5 Lemons cars to adore at the Rust Belt GP this weekend

The Lemons Rust Belt GP presented by Autoweek is headed to Gingerman Raceway this weekend. Here’s a taste of what you can expect to see on the track.

What better celebration of America’s auto-building capital could there be than the 24 Hours of Lemons? Yes, Autoweek is the presenting sponsor of Lemons’ Rust Belt GP this weekend (June 28-30) at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan. That means a celebration of American heaps, those who built them and those who race them.

With a very special (and secret) trophy on the line for the Rust Beltiest vehicle, Lemons would love nothing more than a field of Buick LeSabres and Ford Aerostars. While the Rust Belt GP features the usual garden variety of janky machinery, here are five particularly fantastic American-built(-ish) crapcans to get excited for at the Rust Belt GP presented by Autoweek.

 

The V10-powered Trolls Royce is a sophisticated bend of Rolls Royce subtlety and Dodge Viper, er, anti-subtlety.

A Dodge Viper V10 powers this Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, aka the Trolls Royce. Yes, that is absurd. Yes, it probably pushes the boundaries of the $500 car, especially since its builder so well executed it. However, its very concept so exemplifies the idea of “Build a Bad Idea and Race It” that the budget scarcely matters. It debuted at the same race last year, completing approximately eight laps (about 17 miles) before the Viper V10’s connecting rods made a successful escape.

This is a good time to mention that the car’s builder, a long-haired man name Darko, runs an exotic-car scrapping business out of a dark and musty Detroit warehouse. We say this because after blowing up one V10, he just returned to Detroit for another to swap in. Curiously, even though he’s disassembled millions of dollars worth of cars, Darko had never built a car before the Detroit-built Trolls Royce. He did a pretty decent job.


Why didn’t anyone think to drape a Cadillac Seville body over the bones of a third-gen Camaro sooner? Actually, don’t answer that.

The Ta-Tas’ third-generation Camaro is powered by a 5.3-liter Chevy truck engine, giving it enough grunt to win several races outright. At Lemons’ urging, the team rebodied the car as a bustleback Cadillac Seville. They did an extremely convincing job Seville-izing their F-Body, which has run almost 30 races. And if you’re used to seeing Malaise Era Cadillacs plodding along, there’s something special about watching a Seville hustle its bustle.

After a few failed attempts to make AMC power work in this Gremlin, the race team switched to a Chevy 350. Obvious, maybe, but also maybe a little more reliable.

The Chicago-area team tried in earnest to run AMC power in its Gremlin for a couple races. The 304 and later 360 both failed to propel the ’70s icon with less pace and reliability than a Pontiac Minivan. They’ve since swapped in the old standby, a Chevy 350. It is not really any faster or reliable, but the Kenosha almost-hatchback remains a solid Rust Belt entry.

What’s more Midwestern than a GM A-Body? How about an A-Body race car? This Cutlass Ciera S will be making its way around Gingerman this weekend.

Visitors to the Rust Belt are often surprised to see General Motors’ front-wheel-drive A-Bodies frequently on the road. That said, the two-door versions like this team’s Ciera S remain a rare spot anywhere. And considering the A-Body’s cushy suspensions, nautical steering and harsh 3.3-liter V6, the “S” certainly doesn’t stand for “Sport” in any meaningful sense. That said, this slow and tottering Olds is a perfect machine for the Rust Belt GP.


This artfully chopped Blazer features a found-in-a-Detroit-back-lot Small-Block Chevy and an oft-broken T5 manual transmission.

Call us crazy, but the chopped back on the Ate Mile Blazer looks kinda awesome. This one packs a found-in-a-Detroit-back-lot Small-Block Chevy and an oft-broken T5 manual transmission. Despite its heft and truck basis, the Blazer hauls pretty well. Maybe there’s some cheaty parts in it, but it’s some good ol’ fashioned Rust Belt garage-engineering to hot rod an SUV for road racing duties. It’s better than a BMW 3-Series, anyway.

77 cars are entered in the 2019 Rust Belt GP — you’ll have to hit the track to see ’em all!

Those five comprise but a handful of the 77 cars entered in the Rust Belt GP presented by Autoweek this weekend, June 28-30. BS and Tech Inspections are a great place to see all the cars up close this Friday, June 28. The racing then takes place over Saturday and Sunday (June 29-30). Check out the event page on the Lemons site for full details. You can catch all of the action (and inaction) as a spectator at Gingerman Raceway; a $30 spectator pass gets you into the paddock for all three days.

After the racing stops, the 2,500-mile Lemons Rally sets out from Bangor, Michigan, on July 1.

The next Lemons Rally, Four-Bangors Banger Rally, leaves from nearby Bangor, Michigan, Monday morning (July 1) after the Rust Belt GP. That road-going version of Lemons features (mostly crappy) cars basically on a 2,500-mile scavenger hunt across a variety of roads. The Four-Bangors Rally heads through the municipalities of Bangor in Michigan, New York, Maine and Pennsylvania over six days. It’ll be a grueling roadtrip for hoopties that include a 1967 Buick Skylark, a 1972 Ford LTD, a Jensen-Healey, a Fiat X1/9 and even a decrepit Rolls Royce Silver Spirit.


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