Last chance: The Turbo Taxi 24 Hours of LeMons car is junkyard-bound

The 24 Hours of LeMons is, ostensibly, a racing series for cars whose running gear costs $500, but sometimes car builders get carried away and blow by that dollar figure. Usually, those builders end up swimming in penalty laps, but the right type of insane car builder doesn’t mind that because they ultimately have an incredible, one-of-a-kind racecar.
Such is the case with Olaaf Rossi’s Turbo Taxi, a Ford Crown Victoria whose Modular V8 is fed by a pair of Garrett turbochargers. Rossi posted it for sale—post engine destruction—on the LeMons Forum in November for $5,000 and never got any bites.
Now it’s headed to the junkyard. Make the jump to see the video that explains why that’s an immense shame.

At the Turbo Taxi’s final race at New Jersey Motorsports Park last spring, it passed 107 cars in the race’s opening nine laps before the V8 called it quits. The for sale posting explains in excruciating detail about the build, but here are the most relevant factors:

  • Twin Garrett T3s, at least one of which is mounted inside the car underneath a scatter shield (Hence the amazing blow-off valve noises in the above video). From memory, I believe the setup made north of 350 horsepower.
  • T3650 manual transmission swap from a Ford Mustang (No surprise since Rossi also races a Mustang in NASA’s American Iron class).
  • Custom wiring with a Megasquirt injection setup outputting to 24-inch monitor inside the cabin to serve as the onboard instruments and also to make the car look like a fighter jet inside.

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Naturally, the engine is destroyed and would need replacing with the all-aluminum engine from a 1995 to 1999 Lincoln Mark VIII. The swapped-in engine would need a slight tune, according to the sale posting, but it would be insanely fun thereafter.
Alas, the car is headed to the junkyard after Rossi strips the parts from it.
[Photo: Murilee Martin]

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3 responses to “Last chance: The Turbo Taxi 24 Hours of LeMons car is junkyard-bound”

  1. Kamil_K Avatar

    I was at that race in NJ… I loved that thing. That said, it would have probably ran the whole race with stock engine and trans.

  2. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    While it is a shame its going to the boneyard, its completely understandable. This is ostensibly a series for $500 vehicles. Why would anyone new coming into the sport pay 5k for a vehicle that, while,yes, fast and fun, is also going to be saddled with enough penalty laps that will probably keep its lap count in negative numbers? Especially one with no engine. Dont misunderstand, I get the appeal of going out and absolutely laying waste to the field several times over in 20 minutes, but its rather counter-intuitive to the spirit of the series. I suspect most anyone attracted to LeMons is going to want to immerse themselves in the intrigue of locating and assembling their own pile of whatever and finding their own way of convincing the court that, "no, it really only did cost us $500, not $5000.

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      LeMons attracts people with a whole host of different goals; some just want to race for cheap and want a turn-key car. Some want to build cars and not race them at all. Most people fall somewhere in between. In the case of the Turbo Taxi's builders, they just wanted to build something crazy and relatively fast without worrying about which NASA or SCCA or whatever class it would fall into. This is a car that, I believe, ran without penalty laps by its third or fourth race because it wasn't going to win the race even if it ran without mechanical problems because of its extraordinary fuel burn.
      As for the asking price, a new LeMons build—any car—from scratch tends to run at least $3,000 with all of the (budget-exempt) safety equipment; most times it ends up closer to $5,000. Used turn-key LeMons cars usually sell for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,500, but the unique ones like the Geo Metro Gnome and so forth have sold for $5,000 in the past because they're tested and proven from the second the money changes hands.
      As for the accounting on that, the bill of sale or receipt or whatever usually says "$500 for (car) and $XXXX for safety equipment." It's then up to the BS judges to suss out what they feel the real-world value is and there's some nuance there (an email discussion with the head BS Inspector usually goes farther than LeMons' notorious "bribing"). If it's abundantly clear that you just want to have fun with the car and don't really have intentions of winning by bringing a howitzer to a water-balloon fight, then the judges usually exercise some leniency. See also: Team Sensory Assault's 350-horsepower RX-7.