Topic: How to find first Lemons car?

Hello all,

I attended my first Lemons race last month at Barber Motorsports and have to say that I am hooked on the idea! I and my group of friends have no experience at Lemons cars, but one of us does have some stock car racing experience and used to have a team with that. We are now in the process of trying to get and prepare a Lemons car, realistically for Road Atlanta in December. I think it would probably be best for us to get a lower/medium performance car since none of us have any road experience, and most of us have never been been on the track before. I have read through the rule book regarding car construction, and find it very hard to come up with a car for $500. How in the world do you guys go about finding a car and have one running well for just $500? I was very impressed at how hard the cars were getting pushed at Barber, with very few of the cars seeming to have engine issues.

We have been doing a little car searching on craig's list and ebay around the Southeast with no luck. Any car that I see that runs, even an extremely old one is typically $750-1k. At the Lemons race at Barber it seemed like 1/3 of the field was BMWs. I just don't see how teams can get these cars in a good running state for $500. Any tips? Do you typically have to buy a car that is out of a junkyard with a non-running engine and just somehow cheaply rebuild it? Seems like to me an engine rebuild alone would be worth more than your $500 dollar allotment, much less the cost of also buying the non-running chassis.

After reading the rules I do see that you can sell things off of a car to reducts its value, ie buy a $750 car, sell $250 of interior and its a $500 car, but I don't see really how you can sell the interior of a 1986 Toyota for any sort of value, ha!

Any tips on finding and building our first car would be very much appreciated. I have a hard time seeing how we could get a "barely running" car for $500, much less one that you can push hard through a 14 hour race.

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Keep looking. It seems like you won't find anything, then rent is due, or taxes or something and they come out of the woodwork. Believe me it does happen. You won't see them at first, but like a magic eye poster you'll eventually start seeing the sail boat. Then your life will be ruined forever more.

Also, don't be afraid to over spend a bit to get a team started. You won't win the first time out so if they even bother to check, 10 or so penalty laps will NOT be what keeps you from swimming in nickels. Having to throw down $2,000+ on a cage, seat, Harness, plus all the paddock gear means basic not completely blowing up prevention is tolerated.

Also a lot of people like to say buy someone else's problem Lemons car. I find that advise dubious since the only way you'll know your car is to work on it building it.

Just doing a quick scan of the Bermingham Craigslist I get this beauty:
https://bham.craigslist.org/cto/d/1988- … 19147.html
Which "should" need nothing but Budget Exempt parts to get going.

This mess:
https://bham.craigslist.org/cto/d/1969- … 31001.html
That front grille probably get ya $100 back.

This in Mobile will net you a clean zero penalty class C and much judge love:
https://mobile.craigslist.org/cto/d/chr … 07434.html


And that's just a quick scan. Be willing to go out a couple hundred miles if need be, and keep hitting C-list. It may take 4-6 weeks or more before the magic happens.

Also again, don't sweat the $500 too hard.

Also, Also, the Craigslist Discipline in Atlanta is Effing Abhorrent! So good luck skimming that every day, you have my sympathy.

Mistake By The Lake Racing (MBTL)
88 Thunderbird "What's the word? Thunderbird!", "What's the Price? Thirty Twice!"
A&D: 2014 Sebrings at Sebring (NSF), 2014 NJMP2 Jurassic Park (SpeedyCop), 2012 Summit Point J30 (PiNuts)

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Also, Also, Also;

You saw the WORKING cars running well at Barber. Don't assume they all started out that way.

Mistake By The Lake Racing (MBTL)
88 Thunderbird "What's the word? Thunderbird!", "What's the Price? Thirty Twice!"
A&D: 2014 Sebrings at Sebring (NSF), 2014 NJMP2 Jurassic Park (SpeedyCop), 2012 Summit Point J30 (PiNuts)

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Here in California, cars that don't pass smog and/or have backfees due on registration are sold for dirt cheap.
Just got a 944 porsche for free because of this.  But no engine, most cheap/free cars need engines, so you
are looking at doing engine swaps to get good running cheap cars.

Cars that have bad bodywork generally sell for cheap, but run ok, and bad bodywork not a problem mostly.
I have a $600 Jaguar that runs perfect, but the side is smashed up.
Oh I still have a free 90 Tercel available, just needs an engine.

HQ doesn't seem to really care about the $500 anyway.
Penalty laps won't matter, you won't win and even if you did, the $500 prize doesn't amount to much.
You will be spending WAY more on safety gear, driver gear, entry fees, etc, etc.
The $500 is marketing gimmick at this point.

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

ok,  enjoy searching for deals, so this one looks good..
https://bham.craigslist.org/cto/d/2000- … 59307.html

:Needs headgasket, well maybe that will fix it, so just your time to fix it, offer them $300,  not a bad Lemons racer,
one that has parts available at junkyards cheap is a good choice.

Another one looks like it might be good..

https://bham.craigslist.org/cto/d/1995- … 78565.html

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

I run a CL search for cars from private owners between $101 and $1300. I see a lot of old Civics with bad head gaskets for $300-$400. Those are easy enough to fix. We got our Jet Electrica and our Mercedes 240D from CL using those search parameters. The Electrica was $1000 and came with a bunch of big data center UPS batteries that we sold on CL for $500. The Mercedes was listed higher, but we made a lowball offer and they took it. Our Civic was free from a guy whose wife had totaled it and he'd already sold the the powertrain. He just wanted the shell out of his yard because his landlord was complaining. I used a combination of a wire rope, a come-along, a big sledge hammer, an old tree, and a 1994 Mercury Grand Marquis as a makeshift frame machine and got the front of it pulled back out so we could drive it again. Then we got a single-cam engine with a blown head gasket and a transmission with bad synchros for $300 and we were off to the races. Learn to double-clutch.

The $500 limit is evaluated at BS judging, and it's a judgement call by the BS judges. The faster the car is that you bring, the more they care about it. The slower and more hopeless the car is, the less they care. If you bring a $500 Miata or E36/E30, then they care and will sweat you about it. If you bring a 1989 Mercury Colony Park, then nobody will care what you paid for it.

Everybody grab your brooms, it's shenanigans!

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Now for the obligatory advice (best advice ever...that I personally never follow) find a Lemons car already built that has recently passed tech and comes with a boatload of spares for your FIRST car.  It will save you money, time and makes it more likely this group of friends, or at least a small fraction, will still be on board when it is time to pay the Lemons fees and go to the track.  they range from $800-$3000 for most cars and even at $3000, they are usually quite a bit cheaper than building your own including collecting spares.  The team you buy it from is normally more than happy to talk about its weak points, websites with information, what it does well, etc.

If you still wish to build, think about your goals as a team.  Former econobox (Focus, Neon, Saturn S-series, Carolla, etc) cars that commonly liter the pick-n-pulls tend to be cheap on consumables, can be made to handle but get left for dead on the straights.  Panthers (Crown Vic, P71,etc) are really fast in a straight line, can be made to handle but rip through consumables like binge eater at an Old Country buffet.  GM W-bodies handle like crap (stock), can pull half the field on the straights are a good balance of consumables/used parts availability but the transmissions (for us) cannot last in racing.

$300-$1000 cars are plentiful most places.  The key is constant searching and INSTANT action.  I have joked we need an extra truck so we can have it hooked to the to dolly ready to go at all times with tools, battery, straps, etc stocked for a one-man recovery of an immobile car.

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

P.S. - That Chrysler 5th Avenue from Guildenstern's post would be epic. I want to head out that way and buy that for myself.

Everybody grab your brooms, it's shenanigans!

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

One piece of  advice I can give is no matter what car you get, gut it out as soon as possible and and get a cage in it.  We waited until the last minute to find a welder to get our cage in (we ordered a cage from Roll Cage Components, great cage with a  little tweaking) and did not finish the cage until we got to the track on Friday when another team took pity on us and helped us finish getting it in (which only cost us getting them a bottle of welding gas and a fully cooked brisket).  BTW-Thank you again Frank and Bob of EVR racing!

Skip "Mongo" L.
Team DadBod

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Go find a Buick or a "ran when parked" special. Craigslist is littered with them.

Racing cars is for rookies. Racing crapcans takes balls.

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Trust me, they are out there. Our Benz was on CL with the pic showing the passenger side door missing! For $1000. A quick call revealed, "sure, I've got the door, it's in the shed" and "I won't take any less than $700"...off to the races, literally. Sold the seats for $300 to some guy who was gonna "put em in a hot rod"- biggest heaviest power seats I have ever seen, but whatever. End result, $400 S500 that even passed smog and got tags for a few years. I can't recommend highly enough cars that have light body damage- ours went under a guardrail and needed $1800 worth of headlights, but no structural damage!

#88-Hong Kong Cavaliers Benz S500: formerly known as OMG Racing #140...
Judges Choice and Regional Award winner! Chuckwalla '12, Buttonwillow '13, BFE GP '15, Miller '14 & '15, Sonoma '13,'14,'15,'17. Inde '16,17. Other foolishness: Finisher of the inaugural Lemons Rally, in the black Jag.... and IOE in the Super Snipe back in '12.

12

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Friends, Family, and Coworkers.

Once you start telling them about Lemons we had many approach us about cars they had in their backyards for years that don't run, but would be perfect for us. These are people that haven't actively tried to sell these junkers for whatever personal reason, but when given the easy option of an immediate sale, they jump on it.

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

We bought our 84 Trans Am for about $750 running/driving. We sold over $1000 in parts off of it. So we started at zero.  I suggest looking for something that A. they made a TON of, B. something that is easy and cheap to work on, C. has some performance potential (getting pass by a field of cars gets old after a while) and D. something you can work on. We choose the F-body because those reasons.  Here's our 84 T/A (305 powered) at last years NJMP race. The car is well sorted out.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpZHzZYXhJQ

"get up and get your grandma outta here"

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

CPB wrote:

Friends, Family, and Coworkers.

Once you start telling them about Lemons we had many approach us about cars they had in their backyards for years that don't run, but would be perfect for us. These are people that haven't actively tried to sell these junkers for whatever personal reason, but when given the easy option of an immediate sale, they jump on it.


This.

I just scored a $500 2004 RX8 with a bad clutch.  Friend knows about my racing habit and wanted it gone with zero hassle. He knew my price before we even talked.

Apparently my name is really "Craigers".  Who knew?
We might be yellow, but at least we are slow
I'm a WINNER!

15 (edited by Safety3rdRacing 2018-02-16 09:26 PM)

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Try Facebook market place also. Tons of cheap cars, at least here in DFW area. Remember, race cars do not need titles.

Team Safety 3rd Racing.
1985 Dodge Daytona Turbo-currently being lemonized.
https://www.facebook.com/TeamSafety3rdRacing/

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

They don't, but some states are jerks about titles if it still does or could have wheels on it.

Mistake By The Lake Racing (MBTL)
88 Thunderbird "What's the word? Thunderbird!", "What's the Price? Thirty Twice!"
A&D: 2014 Sebrings at Sebring (NSF), 2014 NJMP2 Jurassic Park (SpeedyCop), 2012 Summit Point J30 (PiNuts)

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Safety3rdRacing wrote:

Try Facebook market place also. Tons of cheap cars, at least here in DFW area. Remember, race cars do not need titles.

Our car is tagged, titled (as Historic) and insured. This makes test drives LEGAL.

"get up and get your grandma outta here"

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Some guy in the Harbor Freight parking lot saw the big Lemons sticker on the back bumper of my minivan and offered me a running drivable 2nd-gen Nissan Sentra for $300. I use it as a rallycross beater.

Everybody grab your brooms, it's shenanigans!

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Granted this is a few hundred miles east of the "Southeast" but to make the point of an already built car, this is about an average price for a not-so-competitive-car that could be competitive with the right team.  This is about $1500-2000 or more less than you can do it yourself (usually) on a first build.

https://forums.24hoursoflemons.com/view … 98#p318598

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

Also try a search on cl with "needs fuel pump" or "need it gone". Honest story, found a car for $650, called the guy, got the price down to $400. After discussing arrangements he offers, "get it before Sunday so I can go to my sisters birthday and you can have it for free". Guy had moved and left it at his previous apartment, landlord was over it and he was ready to send it to P-n-P but hoped someone would save it. Free can not running, but now its a mechanics project. Let you know if his "all parts are there" claim is accurate.

#44 VW Jetta "Ira Roth Be Damned"
Arsesweat '17 finished 10th in (B), Sears Pointless '18 wrecked Sunday morning (B)
#96 Silver Subaru Legacy Automatic w Orange Top
'16 Vodden the hell are we doing? finished (C) '15 finished Arsefreeze(B)

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

this would be a good start. drop the V6 and grab a V8 and roll. https://baltimore.craigslist.org/cto/d/ … 32687.html

"get up and get your grandma outta here"

22

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

You just have to keep looking and be quick about calling.  Just a quick look at my local craigslist found

Not exciting in concept but will be reliable and probably quicker than you would think
https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/cto/ … 51310.html

there is many a story about plymouth dusters in Lemons, most involve a lot of swearing
https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/cto/ … 51310.html

IOE Contender, plus much class
https://chicago.craigslist.org/sox/cto/ … 86128.html

Racing 4 Nickels - 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera
2011 SHOWROOM-SCHLOCK SHOOTOUT  IOE Winner
2012 The Chubba Cheddar Enduro Class C winner
Facebook Page

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

are you even trying?

15 seconds in, and found this:

https://bham.craigslist.org/cto/d/2009- … 38248.html

Silent But Deadly Racing- Chief cook and bottle washer, Former Flyin Turd Race Team Captain 
Ricky Bobby's Laughing Clown Malt Liquor Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, Datsun 510, 87 Mustang (The Race Team Formerly Known as Prince), 72 Pinto Squire waggy, Parnelli Jones 67 Galaxie
Besmirching race tracks in the Eastern US since 2001

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

https://bham.craigslist.org/cto/d/v6-mu … 68835.html

Silent But Deadly Racing- Chief cook and bottle washer, Former Flyin Turd Race Team Captain 
Ricky Bobby's Laughing Clown Malt Liquor Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, Datsun 510, 87 Mustang (The Race Team Formerly Known as Prince), 72 Pinto Squire waggy, Parnelli Jones 67 Galaxie
Besmirching race tracks in the Eastern US since 2001

Re: How to find first Lemons car?

https://bham.craigslist.org/cto/d/zx/6483877908.html

Silent But Deadly Racing- Chief cook and bottle washer, Former Flyin Turd Race Team Captain 
Ricky Bobby's Laughing Clown Malt Liquor Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, Datsun 510, 87 Mustang (The Race Team Formerly Known as Prince), 72 Pinto Squire waggy, Parnelli Jones 67 Galaxie
Besmirching race tracks in the Eastern US since 2001