Licensed To Ill: Historically Accurate 80s Custom Minitruck Hits Race Track, Has the Boom
For several years in the middle part of the 1980s, lowered minitrucks with pastel graphics and booming sound systems were extremely popular. Then, without warning, just about every last one of them disappeared. Where did they go? We can’t say, but we’re pleased to announce that Team Licensed To Ill has brought the custom minitruck back… and thrashed it all weekend at the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons.
Team captain Jesse Cortez grew up in Hayward, California, one of the main epicenters of minitruck madness back in the 1980s, and he has long wanted to do an homage to/parody of the trucks he remembered from the streets of his youth.
The opportunity came when he inherited this S10, which had received a Chevrolet 283 V8 swap in 1983 or so and had been sitting in a garage ever since that time; Jesse’s uncle had planned to make it into a drag truck, but never quite finished the project. There’s no way in hell a 1981 truck with a 1962 V8 engine would ever pass a California emissions test, so the race track was the logical destination.
The team left the engine alone, but they decided to throw a rebuild on the TH350 transmission. Other than driving it up and down the driveway, and one time around the block, the truck hadn’t been driven since Reagan’s first term. The real priority, obviously, was getting the Haywardian 1980s look correct. How about that white Grant steering wheel and pink safety harness?
Nearly the entire $500 LeMons-mandated budget went into the sound system, which added 120 pounds but was totally worth it. 24 Hours of LeMons HQ donated the amplifier from the original Ghost Ride The Whip boombox.
He roll! San Francisco Bay Area residents old enough to remember the mid-1980s ought to recognize those radio-station bumper stickers.
Of course, you can’t have an 80s minitruck with a big sound system without Tigra and Bunny! Jesse’s girlfriend, Bunny Pistol, was happy to be Bunny D for the race.
They like the cars, the cars that go boom!
The team even bribed the LeMons Supreme Court by having “Bunny D” dye my facial hair pink, for enhanced gravitas.
The Licensed To Ill S10 wasn’t particularly fast around Infineon Raceway (its best lap time of 2:29 was about 15 seconds off the quicker entries), but it turned out to be miraculously reliable for a truck that had spent more than 25 years sitting in a garage, powered by an engine type notorious for LeMons failure. No major mechanical problems all weekend!
Winner of the Most Fantastic Yank Tank trophy. Congratulations, Team Licensed To Ill!
Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.
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