The Greatest New LeMons Cars of the 2016 Season

Text by Murilee Martin, Eric Rood, and Nick Pon

The 2016 season of the 24 Hours of LeMons was the best yet, partly because there was plenty of good racing but mostly due to the hordes of amazing race vehicles that debuted during the year. To get on this list, a racin’ machine had to compete in its first LeMons race during 2016 (or in late 2015, because we were so exhausted from doing the massive Greatest LeMons Cars of All Time piece that we missed a few excellent new cars during that period), and it had to be an all-new-to-LeMons car or an existing one that was changed so much as to be considered new (in our incredibly subjective judgment). Here we go!

00-del-camino
Del Camino, 1995 Honda Del Sol
All right-thinking Honda lovers loathe the Del Sol, which replaced the beloved CRX shortly after Soichiro Honda died. For this reason, LeMons racers with Del Sols generally feel motivated to perform serious de-Del-Sol-izing body modifications, and one of the best yet is the amazing Del Camino. Featuring genuine Chevrolet El Camino body parts, the result is a front-wheel-drive El Camino that gets around a road course much faster than a GM-built one.

00-corona
The Supranos, 1970 Toyota Corona sedan
Judge Phil aka Murilee Martin has a lot of really bad suggestions for teams looking for the ideal LeMons car, ranging from merely unreliable to end-of-the-world horrible, but his (OK, my) suggestion to the Supranos that they replace their cheated-out Supra with a 1966-1970 Toyota Corona turned out very well for the team. With two-digit horsepower, two-speed automatic transmission, and completely stock 45-year-old suspension, the Supranos’ 1970 Corona beat 11 BMWs and two Corvettes in its first LeMons race.

00-doof-wagon
ERM Racing, 1991 Datstang 280MM Doof Wagon
It’s no secret that LeMons organizers and judges like great themes, and considerable effort is spent encouraging teams to think outside of the box. In rare cases, however, even LeMons staffers are like “stop already!” That was certainly the case with ERM Racing‘s Datsun-powered, right-hand-drive Mustang-turned-Mad Max: Fury Road Doof Wagon. Yep, that’s right, it’s a Fox-chassis Mustang converted to right-hand-drive (which was done for an earlier iteration of a Mad Max theme), swapped to a Nissan L-series straight-six (which was done for… actually, we have no idea why they did that), and then finished with an International Harvester S-Series front clip and movie-correct Doof Warrior and audio system. Amazingly, ERM Racing wasn’t done with crazy 2016 builds after this–read on!

00-hooniverse-ranchero
Los Huevos Rancheros, 1962 Ford Ranchero
Way back in 2009, Tim Odell and the guys who went on to found Hooniverse turned a BMW E24 6-series into the Teutonic counterpart to the Plymouth Superbird: the Überbird! Then, because automotive journalists aren’t so good at getting stuff done quickly, they waited another six years to build their next LeMons car… and what a car it was! We use the past tense here, because the Hooniverse Ranchero got smashed to hell (something automotive journalists are good at doing) in its second Sears Point race. The good news is that they’re building a replacement.

00-valiant
Squatting Dog Racing II, 1970 Plymouth Valiant
You can’t go wrong by racing a completely stock Chrysler A-Body in our series, and Squatting Dog Racing rescued a long-forgotten ’70 Valiant and did just that. Sure, the Slant-6 engine isn’t as reliable on a road course as it is on the street, but this car usually contends for a Class C win.

00-vauxhall-chevette
The Defeat Device, 1979 Chevrolet Chevette
The Chevrolet Chevette was one of the most miserably punitive subcompacts to come out of GM’s global empire, which means it is right at home on a LeMons track. Team Defeat Device became weary of their Chevette’s Isuzu powerplant, as well as the engine’s location, and so they stuffed a Subaru engine and transaxle in the back. Because that wasn’t enough, they replicated the bodywork and paint scheme of a Vauxhall Chevette HSR. This ensured that anyone not bewildered by the engine swap would be befuddled by the obscure 1970s British theme.

01-imperial-shuttle-dustbuster
Bad Decisions Racing, 1995 Pontiac Trans Sport
In 2015, Bad Decisions Racing debuted their GM U-Body van that sucked track as a giant beige Black & Decker Dustbuster. In the time since, the Dustbuster van has also been Princess Vespa’s Mercedes spaceship from Spaceballs, an oversized door stop, the shuttle from the U.S.S. Enterprise on Star Trek, and the minivan from Get Shorty. But none of them, Dustbuster aside, will top the Star Wars Imperial Shuttle minivan from the season-opening 2016 race at Barber Motorsports Park. That race ended with the shuttle’s transmission going all proton-torpedo-to-the-reactor-core, which was one of the greatest pieces of LeMons racing footage of all time.

01-knoxvegas-lowballers-hooptiecorn
The Knoxvegas Lowballers, 1998 Ford Contour SVT Hooptiecorn Mustang
The Lowballers somehow blend crazy builds, great themes, and unlikely success to be what most LeMons nerds think is the best team right now. Their mid-engine, Ford V6-powered Geo Metro was the first team to complete LeMons Quadrangle of Emaculence (Wins in all three classes and the vaunted Index of Effluency with one car) and at the season-opening race at Barber, the Knoxville-based team turned up with a three-vehicle tribute to Ken Block and his Hoonigan brand. The Metro got made over into the Ford Fiesta from Block’s Gymkhana videos while the team’s twin-engine Mazda MPV (Everyone has one of those, right?) served as the Hoonigan camera vehicle. The grand achievement, however, was bolting actual body panels from a wilting ’65 Ford Mustang to the team’s Ford Contour SVT to make a convincing-if-you-squint-at-dusk replica of Ken Block’s Mustang-based “Hoonicorn” called, of course, the Hooptiecorn.

02-polizei-van
Zitronen Kommando, 1991 Volkswagen Vanagon GL
The Team Westafari guys have been so unexpectedly successful with their racing Vanagon— unexpected more due to the generally fall-aparty nature of VWs in LeMons than to the fact that their race car is a van— that a couple of their crew members decided to spin off their own Vanagon team and compete with the Westafarians. The Zitronen Kommando sports Subaru power and a German police theme (including siren) that gives every Sears Point race a cops-chasing-stoners subplot.

03-anglia
Stick Figure Racing, 1961 Ford Anglia
1. Find the only Ford Anglia in Utah. 1. Drop a Ford Zetec engine into it. 3. PROFIT!!!1!

03-dumpster-e36
Waist Management, 1999 BMW 323iS
LeMons, amazingly enough, has been around for ten years– which is a long time in BMW-depreciation years. So, early complaints about the LeMons budget eligibility of the E36-chassis 3-series have faded to a whisper. But while cost complaints may have waned, the E36 is still a target of derision to the LeMons connoisseur– these folks appreciate Broughams, not Bimmers. Fortunately there is a solution if you like BMWs and want universal LeMons acceptance: Turn it into a damn garbage truck.

03-excel
Flipped or Flopped, 1986 Hyundai Excel
The first-generation Hyundai Excel may be the worst car sold in the United States during the last quarter of the 20th century, and we’re including the Yugu GV here. When Mike “Spank” Spangler, one of the alltime Legends of LeMons, heard our opinion on the Excel, he went right out and found a particularly beat-to-hell example. He caged it, found a new-old-stock bra for it, cut his hair into a scary mullet, and raced at at the Arizona D-Bags race.

04-grandpa-mayhem-buick
Rot Rocket Racing, 1993 Buick Park Avenue Ultra “Grandpa Mayhem”
Racers in the Midwest and the Northeast have a tendency to press the occasional front-wheel-drive, V6-powered General Motors car into LeMons service. These things are everywhere and, like the Park Avenue that Rot Rocket Racing found and brought to the April race at Michigan’s Gingerman Raceway, they are usually owned by octogenarians. After a decade or two of trips at 35 mph, we’re glad to see these things getting worked, especially since the Rot Rocket crew pandered directly to Roadkill with their low(er)-buck General Mayhem tribute. The hood scoop looks pretty boss on this thing.

04-imperial
Burnt Rubber Soul Racing, 1981 Imperial
Few things look quite so regal in the Michigan sunshine as an ’81 Imperial with mag wheels and period-hella-uncorrect paint. The glorious “Road Bummer” built by Burnt Rubber Soul Racing wheezed its way around Gingerman with its 318 cubic-inch Chrysler V8 struggling to make any power and its driver rolling side-to-side through corners like a dreadnought in a typhoon. The leisure-suited team made the most of their personal luxury coupe, sporting cigars and a general king-of-the-road attitude. The 318 responded with its own “Effyoubuddy” attitude by crapping out at the end of the weekend.

05-doobbies-taxiola
Jackleg Racing, 1997 Plymouth Neon “Doobby’s Taxiola”
This debut team proved that you don’t necessarily need a weird car or Santa’s sleigh atop your car to get noticed in LeMons. Instead, they set a new high bar for obscure movie references, turning their Dodge Neon into a faithful reproduction of “Doobby’s Taxiola.” What is Doobby’s Taxiola? It’s a car that was in the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles for about 28 seconds. If you’ve seen the movie a few times, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

07-high-school-c10
Mustang Express, 1977 Chevrolet C10
Charlotte is the raciest city in America, and so it makes sense that the auto-shop class at a Charlotte high school would want to go racing as a class assignment. This battered old C10 and what seemed like dozens of students made quite an impression at the Southern Discomfort race in South Carolina.

07-peugeots
Team Sputnik, 1979 Peugeot 504
Sometimes a LeMons car is so thoroughly bad that it achieves greatness, and that’s just what happened with the Sputnik Peugeot 504 at the Southern Discomfort race in the spring. We love the Peugeot 504, of course, and it always stuck in our craws that the only one to compete in our series did a half-dozen laps in 2009 and then disappeared forever. Sputnik Racing, legendary in LeMons circles for wonderfully awful race cars, obtained a 1979 Peugeot 504 in not-so-running condition, added a couple of parts cars, and proceeded to spend an entire race weekend in a mud-soaked make-three-dead-cars-into-one-dead-car nightmare that resembled a post-apocalyptic Nigerian junkyard. The Sputnik Peugeot never made it through the tech inspection that weekend, but everyone was so awed by the chaos that the car made this list.

08-great-globs-opel
Great Globs of Oil//Bratva, 1978 Buick/Opel
Opel’s existence in the United States has always been odd with sales coming at Buick dealerships and often using Isuzu platforms (or vice versa) and badges tossed around. In the ’70s, Opels were sold as Buick/Opel, though the cars were Isuzus. Or something. It’s all very confusing, but the Great Globs of Oil team on the East Coast found one of these weird feats of badge engineering and the tiny little engine ran like a top in all three races it ran this year, finally winning Index of Effluency at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in October.

08-hudson
Sinical Racing, 1950 Hudson Pacemaker
New Jersey’s Sinical Racing have been around for a couple years in LeMons with some strange builds. Their Pinto-powered Volkswagen Beetle got a major horsepower upgrade from a 260 horsepower Honda V6, which promptly put the car into a wall. However, the team also debuted a 1950 Hudson that was not only at least partially period-correct with the Twin-H carb setup on the big 308 cubic-inch Flat Six, it was also painted like a replica of Mario Andretti’s first race car. Sinical Racing had actually pulled it out of an auto museum’s storage. Thought it was “just” a replica, the team decided that putting the old Hudson on the racetrack was a better fate than letting it languish unused. Compared to lighter, modern cars, it wasn’t fast, but the team reported that it was fun to drive and it looked great on the racetrack.

08-speedycopter
Speedycop and the Gang of Outlaws, 1969 Bell OH-58 Kiowa
LeMons Legend Jeff “Speedycop” Bloch and his cast of characters are renowned for their building capers, from the road-racing “Spirit of LeMons” Cessna 310 to the Upside-Down Camaro and a dozen or so other insane road-racing vehicles. While he scaled back some of his LeMons insanity, he did roll out one of the craziest LeMons vehicles ever: a ’69 Bell OH-58 helicopter built on a Toyota Van chassis with a turbocharged Audi engine. Not only is that crazy, but the (literal) pontoon fenders gave the “Speedycopter” buoyancy, making this the first amphibious race car that we know of. The chopper arrived late to New Jersey Motorsports Park for its debut in May and was only ready to go after much last-minute thrashing. Unfortunately, the payoff was pretty mild with the Audi V6 going kaput after a one lap. The team trailered it and took it to a nearby lake, where it splashed about with the engine’s last few gasps of power turning the boat propeller. Knowing Bloch and his regular crew, we haven’t seen the last of the Speedycopter.

09-mid-engined-mustang
SOTP Racing, 1978 Ford Mustang II
When you have a ratty Mustang II on the one hand and an OMP marine Ford engine salvaged from a sunken houseboat, what do you do? If you’re SOTP Racing, you move the engine back about four feet, then add a Ford GT40-style hood scoop.

09-rear-engined-z
Lemon From Lemons, 1974 Datsun 200Z
If you think something about this Datsun 280Z looks a little off, you’re wrong: It’s a lot off. Straight from the encyclopedia of “things that have never been done before, and for good reason,” this West Coast team took a hooptie-ass Datsun and swapped in a Chevy motor. By that, we don’t mean that they took the Circle K-proven route of shoving a 350 in the nose–no, these guys took an entire front-wheel-drive drivetrain from a Cobalt SS and stuck it in the back. Did it totally rule? If you mean, did it move under its own power for any period of time, and did it refrain from killing anybody, then yes, it ruled.

09-yugo
SpankSquat, 1986 Yugo GV
Because Spank had a 1986 Hyundai Excel, he felt that it was only right to also race a 1986 Yugo GV. The first time we’d seen a Yugo in LeMons, it ended up on its roof during its very first lap at Thunderhill, but Spank and his team managed to get some decent lap times out of their Yugo, winning the Index of Effluency in the process. The team’s theme combined the 1999 NATO bombing of the Yugo factory and Squatting Slavs in Tracksuits.

12-eagle-vision
White Trash Racing’s Redheaded Bastard Stepchild, 1993 Eagle Vision TSi
White Trash Racing entered 2016 with one goal: Run the most laps ever for a Chrysler LH platform in LeMons. Given that he previous record was two laps, that seemed an attainable goal, but few people understand the depth of horrors endemic in that platform, which was an evolution of the Renault 25 (via the Eagle Premier). White Trash Racing found this out the hard way; on the way to the grid at its first race at Autobahn Country Club in July 2016, one of the belt pulleys spontaneously disassembled in protest. It all bolted back together and soon the Vision was on track with the indecisive automatic transmission choking away all the massive horsepower left in the “high-output” 3.5-liter V6. The Eagle Vision did indeed smash the two-lap record for the LH platform at that first race, but the scene above is what happened when they raced it a second time at the Decade of Disappointment race at Gingerman Raceway in October. Unable to solve at least four different issues with the car, White Trash instead elected to send it directly to The Crusher.

13-jeep
Jeepstang, 1956 Jeep CJ-5
We could get into the nitty-gritty details of the Jeepstang build, but the main thing is that it’s a Jeep CJ-5 mashed up with Econoline and Mustang parts, and it looks awesome on track. What more do you need to know?

13-torino
The Striped Tomatoes, 1974 Ford Torino
This team wanted to build a replica of the Starsky & Hutch Gran Torino, and they succeeded… in building a sort of 500-footer version, which shed rust flakes and elderly Ford parts all over the track. We approve.

14-bluesmobile-1
Interceptor Motorsports, 1976 Plymouth Fury Bluesmobile
Over the years, LeMons has seen many a lame “Bluesmobile,” usually made from an ex-police Ford Crown Victoria or a Camaro or something. Interceptor Motorsports at last brought a legitimate mid-’70s Mopar sedan to put to bed at last all the super-lame Blues Brothers themes. The Pennsylvania-based team actually drove all the way to Iowa to pick up a ’76 Plymouth Fury and then a hodgepodge of same-era Mopar parts–including a Roadkill-approved motorhome big-block 440–completed the Bluesmobile. It’s not exactly a ’74 Monaco, but we’re not going to be sticklers for that kind of detail, lest we unleash the wrath of The Penguin or Illinois Nazis.

15-avanti
R. Loewy Racing, 1963 Studebaker Avanti
A non-perfect Studebaker Avanti is worth about a tenth of what Internet Car Experts say it is, though the real-world value of a running Avanti still costs more than the 500 bucks in the official LeMons rules. However, we created a budget exmemption for Avantis, because wouldn’t any sane race organizer?

15-nascar-sunbird
Low Road Racing, 1976 Pontiac Sunbird
LeMons organizers ordinarily scoff at accurate race-car tributes–we don’t want people to think we’re serious, for Pete’s sake. But, if your race-car tribute is a bizarro-world miniature version of a lesser-known car and driver from Malaise-era NASCAR, then we’ll happily make an exception. And as if this Sunbird-based Tim Richmond tribute wasn’t enough, the team bribed the judges with cases of Old Milwaukee–the only catch was that the beer isn’t sold in Washington state, so they had to make a demented 8-hour Smokey and the Bandit run to Oregon to get it. And all they had was the non-alcoholic version.

16-amx
Well Done Racing, 2001 BMW Z3 (1969 Alabama Made Xperiment AMC OMG AMX)
In 2015, this Alabama team decided that they were done racing Don Dokken’s reliability-challenged Dodge Daytona. They found a crashed BMW Z3 on Copart, sold off lots of parts to get the price tag well below 500 bucks (and, crucially, documented those parts sales with obsessive precision and convinced us that their budget was legitimate). Still, many racers disapproved of the sight of such a not-in-the-spirit-of-LeMons car on our tracks, and the team finally asked, “How can we make y’all love our car?” The answer? Convert it into an AMC AMX… which they went ahead and did in staggeringly accurate fashion, because they work at a well-known hot-rod shop in Birmingham and have Skilz™. We’ll do a full feature on this car’s build in the near future, so prepare yourselves.

60s-cars-valiant
Slant Six, 1964 Plymouth Valiant Signet
The back yards and rural fields of this country are full of old Detroit cars just waiting for someone to rescue them, and Team Slant Six plucked this ’64 Valiant, Slant-6 engine, four-on-the-floor, and all, and raced it in more or less stock form. It competed against a ’64 Dart and a ’64 Fairlane in its inaugural race, for a sort of on-track homage to 1964.

16-electrica-007
Duff Beer Racing, 1981 Jet Electrica 007
We want more electric cars to compete in the 24 Hours of LeMons, and so the LeMons Supreme Court has issued an exemption from the $500 budget for expenses related to batteries, electric motors, and charging systems. Strangely, only one car— the Hoonatic Racing Datsun Roadster— had taken advantage of this loophole prior to 2016, but then the Duff Beer guys scored a numbers-matching 1981 Jet Electrica 007. This car, based on the Plymouth TC3, boasted 25 horsepower, a 4-speed manual transmission, and 1,000 pounds of lead-acid batteries. It was slow and it had to stop for a battery swap every dozen or so laps, but it worked. Future plans for this car include a modern EV’s lithium-ion battery pack, and we’ll get you the entire story when Duff Beer returns to the track.

16-gto
NSF Racing, 1967 Pontiac LeMans “GTO”
A GTO for 500 bucks? screamed the global Internet Car Experts Community when they saw NSF Racing’s beautiful ’67 unveiled at the South Fall race. In reality, it was a rusty-ass LeMans, dragged out of a Georgia swamp, given a 301 out of a ’79 Bonneville, coated with Bondo and red and white brush-applied Rustoleum (the colors that were on sale at NSF’s local hardware store). It drove pretty well for what it was, only overheated every dozen or so laps, and won the Index of Effluency at that race.

16-stingiata
Boondoggle Racing, 1991 Mazda Stingata Corvette Bummer
Take a Mazda Miata, make a brilliant plan, add thousands of hours of body and paint modification, and you get the Boondoggle Racing Corvette Bummer Stingata. Yes, this car debuted at the same race as the GTO, the Z3 AMX, the ’64 Valiant, and the Jet Electrica 007.

18-ramblero
Wasted Potential, 1963 Rambler American “Ramblero”
While the “Race Rambler” struggled to travel the country all year with its “built” Ford Pinto engine, another California team was turning its own ’63 Rambler into a far more potent race car. Wasted Potential chopped the back of the beat-up old car off, turning it into a “Ramblero” and then added some of the most badass sheet-metal work we’ve seen in LeMons in a long time. The team kept it a straight-six, but instead of the anemic AMC six they used the beefy Ford 300 from a pickup truck to scurry around Buttonwillow Raceway Park in October.

18-shopping-cart
Get Off the Tracks!!!, 1997 Ford Crown Victoria
This rookie effort started in a familiar way: Buy an existing LeMons car and re-theme it. That plan hit an early snag, however, when LeMons staffers told the team that their brilliant idea of making a replica of Thomas the Tank engine had already been done. Switching quickly to Plan B, they showed up at Buttonwillow with a giant shopping cart on the roof. We’d call that mostly a success: the only thing missing was a bunch of oversized groceries.

18-spank-j-spankson
The Paddock vs Spank J. Spankson, 1993 Ford-ish Broncmoke
Mike “Spank” Spangler (yes, this is the third Spank entry on this list) has made a name for himself over the years in LeMons with his collection of bizarre and terrible cars, usually showing up with anywhere from one to four cars that are only partially complete. For the race at Buttonwillow, however, Spank brought his top game. Not only did he have all seven of his entries (almost) running when he showed up at the track, he also had turned them all into a “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson” theme that replicated The Juice’s slow-speed Bronco chase. Spank’s Austin Mini Moke got the “Ford Bronco” treatment, while his Austin America, Austin Mini, Hyundai Excel, Yugo GV, MG Metro, and Harley-powered Toyota Prius (aka the Toyohog) served as the police chase vehicles. This was the final race for many of these cars, and what better send-off could Spank give than by having all of them race at once?

19-48-plymouth
Bad Decisions Racing, 1948 Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan
Bad Decisions Racing found a deal on an abandoned restoration project, caged it, raced it, and had zero mechanical problems all weekend. Just look at it! If you’re shopping for a new LeMons car, consider this: flathead engines (we have several competing) have been very reliable in our series.

19-matador
Rusty Bucket Racers, 1975 AMC Matador coupe
LeMons had somehow never seen an AMC Matador until the series’ 10th anniversary race at Gingerman, but the Rusty Bucket Racers dug up a spectacular first example. And it looks very much like they dug it up. From the bottom of a salt pile. At the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The Matador was always the Javelin’s homely relative, but this might have been the ugliest of the ugly (and therefore was perfect for LeMons). The team had to replace the broken windshield at the last minute, which set them back, but the decrepit AMC V8 sputtered long enough to earn the inaugural Spec Land Yacht trophy. If it didn’t crumble into pieces on the tow home, we expect what’s left of it will return for more racing.

19-metsho
Charnal House Racing, 1994 Geo Metro Awful Computer “Porsche 935”
Charnal House Racing have built some incredible LeMons-grade liveries and bodywork on their mid-engine, SHO-powered Geo Metro. The entire car is a masterpiece of junkyard scavenging and engineering, but the most-recent iteration knocked everything up a notch. The team built a fantastic Porsche 935 replica body on the little Geo and, for good measure, force-fed the SHO V6 with take-off turbos from a Le Mans Prototype that the team sent them.

19-morrowdorado
Team Due to Insurance Premiums Too Damn High We Shall Remain Nameless, twin-engined 1971 Cadillac Eldorado
The Team Formerly Known as Morrow’s Racing took it on the challenge of a 1,000 cubic-inch, 16-cylinder Cadillac more or less as a dare from the LeMons Supreme Court. While Dirt Every Day did the same with a convertible in a week, the team led by Dave Morrow required a more methodical approach to make the big Eldo last and to meet LeMons more stringent safety requirements. The build ultimately beat the hell out of the team, but they arrived at Gingerman in October with both Cadillac 500 engines purring and the first stint in the car went well, aside from burning more than 20 gallons of gas in an hour. Unfortunately, the front engine tossed a rod through the block and to retain power steering and power brakes, the team had to undergo the grueling 24-hour process to move the rear engine to the front engine bay. That earned them a Heroic Fix and, more importantly, tons of credibility for building one of the most insane race cars of all time.

19-radio-failyer
A Quart Low, 1994 Honda Del Sol Calvin and Hobbes Radio Failyer Wagon
At almost any other race, this awesome little red wagon would have won Organizer’s Choice, but the field for the 10th Anniversary race at Gingerman was so packed with insane cars that they instead had to take home the I Got Screwed for not getting Organizer’s Choice. The wagon was built from a Honda Del Sol (following Del Sol LeMons tradition by making the car unrecognizable) and A Quart Low got all the details right: a functional handle that locked in place while racing, plastic-bowl hubcaps, Calvin and Hobbes (of course), and some very nicely shaped sheet metal hanging from fencepost.

19-slabdoba
Zero Budget Racing, 1975 Chrysler SLABdoba
Over-the-top automotive trends get a lot of love in LeMons, whether it’s donk, Bosozoku, or SLAB. What’s a SLAB, you ask? It’s a Houston thing, wherein one takes a sufficiently large American car (or a Maserati, if you have one lying around), and applies SLAB-specific equipment: elbows (a.k.a. swangas, wire wheels that poke out absurdly far), an automatic-pop trunklid with a neon slogan on its underside, and a unibody-flexing sound system. And the term “SLAB” itself? Some say it stands for Slow, Loud and Bangin.’ Zero Budget Racing’s, shall we say, corrosionally challenged, Chrysler Cordoba was all of those things–especially the first one.

20-new-yorker
ERM Racing, 1952 Chrysler New Yorker
By the time we got to the Halloween Hooptiefest in New Hampshire, we figured that we’d seen all the big ol’ postwar Detroit cars we would be seeing for the year. Nope! ERM Racing followed up their Doof Wagon with this 1952 New Yorker, complete with industrial 413 Wedge engine and Miss Daisy’s skeleton in the back seat. We’ve already done a feature on this car, so go read it right now.

21-gremlin
Team Lowball, 1974 AMC Gremlin X Levi’s Edition
American Motors did some odd co-branding deals during the 1970s, including such classics as the Oleg Cassini Matador, but the Levi’s Edition AMCs may have been the weirdest, no doubt the result of the Weathermen putting STP in Kenosha’s water supply. Team Lowball managed to find a for-real Gremlin X Levi’s Edition, minus the faux-denim interior, and it now races in Texas.

ioe-9
Four Yak Press Racing, 1952 Willys Aero-Lark
For the last race of the season, one of the best cars we saw all year: this 1952 Willys Aero-Lark, winner of the Arse Freeze-a-Palooza Index of Effluency.

top-1
Did we overlook your favorite totally deserving car this time? Hey, sorry about that— we’re (all too) human here in the Bondo-encrusted, held-together-with-zipties Roadkill home of the 24 Hours of LeMons. Just check in here and maybe you’ll see a feature on your team’s car, or just berate us for our oversight in person at our next race. That’ll be the ‘Shine Country Classic in Birmingham, Alabama, preceded by the Napoleon’s Retreat From Moscow LeMons Rally.