Chevette Diesel Vs Radial MR2: BS Inspections of The Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis LeMons

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
chevette diesel vs radial mr2 bs inspections of the campaign to prevent gingervitis

The official weather report at Michigan’s Gingerman Raceway today was “butt cold and windy as hell,” but the LeMons Supreme Court slogged through the inspections of the 70 or so teams who won’t let a little miserable weather stop them from racing.

The big news, of course, is the Toyota MR2 powered by a 1942-vintage, 540-cubic-inch aircraft radial engine. It showed up with a blown transmission, but helpful racers made a run to a not-so-nearby state and brought back another Subaru Legacy gearbox. The Radial MR2 drove around the paddock this afternoon, so we’re optimistic that it will be racing tomorrow. As we say in LeMons, what could possibly go wrong?

Quick, what’s the slowest American car of the postwar era? Maybe it’s not the Chevette Diesel (because how could anything be slower than the Crosley?), but it’s hard to beat the little oil-burning Chevy in the sluggishness sweepstakes. That’s why we’re so overjoyed that a team has opted to skip past the BMW E30s and Mazda RX-7s and go right for Index of Effluency glory. Well done!

Speaking of cars GM would rather we forgot, how about the Chevy Monza? This one is on its third engine… today.

If not for the Radial MR2, this car would be getting all the attention. Sure, it looks like a Fiat X1/9 with a Group B Stratos Alitalia paint job, which is pretty cool.

Ah, but there’s a lot going on under this X1/9’s skin. You’re looking at the engine, subframe, and front suspension from an Alfa Romeo 164, stuffed into the back of the X1/9. 190 quad-cam V6 horsepower in a car that had, at best, 75 horsepower: Lancia Splatos! Team Splatos, after doing some test laps in the rain today, report that the car goes like crazy on the straights but has “interesting” cornering characteristics. Will it hold together? Probably not, but who cares?

After last weekend’s MGB-GT Index of Effluency win, we’re happy to see yet another GT at this race. SU carbs, Lucas Electrics (the car has already failed tech due to bad brake lights), lever shocks, the works. You’d think this thing would be the Chevette’s only IOE competition, until we saw…

…this 3-cylinder Geo Metro.

As always, brain-scarring scenes abounded. What’s going on here?

Or here?

Fortunately, Barbie showed up in her Capri.

We of the LeMons Supreme Court will be back in action tomorrow morning, as the racers hit the rainy/snowy track and vie for 24 Hours of LeMons glory. Check in tomorrow night for the latest LeMons updates!


















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  • Parkwood60 Parkwood60 on Apr 16, 2011

    3 motors before the first lap at full race pace? Jeeze, what lake did they pull the Monza out of? Anyone know what motor they were running? Of course a SBC is starved for cooling in that car in street use, so my money would be on that.

  • ToyotaSlave ToyotaSlave on Apr 16, 2011

    My goodness - love the artwork in that Fiat. Splatos indeed!

  • Wjtinfwb Over the years I've owned 3, one LH (a Concorde) a Gen 1 300 and a Gen 2 300C "John Varvatos". The Concorde was a very nice car for the time with immense room inside and decent power from the DOHC 3.5L. But quality was awful, it spent more time in the shop than the driveway. It gave way to a Gen 1 300, OK but the V6 was underwhelming in this car compared to the Concorde but did it's job. The Gen 1's letdown was the awful interior with acres of plastic, leather that did it's best imitation of vinyl and a featureless dashboard that looked lifted from a cheaper car. My last one was a '14 300C John Varvatos with the Pentastar. Great car, sufficient power and exceptional highway mileage. The interior was much better than the original as well. It was felled by a defective instrument cluster that took over 90 days to fix and was ultimately lemon law' d back to FCA. I'd love one of the 392 powered final edition 300s but understand they're already sold out and if I had an extra 60k available, would likely choose a CPO BMW 540i for comparable money.
  • Dukeisduke Thanks Cary. Folks need to make sure they buy the correct antifreeze, since there are so many OEM-specific ones out there nowadays (Dex-Cool, Ford gold, Toyota red and pink, etc.).And sorry to hear about your family situation - my wife and I have been dealing with her 88-yo mom, moving her into independent senior living, selling her house, etc. It's a lot to deal with.
  • FreedMike Always lusted after that first-gen 300 - particularly the "Heritage Edition," which had special 300 badging and a translucent plastic steering wheel (ala the '50s and '60s "letter cars").
  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.
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