Few 24 Hours of LeMons teams “get” the series as well as Charnal House Racing. From their unparalleled junkyard scrounging to their excellent parody liveries, they are masters at their craft. So when they turned up with this incredible evolution of their Geo MetSHO to the Decade of Disappointment 10th Anniversary Race at Gingerman Raceway on October 7 to 9, we were not surprised that they’d pulled off another great theme. We were, however, excited by the newfound awesomeness of the MetSHO.
Before we get to its current iteration, we should explain what the MetSHO actually is. In 2010, the Charnal House Racing cut up a tired three-cylinder Geo Metro and shoved the 220-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 and five-speed manual transmission from a Ford Taurus SHO behind the Metro’s driver’s seat. The project included square tubing from a basketball-hoop post and parts from too many different cars to list here, although the Ziptied.com build thread is a fantastic read if you have a couple free hours. When it showed up at its first race in 2010 wearing a Grape Crush paint scheme, it blew away race organizers. However, the newly christened MetSHO’s sketchy handling led to the team getting parked for too many black flags.
A few track days of tuning later, the MetSHO showed up quicker and better handling than before. More importantly, it got the first of several top-notch race car-parody themes with the “Sick Gut Gaguar” paint scheme. This was, of course, a parody of the Jaguar XJR-9 down to the rear wheel-skirts.
Later came the third livery: a “NoPro” parody of Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima’s Pikes Peak Suzuki.
However, the new “Awful Computers” bodywork—a frighteningly accurate replica of the 1980s Apple-sponsored Porsche 935—came together in just a couple of short weeks. While much of the mechanical work was done by seat of the pants, the actual bodywork required the use of CAD to get the correct scale. Paper templates were printed of each body panel and the templates were used to cut out large rental-property aluminum signs that were found in a scrap pile.
What better way could one launch a new iteration of the car than with a classic presentation by Steve Jorbs?
However, the “innovative hooptiness” actually included some budget-busting parts. The twin-turbocharger setup was new on the car and the turbos’ origins was itself an interesting story: a member of a professional American sports car team happens to love the MetSHO enough to offer them the used, dumpster-bound turbos off their Le Mans car for the cost of shipping and a few bucks. The Charnal House lads gladly accepted the challenge to make the MetSHO even more nuts.
One turbo had a bent shaft and the other had a chip in the turbine wheel so they weren’t in great condition, but even with only 4 pounds of boost, the SHO V6 was putting 300 horsepower to the wheels. The turbo exhaust was fabricated from a discarded pool ladder—Or “Turbo Exhaust by ThermoSpa,” according to the team—while the
hammered gently used JDM Sport (actual brand) intercooler’s plumbing was cut from the discarded stock exhaust on a Chevy Silverado. The turbos also came without blow-off valves or wastegates, so Charnal House fabricated those with the (achieved) goal of producing maximum turbocharger “pshh-tutututu” (direct quote) noise rather than insane horsepower.
Then came the unenviable task of making the engine happy with forced induction. That only took about eight months of planning, building, testing, replanning, rebuilding, retesting, and…well, you get the idea. They ultimately used discarded injectors from a shop they know that tunes lots of Mitsubishi Lancer Evos to provide enough fuel for the air being shoved into the Taurus engine.
Are the professional turbo parts breaking the $500 budget? Yeah, probably. Will they help the team win the race? Not really. The MetSHO remains a bit rough around the edges—It was all originally built with an actual budget of about $430 and, turbos aside, the whole car is made from scrounged bits—with no hint of “Porsche refinement.” The short exhaust’s resonance in the oversized body panels and the engine’s proximity to the driver make the cabin a noisy, unpleasant place. The short wheelbase has always made the MetSHO a bit twitchy even after five years of tuning and the addition of another 80 horsepower hasn’t actually made it easier to drive. Even if everything went well, the turbos make the SHO engine too thirsty to compete for an overall win.
So while there are sure to be cries about “HOW IS THAT $500!?!!11!?,” consider this: If you want to turn a fuel-sipping Geo Metro into a mid-engined LeMons car using garbage parts that no else wanted and after five browbeating years of breaking custom-hacked parts someone offers you beat-to-hell parts from a professional race car that won’t make it more competitive, you might have a case for a budgetary exemption.
As it turns out, the engine was already unhappy and the team fought waterflow issues from the coolant lines that run from the now-extended nose to the mid-mounted engine. Ultimately, the head gaskets cooked and because even accessing the engine is a chore—let alone removing it—the team packed up with only 95 laps completed.
For their insanity and the perfection of their parody, Charnal House took home the Organizer’s Choice trophy at LeMons’ 10th Anniversary Race, the Decade of Disappointment at Gingerman Raceway.
We will have more from the Decade of Disappointment soon here on Roadkill.