We’ve seen plenty of notoriously leaky, dimly-flickering, and generally spectacular British cars in our series since the first Lemons race in 2006, but in all this time we’d never experienced the joy of having the worst (i.e., the best, in Lemons terms) British sports car of all on one of our tracks: the Triumph Stag. Finally, at the South Fall 2018 race, Duff Beer Racing filled our lives with happiness by racing a Stag.
Duff Beer Racing started out in Lemons back in 2011, with a pretty ordinary Honda Civic. Then the madness gradually took hold, leading to a double-digit-horsepower Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan and a Jet Electrica 007 electric car. Just as marijuana leads to heroin, so do such spectacularly awesome/terrible hooptie race cars lead to… a Stag.
The Stag had all the usual British Leyland quality issues, but what sets it apart from your everyday Spitfire or XJ6 is the engine: a V8 made from two Triumph Slant-4s and featuring a timing chain that could wrap around the perimeter of a basketball court (and then break while just sitting there). The Duff car, like nearly all Stags, exploded its Triumph V8 before Gerald Ford was out of the White House, and someone swapped in a late-1970s, odd-fire 3.8-liter Buick V6. With a 3-speed automatic and 115 horsepower, the Duff Stag wouldn’t be the slowest car on the track.
These cars, which sold for about the same price as a new Cadillac Calais, have a devoted following today. Even though the Duff Stag is a rusty, basket-case parts car with the “wrong” engine and was purchased for 200 bucks, we can expect outrage from the global Stag community.
When the Stag drove in the traditional parade through Camden, SC, before the race, the crowd seemed to think it looked very snazzy.
The car is decorated with Stag lore; this stuff will ensure extra rage from the kneebreakers of the Triumph Stag Preservation and Restoration Society. The good news is that all their timing chains will break on the way to their vendetta.
Oh, sure, stuff broke. The low-quality clips used to hold the fuel and brake lines in the driveshaft tunnel failed, and the unnecessarily complex line routing ensured that the driveshaft would sever those lines. Everything that could leak fluid did so, and various Lucas Electrics components acted up.
The Duff Beer Racing crew kept the Stag running, though, and it circled the track 120 times. That’s 273 miles of racing, good for 67th place out of 84 entries.
120 laps is about 20 times as many as the wise and fair judges of the Lemons Supreme Court expected, and so the Index of Effluency went to Duff Beer Racing.