ThunderPorsche, Rent-an-Impala-Wagon, and a Blimp: BS Inspections at the Detroit Irony 24 Hours of LeMons

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Two months after our last visit to Gingerman Raceway, the weather is hot and muggy instead of a howling blizzard. Even without the character-building weather, however, the current crop of entries have managed to raise the bar. How about a Porsche 924 with Thunderbird Turbo Coupe drivetrain? Or Unununium Legend of LeMons Speedycop renting a rustbucket ’65 Impala wagon to turn into a race car… starting tonight?

The Class C competition will be pretty stiff this time around. First of all, there’s the return of this Chevette Diesel. Last time at Gingerman, this economical machine managed about five laps before the engine melted down. We have high hopes for the little primer Chevette this time.

The Chevette will be squaring off against this Triumph TR7. This team had no idea that we’d already seen a TR7 team named “James Bondo,” but bringing a British Leyland product excuses you from not studying your LeMons history.

This TR7 has a genuine double-oh-seven-grade, driver-controlled switchable license plate!

But the TR7 and Chevette will need to get past this Fiat X1/9 for the Class C trophy, not to mention the Index of Effluency.

This crypto-blasphemous theme theme probably wouldn’t go over too well in South Carolina, but Michiganders seem to cope with it.

Speaking of Class C and the Index of Effluency, Speedycop has somehow managed to out-madman his donktastic 5-car performance in West Virginia last month. His plan was to drive to Michigan from his Maryland home, buy a nightmarish six-wheeled El Camaromino, recruit a bunch of like-minded freaks, and cage the thing in the Gingerman paddock the night before the race; you can read the whole twisted saga on the LeMons forums thread. Well, the El SexaMaroMino deal didn’t work out, nor did the possible ’72 Eldorado deal. Ah well, figured Speedycop, I’ll just trailer out the Maserati 425i Biturbo I’ve got sitting around and we’ll make that the race car.

That was an excellent plan, with no weaknesses whatsoever. But then Speedycop happened to spot a very rusty ’65 Impala station wagon in some dude’s driveway in South Haven…

The wagon’s owner wanted $1,500 for the car– too much– but further discussion made it clear that he wanted the car as a frame donor for another Impala with a better body.

So, the upshot was that Speedycop is renting the Impala for the weekend, and he can do anything he wants to it as long as the frame is intact at the end of the race. The owner is even dropping it off and picking it up! So, at this very moment, Speedycop and his motley crew of like-minded loons are gutting the wagon, cutting off the roof, installing a cage, and re-roofing it. They should be done, oh, just in time for the green flag tomorrow. This is how you maintain LeMons Legend status.

Meanwhile, the LeMons Supreme Court has somehow conned Car & Driver Editor-In-Chief Eddie Alterman into donning the robes and dispensing justice, alongside me and Judge Sam. With Tony Swann, Csaba Csere, Mike Austin, and all the rest on the premises, it’s like a C&D convention here. We look forward to seeing Alterman penalizing his hapless employees tomorrow!

Another extremely LeMonic entry is this “Forsche 924.” Looks like a semi-butchered 924 on the outside, but there’s a surprise under the hood.

Yes, the team has installed the entire drivetrain out of a Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. Engine, transmission, rear end. What could possibly go wrong?

The same guys that made the incredible Sleigher Mazda last year have somehow managed to turn their car into something even better: the Good Bier Blimp. It goes without saying that the gigantic blimp will remain on the car all weekend.

And, in keeping with LeMons BS Inspection tradition, here’s the timelapse video of the BS Inspection, which should give you at least a glimpse of the many cars I neglected to mention here.

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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  • Grzydj Grzydj on Jul 16, 2011

    Is that a home made SHOgun with Jag livery? Pic BS-109.

    • Smalleyxb122 Smalleyxb122 on Jul 16, 2011

      Close. The base vehicle is a Geo Metro instead of a Ford Festiva, but the concept is the same. I believe that they won the Organizer's Choice in April's race, but it was all purple at that time.

  • Maria C Burke Maria C Burke on Jul 21, 2018

    That's a dope Fiat X1/9

  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.