Piston Slap: The Ten Coolest Engineering Feats of The 24 Hours of LeMons Dallas (pt. 1)

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap the ten coolest engineering feats of the 24 hours of lemons dallas pt

While LeMons’ Judges Jonny and Phil took a breather to get married (not to each other) I was one of four people with the honor of taking their place. It’s true, there was a quartet of judges needed to do what those two professionals do on a regular basis, no matter what previous accounts may suggest. So I inspected close to 100 crap cars to see if they meet LeMons’ $500 purchase price criteria. And while I did, I found the Ten Coolest Engineering Feats of The 24 Hours of LeMons. So let’s get right to it.

10. Making a stellar SHO look like Crap (Team: Red Rocket Ratnest Revival, pictured above): Perhaps I got it backward, this car should be in the top spot. This SHO may look like a junker, but it won the race. And the last LeMons race in Houston. And its driven to the past three races (or more) on its own power, with current Texas registration: it passed Judge Scott on his way to the LeMons race in New Orleans. So while team leader and SHO-guru Sergio Perfetti definitely knows his stuff, he keeps it real. Real stock and deceptive. He got out of the judging area with zero penalties, because this motor looks so damn crappy and sounds so damn stock. Nice job, dude.

9. Sable-infused Dauphine (Team: Bastardos De LeMons): Though it snapped a halfshaft before hitting the track, this is still LeMons engineering at its finest: a 1957 Renault Dauphine (found in a field) mated with a (wrecked) 2001 Mercury Sable with the Duratec V6. I’m lucky to get up close to such a remarkable piece of engineering: the custom welded rear subframe was wicked cool on its own. One of these days this 200+ hp Dauphine will tear up the track, and I’d kill to get behind the wheel. Respect.

8. Horn Pad cum Intercom button (Team: El Toro Loco): It used to be that rolling a Taurus SHO to the inspection area was cause for giggles, but no longer. These Bulls get more serious with every race, and the LeMons engineering doesn’t lie. These guys had something really cool in the cabin: the stock wheel was de-bagged and re-wired to activate their in-car communication system. Need to tell your teammates about the jerk who damn near ran you off the track? Honk the horn, start yelling and take the Bull by the horns. Sure this SHO has a Yamaha under the hood, but there’s pure genius in the cabin.

7. Homemade BMW E21 strut tower brace (Team: Live Oak Nudist Resort II): That right, a group of Nudists campaign two LeMons racecars. Thankfully, they remained clothed throughout the entire race, hopefully they did the same when making this bar: check out those welds where the tube meets the strut tower. Perhaps the threaded pipe gives extra surface area to the welds for a stronger hold? But seriously, the team went out of their way to point the adjustable nature (see the center section) of the strut tower, meaning that if/when this BMW bites the dust, they can put this masterpiece on another ride. Sweet.

6. Small Block Chevy in a 300ZX (Team Clunker): Its no surprise that Nissan Z-31s are an absolute joke in these races, with too much weight and not nearly enough grunt from a three-liter motor. So why not narrow the gap, swapping in a small block Chevy? But avoid putting on an Edelbrock intake, as that clearly surpasses the car’s expected $500 price tag. The painted on dirt (a la scale models with brown dirt paint on the fenders) didn’t fool anyone, and upset the judges’ sensibilities to no end. Not that I disapprove of the vehicle: this conversion isn’t an overnight affair, but these guys got extra grief for leaking fuel at inspection. And if I recall correctly, it received multiple black flags on the track, probably leaking other fluids in the process. But still, a small block V8 swap on a LeMons budget is totally FTW. And that’s it for now, stay tuned for the next installment of Piston Slap. We’ll cover the last 5, and I’m sure you’ll truly enjoy it!

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

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  • Niky Niky on Jun 15, 2010

    Boo! I was hoping for the full list! I've been following the LeMons on the interwebs with interest for years... too bad they don't have them on TV... It's a wonder Discovery doesn't pick it up... it's Junkyard Wars cum Mythbusters cum NASCAR... all rolled into one. Some of those things are beautiful... and some of the builds on others are outrageous (and so obviously over-budget, it's amazing what you can get away with if you own your own machine-shop...)

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Jun 15, 2010

    Jalopnik has the full list, and quite frankly, my LeMons coverage isn't intended to step on their work. I'm a product design guy, not a hardcore race fan. Hence why I do what I do on Piston Slap.

  • Lou_BC Once again, Mustang is the last pony car standing. Camaro RIP, Challenger RIP.
  • FreedMike Next up should DEFINITELY be the Cadillac Eldorado. On the subject of Caddies, I saw a Lyriq in person for the first time a couple of days ago, and I'm changing my tune on its' styling. In person, it works quite well, and the interior is very nicely executed.
  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: https://robbreport.com/motors/cars/tesla-model-y-worlds-best-selling-vehicle-1234848318/and any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.