Over the years, Lemons and Lemons judges have requested all manner of terrible, choice crapcans. The nominal idea is that few people set out to find, say, a Renault Fuego Turbo. We’ve included all of the past lists we know of at the bottom of this post, but for now, let’s take a look at a half-dozen Ford machines we’d love to see when you sign up for a Lemons race. Mercurys, Lincolns, Fords…hell, we’d be happy for any Merkur while you’re at it.
Yes, this is a tough pull, especially during a pandemic. However, we know we have many Lemons racers who live near our Northern Neighbors. What is the Mercury M-Series? Prior to 1968, Ford sold its pickup trucks in Canada under the Mercury marquee (not Marquis, though). The M-Series were in almost all ways identical to the corresponding years’ Ford F-Series. Sure, 60-year-old truck prices are astronomical these days, but NSF Racing once found a Frontenac for Lemons money.
If you’re looking for a Ford truck that won’t break the bank, the Malaise Era Ranchero might just fit the bill. The final redesign (1977-1979) remains among the most awkward-looking automotive mullets ever built. The tail end of the Ranchero production run got mostly Ford’s ubiquitous 302, albeit with about 130 wheezing horsepower. However, you could still find a 460-powered Ranchero through ‘76 and one with the much-less-desired 400 through ‘78.
While the land of Lincolns gets muddied easily, the Mark VI is as forgotten as any Lincoln. It occupied that weird transition period for Lincoln between the Hankin’ Huge full-size predecessors and the oddly attractive Fox-based Mark VII. The supremely boxy Mark VI was an early Panther-platform product and got—no shock here—the same 130-ish horsepower 302 from the last Rancheros. The stodgy, slabby Mark VI came in both sedan and coupe layouts, either of which would look spectacular in a Lemons race.
In 1982, Ford offered a two-seat version of the Escort—the EXP— that had taken the domestic auto market by storm the year prior. Mercury had built a (very slightly) upmarket Escort, the Lynx, and dutifully offered the two-seat LN7. Built with a bubble-back hatch window like the Mustang-based Capri, the LN7 failed to do much. Except it beat the EXP in a heads-up race at the 1982 Nelson(s) Ledges Longest Day 24-Hour Race and finished third overall (!). Shockingly, auto journalists from Road & Track raced that LN7 (and beat Car and Driver’s crew in the EXP, to no Lemons’ team’s great surprise). The grand prize? Mercury canceled the LN7 after its second model year, 1983.
Vans: Always a good idea in Lemons. Bizarrely, Mercury produced the Villager through a partnership with, of all companies, Nissan. Both the Villager and Nissan Quest were built in Ohio at the same factory alongside the Econoline. Both vans were powered by Nissan’s VG series V6s, which have actually done pretty well in Lemons. Unfortunately, both companies also offered only an automatic transmission. However, we bet an enterprising Lemons team could swap in the Maxima’s five-speed gearbox. Any way you bring your Villager, it’ll be welcome in Lemons.
Not quite a van, not quite an SUV, not quite a Taurus and not good at all. Really, we’d be happy for a Taurus X, its predecessor the Freestyle, the Freestar minivan, or their Mercury counterparts. In any case, the Taurus X (and Freestyle) were based on the Ford Five Hundred/Taurus chassis. The Taurus X came with a 265-horsepower version of the Duratec V6, which may as well be 900 for Lemons. Crucially, you can also store a whole bunch of stuff in it between races and during towing, which is not to be discounted as a feature for a race car. In any case, themes abound for the “X.” (We’ve mentioned this in a previous list. Who cares? These forgettable heaps are perfect for Lemons.)
Of course, some cars we’ve mentioned on previous lists haven’t yet shown up. That includes—among many others—the 2002-2005 Ford Thunderbird, the Lincoln LS, and the Merkur Scorpio (above). If you so happen to bring just about any pre-1980 Ford, you’ll also receive heaps of praise and probably a trophy or two. Whichever Ford you’re bringing to Lemons, get your buddies and yourself signed up to race it here.
Lemons Cars We’d Like to See, Part 1
Lemons Cars We’d Like to See, Part 2
Late-Model American Cars We’d Like to See
Lemons Cars We’d Like to See, Part 3
Six More Cars On Our Wish List
Still More Wish List Cars
Weird GM Hatchbacks for Lemons
Even More Wish List Cars
Five American Cars With Imported Engines
7 Cars for Class C Domination
Late-Model Chryslers Tailor-Made for Lemons
5 Crapcan Repeats Always Welcome in Lemons
Malaise Era Six: A Lemons Wish List of Slow, Unsteady Fords