10 of the Best of the Worst at Concours d’Lemons in Chattanooga

By J.A. Ackley
Oct 20, 2022 | Dodge, Ferrari, Ford, Morris, Plymouth, Pontiac, Saturn, Tatra, Concours d'Lemons, Chattanooga Motorcar Festival

Photography by J.A. Ackley

Imposters. Rarities. Oddities. Dweeby cars loved too much. Sexy cars loved way too little. Yes, this could only be a Concours d’Lemons.

The most recent Lemons somehow took place last Saturday at the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival–a weekend-long event that also held “The Gathering of the Greats–Ferrari edition.” What a juxtaposition. A Dodge Aries and a Ferrari mentioned in the same breath? Ugh.

Fortunately, the Concours d’Lemons had a Ferrari… but even that was a knock-off.

Here’s a list of 10 cars that caught our eye… for better or for worse.

10. 1995 Saturn SC2

Pop-up headlights up the flair of a Rad-Era car, but can they make a Saturn sexier? Maybe. After a few drinks, perhaps. Associate editor Colin Wood disagrees. He absolutely loves the sleek lines of a classic, Space-Age-looking Saturn.

9. 2022 Ford Maverick XL

Yes, this is a rare machine, indeed. Just go ask our Director of Marketing & Digital Assets Tom Suddard. For months he has said he had one on order. We thought about swiping this one for him, but we were told bail money is not a covered company expense, unfortunately.

8. 1978 Pontiac Sunbird Safari Sport Wagon

Don’t call this a station wagon. It’s a Safari sport wagon. If you’ve had kids, or dealt with them in any fashion, you can understand why the word Safari fits as you try to wrassle them and strap them in for a ride. This one only has two doors. That makes it difficult to get those wild kiddos in, but they’d have a hard time getting out, too.

7. 1970 Plymouth Superbird

Strip Weathers has certainly seen better days. Life as a supporting character in Hollywood isn’t easy. We don’t know if this car developed a (nitro)meth(ane) habit since its last appearance in the Cars franchise in 2017, but we hope that despite its looks that it’s living a happy life.

6. 1985 Dodge Aries Wagon

If you look carefully, there are some snacks on the hood of this car to bribe the judges in the background. The car is so clean that you could eat off it. It’s still amazing that the K car saved Chrysler back in the 1980s. It just goes to show you, mighty are the meek.

5. 1951 Morris Minor

The owners of this car call it a “Concerto Miata n Morris Minor.” I’m so confused. This British car is trying to make an Italian opera reference to a Japanese car. Oh wait, it carries a 1996 Miata powertrain. That makes more sense now. Wait, not really. Most swap a different engine into a Miata rather than swap out a Miata engine into another ride.

4. 1972 Dodge Colt

If you can’t beat them, join them! That’s the philosophy Chrysler took when trying to take back market share lost from Japanese imports like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Datsun 1200. Mitsubishi produced this car for Chrysler. It also battled American greats such as the AMC Gremlin, Ford Pinto, and Chevrolet Vega.

3. Toyota Camry

Underneath this extraordinary façade of Rolling Stones references is an ordinary Toyota Camry. A bunch of high school kids pieced this project together that looked to build not only their art skills, but their history skills, too. That’s right. The Rolling Stones band is ancient history to high-schoolers, but Keith Richards will probably outlive us all. More on this car’s noble mission to come soon.

2. 1938 Tatra T-97

Onlookers could be frequently heard saying, “What’s a Tatra?” “Where’s Czechoslovakia?” “What state is that in?” Ugh. This car came from the Lane Motor Museum (not in Czechoslovakia, but Nashville), which has several Tatras in its collection. This one, with its rear-mounted four-cylinder engine and sleek aerodynamic profile, could easily cruise at 68 mph. Hold onto your hats, it gets faster, topping out at 78 mph. More on the Tatras in a future story.

1. Pontiac Mera

This Ferrari-badged vehicle looks an awful lot like a Ferrari 308, right? In fact, the owner of this ride said the 308’s body panels fit. Well, take a look at the door jamb and it has GM sticker. What kind of knock-off is this?! It’s a Pontiac Fiero Mera, which had a body finished by Corporate Concepts. Ferrari didn’t take kindly to it and sued the company. They eventually settled and this car disappeared after 247 were made. We’ll have more details on this car in an article dedicated to this vehicle.

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GCrites80s Dork
10/19/22 8:38 p.m.

Anybody remember seeing a prototype Saturn (I think it was an SC2) at EPCOT Center in like 1987? It was in a big display as The Car of the Future. They made it sound like it would come out in the Year 2000 or something, not 2 years later.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
10/19/22 11:26 p.m.

I really like that Sport Safari.

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UltraDork
10/19/22 11:38 p.m.

Fiero Ferrari kit cars are awesome.

So are 1st gen Saturns ;)

MotorsportsGordon Dork
10/20/22 12:22 a.m.

That superbird is a n interesting car they started with really just a roof etc and built that car on a Toyota nascar chassis with an Ls engine.

dculberson MegaDork
10/20/22 4:08 a.m.
GCrites80s said:

Anybody remember seeing a prototype Saturn (I think it was an SC2) at EPCOT Center in like 1987? It was in a big display as The Car of the Future. They made it sound like it would come out in the Year 2000 or something, not 2 years later.

I do! I also remember the fiero in the same exhibit and a guy demonstrated the "dent-proof"'plastic body. Heady stuff for a little kid. 

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/20/22 7:12 a.m.
BlueInGreen - Jon said:

Fiero Ferrari kit cars are awesome.

So are 1st gen Saturns ;)

What's really comical is when those have been turbo'd or LS'd or both to be faster than the actual Ferrari- at least in a straight line.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
10/20/22 9:34 a.m.

That Miata-powered Morris Minor really gets around. I see it at shows all the time here in Atlanta.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
10/20/22 9:42 a.m.

The most appealing car there is the Morris Minor. I can see myself tootling around in that.

bluebarchetta Reader
10/20/22 11:42 a.m.

A '96 SC2 in Black Gold?  Yes, please.  Probably the most desirable S-series.  I wouldn't kick it out of my garage for burning oil, which is good, because it certainly would burn a quart every 1000 mi or so.

300zxfreak Reader
10/20/22 12:23 p.m.

Re: the Dodge Colt......you might want to Google "Butch Leal + Dodge Colt" and see what you come up with.

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