How Much Will the Judges Like Your Hooptie? Take This Simple Test and Find Out!

By: Judge Phil "Murilee Martin, The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rolla" Greden. Photo Credits: Judge Phil, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Nash, Gilbert Shelton, Peugeot, etc.
April 29, 2020

As the wise and fair Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of Lemons Supreme Court, I receive many emails from prospective racers asking for ideas about the race cars they’re thinking of running. Will our hooptie get penalty laps? Will our hooptie get put into Class A? Will you even accept our hooptie into a crowded race?, they want to know. I respond to many of those emails by suggesting that teams race a Peugeot 504 or Olds Cutlass Salon Coupe, but the sheer quantity of such queries suggests that it’s time we provided a little quiz, along the lines of the one that the future Judge Jonny created for Jalopnik back in the day.


Here’s how it works: Start with a score of zero, read each question, take your best guess at an answer, apply the resulting points to your total, and move on to the next question. Some questions will require subjective judgments, so try to put yourself in the mindset of the misanthropic automotive-journalist-turned-race-organizer who hates real racing the way Ronald Reagan hated socialized medicine when you answer.


Keep in mind that the results of this test just tell you how likely you’ll be to get cut slack by the Lemons Supreme Court judges in the BS inspection, how much general admiration you’ll receive from your fellow Lemons racers, and how good your chances are of getting extensive coverage in our world-famous race-recap and LemonsWorld videos. The results of this test tell you nothing about your team’s chances of being accepted at an overcrowded Lemons event; if you want to make sure you get past the velvet rope and into a VIP race, just sign up early!

1. Vehicle Type
Miserable econobox (Chevette, Tercel, 323, Fox, etc.): +30 points
Van/minivan: +25 points
Big fat luxury sedan (DeVille, Town Car, Q45, S-Class, etc.): +25 points
Pray-for-painless-death rental car (Malibu, Altima, Taurus, Avenger, etc.): +20 points
Grandma’s church chariot (Sable, Regal, Achieva, Camry, etc.): +18 points
SUV: +15 points
Pickup truck: +15 points
Station wagon: +12 points
Super-complex European luxury car that depreciated 99% in 10 years (Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Jaguar S-Type, etc.): +10 points
Former cop car: +7 points
Allegedly high-performance but actually horrible Detroit FWD (Cobalt SS, Caliber SRT4, etc.) +5 points
Mock-sporty transportation appliance (Toyota Avalon, VW Jetta, etc.): 0 points
Hot hatch/sport compact (VW GTI, Integra, etc.): -10 points
Detroit rear-wheel-drive muscle of any sort (Mustang, Camaro, Magnum, etc.): -20 points
Annoying-wanker rear-wheel-drive sporty car (3-Series, Miata, 240SX, etc.): -30 points

2. Country of Origin
We’re talking about the spiritual homeland of your hooptie “race car,” not necessarily the country in which it was built (so your Brazilian-built GTI still counts as German, while a Gurgel counts as Brazilian despite its Beetle ancestry). Likewise, post-Fiat Chryslers count as American, not Italian, while we consider the Daewoo-built Pontiac LeMans to be South Korean. Don’t seek loopholes here and you’ll be fine.
USSR or other Warsaw Pact country: +500 points
Iran: +400 points
India: +300 points
Brazil or Argentina (must be local-market only): +150 points
China (must be Chinese-market brand): +100 points
Australia (must be RHD, Down Under-market only car): +75 points
Some country nobody’s ever heard of: +69 points
Netherlands: +60 points
France: +50 points
Great Britain: +40 points
Italy: +30 points
South Korea: +15 points
Sweden +5 points
USA: 0 points
Japan: -5 points
Germany: -10 points

3. Year of Manufacture
1950 or older: +300 points
1951-1960: +150 points
1961-1970: +60 points
1971-1980: +35 points
1981-1990: +20 points
1991-2000: 0 points
2001-2010: -20 points
2011-2020: -50 points, unless you’re caging and racing a rental car, in which case you get +1000 points. That’s the hooptie mecca.

4. Engine Power Per Unit of Displacement
This one requires that you do some math. Take the horsepower rating of your engine (when it was new) and divide it by its displacement (in cubic inches or liters). This is the engine that’s in the car, not some theoretical engine it might have had when it was new. We’re not going to quibble about net-versus-gross power numbers; use gross numbers for engines made 1972 and earlier and net for newer engines.
Less than 0.4 hp per cubic inch (24.5 hp/liter): +100 points
Between 0.4 hp per cubic inch and 0.6 hp per cubic inch (24.5 to 36.6 hp/liter): +50 points
Between 0.6 hp per cubic inch and 0.8 hp per cubic inch (36.6 to 48.8 hp/liter): +20 points
Between 0.8 hp per cubic inch and 1 hp per cubic inch (48.8 to 61 hp/liter): 0 points
Between 1 hp per cubic inch and 1.5 hp per cubic inch (61 to 91.5 hp/liter): -20 points
Between 1.5 hp per cubic inch and 2 hp per cubic inch (91.5 to 122 hp/liter): -40 points
More than 2 hp per cubic inch (122 hp/liter): -50 points

5. Transmission Type
No, 5-speeds with two busted gears don’t count as 3-speeds. Nice try.
Column-shift manual: +100 points
2-speed automatic: +75 points
3-on-the-floor manual: +50 points
3 (or more)-speed automatic with column shift: +30 points
3 (or more)-speed automatic with floor shift: +20 points
4-on-the-floor manual: +10 points
5-on-the-floor manual: 0 points
6 (or more)-on-the-floor manual: -50 points

6. Special Editions
Final 500 Oldsmobile: +350 points
Cadillac d’Oro: +100 points
Brougham d’Elegance: +80 points
Suzuki Works Techno: +75 points
Tercel Hawk: +75 points
Young America Edition Mercury: +70 points
Mark Cross Chrysler: +60 points
Cartier, Givenchy, Pucci, Bill Blass Lincoln: +50 points
GM Luxus: +40 points
Brougham: +30 points
Landau: +25 points
Walter P. Chrysler Edition: +20 points
Mitsubishi Ralliart: +12 points
More than 15 stick-on faux-chrome badges from Pep Boys: +10 points
Audi S: 0 points (they always blow up)
Honda Si: -5 points
Nissan SE-R:: -20 points
Mazdaspeed: -75 points
BMW M:: -150 points
Mercedes-Benz AMG: -200 points
Mitsubishi AMG: +1000 points

7. High-School Perceived Coolness Rating

This one is really subjective, so do your best to put yourselves in the shoes of the cynical judges checking out your car during the BS Inspection. Imagine your hooptie showing up, when it was brand-new, in a North American high school parking lot in a McMansiony upper-middle-class neighborhood. How cool would the most insufferably smug bunch of high-school jocks have judged your car to be back then?
Homecoming King and his droogs grab you, give you a swirly for daring to drive such an uncool car in their presence: +100 points
Jocks point and laugh at your car: +50 points
Nobody notices your invisible generic car: +25 points
Your car grudgingly acknowledged to be barely cool enough to exist (but don’t get ideas, ya jerkoff): 0 points
Somewhat cool: -25 points
Very cool: -50 points
So cool that students take selfies posing with your car (if a 1965 car, assume those selfies are taken with Kodak Instamatics): -75 points
You are automatically made Homecoming King due to your car’s incredible coolness, previous King given a swirly: -100 points

8. Public Notoriety

Is your car well-known for some terrible flaw or scandal, such as the Audi Unintended Acceleration Debacle, the Ford Park-To-Reverse Disaster, the Explodin’ Pintos Extravaganza, the Unsafe At Any Speed Corvair Nightmare, the Aztek Brain-Damaging Ugliness Maelstrom, the Oldsmobile Diesel Shitshow, the 45-foot Stag Timing Chain Trash Masher of Doom, the Subaru SVX Balsa-Wood Transmission Fiasco, et cetera? Must be something well-known outside of dealership mechanics.
Yes: +50 points
No: 0 points

9. Beloved Marques
We are very pleased to see vehicles made (and badged) by certain manufacturers on our track, so here are some bonus points for them:
Rolls-Royce, Bentley: +500 points
Mitsuoka: +400 points
Excalibur, Zimmer, Stutz: +300 points
Studebaker, Packard, Nash, DeSoto, Hudson, Willys, Kaiser, Frazer, Oakland: +250 points
Glas, Borgward, Horch, NSU, Goggomobil, Prinz: +200 points
Simca, Matra, Citroën, Panhard: +150 points
Maserati: +140 points
Talbot, Singer, Reliant, Alvis, Humber, Vauxhall, Hillman, Sunbeam: +100 points
Lancia: +95 points
Opel: +90 points
TVR, Bitter: +80 points
Asüna: +75 points
Sterling: +60 points
Daewoo, Isuzu, Suzuki, Daihatsu: +50 points
Merkur, Eagle: +30 points
Saturn, Geo: +20 points
Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac: +10 points
Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler: +5 points


All right, let’s see how you did!

  • Worse than -250 points: It’s not too late to get serious with fiberglass and turn your car into a giant rutabaga!
  • -249 to -100 points: Your team’s budget will be scrutinized mercilessly. Install a giant PA system that blasts Nixon speeches on the track.
  • -99 to -50 points: We’re bored.
  • -49 to 0 points: Your hooptie will blend into the background on the track. No Organizer’s Choice trophy for you!
  • 1 to 50 points: Now we’re talking!
  • 51 to 100 points: What $500 budget? We don’t see any budget here!
  • 101 to 200 points: You’ll be in the recap video for sure, and you’ll be a top Organizer’s Choice/Index of Effluency contender
  • 201 to 350 points: We might send all the other teams home.
  • 351 or more points: You’re the reason we put on these stupid races.


Now, if you convert your race car into something so spectacular that it causes jaws to drop when viewed from all the way across the race track, then the judges will love your hooptie no matter what it was when it rolled off the assembly line. That means that your Dodge Hellcat made into a 20-foot-tall rolling replica of Lee Iacocca’s head should get just as much approval as, say, a Honda Civic with an air-stairs rig. And, of course, there’s always that giant rutabaga theme…

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