Fun At Test-n-Tune Night: Quick, What's This Gorgeous 8-Second Primermobile?

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
fun at test n tune night quick what s this gorgeous 8 second primermobile

Having the Falcon next to it for scale makes identification of this crazy, small-block-Chevy-powered drag car much easier. It’s not the kind of vehicle you expect to see at Colorado’s Bandimere Speedway on Test-n-Tune Night.

Yes, it’s an early-70s Nissan Skyline, which the owner imported from Japan in order to create his evil-looking drag car.

I agree that an eight-second Skyline in primer is extremely cool, but I judge it to be only 94.3% as cool as the Saab 900 Turbo-engined Sonett I saw at Bandimere a few weeks earlier. The Skyline was having some engine problems (manifested as a medium-gnarly explosion under the hood halfway down the strip followed by a shutdown— which still produced a 12-second pass) when I saw it run on Thursday, but the owner assured me that this car has run 8.90s at mile-high Bandimere before. The plan was to get some engine photographs between runs, but a screaming windstorm suddenly swooped down off the Rockies (which appear to be looming directly over the strip) and covered the track with gravel and debris, tumbled trash cans and porta-potties all over the parking lot, and generally shut things down for quite a while. The pelting by sand and pebbles was pretty unpleasant for the humans, but even worse for the cars.

Oh, no! After the wind died down, I discovered that my much-traveled ’92 Civic had taken a wind-blown rock to the left rear side glass. I wasn’t going to be able to drive it home like this.

I thought of just bashing out the glass, but you can’t do that without coming across finger-gouging cubes and splinters of safety glass in the car’s interior for the rest of its life, no matter how much you try to suck all the debris out with a shop-vac. The solution: lots of duct tape!

After covering the outside of the cracked glass with a layer of tape, I applied more to the inside. All I needed to do was keep the window from disintegrating until I could get home and pull the whole mess out in one piece.

Ever since we forced Texas LeMons racers to paint “TTAC RULZ” on their cars, I’ve felt that this sort of display is the best sort of advertising for the site. You’re welcome, Señor Niedermeyer!

I wasn’t visiting Bandimere to run my car (which had proven itself to be a low-18-second drag machine at 5,280 feet three weeks earlier). I was there to watch the long-awaited grudge match between Cadillac Bob‘s 454-powered AMC Marlin LeMons car and Rocket Surgery Racing’s mid-VW-engined Renault 4CV.

The Bandimere tech-inspection crew turned out to be the same guys that LeMons HQ hired to work tech inspection at the B.F.E. GP in July. Pass!

After a practice pass apiece, the Marlin and 4CV lined up to do battle.

The Marlin— which weighs in at 3,600 pounds with driver— was running without supercharging, thanks to an unpleasant backfire/explosion incident at the LeMons race. The 4CV gets double-digit horsepower from its Rabbit engine. Keeping those facts in mind, these quarter-mile times are pretty respectable. Victory to the Marlin, by nearly a second.

While the 4CV was the only French car on hand, the Marlin wasn’t the only Kenosha product. This pretty Javelin was running mid-12-second quarter-mile times; at sea level it might have gotten into the 11s.

I’m going to guess that it has more than 343 cubes under the hood, but I can understand the reasons for keeping the emblems; I think this is one of the best-looking engine-displacement emblems of all time.

The combination of front-wheel-drive and absurd turbo boost levels works very well at the strip; these two Colts (well, one Colt and one Mirage) were doing this sort of thing over and over. Yes, they have license plates and full interiors. Why not do this with a Cordia?

When was the last time you were at any sort of car gathering and saw a C2 Corvette with faded, real-world paint and plain steel wheels? Better yet, it’s a factory 4-speed car.

Bandimere’s last Test-n-Tune night this year will be October 5th, and there’s approximately zero chance that I’ll have swapped the GS-R engine into my Civic by then. Perhaps I’ll return and see what the A100 can do.

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2 of 13 comments
  • MadHungarian MadHungarian on Sep 05, 2011

    Ken and Mary would not approve.

  • Felis Concolor Felis Concolor on Sep 05, 2011

    Judging from what seems to be the point of impact on your Civic's rear window, 2 inches lower and all you'd be looking at would be some paint touch-up. Bummer how the arbiter said "this time, it's going to be glass."

  • Lorenzo They should have put a more upright windshield on it, and kept the V trim on the hood. Dump the sliding passenger door and put the twin hinged doors back. Dump the batteries and put the 1.4 turbo into it, and put the original 16 inch wheels back, with metal hubcaps. VW did to the Buzz what they did to the new Bug, went with the generic shape and took out all the details people liked.
  • Azfelix This inspires so much confidence in the knowledge that government employees also have oversight over the proposed emergency braking rules. Ancient Athenians utilized the process of banishment. Perhaps we should consider implementing it for every government agency at every level.
  • MrIcky Its going to sell really well for a little bit, then everyone who wanted one will have one and it will sell almost nothing ever again-primarily well to do flower shop delivery vehicles after that first wave.
  • MaintenanceCosts It will have an initial period of, well, buzz because of the Type 2 nostalgia.Whether it has legs beyond that period will depend on whether VW can get competitive on two things: (1) electric powertrain efficiency, where their products have been laggards so far (hurting range badly), and (2) software. The packaging looks good and will help, but they need to get those other things right too.
  • Oberkanone Priced too high though not by much.