One has to be slightly off their rocker to make a LeMons racecar. But then again, you also have to possess self-awareness not seen in most other forms of motorsport. Simply put, this race series totally rocks. And without any further ado, here are the final five vehicles in TTAC’s Ten Coolest Engineering Feats of The 24 Hours of LeMons Dallas.
5. Rubber Mat cum Shift Boot (Team: Mid Drive Crisis, picture see above): The Mid-Drive layout of this Mitsubishi Mirage has been profiled by Judge Phil on several occasions, but I can’t resist giving these guys more props. So I’ll go with the little details: making a mid-drive gearshift layout is more than a little insane, but covering the shifter with a rubber mat sporting fake diamond texture is pure brilliance. These folks sweated all the details, and the car was quite a looker. So to speak. If only Mitsubishi made ‘em like this from the factory, talk about a reason to avoid buying a Civic or Corolla!
4. Taking up the Throttle Cable Slack (Team: Property Devaluation Racing II): This is zero-dollar engineering at it’s finest, something that you’d expect in a cheap (to buy) Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. I chatted with these folks about my personal Fox Body solution to this problem: adding a barbed fitting (a $4 part at Home Depot) to the end of the throttle pedal (top). But that’s way too “up town” for a LeMons car: they put a hunk of metal on the pedal and finished it off with the intake plaque from a 5.0 Mustang. On the face of it, that’s a brilliant move. If you’re a smart-mouthed Fox Body know-it-all (like myself) that’s seen this particular (single year production, 1986 only) plaque sell for $40 on eBay, you cringe at the sight of those three screws on the pedal. Odds are they coulda got enough bread for another Fox Lemons car with the proceeds from selling that plaque.
3. Stupid Insane Cooling (Team: Live Oak Nudist Resort): Just like the E21 strut tower brace, those Nudists had a surprise under their, um, trunk lids for me. This time it was their super-cheating Taurus SHO: known for its insane power, a super aggressive exhaust note and the ability to launch out of a corner like it has a limited slip differential. So the extra engine and transaxle coolers, oil pumps and filter housings (using the surprisingly crappy Orange Cans of Death) is necessary considering the SHO’s less than durable transaxle. While this setup looks bad with the Optima battery making it worse, they hit the track un-penalized. The Nudists can bribe like no other: free meals for everyone is not unheard of. With their past goodwill in mind and the 1.75 liter bottle of Chivas Regal in my luggage, I had no problem giving them a clean bill of health.
2. Rotary-Powered Rib cooker (Team Sensory Assault): Aside from bribing the judges with the tools for two of LeMons’ most famous penalties (the “crappy driver” toilet and plastic dog house), these guys make some tasty ribs in the exhaust of their Mazda RX-7. That’s right, the smoker on the driver’s side exhaust isn’t there for looks: it frickin’ works. Some credit goes to the Mazda’s dashboard, which has gauges for the normal stuff (engine temp, oil temp, etc) and one meter for the temperature of the smoker. This whip gives new life to any and all kitchen recipes, and the proof is in the pudding: the final product is customarily given to the LeMons crew. And it is downright delicious.
1. The SHO-Stang (Team: Blue Oval Cult): Even the biggest Ford hater has much respect for what people do with the Fox Body Mustang and the Yamaha motor in the Taurus SHO. So why not combine the two? Cut a gigantic hole in the firewall, build a new one in the cabin (a la Econoline van) throw in the SHO motor with a Ranger transmission and call it a day. This thing is completely, totally, unquestionably sick. And more than a little slick: even the stock 5.0 Mustang fuel rails were retained in the SHO-transplant. Considering four cylinder Mustangs can be competitive, the SHO-Stang has a future once the bugs get worked out. But you’ll never hear a better sounding SHO: turn this motor north-south, run a Mustang exhaust to it and the angry-exotic nature of the Yamaha V6 truly shines.
And there you have it: the Ten Coolest Engineering Feats of The 24 Hours of LeMons. With any luck, this won’t be my last time judging the wickedly wicked engineering, so set your faces to stunned in the meantime. And make an effort to experience the madness in person, a LeMons event is just that: an event.
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