Jeff “Speedycop” Bloch has constructed some of the most incredible 24 Hours of Lemons vehicles in the series’ 11-year history. You’ve seen several of them in our Greatest 24 Hours of Lemons Cars of All Time post like the Spirit of Lemons, the Speedycopter, and the Upside-Down Camaro to name a few. Last weekend at Lemons’ “Kentucky Demo Derby” race at NCM Motorsports Park, Speedycop and his Gang of Outlaws added another crazy build to the legend: the Trippy Tippy Hippy Van.
The sideways van started much like the Upside-Down Camaro with a bigger vehicle gutted and slotted over a compact car. In this case, he started with a very decrepit 1976 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia camper that he plucked from a field in Tennessee. Internet car experts will tell you that a rusty, engineless VW Camper shell costs thousands of dollars. Reality (and Speedycop) will tell you that it costs $600 and 18 hours of time to haul it back to Maryland
Under the van went a former Lemons car that Bloch bought for $500. This 1988 Volkswagen Cabrio finished 6th placed overall in Texas once. Since it came with a rollcage that would pass tech inspection, it made for an easier start for the Gang of Outlaws.
Speedycop and his crew built the whole contraption in six weeks with what Bloch estimated at more than 1,000 man-hours. They started by gutting the Vanagon to a bare shell. The team then welded square tubing onto the subframes and bumpers, into which slotted matching square-pins for the body. Of course, the interior of a bus is rounded, which Speedycop says made the blocky Cabrio the square peg to the van’s round hole, so to speak.
The Vanagon’s “undertray” and the driver’s seat panels were all Lexan with one-way vinyl. They mocked up the underside of a Vanagon in 1-to-1 scale on that Lexan, which Gang of Outlaws’ member David Mills insisted was a major pain in the butt to get right. It looks slightly fuzzy up close, but at speed on the track, it looks great.
After the TTHV debuted, the internet responded both with “THAT MUST BE WORTH $10,000” and also “THERE’S NO WAY TO SEE OUT OF IT.” While the sightlines are slightly narrower than many Lemons cars, the sightlines look at least as good as, say, a modern Camaro. Cheap backup cameras worked in place of sideview mirrors to give complete visibility.
The interior was otherwise pretty basic Lemons car with one exception. The driver hangs onto a classic Nardi steering wheel from a 1980s Maserati Biturbo that Speedycop owned at one time.
Under the hood was a 16-valve 1.8-liter GTI engine, which is a peppy engine in a stock Cabrio. With 500-plus pounds of van mounted to it using square tubing, however, the little Golf engine would have struggled to outrun a stock Vanagon. Aside from a grossly overweight naturally aspirated 1981 diesel Mercedes, the Trippy Tippy Hippy Van was the slowest vehicle on track. Speed was never the goal, though.
Speedycop goes to great lengths for sight gags and this one was particularly good. The effect was slightly unsettling when the van rolled down the straight.
But the gag took full effect going through corners, especially right-handers. At a glance, it always looked like a rollover in progress. Well done, Speedycop!
When it was all said and done, the Trippy Tippy Hippy Van finished 229 laps, which was good for 46th place of 63 cars The van finished ahead several BMWs and even the fastest car in the race, Save the Ta-Tas’ “Chevy Camaro.” That came in spite of chronic overheating issues early in the race that took a few hours to resolve.
Lemons organizers considered the build and its performance good enough for Lemons’ top prize, the Index of Effluency. Here’s a quick, one-take walkaround of the van with Jeff “Speedycop” Bloch:
We’ll have more on this Lemons race soon right here on Roadkill. Be sure to check out when Lemons is coming to a road course near you; subscribe to Lemons’ YouTube Channel for wrap-up videos and follow the series on Facebook and on Instagram for more.