By on April 3, 2011


For several years in the middle part of the 1980s, lowered minitrucks with pastel graphics and booming sound systems were extremely popular. Then, without warning, just about every last one of them disappeared. Where did they go? We can’t say, but we’re pleased to announce that Team Licensed To Ill has brought the custom minitruck back… and thrashed it all weekend at the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons.

Team captain Jesse Cortez grew up in Hayward, California, one of the main epicenters of minitruck madness back in the 1980s, and he has long wanted to do an homage to/parody of the trucks he remembered from the streets of his youth.

The opportunity came when he inherited this S10, which had received a Chevrolet 283 V8 swap in 1983 or so and had been sitting in a garage ever since that time; Jesse’s uncle had planned to make it into a drag truck, but never quite finished the project. There’s no way in hell a 1981 truck with a 1962 V8 engine would ever pass a California emissions test, so the race track was the logical destination.

The team left the engine alone, but they decided to throw a rebuild on the TH350 transmission. Other than driving it up and down the driveway, and one time around the block, the truck hadn’t been driven since Reagan’s first term. The real priority, obviously, was getting the Haywardian 1980s look correct. How about that white Grant steering wheel and pink safety harness?

Nearly the entire $500 LeMons-mandated budget went into the sound system, which added 120 pounds but was totally worth it. 24 Hours of LeMons HQ donated the amplifier from the original Ghost Ride The Whip boombox.

He roll! San Francisco Bay Area residents old enough to remember the mid-1980s ought to recognize those radio-station bumper stickers.

Of course, you can’t have an 80s minitruck with a big sound system without Tigra and Bunny! Jesse’s girlfriend, Bunny Pistol, was happy to be Bunny D for the race.

They like the cars, the cars that go boom!



The team even bribed the LeMons Supreme Court by having “Bunny D” dye my facial hair pink, for enhanced gravitas.

Gravitas indeed.

The Licensed To Ill S10 wasn’t particularly fast around Infineon Raceway (its best lap time of 2:29 was about 15 seconds off the quicker entries), but it turned out to be miraculously reliable for a truck that had spent more than 25 years sitting in a garage, powered by an engine type notorious for LeMons failure. No major mechanical problems all weekend!

Winner of the Most Fantastic Yank Tank trophy. Congratulations, Team Licensed To Ill!

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17 Comments on “Licensed To Ill: Historically Accurate 80s Custom Minitruck Hits Race Track, Has the Boom...”


  • avatar
    CraigSu

    Pink facial hair?  Well, that explains my bewilderment.  I thought you’d gone ginger on us Murilee.  The photos don’t render it as pink on my PC.  Maybe your beard (?) wasn’t bleached enough before being dyed.

    Certain aspects of the 80s I don’t miss at all. Women’s “fashion” being one of them. I do, however, miss The Police, among others.

  • avatar
    DJTragicMike

    This is the coolest thing I have seen on here.  It has inspired me to post and choose a BOOM themed username.  There were two guys in my neighborhood with minitrucks.  One red one with geometric graphics and like 12 15″s, 4 18″s and 2000 watts of boom power.  I’d here him booming down the street early in the morning on his way to HS football practice.  The other was white with pink accents, less boom, but so low he needed to slow to a crawl keep from bottoming out on the smallest dips in the road.
    The minitruck theme idea is just freaking genius, love it.

  • avatar

    The lack of overheating in a 60s 283 may support my theory that the SBC runs hot when you take a smog era motor and throw some junkyard speed parts and an open exhaust on it.

    • 0 avatar

      SBC teams that adhere to a 4000 RPM redline mostly don’t blow up their engines. 95% of SBC teams rev the piss out of their engines, hour after hour, no doubt because they’ve added longer-duration cams, etc. Those engines fail.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      I recall one of the “special speed tricks” employed to wake up certain smog era engines involved moving the cam gear forward one full tooth, and then timing and degreeing normally: in order to get the engines to burn clean back then some simple, cheap and horrible methods were used along with the crushing weight of pipes, hoses and redirection systems, and pushing the cam timing back one tooth during assembly cost nothing. These days the easy way to make power involves adding 90s-era and younger cylinder heads to any block from the 70s and 80s and then watching the rest of the drive line break from the added power and torque.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      I dunno, my very much disco-smog era 305 ran pretty good with a new set of early 90s Z28 305 heads with the restrictive cast-iron 2 barrel intake, limp-wristed factory cam. took that ’76 Chevelle from 12 second 0-60 to about 8 seconds flat. If you wound it out, it supports Murilee’s evidence that if you kept it under 4500 rpm, that was a very happy motor, beyond that and it made lots of noise but no power, thanks to the limited airflow of the 2 barrel carb. Never did blow it up, though I hear it finally moved its way out of my circle of friends after the car it originally came in was junked and we passed that thing around like the village bicycle.

    • 0 avatar
      whatwouldjessedo

      I think we maxed out at around 4500 rpm, but only at the end of the long straight. Mostly it was under 4000. Keeping the stock cam and using a decent radiator is the secret to not overheating… we used a stock aluminum S10 4.3 V6 radiator from the junkyard. We saw mostly 160-170 tempos, once in a awhile it would climb a little past 190.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    So what‘s the time?  It’s time to GET ILL!

  • avatar
    texan01

    Wow that video takes me back to the early 90s around the DFW area. In some ways I miss the times, but not very often.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Love the parody factor of the splotches AND the pink zig-zag stripe.

    But wait a second, isn’t there some little rule about $500 in LeMons racing?
    Rust free S-10?
    Good running 283?
    Rebuilt TH-350?
    Isn’t each of those items worth at least $500?  And then they still had almost $500 to spend on the sound system?  I’m no expert, but they should have had so many penalty laps that they wouldn’t have made it above zero all weekend.
    Oh wait, the Bunny bribe.  Never Mind… Well done on all counts.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, the fact that the truck was inherited and therefore free with the motor in it, though in an unfinished state of installation, means the truck was free.  I’m sure they were able to sell off the interior, those nice drag race wheels, and any other drag racy parts for good money.  So figure someone on the team did the tranny rebuild with a minimum of parts, they spent $200 on finishing the install with junk yard parts and maybe $200 on some new suspension bits, they could still meet the budget after spending $500 on a stereo.
      Plus, it is a very subjective budget rule.  Miatas and BMW 325s get raked over the coals.  Funky 80s Chevy S10s, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      whatwouldjessedo

      I will admit that the stereo pushed us well past the $500 budget. But who wouldn’t let the guys with the music into the party? The judges were pretty cool to us for that reason, plus Bunny and Tigre have their charms… andthere was no way in hell we would win anyway so what’s the point of giving us penalty laps? We were just there to cruise, party and look good anyway… Yeeeeah Boyeeee!
       

      • 0 avatar
        DougD

        True enough, looks like a good time. 
        I read the rules (which I’d recommend to anyone, why can’t all small print be like that?) and looks like radios are driver comfort items and exempt from the $500.  So with a little extension the sky is the limit for the stereo.

    • 0 avatar

      Theme-related expenses are typically not scrutinized, because the judiciary would much rather see someone with a thousand dollars in plastic and foam and electronics in their roof-mounted Star Destroyer than another E30 with a number painted on the side.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I’d called out this truck in the previous post as soon as saw the pics… the taped tail-lights and heart beat graphics are CLASSIC ’80s mini-truck – I just LOVE it. Back in those days I installed stereos and hooked up many mini-trucks with insane systems. Oddly most were imports with the Mazda B2200 being the best example.
    “DJTragicMike”… HAHA, funny, very funny. Also did everyone catch the 808 reference with the truck’s racing number? They really did think of everything on this ride!

    • 0 avatar
      DJTragicMike

      I got the 808 reference.  I think I killed about 1 million brain cells listening to “Lower the Dynamite” in various high-bass environments.  Looking back, those guys wasted tons of money on speakers and amps.  Oh and motor powered bed covers.  And servo actuated door handles.  And convertible kits.  And other stuff found in “Mini Truckin’”.  Those were the days.  Too bad cholo lowriders still have cred while mini trucks are the object of ridicule.  Actually, that makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      whatwouldjessedo

      Big ups to anyone who gets the 808 reference!


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