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Duder Reader
11/1/19 2:03 a.m.
EvanB said:
Duder said:

In reply to EvanB :

Awesome. You have a few wagons, right? There was a blue 1.1L wagon here in the LA area earlier this year. It was cheap. I should've snagged it.

Yea, i have two 67 wagons. I'm excited to see the progress on your coupe.

Most excellent. Feel free to post stuff about them here in this thread. It's a Kadett Klub. There's room for a few more of us I think.

I feel like I need to explain my latest video a bit. It was a late night and the shop and I wanted to goof around after accomplishing some stuff. I started out by making fun of car-bro YouTubers and their disingenuous hamming, but in doing so I ended up creating the exact type of thing I was trying to mock. My buddy Karl saw the video this morning and made a suitably cheesy thumbnail pic to go along with it, so of course I updated the video file. It would've been rude not to.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/1/19 1:40 p.m.

Fun thread!

Duder Reader
11/5/19 2:13 a.m.

Back to the race car for a bit - the Opile.

^Three wheel motion!

Vendler had been tinkering with it quite a bit since our IOE win at Sonoma in March of this year. It was a ton of fun in the tighter sections of the track because it handled decently enough and you could almost keep up with other cars. But any hint of a straightaway and we were left in the dust pretty fast. This was expected. But we all came away wanting more power. And it begins...

The cylinder head, induction, and exhaust were the main focus areas. Vendler had been posting on the OpelGT forums for a while when he put this up there for the "Opel community" to chew on:

So I ended up doing a very interesting rebuild on my 1.1 OHV cylinder head. This Kadett is a LeMons race car so everything has to be done on the cheap and that means getting creative. I found that Honda b16 vtec engine valves are nearly the same length as 1.1 Opel valves and are 1mm larger than stock as well. They also have 5.5mm stems so they are much lighter and flow more too. Right from the start the Honda valves are 10g lighter than the Opel valves and if one includes the keepers and retainers the difference is even greater. The Honda valves need to be shortened a bit and have their keeper grooves cut lower but with 1mm lash caps on there it all fits together and runs really well. Ended up using all the Honda stuff. Guides, springs, keepers, retainers, seals, and seats. Runs strong, zips up to 7k rpm with no complaints and doesn't burn any oil. Honda valve springs are stiffer too! I also made a custom manifold for a pair of 38mm motorcycle carbs that I had sitting about and now this thing is making a whole new level of power. Here are few pix of the setup.

^Honda B16 valve on the left, stock Opel 1.1L on the right.

Vendler again:

The donor was a late 90's Del Sol but the b16 was available in a lot Hondas. Any decent auto machine shop should be able to do the work but they have to be willing to be creative. I used a little place called "Pioneer Machine" in Glendale Ca. and they really seemed to enjoy doing something weird. The only part of this that's not regular valve job work is shortening the valves and cutting new keeper grooves. That needs a lathe and not every automotive machine place can do that. Otherwise they have to bore the head for guides and seats then do a basic valve job. I had them do the seats and guides first, took the head back, hand ported it, then returned it for the final seat cuts. I also had them shave 1mm off the face of the head. The car now has 150psi of compression on each cylinder and that's on pistons and rings that are original from what I can tell. Valve spring pressure with the Honda dual springs is about double the stock Opel spec. I bet this thing would be ok to rev to over 7500 but the worn out stock bottom end would probably not love that feeling. For Lemons, I will set the redline and 6500 MAX.

I have yet to go head to head with TinyVette in the "Opile" but this fall we'll be running at Buttonwillow and probably see them there. We enjoyed the handling and light weight feel of the Kadett and hopefully a few more HP will make it even more fun. Just praying that we don't break anything because of our new peppy engine.

Here's a pic of the head with the guide "towers" machined off just before boring for guides. I replaced the thrust bearings on the exhaust side with steel spacers. It's amazing to me that the OE setup had NO guides or seats, just cast iron. Now with modern valve seals it burns ZERO oil. Also a work in progress pic of the intake for the 38mm motorcycle carbs.

The reason I went with the Honda valves is that they are available for under $20 each new and are much lighter. The smaller stems make more room for flow too. The best thing is being able to use modern valve seals so no more burning oil. I'm hoping to dyno the engine soon and give you all some real numbers to work with as to power. Just driving it I can tell it's a lot faster. I'm guessing around 80 hp.



As it turned out the 80hp estimate was a bit optimistic, but not by too much. We think it's making somewhere in the 70s at the flywheel now. Not bad for a cast iron lump with 3 main bearings.

Did a bit of dyno time yesterday with some interesting results. The first run gave us 52hp at the wheels and that's not terrible for an engine with home brewed head work but a totally stock and pretty "broken in" bottom end with a stock cam. The bike carbs were a tad bit rich so after a bit of carb needle tuning that got cleaned up and it started making a bit more power. The biggest change was advancing the timing though. Using run of the mill California premium pump gas it never pinged and gained nearly 5hp from just the timing change alone. Even more significant was the big torque gains at lower RPM with the new advanced timing. It now is running around 40 deg BTDC of total timing. Seems like a lot but this setup really likes it.

After all the tuning we got a very repeatable 58hp at the wheels (maybe 70 at the crank?) and the car is running really well. So much more fun to drive now that there's a bit more low end torque and the peppy nature of the engine is a big plus. Here is a before and after pic of the first baseline run and the final result after tuning. Note low end torque gains. Also note that since this engine is in a 24 Hours of LeMons car the redline is electronically cut at 6200 RPM for longevity reasons. I'm betting there could be a few more HP available if we revved it higher but that's not what this engine is for!

There's a lot of conjecture as to how much power get's lost due to driveline friction etc.. A data point I know for sure is that on the exact same Dyno I ran the Kadett on, a stock NA Miata 1.6 gives 99hp at the wheels and that motor is claimed to be 116 at the crank. But whatever the numbers are the car is running better than any 1.1 OHV I've even driven. Let's see how long it lasts on the track. Endurance racing, even LeMons, is really a test of a car.

Here's a pic of it strapped to the dyno. Note custom aluminum airbox with air Polaris buggy air filter inside and intake snorkle under cowl vents. Don't judge too hard, I just learned to weld aluminum.

Since that dyno day, Vendler also made header out of a classic Mini weld-your-own-header kit. The BMC A-series engine shares the siamesed exhaust port design on cylinders 2 & 3 with the Opel 1.1, and the overall size is pretty close. I don't have any great photos of the header yet but he made a custom flange of course, then went to town on the TIG. It's got a short side-exit system now and breathes much more freely. No more dyno time since then but it felt like it picked up maybe 5hp from that experiment.

With a few more tweaks, including a pretty major upgrade to the front wheel bearing spec, an Alfa rear sway bar installation, and some driver comfort changes, the car was ready for the Buttonwillow Lemons race in late September. Race report coming soon!

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/5/19 11:18 a.m.
Duder said:

Race report coming soon!

not soon enough!  

Duder Reader
11/5/19 1:33 p.m.

I'll gather photos and emails and whatnot and assemble them all into a legible story here in the next few days cool

After that, it'll be more Opile race engine stuff. Big changes are happening in the bottom end right now.

On my little red Kadett project, I need to hold myself accountable for making progress. In that vein I'm posting my immediate to-do list here so that you guys can pester me about it and call me out if I get distracted.

  • Pull brake parts from the Rallye parts car - MC, booster, hard lines, calipers
  • Clean & rebuild front calipers
  • Clean & rebuild master cylinder
  • Paint booster
  • Install MC & booster
  • Run hard lines and new hoses
  • Clean & rebuild disc brake spindles/hubs
  • Buy tapered roller bearings for the front hubs (Vendler-spec upgrade)
  • Modify hubs on the lathe for the new inner wheel bearings
  • Replace ball joints
  • Evaluate steering rack & swap out if necessary
  • Replace tie rod ends
  • Install front spindles, hubs, brake rotors, calipers
  • Replace rear drum brake slave cylinders
  • Bleed all brakes
  • Registration!


infinitenexus GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/4/19 8:49 a.m.

These cars look so awesome, especially with flares.  The engine compartment looks pretty small - is there any room for a swap of any sorts?

Duder Reader
12/4/19 12:07 p.m.
infinitenexus said:

These cars look so awesome, especially with flares.  The engine compartment looks pretty small - is there any room for a swap of any sorts?

Thanks! Yes - the engine itself is a baby and the engine bay is tight to match. I think a B6 engine from a 1.6L Miata would fit, but barely. I looked at swapping in a Volvo B20 since it's period correct and would be a substantial upgrade - but that's the problem - it's way too substantial. Assuming we wouldn't want to cut the firewall, the B20 water pump pulley would be completely in the space occupied by the radiator currently. The Opel trans tunnel is correspondingly tiny, and would have to be cut liberally to fit anything other than the baby 4-speed that we can literally pick up with one hand.

It's a blessing and a curse...

sir_mike New Reader
12/4/19 3:36 p.m.

Nothing wrong with Opel Kadett's.Like the Rallye version.The Ford truck in the pictures is interesting.Dated a girl back in the early 70's who had a Kadett...Fun times I remember

preach New Reader
12/4/19 4:29 p.m.

My first car was an orange 1975 Kadett 1900. My second car was a 1971 GT.

Currently in the market for a GT body for a delightful build for the strip that involves an 07k VW 5cyl and stuff...

EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/4/19 4:38 p.m.

My blue wagon is in the garage now as a winter project. Need to pull the VFR750 engine out of the frame to see where it will fit. 

I need to get back to the white one at some point and get the engine running. 

Duder Reader
12/5/19 4:12 p.m.
sir_mike said:

Nothing wrong with Opel Kadett's.Like the Rallye version.The Ford truck in the pictures is interesting.Dated a girl back in the early 70's who had a Kadett...Fun times I remember

The Rallye is the roughest of the bunch but definitely has a cool look to it. I hope we can save it in some form or another. Maybe as a hat-car Miata Lemons build, if I have my way!

The Ford pickup is a '64, on a 2008 Crown Vic P71 chassis. It's a hoot. We call it the Viccup. Here's the build thread: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/1964-viccup-build/134172/page1/

Duder Reader
12/5/19 4:20 p.m.
preach said:

My first car was an orange 1975 Kadett 1900. My second car was a 1971 GT.

Currently in the market for a GT body for a delightful build for the strip that involves an 07k VW 5cyl and stuff...

Sweet! The 1900 engine was sold here in the US in the Ascona body style, but I haven't seen any '70s Kadetts although would love to check one out.

5-cyl VW build should be interesting - what made you choose that engine specifically?

Duder Reader
12/5/19 4:35 p.m.
EvanB said:

My blue wagon is in the garage now as a winter project. Need to pull the VFR750 engine out of the frame to see where it will fit. 

I need to get back to the white one at some point and get the engine running. 

Sweet wagon!

VFR750 - as in the Honda V4? We are friends with a guy named Tim who built the Angry Hamster for Lemons - it was a Honda Z600 with a Magna VF1100C engine. I'm sure he could give you some advice... like "DON"T DO IT" ;-) I can put you in touch if you're interested.

outasite HalfDork
12/5/19 10:32 p.m.

In reply to EvanB :

I had a blue Opel Kadett wagon back in the late 80s. Not sure of year. Lived in Central Minnesota.

I also had a Kadett Rallye and a Kadett L when I lived in New Jersey. 

EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/19 8:03 a.m.

In reply to Duder :

Yep, Honda v4. Don't do it would be wise advice, i would welcome any tips he has.

EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/19 8:04 a.m.
outasite said:

In reply to EvanB :

I had a blue Opel Kadett wagon back in the late 80s. Not sure of year. Lived in Central Minnesota.

I also had a Kadett Rallye and a Kadett L when I lived in New Jersey. 

This wagon arrived to me with Minnesota tags on it. I got it from Oldopelguy, not sure where or when he picked it up.

Cedricn New Reader
12/6/19 9:08 a.m.

Great thread, i will definitely follow the progress. I love that you haul around with the original lump! 


It brings back memories from my childhood, my father had a 64 kadett A for almost his hole life, but sold it a couple of years ago. It had front discs, 1200(big block swapped!) and some other small mods. Without silencers that car was so much fun, revs more than you expect, and the car weighted only 720kg as std! 

Complete with winter tyres in autocross


oldopelguy UberDork
12/11/19 8:19 a.m.

I have a NOS rear quarter panel for a gill coupe, door to trunk, but I'm not sure if I want to sell it, because I have one of my own tucked away in storage:

The best performing 1.1L I had back in the day had a short manifold and a 2 barrel Weber IDA on it. That was a quick car.  I'm actually working on a manifold for mine to add an Eaton M45 supercharger, but it's a ways out. 

The geometry of the 1.1L front suspension is the same as the 1.9L cars, but the components are all smaller, ie ball joints, tie rod ends, calipers, etc...  This can create issues with ordering parts because most places don't distinguish that very well.  Good news is that you can toss everything from the 1.9L car on and upgrade on the cheap.  With the 1.9L spindles any 84-87 Fiero brake upgrade is a bolt on too, and there are some great options there.  In SoCal I have to recommend getting ahold of Opels Unlimited and just picking up the whole front suspension crossmember.  I think they sell the poly suspension bushings too, but if not Opel GT Source always has them on hand.

Back in the day one of the most common bang for the buck front suspension mods was a set of shackles for the ends of the front leaf spring. Generally you get @1.5" of drop and have to flip the upper ball joints for camber, but with a 1.1L car and a stiffer 1.9L triple spring over the 1.1L double you probably won't see that much drop but you would get the stiffer rate.  The compliance change in the front with the shackles is dramatic. 

That flipping the upper ball joint trick is pretty much mandatory for anything at all lowered, and if you haven't done it yet on the racer it might explain the push.



Duder Reader
12/14/19 7:50 p.m.

In reply to oldopelguy :

We will let you know if that NOS quarter becomes necessary, but for now we're good with the (3) bodies we have, I think!

Thanks for all the tips about front suspension. The Opile race car has many of those things done already, but in a roundabout way. The hubs & spindles are still 1.1L spec but opened up to accept modern tapered roller bearings. Original wheel bearings were balls on inner and outer. I think the balljoints are flipped as well but I have to verify. That car is much lower than stock, has poly bushings for the front spring, and Alex modified the body to allow fitting up of a generic circle-track front swaybar, a splined one with aluminum arms and custom end-links. It rides on bearings in new holes that he drilled in the "frame horns."

Duder Reader
12/14/19 8:11 p.m.

OK - race report time. Part 1 below.

For the Buttonwillow Lemons race in Sept. 2019 I somehow talked my team into running our first ever two-car race. A sane team would choose two similar cars, to communize on parts, tools, etc. But not us. The 5.3L-powered BMW E36 camper is on its 11th or 12th race since we built the car in 2016, and the Opile did one race with its previous owner, and one with us at Sonoma this March where we won the IOE. The goal with the two-car effort was to win with both cars. Overall / Class A with the BMW and Class C with the Opel. We've got to have "stretch goals!"

This was going to be mainly a challenge of logistics. I felt like we could easily get in way over our heads without a good system worked out prior to the race start. I appointed myself overall team captain, and I would be driving both cars. Our founding member Nathan would be the crew cheif for the BMW, and Alex would be Opile crew chief; it's his car so that's only natural. Alex would drive both cars as well.

We had a returning founding member express some interest in coming back, so Vince (who entered the very first Lemons race ever in 2006 along with Nathan) would be doing a single stint in the BMW as well. Nathan and Dan would both do two stints. So, 5 drivers for that car.

The Opile would be Alex, me, my wife Michele, and our friend Nate Terry, who made it very clear that he'd love to be part of the Lemons roster at some point. When I tossed him the suggestion of driving the Opile, he was all in, to my surprise. Nate built a nasty FD RX7 track car, and an LS7-powered E30 M3, so I assumed he wouldn't want to drive a double-digit horsepower 1960s economy car, but thankfully I was wrong!

I got the driving roster together as a first step. This was a challenge but we had to be organized. I'm Chris, BTW. So I would do the last stint in the Opel on Saturday afternoon, and then the 1st stint in the BMW on Sunday morning. At least I'd be driving the slow car first and the fast car second - doing it the other way around would've screwed with my brain a bit too much!

After a few iterations this was the roster that we settled on.

The BMW is a big thirsty 5.3L V8 running at full throttle most of the time, pushing around an E36 with a camper body on it. So we have to stop pretty frequently for fuel, and we have to do at least one stint of "fuel conserve mode" meaning not 10/10ths. I'm usually fine with being that guy, so I end up with a longer stint usually to stretch us to a good time to stop. In the Opile we do one fuel stop / driver change per day! So 4 hour stints, pretty much.

More to come shortly.

Duder Reader
12/15/19 1:29 a.m.

Part 2

We split up into several groups to get the logistics ironed out and haul all of our crap to the track.

Alex was busy preparing the Opile for its return to glory, after all of the custom head work I outlined earlier (Honda B16 valves, porting, Ducati carbs, and homebrew header). We borrowed some race equipment from the BMW in March but needed to get the Opile its own compliment of accoutrements now that they were going to be running simultaneously. Alex added a drinks bottle, a big ol' cooler in the passenger seat area with an aquarium pump to feed our cool shirts, and he hardwired a Baofeng radio in. Since he had already shaken down all of the engine mods, we were just putting around making minor adjustments once we got to the track. I towed the car with my FZJ80 Land Cruiser using a borrowed homemade trailer. Alex lives in Glendale on a twisty little hilly street in a cool place that reminds me of the East Bay area, Berkeley / Oakland hills. But in LA. We loaded the car at the shop and then drove up to his place together for a pre-race slumber party. It put us north of downtown LA for the Friday morning drive to BWillow which is a great head-start.

Backing into this little driveway spot in the dark was sure fun:


For BMW prep it was minor stuff too. Dan and Nathan took care of refreshing the harnesses, tuning up the radio, cleaning up the cockpit, and getting the cobwebs blown out - almost literally. Dan towed the car to the track behind his GX470 and we ran both cars for a bit in Friday practice. The 5.3 in the BMW was coughing and sputtering and generally just acting grumpy. We were in the process of talking through possible faults - bad coil, sticky injector, fouled plugs...when I realized it was probably just carboned up from getting pulled in and out of our shop a few dozen times without being properly warmed up or driven. It normally lives in the back of the shop and gets in the way of the lift, so this happens quite a bit. A zesty Italian tune-up fixed what ailed it though - a few laps at WOT and it was running quite nicely again.

Dan arrived Thursday evening, securing 3 awesome pit spots (one for Eyesore). We pitted near the paddock exit / track entrance, at the end of front straight, close to the Sunrise turn & bathrooms, east side of the main tower building. Nathan drove the "El Dorado Sr." RV, which is his 1977 Dodge van based motorhome that we themed the racecar after. He towed a small utility trailer with our 55 gallon drum of gasoline, fuel bottles, generator, EZ-ups, and bins full of spare suspension parts. Michele drove herself in our Volvo V60, Nate came down from Half Moon Bay in one of his Trekker Vans, which are Ford Transits kitted out with camping setup which he rents. Vince brought mini-Vince and showed up on Friday night in his E46 M3. It was a good group.

Tech was straightforward as usual - we've done this so many times and they hardly ever find any offenses in our car(s) anymore. That wasn't always the case though. BS inspection went swimmingly as well. Class A / zero penalty laps for BMW, Class C / zero laps for the Opile.

A few photos borrowed from teh official Lemons gallery - hence their watermark.

I liked this Fox Body. Graphics were on point.


Friday night was spent loaning my MIG welder to Eyesore so they could glue their exhaust manifold back together, drinking salty dog beers with Tajin in the BIG El Dorado, and rotating tires. We may have swapped out the BMW brake pads too.

Duder Reader
12/17/19 1:22 a.m.

Back to the race report - sorry if I left anyone hanging.

Part 3

Saturday was race day 1 - and I know this thread is about Kadetts, so I'll focus on the Opile. New guy Nate was starting the day with a thorough overview of track etiquette and a run-down of the car. He drove it a bit on the practice day and has done wheel-to-wheel racing before, in much better machinery, but I think anyone would get just a little bit amped up for their first Lemons race drive. There are normally 150+ cars in the CA races, but with attendance down this year across the board I think it was around 130 at Buttonwillow. We lined both cars up on time, ready to roll out for the leisurely 10:00 am start. Radios were checked, fuel cells were filled, bladders were emptied; yee-haw, let's go racin'.

At about 2 to 3 hours in, we were leading the race with the BMW, best lap around 2:14. This is configuration 1, clockwise. The normal route most events take at BWillow is 13CW, but 1CW is a bit more suited to the BMW since it's got a longer back straight and a higher-speed Star Mazda turn to replace the stunted sweeper. This gives us a much better run at the esses, so we're doing close to 110mph on the back straight after Phil Hill, and almost 115mph just before the final braking zone into Sunset and back onto the front straight.


The Opile goes...considerably slower than that. In the Opie we were mainly in 3rd gear, maybe somewhere near 85 - 90mph top speed over the whole lap. We have telemetry and video in the BMW with GPS and all kinds of technology. The Opile has a tach, and a fuel gauge (now - yay!) and an oil pressure gauge. Coolant temp too. That's about it for driver info. The pace is more leisurely in the fast sections so it gives us drivers a chance to breathe a bit before diving into the next set of turns or traffic. In terms of cornering speed this car is just as fast as any average Miata or E30, but still no match for the really well set-up / well driven E30s and Miatas. But tires are the great equalizer in Lemons, so a twistier track with shorter straights would be ideal for this car. BUTT - this is our home track, and we stand the best chance of winning here with the BMW camper, so it would be rude not to run both cars in my opinion.

Nate was having a ball, confirmed via radio. He was well set up with cool shirt fed by the giant cooler of ice, and a nice bottle to drink out of. Maybe too much on the drinks. He got black flagged for some minor incident (maybe passing under yellow? I don't remember) and then took an emergency pee stop after talking to the Lemons judges. No penalties other than wounded pride but we all make little mistakes so I try not to be too hard on anyone after a black flag unless it was really flagrant. I could tell Nate was driving hard but being sane out there. It's a fine dance you have to do in a Class C car - try to stay competitive with your rivals - in this case our closest competitor was a freakin' CADILLAC ALLANTE (yay GM) - while simultaneously being predictable and keeping yourself narrow enough to let the fast cars go by. And they pass us, a lot. From the BMW video I can say that a Class A car laps the Opile about every 20 minutes or so.

Nate did have one issue with the car which was a report of "low oil pressure" over the radio. Or maybe that was "no oil pressure." Hmm. Still running? "Yeah...there it goes! We have oil pressure again." OK. So it's my turn to jump in after Nate puts in 4 hard hours, and I know this could be a thing. We did a good clean pit stop re-fuel and driver change and away we go. Sure enough after a good deal of running I hear what sounds like a dry clattering gurgle from the faithful little engine and look down at the gauge and - no! We have literally zero psi showing on the gauge. It still ran, but was not sounding good. I limped it around the track, and miraculously made it back to the paddock still with the needle buried far left on the gauge. This was an unscheduled stop and we were coordinating via radio. I yelled "PUT MORE OIL IN IT" to Alex, as I was putting out of the hot pits and into the 10mph zone of the paddock. I pulled up to our spot, shut off the engine, and waited, still strapped in. Alex quickly dumped 2 whole quarts of oil before anything resembling a normal level registered on the dipstick. So - we were losing a lot of oil. I think it was mainly from the front main "seal" which is a term I use generously here. It was a piece of felt loosely caressing the OD of the pulley snout, into which was machined a lazy spiral to act as a labyrinth seal or pump to keep the oil moving back inwards. After 52 years, it wasn't doing much of anything.

I forget where we finished the day, but it was either 2nd or 3rd in Class C. My four guys who drove the BMW on Saturday (including Opile Alex in the final stint) managed to solidly secure 1st place. So we won! Half of the race, anyway, with one car. OK. No pressure for me starting Day 2 in the lead...

My notes from my 2nd 4-hour Opile driving experience (ADDB = arrive & drive douchebag):

Everthing's coming up Opile! I had a great time with all of you guys and much fun hustling it around the track. It was uniquely instructive for me to see the extremes in behavior between all the top fast teams and how they pass slower cars. The BIR BMW was always extra courteous of course! ;-)

I had no issue with controls as a "bigger driver" but agree it would be good to do more work there. The extreme delicacy of the transmission was my biggest complaint as ADDB on a faster track (wasn't so much of an issue at wet n' cold Sonoma where we were all going slower). I'm happy to be involved in more of the development program.

We talked about Opile revisions on the way home last night. Main points are:

  • Driver controls: new steering column with more u-joints, and a smaller steering wheel closer to the driver and better centered would be great.
  • Engine: either run a "new" rebuilt bottom end for now, or swap to some small Japanese-y modern 4-cyl (e.g. Suzuki 1.3)
  • Transmission: either rebuild this one with new synchros, bearings, etc. or swap to some small Japanese trans - either with or without an engine swap. A different trans type may have a closer shifter position, or we could extend the shift lever in a way that doesn't destroy the old Opile trans if we keep it.
  • Any power increase will be amazing, but will start to hurt the tiny rear axle pretty quickly.
Duder Reader
12/17/19 1:25 a.m.

Alex had the following parting words. And yes I know I haven't gotten to the 2nd day of race report yet:

Well, there it is.  Another Opile experience in the books.  Except there is no book.  

Anyhow, I can say we have an excellent new team member in Nate, who’s driving skills are only exceeded by his even greater skill of Costco meat shopping.  I think I can speak for all those in the BIR Opile community when I say “willkommen”.  Also a huge thanks to all the drivers for not crashing the car.  It’s not that easy to avoid all the pumped up fools on the track and somehow the car came back with no new dents.  I’m thankful AF.

I’ll be spending the next few months trying to repair the damage done by this race, both to the car, and our emotions.  The discovery that this engine needs oil to run is a huge step forward.  Looks like there has to be a shade more power under the hood or we’ll never see class “C” gold so I’m going to see what I can do to get that to happen.  Maybe just not having a 50 year old worn out bottom end would help?

Thanks for playing.  This concludes the message from your captain. 

Duder Reader
12/17/19 2:15 a.m.

Part 4 - Race Day 2

We had a typical great Saturday night at the race track. Spank and his Dutch DAF were the star attraction of the night - watch the official Lemons recap video for the whole story. Suffice it to say there was a "red flag district" set up complete with giant plywood windmill and mattresses al fresco, to compliment the sweet potluck food & conversation. Spank himself had a very S&M getup that was disturbing enough to not be able to look away. We had fun chuckling at his silly car with its twin-CVT suspender drive system and admiring his dedication, and he had fun telling us how un-fun it is to be passed by a 300hp camper at ~70mph closing speed.

The choices we make in life.

The BMW tends to eat differentials, which is weird because the diff itself is welded. So maybe I should say it eats ring & pinion gears, and bearings. Because of this we are usually extra attentive to its health. For this race, without our box truck hauler we forgot to bring any good diff juice. A friendly team (with another 5.3 powered E36!) loaned us some. Here's what came out of our non-diff:

Anyhow, Sunday morning I was all set to drive the fast car for 2 hours after 4 hours of the slow car the previous day. A 2+ hour stint seems super easy on the face of it, after that. But the leisurely acceleration of the Opile (longitudinal and lateral) means that it really doesn't wear you out behind the wheel. It's a more relaxing experience. Strapped into the BMW with the pressure of P1 looming, it was a different story. I had a long double-yellow flag period near the beginning of my stint after which I started picking up the pace. I believe I dipped into P2 but came off the track back in P1 after my stint. No ills to speak of, except that our battery voltage dips down below 11V at the end of the straights, something I didn't really believe - so I watched the little voltage display just before the braking zone on the front straight. Whoops - 2 wheels off for inattentiveness. No harm no foul though, as they typically give us leeway and don't wave a black flag for 2 wheels. Buttonwillow dirt is super fine and silty and it was a blustery day, so my punishment was that everyone else got to see my mistake clearly by the presence of the huge dust cloud.

My wife Michele started the day off in the Opile. She killed it out there - kept it alive with no mechanical issues, maaaaybe one little black flag, but I give her credit for the effort. She got pushed off the track by a pack of fools coming through the bus stop, without any regard for what (or whom) was already ahead of them and occupying corner exit. She said she had just done the turn herself, being approached by a faster pack of cars (which is any pack of cars, really) then looked in the mirror and it was 2 or 3 wide and they were barelling towards her with nowhere to go so she took the car off track to the right side, and came back on with no spin or drama. I think it was black flag for 4 wheels off. Great job saving the car and herself from damage though.

Alex finished out the day in the Opile, driving his own car last. It was feeling tired by that point. His attitude on the radio at first seemed grim, but then there was a shift to "F it, I'm just gonna stay out here and keep turning laps." The car finished under its own power, although I think we ended up 3rd in Class C for the race, after some good battling with the Allante. They have a V8 and have to stop for fuel a lot more frequently; we have a tiny 1.1L and we also cream them in the corners. But their straight-line speed advantage was enough to put them in the lead for C. That's a former IOE car too and those guys drive it well.

Dan and then Nathan took over BMW driving duties after my stint. We did two very clean & fast pit stops. Refuel, driver change, swap the ice and the drinks bottle, go. We have gotten our stops down under 2 minutes after a decade of trying and lots of analysis through wife-shot iphone videos to learn where we're slow. It takes us about 10 seconds to dump 5 gallons of fuel into our self-designed funnel and filler neck, so the entire refueling process is less than 45 seconds from start to finish. The pacing item is always driver belts. Always. It is just slow & fiddly work to get the next guy strapped in securely, and it ends up taking the better part of a minute. I know, I know, this is a 2-day enduro for $500 cars, but this is what Lemons racing has become! Sub-2 minute pit stops are absolutely necessary if you want to win, or at least stay in the top 3 or 4.

Nathan held on to the lead all the way through a good deal of the final stint, we still had P1 - this was ours! But the fateful call came in over the radio "guys, there's a slapping sound from the front end under braking. It sounds bad." IGNORE IT! Our instructions were clear - drive the damn car into the ground but don't come into the pits with ~1 hour left when we're in the lead. So that's what he did. The radio calls turned into "hey, the car doesn't want to turn left anymore" to "OH! I blew a tire. Guys, front right tire is blown." Over the radio in the background we could hear the WHUP WHUP WHUP of the tire tread destroying bodywork. Nathan pulled in for our quickest tire change ever, but by that point the lead was gone. He had a minor mishap after that which cemented 4th place. Still a great time and we had much more success than I would've expected for running 2 cars simultaneously - in 2 different races, really - with a minimum of drama and a great team dynamic among friends the whole weekend. Maybe some other time!

This corner of the car got rearranged. Needs some attention now.

The Eyesore guys are our good friends, so it's always fun to be in the hunt with them. We can heckle each other's drivers on the radio because we all sit in a big circle of chairs in the paddock spot. Number 80 youmadbro? was the other 5.3L E36, on their first outing with that car - well done to those guys. We don't know Hella E36 M3ty very well but of course they kept us honest and deserved the win in their pink E30. For the purposes of the camper-themed BMW our team name is "The 70s Called and They Want Their RV Back."

The Eyesore Miata ran out of fuel IN THE HOT PITS pulling off the track after taking 3rd. Our friend Sara was driving, and Nathan graciously pushed her in with what was left of our car, through the welcoming party and applause of the other racers. An apt moment to end a great race.

Duder Reader
12/17/19 2:29 a.m.

Watch the official Lemons Wrapup video here! We make our appearance at 5:00.


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