Hella Sweet Lemons Car of the Week: A Real (Bad) Quad 4-powered Oldsmobile W41

The Sheepshaggers, headed by a man known in the paddock as Kiwi Steve who some may know as a tech inspector at Speed Week, didn’t bring the first Quad 4-powered car to a 24 Hours of Lemons race, but they may very well have brought the worst. The team has raced a battle-scarred, reasonably reliable third-generation Chevy Camaro for half a decade. However, the true Quad 4 enthusiasts on the Sheepshaggers—they’ve used Quad 4 engines at Bonneville and in some street rods—make a case for their horrendous Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais 442 as a candidate for second-worst Lemons car of all-time (with the absolute worst well-established).

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For whatever reason, the car was themed as a Latter-Day Saints missionary recruiting tool and, as it turns out, it was considerably less effective than the Mormons themselves. When the Olds debuted at Buttonwillow Raceway in 2011 for Arse-Freeze-A-Palooza, the Sheepshaggers got exactly one complete lap with the car because of what can only be assumed was circumstance and not crippling Quad 4 reliability issues. There was some scrambling for a junkyard Quad 4, which also blew up.

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Not to worry, Kiwi Steve said, and the 442 got a refresh for Arse-Sweat-A-Palooza in 2012, also at Buttonwillow. The middle of summer is suboptimal for racing in California’s desert, but the Quad 4 tempered expectations and powered the Sheepshaggers’ whip to a 400 percent increase in race miles with a whopping 5 laps! If you notice a lack of photos that show the Olds on the track, that’s because calculating the right time to catch excrementally bad race cars on the race track parallels that of calculating Earth-to-moon trajectories by hand.

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Brace yourself, knowers of valuable things: This car is one of the 200 W41 models built for SCCA Showroom Stock racing with the high-output 190 horsepower version of the Quad 4. And when the Sheepshaggers were done with it, you could have bought it from the team for just $1,000. 

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But you didn’t and someone else did. As Lemons’ (and real-world) economics proves time and again: “Rare” seldom equals “valuable.”

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We’re looking forward to seeing this car again, eventually, when it will compete in Class C under the sweeping “loophole” for all Quad 4-powered cars. You could be next, though: Bring an Achieva SCX or find another 442 W41 rotting in someone’s Back 40. Failure is only not possible.

Roadkill Fall 2016 Cover