroke sedan, please just refer back to this photo for my answers" I didn't think it would actually work out that way:
    <img src="; width="500" />
    The SAAB 96 parked outside is the car I'm building as a LeMons racer. Yeah, fine, someone else got there first by swapping a two-stroke engine into a tall-windshield V4 car (which is arguably even crazier), but I'm still going for it.

  24. Froggmann_ Avatar

    <img src="; /img>
    88 Cougar XR-7 My family had one that was bought new for my mother in October of '88. In 94ish it was given to me. I traded it in in '99 on my Bronco. In that 11 year span that car hit/was hit about 14 times, survived 3 hoons (My mother, brother and myself) outdrove all of my friends cars including GT mustangs of the same era, got used as a cruiser, speedrunner, rally racer and chase truck. Even with all this abuse it got to 235,000 miles on the odometer with just a timing cover, 3 water pumps and a fuel pump on the repair list.

  25. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Whatever I run, it would have to be a total weirdsciencegasm. An offbeat car with an engine from some totally different vehicle, preferably a bike, or something two-stroke, diesel or air-cooled (Lycoming and Continental aviation sixes get special mention here). Locating the engine in a different part of the car than the original is also a plus.
    The ultimate? A Dodge rampage with a 2-stroke outboard motor mounted in the bed, connected to a snowmobile CVT, which drives a forward-facing driveshaft connected to a Suzuki Samurai front axle.
    Who cares how long it runs, I want to make my statement just showing up.

  26. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    I'd have to go with a G body, probably a wagon, but I'd prefer one of those wacky-assed Cutlass fastbacks. Since I love a challenge, I'd probably show up with an entire pickup full of Pontiac 301s and Metric 200 transmissions.
    Seriously though, they're so easy to work on and make relatively light, I think they are underrepresented in LeMons action.

  27. dculberson Avatar

    I think the Quad4 powered CRX I entered last year is a pretty damn good one. The Wartburg I finagled a driving spot in was even better. But the sickness behind Lemons is such that you're always looking to 1-up yourself, so it's impossible to think of the "best."
    But seriously, I'm thinking about going for something a little more sedate next time, something I can drive without stressing myself out too much. Fortunately that's still nothing super normal: I'm leaning toward building up a salvage title LS400 into a track monster. $500 with a broken timing belt and it's been running like a top since I fixed it. Gut it, cage it, drop it (cut springs?), put some fat rubber on it, and there we go. I bet we can trim 500 to 800 pounds out of it and that should result in some serious performance gains.

  28. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    I was really really hoping to have a crack at my duplex-neighbor's sister's Oldsmobile.
    This thing was awesome: brown early 80s boxy Olds full-sizer with a tattered vinyl roof and an assortment of "old lady driver" dents (all 4 corners, etc). The plan was to change nothing and show up as Little Old Lady Racing, in mu-mus with walkers.
    Alas, it went to the great handicapped spot in the sky about a month ago. I could probably go find it in one of the big self-serve yards.

  29. texlenin Avatar

    Alvis Stalwart?