Low-Buck Tech: Frankenstein's Metro

Story and Photography by the Staff of the 24 Hours of Lemons

Few people–low-buck racers or otherwise–can match Lemons team Charnal House Racing in pure junkyard ingenuity. As it races now, their mid-engined Geo Metro includes parts from 67 different vehicle models.

The team keeps a spreadsheet–not for bragging rights but simply to record which parts came from where. And if you dig deeply enough into the MetSHO, you’ll find parts from heavy trucks, lawn mowers, a basketball hoop, road signs and a golf course fence.

The build began 10 years ago when the team cut out the rear floor of a three-cylinder, $200 Geo Metro. In its place, they fitted the entire front subframe from a Ford Taurus SHO. Boom, instant Shogun replica, right? They welded the SHO steering rack solid, then fitted mismatched Stance coil-overs they’d dumpster-dived.

They did the same to the front suspension, hanging two more blown Stance coil-overs onto the third-generation Mercury Sable suspension. The spring rates on the front were incredibly high, and after spending years spinning the car, they found that the heavy-duty anti-roll bar from a 1981 Lincoln Continental mellowed things just enough.

The car got a boost in 2016 when Scott Sharp from Extreme Speed Motorsports saw the MetSHO online and knew what it was missing: more power. He took the pair of turbos off the 2015 Le Mans-finishing HPD Ligier and mailed them to Charnal House headquarters.

The Charnal House guys took the mostly knackered snails and plumbed them to the stock 3.0-liter SHO engine using a sliced-up aluminum pool ladder and old diesel-truck couplers.

Of course, the new twin-turbo kicked up the pace significantly, but the real appeal was the incredible “Awful Computers” livery tribute to the Apple-sponsored Porsche 935. The bodywork was designed in CAD, printed to plotter paper, and then laid onto old signs bought from a “sign junkyard.” The bodywork adds 200 pounds and 6 feet to the Metro body, and the result looks as good as any Lemons replica we’ve seen.

As one might expect, the MetSHO utterly rips with just a couple pounds of boost, but the whole assembly remains pretty fragile. When it’s not snapping wheel studs or even entire half-shafts, the SHO engine is cooking head gaskets or nuking the clutch. But hey, admiration in the paddock is still admiration.

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View comments on the GRM forums
sir_mike New Reader
6/3/20 1:47 p.m.

Engineering masterpeace.

6/3/20 5:15 p.m.

Here's the full build thread on Ziptied. Note that some pics and links have been lost to photobucket.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/3/20 9:05 p.m.

In reply to sir_mike :

Yup. And with style. 

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