The 2014 season of the 24 Hours of LeMons was the best one yet, with 20 races all over the country, the world-record largest endurance road race in history (the Guinness folks just declared it as the official record holder), floods, ice, pitch darkness, and—of course—the greatest crop of new-to-the-series race cars we could ever hope to see. 2013 had some great machinery, as did 2012 and 2011, but nothing like what we saw during the last 12 months. Here we go, the new cars (or cars modified so heavily that they might as well have been new) from the 2014 season!You can’t go wrong with British sports cars in LeMons—everybody knows that—and so it was something of a mystery that we saw zero Jensen-Healeys during the first eight years of the series. You can get an ugly example for cheap and the “Torqueless Wonder” Lotus 907 engine seems well-suited for screaming around a road course, so we knew it was just a matter of time before some team took the … [Read more...] about These Are the Most Amazing LeMons Race Cars of the Year (One Is a Freaking Backhoe)
Renault fuego turbo
seventh annual 24 Hours of LeMons Fall South race, I got into a debate with LeMons Chief Perp Jay Lamm over which team should get the accomplished-the-most-with-the-worst-car trophy, the Index of Effluency. The 1982 Renault Fuego Turbo of Interceptor Motorsports, which made its debut at that race, managed to turn 19 laps during two days of racing (the winner did 377 laps) and finished 105th out of 110 entries. My opinion was that the Fuego Turbo was the worst car sold in the United States in 1982 and thus Interceptor Motorsports deserved Index of Effluency recognition for their achievement, but the Chief Perp felt that plenty of Detroit-built cars from the Malaise Era were even worse. In the end, we gave the prize to a 1979 Wagon Queen Family Truckster (which finished in P73), but I still think that you’d be hard-pressed to find any 1982 model-year car that approaches the Renault Fuego Turbo for across-the-board terribleness.Comuta-Car, cars to be considered must be 1982 … [Read more...] about Question of the Day: What Was the Worst 1982 Car Sold In America?
After the parade through a once-wholesome South Carolina town and subsequent car inspections on Friday, the racing began on Saturday morning. As the day progressed, we saw a mix of the expected and unexpected; here’s how it went.First, the expected stuff: The one-of-60-built 1960 Ford Frontenac coupe of NSF Racing failed to be ready in time to catch the green flag, but then roared onto the track and looked great. Then it suffered from the fuel-system-contamination problems you get with a car that sat for years and began making frequent pit stops to deal with clogged-carburetor-related hassles. Still, the Frontenac was racing!That is, it was racing until early afternoon, when the engine lost power, began vomiting choking clouds of smoke, and exhibiting all the warning signs of a blown head gasket and/or bad piston rings and/or bent pushrods and/or bad rod bearings and/or a neutron star forming in the oil pan. Such comprehensive engine failure hadn’t been seen since NSF … [Read more...] about LeMons South Day 1: Supra Leads, Frontenac and Fuego In Many Pieces
We’re back at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina, for the seventh annual 24 Hours of LeMons Fall South race. This is one of our favorite places of all the stops made by the LeMons Traveling Circus each year, and one of the best things about the Fall South race is that the nearby town of Camden lets us parade all the race cars right down the main street and then combine the car inspections with a big street party, complete with live music. We had well over 100 teams show up this time, so we had quite a celebration in town. Some all-time great race cars made their debuts, so let’s take a look at who’s here for some Southern-style LeMons action.The Camden townspeople were a bit puzzled the first time we paraded all these strange cars through their town, but after a few years they became very enthusiastic. It didn’t hurt that about 30 of the 112 cars had Dixie Horns installed.Judge Jason Torchinsky, having just moved from Los Angeles to North … [Read more...] about LeMons South Carolina Inspections: Ford Frontenac, Renault Fuego, Family Truckster, and a Parade!
On Friday, we took over the downtown of a once-picturesque South Carolina town for our car inspections, on Saturday we witnessed a lot of surprising stuff during the first race session, and on Sunday we had winners! The fight for the win on laps came down to the very last lap of the race, with tremendous good sportsmanship demonstrated by the P1 and P2 teams, and we saw some of the greatest cars in LeMons history… again. Let’s see who got trophies and why they got them.The RC Spiders have become the team to beat in East and South Region LeMons racing, with Class A and overall wins at the 2014 Southern Discomfort race, the 2014 Alabama race, the 2013 Halloween Hooptiefest, the 2013 Real Hoopties of New Jersey race, and now last weekend’s LeMons Fall South race. The way they got that win had the spectators at Carolina Motorsports Park in a frenzy for the last few minutes of Sunday.For much of early going, the P1 spot was swapped back and forth among the Fast Al’s … [Read more...] about 24 Hours of LeMons South Carolina: The Winners
The malaise that was the 1970s dribbled over into the 1980s, with ads touting Corvettes that made all of 190 horsepower, gussied-up econoboxes parading as Cadillacs, and dubious technology such as the Moleculetor promising improvements in fuel economy of up to 23 percent—yours for just $214 (plus $5 shipping)! And there’s John Z. DeLorean hawking Cutty Sark scotch, with nary a kilo of coke in sight. With apologies to Mr. Dickens, it was the worst of times, it was the worster of times.A few bright spots managed to punch holes through the darkness. Turbocharged engines began to appear under the hoods of a number of cars, including the Datsun Turbo ZX, the Mazda 323 GTX, the Porsche 944 Turbo, the Volvo Turbo, and even the Subaru XT Turbo.Nascent technologies also made some of their earliest appearances in these pages, with ads for Apple’s Macintosh desktop computer, Panasonic’s TV with a 1.5-inch screen, and the Maxwell Portable Cellular Phone with one hour … [Read more...] about Advertising the 1980s: 44 of the Most Bodacious Car Ads of the ’80s
For the most devoted LeMons fans, certain types of vehicles are always a good idea. British cars, naturally. American Motors products, no doubt. Comfy, prestigious luxury cars. Vans. Aircraft. And, of course, we love cars from the nation that gave us the système Panhard and suspension hydropneumatique: France! Here’s a short history of the French machinery of the 24 Hours of LeMons.Just as French automakers were early innovators during the very first days of the automobile, a French car competed in the very first LeMons race, held in 2006 at Altamont Motor Speedway. The overall winner was a Corolla, but the class of the event came courtesy of the red-white-and-blue Peugeot 505 GL of The Fabulous Frogs.This car played a crucial role in getting your LeMons correspondent interested in the series in the first place; I saw this car being prepped at a gas station in Berkeley, thought any race series that would accept this car must be a good one, made some inquiries . . . and … [Read more...] about Force de Frappe: French Cars in the 24 Hours of LeMons!
A Renault Alliance screams away from the Christmas tree at a drag strip. A wood-sided AMC Eagle wagon brings a bit of elegance to a surf spot with its wire wheel covers. A Renault Fuego revs to a mind-shattering 4000 rpm. A Jeep pickup carries a big white box marked RUSH the way only a Jeep pickup can. It’s all to the pulsing drum-synthesizer beat and get-up-and-move vocals of the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited.” It doesn’t get much more ’80s than this.This two-minute clip has no voice-over—the better to let almost the entire circa-1985 AMC/Jeep/Renault lineup speak for itself. We’re guessing it’s a rah-rah piece used at a dealer meeting or perhaps sent to dealerships (on VHS and Beta, we presume) to get salespeople pumped. The Pointer Sisters have that effect on people.This Chameleon Car Is a Stand-In for Any Car in TV CommercialsThe 44 Most Bodacious Car Ads of the 1980sBastille Day Special: TWO Renault … [Read more...] about So Excited! Spot the Terrible Renaults and Sweet Jeeps in This Awesomely ’80s AMC Video
It’s TTAC Future Writers Week where YOU decide who will write at TTAC in the future. This could be their first (or last) step on the way to their eventual Pulitzer or Wurlitzer Prize. Please choose wisely, carefully, and fairly. It’s your, the future of several nations, and most of all, the auto industry that is at stake.Ever since we signaled our readiness to accept a fresh crowd of eager and unpaid writers into the ranks of the TTAC annoited, the applications keep pouring in. I had to solicit the help of a spreadsheet to manage the entries, and I had to ask your help to choose.This is how it will go down: Each and every day of the week, I will present you a set of seven writing examples. Their authors haven been carefully anonymized. They have a number instead. Each and every day of the week, you can and should cast your vote.The top three out of each set of seven receive an entry permit into the rarified world of TTAC writers. Those who don’t make the … [Read more...] about TTAC Future Writers Week: Round One Of Voting Is Today
The full-sized Olds 88 was around for decade after decade, and we’ve seen a few of them in this series so far. There was this ’67 Delta, this ’70 Delta, and this ’84 Delta Royale Brougham, and of course many of us remain fans of music devoted to the now-defunct marque. Here’s a ’73 Delta 88 Custom (whoops, it appears to be a ’70) that I photographed in a Denver self-service yard last winter.When you find old newspapers in a junkyard car, you can assume that they date from the period just before the car was parked and forgotten. In this case, I found a March 16, 1993 edition of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News (a paper just as defunct as Oldsmobile now, though the Rocky outlived Oldsmobile by five years). Look, trouble in North Korea!Just as we saw with the 1982 papers I found in the trunk of a ’65 Chevy and the 1970 papers I found in a ’60 Plymouth, the classified ads from 22 years ago show some pretty good deals on … [Read more...] about Junkyard Find: 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Custom, with Bonus 1993 Newspapers