In this week’s Hella Sweet Car of the Week, we decided to take a brief look at The Wonderment Consortium, whose self-inflicted hopeless nature exemplifies the 24 Hours of Lemons. Naturally, The Wonderment Consortium match their inability to make their cars run well with eclectic tastes in poor automobile. Someday, we’ll cover their incredible appetite for awful ‘80s and ‘90s turbo cars, but let’s begin where they started with this delightfully decorated lowly Honda Civic.
The Wonderment Consortium’s Lemons attempts started conspicuously enough in 2012 at Chicago’s Autobahn Country Club under the team name Builders League United. BLU mounted a roof rack atop their Honda Civic that held a massive replica of the bomb cart from the video game Team Fortress. A compact-to-midsize car carrying a comically oversized bomb makes for stunning viewing from trackside. That dedication to absurdity over performance made this team an instant favorite and easy pick for the Judges Choice trophy.
Just a few short weeks later, the Builders League United squad raced in Lemons’ 2012 weekday Road America race with a more streamlined bomb. Basically, they redesigned their rooftop weapon from a Fat Man replica to a Little Boy one. That optimized it for Road America’s very long straights. We’re kidding, of course. The BLU Civic still had its stock D-series engine and automatic transmission. Its fastest lap was the fifth-slowest of the entire race, but who cares? Just look at this thing.
The Civic returned to Autobahn in October 2012 with a full helicopter rig. That included both the tail boom and rotor blades. They unfortunately were overshadowed a bit by Nutjob Racing’s staircar replica and Bust-A-Nut Racing’s replica of Mr. T (not the A-Team van but Mr. T himself) at Autobahn when it came tophy time.
Nevertheless, the boom doubled the Civic’s length, giving them some extra room in traffic. If you’re thinking of buying yourself some extra space on the Lemons track, might we suggest adding some accoutrements of this variety? Maybe they wanted even more space—more likely, they just wanted to be even more absurd—but the Civic got an even bigger tailboom for its Gingerman ’13 race.
At this point, roof-mounted decoration had become the norm for the team. By the time the car rolled into Autobahn in 2013 with the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the roof, some team members had split to race a turbocharged Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon under The Wonderment Consortium name. The Builders League United would later race as one of several teams under that larger Wonderment Consortium name, thereby lending “legitimacy” to “Consortium” in the team name.
When the Civic returned to Road America for the chilly November race in 2013, they had upped the game yet again. The Civic had become a Conestoga wagon, complete with large fabric cover supported by a significant wooden structure. Again, the Civic proved not-remotely-fast with the third-slowest lap of the weekend. And again, nobody in Lemons cared, giving them the event-specific “You Have Died of Dysentery” award after the sick-sounding engine finally went blammo.
The Civic—having raced in 2013 with the team names Pisa Crap and Oregon Fail—officially “joined” the Wonderment Consortium in 2014. Their three-car Easter theme—along with the turbocharged Quantum and this author’s old Ford Escort—took home the Organizer’s Choice at the Gingerman race on Easter weekend. Judge Phil only managed this one photo of the Peeps-topped Civic, but think of it like the elusive and famous Bigfoot photo.
The Midwestern Civic again reappeared for the one-day, 14-hour race at Autobahn in July 2014 with…suboptimal results. This time, the car sported the Led Zeppelin dirigible on the roof.
On the pace laps before the race even started, the car in front blew up its engine or transmission. The Civic slid in the oil slick, skidded onto the wet grass off track, and flipped onto its lid. The driver and car were fine, but the zeppelin was mashed to pieces and Lemons had its first pre-race red flag.
No bother, the Wonderment Consortium said. They buffed out the dents and brought it back for the next race. The Civic and Quantum made up a Ghostbusters theme for the fall Gingerman 2014 race. The Quantum Wagon naturally became Ecto 1 while the Civic acted as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. More cars need oversized hats if nothing else.
The final Wonderment Consortium appearance for the Civic recreated the Illinois prairie in miniature. That included sod all over the car for an authentic Lemons Green Space. To that, they added a paint scheme that resembled most of flyover country as seen from above. Unfortunately, the Civic didn’t quite make it through that full 24-hour race at Autobahn, but we gave them a second event-specific trophy, the “On a Wing and Prairie” trophy.
The Wonderment Consortium/Builders League United team sold the car not long after. Some Chattanooga-based racers bought the old Civic. They gave it a low-buck Smokey and the Bandit makeover for their first race at Barber Motorsports Park in 2017. True to its nature, it chugged along to finish mid-pack with glacially slow lap times.
The Bandits upgraded after that to a much newer Honda. Since 2018, we’re unsure where the old Civic has gone. We have some slim hope it’ll reappear someday with new and fantastic rooftop additions. Nevertheless, we slung at least four trophies in 10 races at The Wonderment Consortium and their finely decorated Civic. Consider that official encouragement to mount more giant things to the roof of your race cars.