PCH, Legends of LeMons Edition: V12 Jaguar or V8 Dune Buggy?

The 429 Mustang II put up a good fight in yesterday's Choose Your Eternity poll, but only a French or Italian car really stands a chance against a Triumph GT6 when it comes to true Project Car Hell. Still, every so often you need to let a PCH underdog take on one of the superpowers. We're going to try it again today, with a British machine squaring off against a German-American mashup, only this time the theme is much different. One thing I've noticed with the cheaper PCH cars is the Super LeMons Potential many commenters observe in the entrants, and so today we're going to look at a couple of cars that would immediately bestow Legend In Their Own Time status upon any team entering either one in a 24 Hours of LeMons race. Each is priced below the $500 mark, each could (in theory) be a credible race car, and each would leave onlookers stunned with a potent mixture of awe, fear, and pity.


When you're showing up at the track with your $500 race car, four cylinders under the hood is ho-hum. Six is a little better, and eight will get you some respect. But when you pop the bonnet and reveal a V-12 beneath, the resulting shocked silence in the pits will be gratifying indeed. Now, there's no way in hell you'll ever get a German V12 machine for under $500 (well, no way that will convince the LeMons judges, at any rate), but folks have this completely justified totally irrational fear of the V12-equipped Jaguar XJ-S... and that means it's deal time! Say, a deal such as this 1991 Jaguar XJ-S (go here if the ad disappears) with an asking price of $500 (which smells like an actual price of more like $300, or some "game room things"). It comes with two V12s, so you have to figure you can make one runner, right? Hell yes! Then you're sure to be able to sell off plenty of unneeded parts on eBay (hey, if I can sell $350 worth of parts off an '84 Volvo, anything is possible) after you've gutted the half-ton of leather and wood from the car. Now, since it's a '91 you'll need to deal with some of the Lucas electrics if you want the engine ECU to function, but maybe all those Prince of Darkness jokes have no foundation in real experience! Get a rollcage in it, put some Cherry Bombs on that sweet-sounding V12, and get ready to leave those peasants in their lesser cars in your dust at the race!

Roaring onto the track in a V12 Jag would get you some respect, all right, but you wouldn't appear to be a total madman with that choice. Sure, your team would look like the greatest mechanics who ever lived if your Jag managed to finish 25 laps under its own power, but where's the Lunatic Factor? That's why you need to consider a car with a 5/95 weight distribution, primitive suspension, and a flimsy fiberglass body. Something, for example, such as this VW-based dune buggy with Olds Toronado transaxle assembly (go here if the ad disappears), which has an asking price of only $450 (or a "NEW OR NEWER HIGHER END LAPTOP"). It doesn't come with the 455 engine, but that's no problem. You see, that transmission has the BOP bolt pattern, which means a huge range of Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac V8s- all available in $50 junker cars in a location near you- may be bolted right in. Oh, and did we mention that Cadillac V8s also used the BOP pattern? No? That means the 500-cube V8 out of the Eldorado will bolt right onto this baby! Just imagine it, if you can: a spindly VW dune buggy with a five hundred cubic inch engine hanging off the back! You might have some oversteer problems at the race, not to mention interesting handling characteristics when you pull the front wheels off the ground under hard acceleration, but you'll have the advantage of a wide berth from all the other drivers on the track. We recommend a really good roll cage, and even better life insurance!

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