Ah, family road trips. What could be more fun than arguing for 2,000 miles with siblings, spouses, and parents? I suppose family vacations differ, but the Monterey Car Weeeeak Lemons Rally included several teams composed of family members. Those family members largely seemed to have kept from strangling each other and, believe it or not, they generally seemed to enjoy the time spent with each other. As we reported last week, the overall winners were brothers in law in a Volkswagen-based dune buggy while siblings from Canada won the Organizer’s Choice. For more family fun, read on.
Twin brothers Jim and David Forbes ran the first rally in an Edsel last year. You probably read that story in Roadkill Magazine or on the website. This year, the dynamic duo went with another famously dumped-on American classic: the Corvair.
The solar panel on the front did not, as many people asked, power the whole car. Solar panels fall well short of powering entire cars, as evidenced by the fact that production cars don’t all have solar panels to power electric motors. “Do the math,” as Jim wrote on the solar panel.
Instead, the twin brothers harnessed the sun to power something more important: the reel-to-reel deck in the back and classic speakers in the back. Priorities.
Many other teams used the Monterey Car Weeeeak as an excuse for a long father-son road trip. Xavier Brown brought his dad Kelly along for the ride in the World’s Nicest Chevy Corsica. Not only was it super clean, it also was an insanely rare five-speed manual version with the 2.8-liter V6. Xavier added some GM parts-Lego’ing to put on some sweet Sparco wheels and Wilwood brakes. Rally competitors were strangely magnetized to this Corsica.
Dan Nelson’s 14-year-old son Cody not only told him about the Lemons Rally, he also helped his dad find the car they would run. Their 1975 Plymouth Duster had at one time been used as a 318-powered drag car but was borderline derelict when they scored it. Dan put it back to reasonably roadworthy condition and drove it to the rally’s start from Seattle. He picked up Cody at the airport on his way north from registration and away they went on the adventure.
Things went well until the third day when they reached southern Washington, where the exhaust broke. Nelson didn’t want fumes affecting them on the long haul south to Bend, so he called ahead to an exhaust shop in Goldendale, Washington. The shop tender asked what kind of car before they said they’d do the work and said “OK” when told it was a mid-’70s Duster. When they showed up, the shop was full of Mopars and the owner happily welded up the exhaust because “It wasn’t a Chevy.” The owner showed them around before his Mopar collection before sending them on the way with some extra parts. He only accepted cash after Nelson insisted.
Unfortunately, a differential failure meant they didn’t make it to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk on Friday night, but they repaired it in time to show up for the Concours d’Lemons with a father-son roadtrip story they won’t soon forget.
Chris Floren also brought his dad Earl along for the rally. Chris, who co-founded Daily Turismo, wanted a semi-comfortable ride for his pops, so he bought the old stunt-driving Crown Vic owned by Eyesore Racing’s Dave Coleman and Sarah Fairfield. That may have been a fairly plush ride for the rally, but Chris helped flat-tow the busted MR2 50 miles to a Bend junkyard. He then made sure that team’s replacement Ford Festiva Roadster made it all the way south to Santa Cruz.
In addition to having one of the best names on the rally, Crash Westerlin also had a great car, a 1976 Chevy Vega Wagon, to drive with his son Craig. During Rally registration, we learned that Crash has a bit of a thing for Vegas. “No, I don’t collect them,” Crash said. His son Craig quietly told us his dad had owned a pile of them over the years.
Whatever else you can about the Vega, the Westerlins Wagon survived the rally without major issue. For all the wear and tear on the outside, the interior looked pretty comfy. While it wasn’t setting land-speed records up the steep grades, the Vega’s old four-cylinder deserves some props for surviving the rally.
Gary Lieb and his Daniel join the short list of competitors who have run all three Lemons Rallies so far. Gary had intended to bring an AMC Pacer—which would have made two on this rally—but the car didn’t come together in time. Instead, Gary and Daniel made the journey in a Mazda Miata.
Of course, the rally wasn’t all fathers and sons. Two teams featured mother-and-son teams. Johan Samanta has raced a couple dozen times in the 24 Hours of Lemons with a Toyota Corolla Wagon and a cheaty Volkswagen Beetle. For his maiden voyage on the Lemons Rally, Johan drove his Porsche 356 Speedster Replica, a Volkswagen-based kit car. He also brought along his Swedish mother Ann-Marie to see the Pacific Northwest.
The topless Speedster proved awfully chilly on the wind-swept coastal sections of Highway 101 in Oregon. However, Ann-Marie weathered it like you’d expect any Scandinavian and by all accounts, she enjoyed the long trip and the accompanying sights.
Bryan Toller also brought his mother, Sharyl, along for the rally. Bryan has run his ‘85 Pontiac Trans Am in several Gambler 500 events, but this time around, he thought he’d take a crack at an on-road rally. For comfort, he made coolseats using surgical tubing and a cooler packed with icy water. The Trans Am ran on big knobby tires with a spare mounted on a homemade Continental kit, which Bryan insisted had taken more time than any other part of the car.
The coolseats didn’t cool as well as they’d hoped through California’s Central Valley and through Oregon’s high desert, but Bryan and Sharyl made it all the way to end regardless. They even picked up shirts at the rally’s last checkpoint in Weed, California.
In addition to siblings and parents, several couples also celebrated marriage milestones by heading on a 2,100-mile road rally. Few people equate tired old cars and long road trips with love, but if you find someone who can put those two together, you dang-well had better be willing to spend 2,000 miles in a hooptie with them. Christopher Blizzard and Shona Blizzard-Derr borrowed this 1966 Cadillac DeVille to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary with a trip up the West Coast.
We can’t think of anything more fitting than a Nimitz-class Caddy for celebrating two decades of nuptials. The thrift-store wedding get-ups earned them much praise and also free coffee at one stop. However, just as wedding reception costs spiral out of control, so too did the oil budget for the Caddy’s 425 cubic-inch V8.
Enough oil reached the combustion chamber that the spark plugs fouled about every 300 miles (top photo. To add to that, enough oil “vanished” that they had poured in nearly six gallons of 20W-50 by the time a transmission issue finally defeated the Caddy in Weed, California. Shona hitched a ride with rally organizers in their “Shrimpmobile” while Christopher rode back with a friend in a tow vehicle.
The couple met up later in Seaside. By that time, they had dropped off the Cadillac at the race shop where Chris’ Bricklin Lemons car lives and picked up their two children. The younger one enjoyed some seat time in the third-place MG Midget.
Ginger and Mark Garff also celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary aboard an American-class luxobarge. Their 1979 Lincoln Mark V Collector’s Edition was the single most expensive American car sold that model year. They took home a Dishonorable Mention trophy from the event; you can read more about them here.
While the Blizzards and Garffs celebrated anniversaries on the rally, Kris Karmel and Grace Schlader celebrated a different milestone in another land yacht. At one of the more picturesque checkpoints in Oregon, Kris proposed to Grace. She said yes and they spent the rally’s next two days meandering the Pacific Northwest in their original-engine 1963 Buick Wildcat.
When they bought the car originally, Kris and Grace found a McDonald’s coupon from at least the 1970s. They also found documents showing that the original owners had lived just blocks from where Kris and Grace live in Colorado.
The Wildcat made it most of the way through the rally until an ignition issue halted the car in Santa Cruz just blocks from the hotels full of rally participants. Several teams and members walked to them to revive the Buick. The points distributor was probably knackered and the car wouldn’t idle enough to get into gear. What do you do then? Well, one hoontastic rally participant coaxed it with a “gentle” neutral drop that only left a little tire smoke on the way to the host hotel.
The Buick still didn’t run right in the morning, but Kris and Grace were determined to reach the rally’s finish line. They used a free AAA tow to drop the Wildcat directly in front of Seaside City Hall, which hosted the Lemons Rally awards next to the Concours d’Lemons. We can’t think of many situations where getting your car towed directly to city hall won’t get you arrested.
After the rally, the newly engaged couple found some more help sorting the car and then drove it home—a few issues aside—to Colorado. That engagement story is tough to beat, too. Congrats!
We’ll have two more short round-ups from the Monterey Car Weeeeak Rally soon right here on Roadkill. You can also find lots more stories from the rally on Instagram by searching #LemonsRally. We also know that rally organizers are planning the next East Coast rally as you read this. Stay tuned to the Lemons Rally Facebook and Instagram pages for announcements on that.