Hella Sweet Lemons Car of the Week: The Run-EXP 1982 Ford EXP

By: Judge Phil "Murilee Martin, The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rolla" Greden. Photo Credits: Eric Rood, Phil Greden, Nick Pon
December 9, 2019

During the 1980s, when you wanted a two-seat version of a huge-selling and much-beloved subcompact, what car did you buy? For most people— boring people, that is— the answer was the Honda CRX, the shortened Civic. For those who wanted to roll in true Ford Escort style, there was the Ford EXP and its Mercury-badged sibling, the LN7. We begged racers to run an EXP or LN7, like, every couple of days for the first seven years of the 24 Hours of Lemons, and Sir Jackie Stewart’s Coin Purse Racing finally obliged with this ’82.

The EXP actually beat the Honda CRX to market by two years and just look at it! Since it weighed 147 pounds more than the Escort hatchback on which it was based yet kept the same 70-horsepower 1.6-liter engine (an optional 80-horse version arrived later in the model year), the EXP wasn’t terrifyingly fast. Clearly, this car is perfect for the 24 Hours of Lemons.


Sir Jackie Stewart’s Coin Purse Racing, a Pennsylvania-based outfit, found a first-year EXP, made it run, and added a staggeringly good Run-DMC “Tougher Than Leather” theme for the car’s debut at the 2013 Road America race.

Complete with gold chains, Adidas logos, and some non-insignificant fraction of the original 70 thundering horses under the hood, the Run-EXP was the star of the car inspections.

These Run-EXP team shirts have since become prized collector’s items among the truly hip Lemons cognoscenti.

The Run-EXP’s double-digit horsepower made it a bit slow on the race track, but the team finished in the top half of the standings at their very first race.

At most races, that performance would have been good for an easy Index of Effluency win, but The Worst Car In Lemons History (and maybe human history) somehow came in 22nd out of 76 entries that weekend, by far the best performance that wretched K-Car ever had during its ignoble racing career.

Sir Jackie Stewart’s Coin Purse Racing did take home one of the big trophies that weekend: the Organizer’s Choice.

The Run-EXP has competed in three races since then, the most recent being the 2016 New Jersey event. Each time, some other hooptie has grabbed the IOE trophy from the sporty Malaise Era two-seater, but the wise and fair judges of the Lemons Supreme Court may be forced to put their thumbs on the scales of “justice” the next time they see this car on a track.

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