Why Race a BMW? Race a Family Truckster!

24 Hours of LeMons race cars made to look like well-known movie cars go back to the earliest days of the series. We’ve seen dozens of Smokey and the Bandit “Trans Ams” and Back To the Future “DeLoreans” over the years, executed with varying degrees of faithfulness to the original, but what we really needed was a down-to-the-last-detail perfect Vacation Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Thanks to Speedycop and his Gang of Outlaws, we got just that at the 2014 South Fall race.

DSC_5311A bit of LeMons Family Truckster history is in order here. The first was this Pinto wagon, which competed in California races during the 2008-2010 period.

DSC_5502A Volvo can be a Family Truckster, but you need more than just some thrift-store luggage tied to the roof and HONKEY LIPS sprayed on the side to impress us.

IMG_6127This BMW E36 was the first LeMons Family Truckster to sport the proper number of functional headlights. Still, we wanted more.

20140830_165449Enter Speedycop, a Washington D.C. police officer with limitless energy and a magical ability to motivate teammates to help with his crazed projects. The list of his team’s great LeMons cars is far too long to get into here (we suggest taking a look at the Spirit of LeMons Cessna, the Pontiac Bonneville Donk, the Racing Trailer, the BMWhatever, the Rented Rustwagon, and the V12 Thunderbird in order to get a quick overview of Speedy’s particular brand of madness), so he decided it was time to take on the Family Truckster challenge. The original Truckster built for the movie by George Barris started life as a 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire, so the Gang of Outlaws found a running example of this Detroit classic as their starting point.

20140915_124947_resized_1Getting the correct eight-headlight front end required a great deal of fabrication using junkyard LTD sheet metal and endless hours of labor. Here’s Gang of Outlaws member John Cox at work. Cox also did the car’s wood trim.

20140915_153508_resized_1We’ll let Speedycop describe the build process in his own words:

Built in two weeks working long hours daily, primarily by John Cox, Don Trevett, and myself. Other Outlaws helped though on the weekends. I missed a week of work building it—my last week of vacation time. Rear window trim was shortened and pieces swapped from side to side for the window alterations. Plywood was Gorilla glued to the glass, and then covered in Bondo, to make the windows smaller. Photos of the build are all by me, with my cell phone. John Cox did the headlights and real wood trim, Don Trevett did the Bondo work and helped prep for paint, Jaime did much of the sanding. I did the cage, the roof treatment, the paint, the vinyl, etc.

20140916_133124_resized_1If you want a genuine Wagon Queen Family Truckster that looks like it just rolled out of the Lou Glutz showroom, you need to invest a lot of sweat. Keep in mind that this car not only had to look just like a Truckster, it had to be a genuine fully-caged road-race vehicle, complete with all the safety gear needed for that purpose.

IMG_2480When the Truckster debuted at the South Fall inspections (which take place after a parade through Camden, South Carolina), crowds gathered in awe. Every detail was perfect.

IMG_2482Yes, it’s numbers-matching correct, right down to the dog leash tied to the rear bumper!

IMG_3663At this point, we didn’t much care how well the Speedycop Truckster performed on the race track. Most of the time, an old car in its first race will suffer from repeated breakdowns as worn-out parts break, electrical components fail, the fuel system gets clogged with shaken-loose schmutz, and so on. The next day, the checkered flag waved, the race began… and the Family Truckster ran and ran and ran.

IMG_3512Being a massive station wagon with a low-compression Malaise Era engine wheezing away under the hood, the Family Truckster wasn’t particularly fast. However, it ran just about the entire weekend, finished 73rd out of 110 entries, and brought home yet another Index of Effluency trophy for Speedycop and the Gang of Outlaws. What’s next? Well, we’re looking forward to seeing the 16-cylinder, twin-engined Lincoln Continental do some LeMons dominating, once the bugs are worked out.

Roadkill Fall 2016 Cover