Retreat Repeats: 7 Multiple-Time Winter Lemons Rally Cars

By: Eric Rood Photo Credits: Eric Rood
January 20, 2020

The Retreat From Moscow Rally can be tough. Whether you’re running it in an old convertible (for some reason) or a deftly customized 1980s van, it tests your willingness to endure cold and tricky roads. Many rallyists have undertaken multiple Retreats From Moscow, though they typically opt for a different vehicle every year.

We like that challenge and variety a lot, but we also enjoy those who have been overtaken by Stockholm Syndrome from their vehicle. So we bring you seven Lemons Rally cars that have convinced their owners to bring them back at least twice in the event’s three years.

Dahlinboys ‘Merican Van

The driver’s door carries tally marks for each cutoff wheel that gave its life to convert this old Dodge B-Series van into a truck. The functional exhaust stacks and a lifetime supply of marker lights add to the panache. Don’t forget the interior, where the middle bench seat was replaced by a thrift-store couch. The Dahlinboys have raced in Lemons for ages before adding rallies to their repertoire. The van has moved on, but their new ride for 2020 makes their third car (a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz floated them along in 2017) in four Retreat From Moscow Rallies.

The Griswolds’ Wagon Queen Family Truckster

Along with the Ford Crown Victoria, General Motors’ B-Body platform has become kind of the standard Lemons Rally ride. And why shouldn’t it? A Buick Roadmaster like The Griswolds’ features good(ish) V8 power, a cushy ride, and ample room for three or more adults. You don’t need to theme it to have a good time, but we always appreciate a good National Lampoon’s Vacation theme. This Family Truckster tribute…it’s real nice.

Greasy Endeavors’ Volkswagen Jetta TDI

This one bends the definitions of “repeat,” but hear us out. When the team’s biodiesel-powered Beetle died during the 2018 rally, they kept the hood but sent the rest to scrap. They then slapped the hood on a cheap Jetta. That isn’t totally noteworthy, one supposes, except they deleted the radiator entirely. The (literal) coolant plumbing was enough to keep the Jetta from overheating in the 2019 Polar Vortex.

Unplanned Oversteer’s Dodge Polara

It’s big, it’s brown, it’s Mopar. It looks amazing cruising down the sidestreets and the highways. Bring a car like this, earn all of the respect in Lemons.

Lunar Lemon’s Short Bus/Gemini spacecraft

After winning the inaugural 2016 Hell On Wheels Lemons Rally with a Ford Aerostar and racing a Chevy Astro in Lemons, Lunar Lemon showed up with a creaky diesel bus. They repainted it and limped along the West Virginia back roads in 2017. The next year, they got hit by a truck on the way to the rally’s start. The bus still drove straight (enough) after that. They showed up a day late, but the Gemini still finished that rally before earning retirement.

Sinical Racing’s 270-horsepower Volkswagen Beetle race car

It takes a special kind of person to take an uninsulated Beetle on a winter road trip, to say nothing of one with the V6 from a Honda Odyssey swapped onto the back. Yet, Sinical Racing did exactly that. Twice. The team wisely registered and ran a second van on both events to thaw out their drivers after turns at the wheel. Along the way, the Beetle accidentally got detained at the Canadian border once. At the rally’s end, they raced at Barber Motorsports Park both years with pro driver Randy Pobst driving the Beetle and gushing over its absurdity.

Whiskey Tango Hotel’s Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Diesel

We don’t know where these Pennsylvanians found a working 1980 Cadillac powered by the notorious Olds 350 Diesel V8. Wherever it came from, they’ve worked tirelessly to keep the terrible thing running. The sibling team flew in a childhood ex-patriate friend from Switzerland for their first rally in 2018. That somehow didn’t turn them off to the experience and they’re registered for their third Retreat From Moscow Rally in a week!

It’s not too late to sign up for the Retreat From Moscow Rally! You can find all the registration information here as well as an FAQ that we put up here. Online registration closed this Friday at midnight. However, late arrivals can pay cash without penalty for rally registration on January 28 in Cumberland, Maryland.

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