Six Cars on Lemons Organizers’ Wish Lists


The 24 Hours of Lemons has become a fantastic venue people who want to revive bizarre and forgotten cars. That includes everything from a Willys Aero Lark to a Daihatsu Charade. However, Lemons organizers continually hope for evermore cars built entirely out of Index of Effluency vibes. From time to time, we’ll post these Lemons Wish Lists to inspire teams looking for a challenge. That could mean anything from rough starting points to parts-supply “difficulties” or even utter banality.


Kaiser-/Frazer/Henry J/Allstate

Shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser’s foray into the auto industry may have been short-lived, but the cars from his brands pioneered post-war design language. We’ve had a few mid-century American cars with mixed results, but we think you could make a pretty cool Lemons car from a downmarket-brand Henry J, a fancy-pants Frazer, a stately Kaiser, or even a sweet Sears-sold Allstate.


Jaguar Mark 2 

While you won’t ever top a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow for stateliness on a racetrack, a curvy Jaguar Saloon car from the ‘60s makes a strong case for the bourgeois runner-up in Lemons. The original engines shared similar architecture with the revered E-Type, although they lacked all of the E-Type’s horsepower. That’s a moot point anyway, since most Mark II Saloons you’ll find for Lemons money have lingered for decades behind a barn with a gaping engine bay. Not to worry: Throw an oil-smeared Small-Block Chevy under the bonnet and go racing. It definitely will not be quick, but it will look terrific.


Mazda RX-4

Before the RX-7, the RX-4 topped the Mazda line and also debuted the 13B version of the company’s Wankel rotary engine. You could buy the RX-4 as a coupe or a wagon and either featured a whopping 110 horsepower from the noisy, spinning engine. While Lemons organizers tend not to enjoy the ear-splitting sound of a Mazda Wankel, the sound would be more palatable coming from a Malaise Era station wagon.


First-generation Audi Fox

As a general rule in Lemons, Audis have shown themselves fickle and overly complicated. That said, older Audis seem to do better than newer ones, so maybe the 1975 to 1979 Audi Fox is the magic bullet in Audi’s gun. OK, we don’t think the cousin of the Volkswagen Dasher—another Lemons Wish List car—will solve anybody’s problems, but you should have no trouble talking your way into Class C with a Fox.


Mercury Topaz

Few people remember the throwaway Ford Tempo. Fewer still remember its upmarket Mercury sibling, the Topaz. However, this author and Lemons judge drove an ‘85 Topaz as his first car. As such, he can attest to the utter garbage of the platform. Ford slung milllions of the Tempo/Topaz things in a 11-year run, but somehow only one Ford Tempo has raced Lemons. The 90-horsepower 2.3-liter “High Swirl Combustion” engine is just a Ford Straight Six with two cylinders lopped off. Bonus points for racing on the wheels pictured above.


Suzuki Esteem

A car so forgettable that you probably never knew it even existed. Suzuki never gained much foothold in the automobile market stateside; the poorly named Esteem probably had much to do with that. Its 1.5-liter engine fell short of triple-digit horsepower and nothing else stood out about the Corolla knock-off. If it wasn’t for the TV show “Better Call Saul,” you probably would have forgotten this one altogether.

You can find more 24 Hours of Lemons Wish Lists below. While many of those cars have turned up, they’re of the type that Lemons organizers would gladly welcome more of them.

Lemons Cars We’d Like to See, Part 1
Lemons Cars We’d Like to See, Part 2
Lemons Cars We’d Like to See, Part 3
Why Not Race a Forgettable Late-Model American Car?