1948 Plymouth: Bad Decisions and a Fast Car on #LemonsWorld

By: Eric Rood Photo Credits: Murilee Martin, Eric Rood, Nick Pon
March 17, 2020

While we are furloughed from racing, we’re not immune from telling about some of our higlights and lowlights in Lemons. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get all those sordid details and plenty of poking fun at the large car world. Starting last week, we began providing weekly content on the Lemons YouTube channel. This week, we follow that up with a #LemonWorld episode about Bad Decisions Racing’s 1948 Plymouth.

Now, you may see this early post-war car and think, “Man, that thing must be slow as all hell.” It’s one of the three or four oldest cars ever in Lemons, so you could be forgiven for thinking that. However, as Associate Perp Nick Pon points out, “If you run the car with a flathead once, the Lemons judges are pretty much going to give you carte blanche.”

So what does a team with carte blanche put into a ’48 Plymouth (that is maybe a ’47)? Well, their other racing vehicle runs a supercharged Buick 3800 V6, so in the interest of the ability to share parts, they swapped in the same 240-horsepower V6. We’re reasonably sure they’ve monkeyed with the pulleys to make way more power and so far, that’s generally turned out poorly. The transmission is a T5 manual from a Chevy Camaro, which “can handle the power.”

Except when it can’t. They’ve killed more than of the T5s. That probably makes them yearn for the 217.8 cubic-inch flathead six and column-shifted three-speed manual transmission they first coasted with to an Index of Effluency.

Alas, making the car driveable with real power also required swapping out subframes. In this case, the car got Ford Crown Victoria front and rear swaps. They roughly fit the track width and the engine even fit within the Plymouth cowl. Whatever else you can say about it, know that it pleases Lemons organizers greatly to have this 1948 Plymouth around.

More Bad Decisions

Bad Decisions Racing first came to Lemons with a lowly Saturn SC2, which the team soon came to despise. They killed several engines despite every effort to make it live. Still, the team always put a sturdy emphasis on retheming the car. One of our favorites was The Princess Bride, complete with an R.O.U.S.

Finally, the team tired of the car and gave it one last hurrah. The Saturn wore clips from real CraigsList ads—NO LOWBALLRS I KNOW WUT I HAV—glued to it. At the race’s end, they planned to sell it or even give it away. Instead, the engine mount failed. They applied a sturdy ratchet strap in place of  the mount, which worked great until the engine blew up and caught fire. The flames burned up the ratchet strap, giving the Saturn the indignant end of having its flaming engine fall out of the car.

Dustbustin’

Bad Decisions’ thematic excellence continued with their replacement vehicle, a Pontiac Trans Sport minivan (aka the Dustbuster). At various times, the Trans Sport has been an actual Dustbuster, a Star Wars Imperial shuttle, a Star Trek shuttle, Pricess Vespa’s Mercedes from Spaceballs, a door stop, and way too many things to remember offhand.

Under the hood, Bad Decisions swapped out the original Buick 3800 for the supercharged version. The automatic transmission soon proved a weak point, so they worked out a swap that involved a Chevy Cavalier transaxle. Because stopping presents a concern in Lemons—and brake parts are budget-exempt—they upgraded to Corvette brakes. With 240 horsepower, the minivan is also quicker than you’d think. However, it still runs in Class C and still has yet to win the class in spite of its (alleged) potency.

The team also debuted Lemons’ first Suzuki Esteem, narrowly getting beat for their third Index of Effluency. We’ve got word that there’s something incredibly effluent on deck at Bad Decisions HQ that we should hopefully see this year. But we’ll let that be a surprise to you.

Videos and more

Subscribe to the Lemons YouTube Channel here to make sure you get all weekly uploads about a 1948 Plymouth or otherwise. You can idle away your newfound time at home watching hundreds of Lemons Recaps and #LemonsWorld episodes there. And be sure to follow Lemons on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get all the reminisces and updates from Lemons HQ.

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