And without any further ado, here are the last 5 engineering wonders from the recent 24 Hours of LeMons:
5. Karmann Ghia: Electronic ignition Conversion. (Team Mostly Harmless Racing) As the picture (and my high tech electronic painting) suggests, this VW Karmann Ghia no longer uses a distributor as a “distribution hub” for ignition. A change to a junkyard Ford ignition from a late 1990s Escort provides a far more reliable source of energy for its not-so-reliable air cooled engine. While adding the distributor (top), computer (not pictured) and coil (not pictured) were pretty straightforward, making a pick-up trigger for the crank sensor (below) was not. But that’s the beauty of LeMons, amazingly awesome creativity always impresses the judges. But honestly, after the countless man-hours wasted on this unreliable, oil puking vee-dub, this team should have used the donor Escort as a race car instead. Sure, we’d all rather have a Karmann Ghia over an Escort, but there’s no better cure for the econocar blues than the grin you get from a weekend of racing a reliable car.
4. BMW E30 Delorean. (Team Pulp Friction) No, this BMW won’t suck the white line off the road, but this team’s effort rivals that of the unforgivable behavior of Mr. Delorean himself. E30s are a natural choice for a team looking to win, but us judges have no interest in making a dynasty: plus, much like insurance rates on the Scion tC, the people who gravitate to this car usually ask for it Judgmental actions via poor driving habits. But show some LeMony effort with an E30, come up with a cool theme, and things change: the Delorean E30’s gull wing doors were awesome, though I’d prefer a normal door when it’s time escape a car engulfed in flames. And while it’s not nearly as awesome as the E30 Ranchero, this attention to detail certainly got my 1.21 gigawatts ready for some time travel.
3. SHO-stopping splitter and spoiler. (Team ZipTie and El Toro Loco) I saw a host of teams using aerodynamics to their advantage. You know, if that actually made a difference in winning an endurance race comprised of $500 crap cars. But these teams insist they work. Case in point: the huge sheet of particle board used as a front splitter (splinter?) in the white Taurus SHO, one of its driver’s swear that stability while braking greatly improved. And when the splitter (previously) broke and had to be removed, the car’s behavior completely changed. Sure. And I am sure there’s a similar reason for slapping license plates on the red Taurus SHO, but who cares: it looks stupid cool. LeMons engineering of dubious merit is totally made of WIN.
2. Mustang and Porsche: more fun with Spoilers. (Team Home Repo and Team 3&5) While the porker’s rear wing looks like something swiped from a circle track racer and then fed a healthy diet of growth hormones, its actually attached to the body like a conventional hatchback. But the Mustang/Camry bastard child pictured has a wing attached to the rear axle (i.e. it doesn’t deflect with body roll) and has been tested (by the crew of overthinking engineers on the team) to dramatically improve the downforce on their car. Which is important on a tail-happy Fox Body Mustang. If they had a healthier motor. This car would absolutely kill if they put the same attention given to the spoiler on their brake/suspension/engine upgrades that can easily happen for less than $500 thanks to the blizzard of SN-95 to Fox parts readily available in the junkyard or craigslist. Or so I told them, after they bribed/fed me a few frosty beverages one evening.
1. Karmann Ghia, fire door hinge cum throttle cable. (Team Mostly Harmless Racing) Even though these chumps are my personal friends, I return to their car for the sheer engineering value of their motor. In this case, a throttle cable fabricated from a fire door hinge normally seen in office buildings. Or, as they claim, a certain fire door in a certain hotel is now missing one of its four hinges. Shame on them, but they’ve paid a price for their hoonery: after carb trouble in their first setup (above) they threw on a set of performance dual-carbs (below) and modified their throttle linkage to work with the new design. And recruited other teams to help make it work. And it did work, until it didn’t. Again. I’d recommend this team gives up on the wacky car, get a new LeMon, and use this wicked machine to pick up chicks at Houston’s world-famous Art Car Parade.
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