A couple weeks back I asked for people to "go nuts, and then send me some pictures", and the good news is some of you did. The better news is the pictures have so far been of cars and not grainy pictures of genitals, which on the Internet is a big deal. This week I'd like to feature the work of one particularly bonkers car hacker. He's building a twin-engine '86 Ford Escort.
Twelve cylinders, 6.6L, all-wheels-driven— it's just like a Lamborghini, according to builder Chris Moore. I can't see any real difference between this and a Lamborghini, except one's a sublime piece of Italianate design and the other's built out of crap. Still, the Little Lamb-orghini (named for the Little Lambs charity Moore's raising money for) is a pretty terrific car hack.
The Escort's going to be a road-legal race car, with a swapped Zetec in the front and a big Lincoln V8 in the rear. I've raced an Escort before, and while I'm not going to pretend it was any, um, good, I did develop a fondness and respect for the little cars.
I contacted Chris and asked him why in God's name he'd want to do something this batshit, and here's what he had to say:
What in God's name made me want to do this batshit and wonderful thing? Well, this started out initially with the intention of being a pretty conventional project. My buddies and I were (and still are, sort of) campaigning a 1986 Ford Escort in crapcan racing.
We thought it would be cool to build a street-legal replica of the race car to get some seat time on the morning commute, and eventually replace our tired Escort race car with a slightly less tired one. To be somewhat competitive and make parts easier to find, we upgraded the engine to a 16V Zetec, a swap that is not remarkably hard to do on the race car, and planned to do the same for the street car. I also wanted to take the car on the BABE rally (www.baberally.com) to shake out bugs, have some fun with the Mrs., and see what it would be like to run my "race" car at Deals Gap, and surrounding roads. Found a $500 Craigslist Escort, bought it. Found a $500 Contour engine donor, bought that too. Project was thus in motion.
In 2011 we ran the BABE to raise money for a toddler playground at a local children's center. Thinking this may have earned me a little extra karma to burn (and I surely burned it all) we decided to choose a charity to run it for again this year. We chose Little Lambs of Evansville (www.littlelambsevansville.com) which is a local charity that helps needy families and kids with material goods and coordinating services. With this as our charity, we started to think up a name for our team and car. The name that immediately came to us was "Little Lamb-orghini". Little Lambs - get it?
Then the 2012 BABE rally rules were released, which stated that there would be bonus points for any car with more than 6 liters displacement. Well, that sounded a bit like a challenge, and given that and the fact that I was planning on parading around with a 2-liter Ford Escort and calling it a "Lamb-orghini" I just had to figure out some way of making it a bit more Lamborghini-like. At this point most sane people would have painted a Countach triangle on the door and called it done. But during some bench racing one night shortly thereafter (there may have been a few beers involved) I made some sort of statement to the effect of 'yeah, I bet I could totally put a V8 motor in the back of that car. Then I'd have 12 cylinders, AWD, over 6 litres - It would be like a Lamborghini in every way that matters!"
The next day at work was a little slow, and I was surfing the Craigslist. I found a '97 Lincoln Continental for $550 not too far from home. Lets see... '97 Lincoln Continental - 4.6 32V Modular V8 motor in a front-wheel-drive configuration... For whatever reason I had banked just enough crazy go get it and start putting this plan into motion for real. The rest of the story is pretty obvious from just looking at the car.
Despite that the car has now been over 3500 miles with a V8 in the back seat, the project is not done yet - not even nearly. Literally just last night I fitted the car with the aluminum racing seat we'll need to take it to the track. It lacks a boatload of tuning, and we're just now even getting the throttle on the V8 to function properly. Realistically, it will still be in early 'beta test' in time for the GRM challenge, but we're working hard to make the best showing we can.
Twin engine cars have been experimented with for years— Citröen even had one in production. So this little brute has a good pedigree to live up too. In the sort of low-budget racing that the Little Lamb-orghini is competing in, a second engine usually just means twice the troubles. But I'm confident this will be the exception, and it'll just be twice as much fun. Or three times as much, if you're going by cylinders.