By on April 15, 2011

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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27 Comments on “Chevette Diesel vs Radial MR2: BS Inspections of The Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis LeMons...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Oh the humanity!  I can only see car-nage coming from this race.  (Of course that’s the intent of LeMons.) 

  • avatar


  • avatar
    Twin Cam Turdo

    Does anyone know of a build thread for the MR2?

    • 0 avatar

      Build thread is here:
      It… wasn’t quite finished when he left for the track, so the thread is obviously slightly incomplete, but there is far more than enough awesome to behold as-is.

  • avatar

    God, do I love this series!

  • avatar

    I could use the bottle of Highland Park or McBollock’s right now..

  • avatar

    The “Bumblebee Camaro” in picture 32 is… a current-gen Honda Civic?!

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Mr. Martin, the pink car pic goes first. Don’t forget that next time. Thanks, the management.

  • avatar

    Wish I’d realized in advance this was happening. Just three hours away. Anyone planning to attend who’s still in Detroit (and obviously won’t be there for the first few hours)?

  • avatar

    My mother’s 82 Chevette diesel had two settings: off, and full throttle.  Anything in between was useless.  I put my my money on that car and its very durable drivetrain.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I think that depends on if you have to around corners on “off” or “full throttle.” 

    • 0 avatar

      “Very durable” in Chevette terms was actually met or exceeded!  The diesel Chevette made it 9 laps before the head gasket dissolved completely.

      The fastest diesel Chevette lap was under caution.  It was a bit over 3 minutes (the best lap for most teams was around 2 minutes).  This was fastest Chevette lap because the drivers did not have to take the slowest line or worry about being run over.  

      It was not a speedy car.  
      It would not be speedy for a golf cart–even when it had a semi-working head gasket.

  • avatar

    I can’t wait to see Murilee’s 3D pics of the radial powered MR2.
    If I can swing it, I’ll try to drive across the state to Gingerman and shoot some 3D video tomorrow. I’ve shot a little bit of traffic and the 3D is pretty good but I’d like to see how race footage works out. Maybe I can rig a roof mount for an on car view. Hopefully, Cars In Depth will start generating some revenue and I can upgrade to GoPro’s new 3D rig. I’ve seen some of their 3D video and it’s very impressive.

    • 0 avatar

      What are you doing here, Ronnie?

      Aren’t you Shomer Shabbos? 


      • 0 avatar

        Sheesh, Michael, donchaknow, the Big Kahuna Rabbi of Scorchodox Judaism has decreed that as part of Passover, Jews who are able MUST attend at least one LeMons a year, and if possible, enter a car, in order to better understand all the difficulties of the escape from Egypt. I mean, when the Jews cut out, they were stuck with the worst cars, the Edsels of the day, so it’s a mitzva for a Jew to race in LeMons.

  • avatar

    “How do you keep the engine cool?”
    “You just gotta keep moving man.”
    Bill Cosby to Fat Albert in his Cessna powered Hudson Hornet.

    The MR2 looks too nice (i.e. not cheap enough) be in this series.  Or maybe it just needs a paint job that can be seen from outer space (to match the ‘mortar tube’ exhausts).  However I suspect that it will be more reliable than the Lancia into Fiat transplant, especially into the eternally hexed and vexed carcass of an X 1/9.  The number on the side of the Splatos is probably indicative of the dri’ver’s expectations.

    The Crosley doesn’t count as the slowest American car, the Crosley CIBA was be used to great advantage in european 750cc sports car class eventually maturing to a DOHC design used in the Bandi 750 as well as Nardi and Siata customs.

  • avatar

    I seem to recall that the LeMons supreme court gave radial engine swaps special dispensation on the $500 limit.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

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

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