By on March 10, 2011

The crazy thing about 24 Hours of LeMons racers is that they actually follow through with their terrible ideas. Maybe it’s the urgency of the deadline, or maybe it’s the peer pressure to keep one-upping the last ridiculous project. Last month we admired the radial aircraft-engine-powered MR2, and now we’ve got another MR2-based team taking on one of the long-discussed LeMons Holy Grails: the twin-engined sub-$500 race car!

The Volatile RAM MR2 has been racing in West Coast LeMons events since the 2007-08 Altamont era, and the team must have decided that all that wrenching in the pits (the MR2 has proven itself to be one of the less reliable LeMons cars) would be more fun if they vaulted to the ranks of the Legends of LeMons and took on the twin-engine challenge.

Conventional wisdom says that a twin-engined race car with four-wheel-drive and two separate transmissions will be a spinning nightmare on the track, will blow up for sure, will overheat, and is morally wrong besides. However, conventional wisdom also suggests that Toyotas should be reliable in low-budget endurance racing, and reality has shown that Saturn SL2s and Alfa Romeo Milanos are much more reliable LeMons cars… so go ahead and throw all your misgivings about the MR2olla right out the window! Yes, MR2olla; the team will be welding the front half of a 1989 Corolla to the rear half of a 1987 MR2. What could possibly go wrong?

“Aha!” you say, “The Corolla and the MR2 both use Toyota A engines and identical transmissions, so all you need to do is rig up some kind of Rube Goldberg transmission-cable linkage and the driver will be able to drive it like a regular car.” Not so! What the Verbose Beater team is doing involves an automatic transmission in the rear and a manual up front. Feel free to enumerate all the ways this will go terribly wrong; I’m reserving judgment until I see it on the race track. Actually, I’m not reserving judgment at all; if this thing makes one lap it will be a stunning, LeMons Legend-worthy succcess! We’ll see how it all sorts out at the Goin’ For Broken race in mid-May at Reno-Fernley.

Meanwhile, I’m gearing up for the biggest 24 Hours of LeMons race of all time, at Sears Point in a couple of weeks. In fact, with 180 cars it’s possible that the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons race will be the biggest road race in history. See you there!

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16 Comments on “Two Engines Equals Twice As Good: Toyota MR2olla!...”

  • avatar

    Car and Driver made a twin engined Honda CRX back in the 80s and it worked pretty well according to the article.  Both drivetrains were identical automatic Hondas.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, but their budget was a bit bigger and they didn’t beat the hell out of it all weekend on a road course in 100-degree weather. Still, I’m optimistic. I think the MR2olla will be successful.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      It should be set and forget for the rear engine, as long as the shifter cable throw length is properly set at the start. I’d expect more problems from the front of the car and ensuring the manual linkage doesn’t suffer any weird binding issues from the altered geometry potential.

    • 0 avatar

      Serious crack smoking. I love it.

    • 0 avatar

      I saw that car for sale at a used car dealer in San Rafael years ago. By then it had been updated with later, larger, Accord motors.  I’d have bought it if I had two dimes to rub together at the time.

  • avatar

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • avatar

    Here’s the project blog:
    And here’s the photo album:

  • avatar

    This plan absolutely cannot fail. I mean, look at it – they even managed to cut a fairly straight line with that sawzall. Hell, they even disconnected the fuel lines first!

  • avatar

    awesome actual twin engine car done properly

  • avatar

    ” I’d love the hear the curmudgeonly commenters list all the ways the car can’t possibly work!”

    Different wheel speeds at either end of the car when engines have the same throttle input?

    Which will be apparently overcome by “static friction”

    • 0 avatar

      You’re likely already familiar with the power of static friction – it’s why braking to just before lockup is more effective than actually locking up.
      The coefficient of static friction for rubber on asphalt is a MASSIVE SONOFABITCH. The slower engine will thus be accelerated to match the faster one.
      Imagine a pickup truck at maximum speed pushing a car idling in gear. Is there any wheel slip? No. There is not. Same forces at work here.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you on the wheel grip bit, but won’t that just mean there will be an autobox catching on fire and exploding after a few corners at speed? Even if the torque converter can manage to push the speed differential back up to the motor, the headline should still read “MR2 enters LeMons with engine in front and massive air brake in rear”.
      Or do I have this wrong?

    • 0 avatar

      AndyR, isn’t catching on fire and exploding just as you start thinking “Hey, this might actually work” the whole point of the 24 Hours of LeMons?

  • avatar

    I like this twin engine project better:  I’d name it  the V-1×1

  • avatar

    I predict awesomeness.

  • avatar

    Hmmm…what they aught to do is turn the wheels 90 degrees, and have one engine power the wheels on one side of the car, the other on the other side.  Turn the driver’s seat 90 degrees to look out one of the side windows.  instead of a steering wheel he’ll have a gas pedal for each side to steer.  The added width will make him very difficult to pass.

    Why do it?  Because it’s needlessly complicated and an absolutely awful idea.

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