Donked '79 Bonneville Prepares To Battle Cougars: BS Inspections of the Capitol Offense 24 Hours of LeMons

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

One of the cars the organizers of the 24 Hours of LeMons have always wanted to see careening around a road course is a proper General Motors donk. Until today, only the crypto-donked Big Ghetto Skank Tank came close. Now Unununium Medal winner Speedycop has raised the bar again, with this 1979 Pontiac Bonneville coupe rollin’ on 22s. Oh yeah, and 99 other cars showed up to the race at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia.

The Bonnie has the stock 135-horsepower 301, the factory cassette deck, and incredible amounts of style. The naysayers claim it will fall apart on the track, but you just never know what will happen in a LeMons race.

Speedycop and his Gang of Outlaws have brought five cars to this race, including the Parnelli Jones ’67 Galaxie, the MR2-ized Lancia Scorpion, and this late-model Cougar. The Cougar will be racing for charity, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. We had at least two more Cougars as well, which sets the all-time record for Cougars and Mercuries in a LeMons race.

The Mercedes-Benz contingent was out in force. We had three 190Es, including this crazy-rare Cosworth 16-valve car. The special interior parts from this thing were worth a ton on eBay, but math disputes led to 16 BS laps: one per valve.

Then the Cosworth ran into a deer on the track during practice this afternoon. The team fixed the car, but yecch!

This Benz team stepped up with a pretty good bribe suitcase.

This BMW E36 team spent what must have been months gathering beer cans, cutting them up, and screwing them to their car.

The entire car was covered. That’s dedication!

This Fiat 128 is ready to take on the MGB-GT tomorrow morning.

Sorry, 240SX team, we weren’t convinced that you got this SR20DET in the car for under the $500 price limit.

I had the timelapse camera going all afternoon, so here’s a video showing most of the cars that came through the inspection. Green flag waves Saturday morning, and I’ll try to post updates if I can find some sort of internet connection; otherwise, I’ll do a leader post tomorrow night.

Music: Scrap Iron Jazzerinos, 1919

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

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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  • DeadInSideInc DeadInSideInc on Jun 18, 2011

    Predictions: 1) The donk will threaten to roll if it corners at more than 26mph and will become a the judgemodonk. 2) That BMW now weighs 700lbs more

    • Panzerfaust Panzerfaust on Jun 18, 2011

      I agree, I don't think the Bonni will fall apart on the track it will fall over on the track. Or one of those ridiculous wheels will yank the front suspension clean off the car. Yeah, they probably added at least 10 lbs in hardware alone to the BMW.

  • Panzerfaust Panzerfaust on Jun 18, 2011

    The battle-of-the-least-reliables is going to be between the 128 the MGB, the 128 will probably out pace the MG, until it jumps a few cogs on the timing belt, or one of the many relays takes a holiday. I'd also like to take bets on how many valves that Cosi will still have by the end of the race-still in the head, not in the pistons.

    • See 1 previous
    • Johnhef Johnhef on Jun 20, 2011

      cosworth engine still has all of them, although the picture above is only half correct. the silver car pictured was originally a 16 valve, but the engine in the photo is a 3.2L M104 6-cyl. The red mercedes we ran originally had an 8v motor in it and we put a 16 valve engine in instead 2 months before the race.

  • MaintenanceCosts "But your author does wonder what the maintenance routine is going to be like on an Italian-German supercar that plays host to a high-revving engine, battery pack, and several electric motors."Probably not much different from the maintenance routine of any other Italian-German supercar with a high-revving engine.
  • 28-Cars-Later "The unions" need to not be the UAW and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
  • 2manyvettes I had a Cougar of similar vintage that I bought from my late mother in law. It did not suffer the issues mentioned in this article, but being a Minnesota car it did have some weird issues, like a rusted brake line.(!) I do not remember the mileage of the vehicle, but it left my driveway when the transmission started making unwelcome noises. I traded it for a much newer Ford Fusion that served my daughter well until she finished college.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Couple of questions: 1) who will be the service partner for these when Rivian goes Tits Up? 2) What happens with software/operating system support when Rivia goes Tits Up? 3) What happens to the lease when Rivian goes Tits up?
  • Richard I loved these cars, I was blessed to own three. My first a red beauty 86. My second was an 87, 2+2, with digital everything. My third an 87, it had been ridden pretty hard when I got it but it served me well for several years. The first two I loved so much. Unfortunately they had fuel injection issue causing them to basically burst into flames. My son was with me at 10 years old when first one went up. I'm holding no grudges. Nissan gave me 1600$ for first one after jumping thru hoops for 3 years. I didn't bother trying with the second. Just wondering if anyone else had similar experience. I still love those cars.