By on May 6, 2011


Here I am, starting another three-races-in-three-weeks road trip, this time at the NASCAR-O-riffic Loudon Motor Speedway in New Hampshire. After an excellent, chowder-saturated seafood dinner, the LeMons HQ staff is still contemplating this weekend’s exceptionally good crop of great race cars. And by “great,” we mean “awesomely terrible.”

The real star of the day for us was a car we’d been hoping to see get LeMon-ized for a long time: a BMW L7. The hyper-luxurious, conspicuous-consumption car of choice for corporate raiders and mid-level cocaine kingpins in the mid-to-late 1980s, the L7 is the BMW we wish E30 teams would drive.

One of the Greatest LeMons Cars Ever, and it hasn’t even been on the track yet!

The Organizer’s Choice-winning “New York, New York” Civic from the ’10 season-ender in Miami has been transformed into the “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots” Civic for this race. These Brooklynites are making a strong case for a second Org Choice.

Look, it’s a genuine Carroll Shelby race car! Yes, a numbers-matching Dodge Daytona Shelby Z. Hey, didn’t I just see one of these things in the junkyard? You Shelby Chrysler fans will be happy to see this car, but probably not so happy to learn that I’ve put it in the same class as…

…this Saab 96, which no longer has the 2-stroke engine it used to win the Index of Effluency last year. That engine done got blowed up in the Miami race.

A 1.0 liter three-banger from a Geo Metro has replaced the Saab powerplant. As we often say in LeMons, what could possibly go wrong?

Some LeMons first-timers read all about what the organizers want to see on the race track, and then proceed to get yet another boring E30 or Integra or Mustang. Not these newcomers! Their recipe for LeMons success: 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. Excellent choice.

Another GM product sure to bring a smile to our faces is the Chevy Chevette. The diesel Chevette we saw at the Michigan race a few weeks back really broke our hearts with its miserable (and very smoky) 5-lap performance, so we have high hopes for this gasoline-fueled model.


Here’s the traditional BS Inspection timelapse video; just one lane of the inspections is visible here, but you’ll get a good cross section of the cars that will hit the track tomorrow morning at 10:30 EST. Check in tomorrow night for a roundup of the Loudon Annoying first session. Music: Riley Pucket, “The Boston Burglar,” 1925

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19 Comments on “Cutlass Ciera, Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Civic, and an L7: BS Inspections at the Loudon Annoying 24 Hours of LeMons...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Wow I feel like I need a shot after looking at those.

    Hey um what’s the engine in the Cutlass Ciera? My ex-wife had one with a 3300V6 and four speed auto when I met her. That combo will go over 100 miles an hour in a decent straight-away. (FYI the transmission failed like clockwork at 75,000 and 150,000 miles.)

    Edit: checked the gallery, (again) looks like a 3.1V6. Sorta feel sorry for ‘em.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      Zooming in reveals a 3100. Good for 114 then!

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Wasn’t that one of the engines with intake gasket issues? (FYI I have heard you can build a 3100 into a 3400 so easily that you might be able to fake out LeMons judges with the 3100 intake. Hmmmmmmmmm…)

      • 0 avatar
        texan01

        I dunno my 2.8 with a new oil pump in my ’86 Pontiac 6000-STE could do well over 125mph despite being handicapped by the 3 speed automatic and lack of overdrive, if you pressed it into the redline. Yes I blew the 2.8 up 3 days after I got it in ’99, but it was way faster after I rebuilt it with a new rod and crankshaft.

        I kind of want to find another one and go lemons racing with it.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Dan: Which tranny did she have in the Cutty? I’m guessing 4T40E or 4T45E, but usually those things can take a phenomenal amount of abuse before they puke. Ask me how I know…

      The 60 degree V6, not so much. 2.8, 3.1, 3.3. 3.4 all have issues with head gaskets. The 3.5 is golden. There are hop up parts for the 3.4 in particular which I *believe* would bolt on to the 3.1 & 3.3. Maybe a Crab intake from the subsequent 3.5 would work, too.

      IIRC, these cars were limited to 110 MPH by the factory due to the T rated tires.

  • avatar

    I’m coming up to assess the destruction in the morning…Mother’s Day is going to get in the way of making it both days.

    The Geo engine in the Saab makes me want to cry…they should’ve stolen an old forklift or something for a V4…

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Smeg! If it weren’t for my second job and Mother’s Day I’d be at NHIS in a heartbeat! Too bad they couldn’t run this on the road course. If only Bryar still existed….

  • avatar

    I don’t know what course they’re running, but the road course still exists, I keep getting hassled/encouraged to bring my old XR4Ti up for a track day, but it’s currently on stands with the rear suspension on the floor.

  • avatar

    If I was a betting man (and I’m not – for the record), my money would be on the Ciera. I’ve driven enough of them in the 1980s and 1990s to know that if they lasted through the Ice Age, they’ll last through this LeMons. Though, I’d love to see how the old Saab and the Suzuki/Geo motor will get along, too.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Murilee, if you have time, you should stop by Brit Bits in Rye NH. I was out for a cruise yesterday and it looked like they had several interesting projects underway. In fact, I’d say it would be worth staying in NH an extra day.

    http://www.britbits.com/

  • avatar

    So was the Honda CRX team challenged to build a Lemons racer in 24 hours, or did their car fail tech so badly that they entire cage had to come out and a new one get put in Friday?

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      The cage on the ground appears to have many things wrong with it. Front pillar tubes are not 1 continuous tube. The main hoop diagonal is WAY wrong. Also, since they are welding in floor plates, I’m going to assume that there were none to begin with or inadequate coverage/thickness.
      Kinda sucks, and I feel bad for them, but when it comes to safety for this series, it pays to do your homework.

      What lemons staff is doing the welding?

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    I only live a few miles from the track – I’ll have to try to get over the track tomorrow for the carnage, er, I mean the racing!


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