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HCOTY Nominee: The K-It-Forward/NSF Racing Plymouth Reliant

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Sure, I’ve routinely called this crapcan albatross the Worst LeMons Car of All Time (WLCOAT), but the fact remains that NSF Racing’s Plymouth Reliant is far more than a 24 Hours of LeMons entry and perhaps even more than a car. It’s a shared experience, a paragon of unity, and a demonstration of how the Internet enthusiast community can come together. The 2013 K-It-Forward campaign has spawned far too many stories to tell in just a few hundred words, but follow along after the jump to scratch the surface on what should be the Hooniversal Car of the Year.

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LeMons Supreme Court Justice had clamored for years about how LeMons needed a proper Lee Iacocca-grade example of the . At the 2012 Season Ender, Florida’s NSF Racing—purveyors of finely rusted Mopar and Mitsubishi products—brought a clapped-out 1987 Plymouth Reliant. It fared poorly, as expected, and the after it raced the 2013 Season Opener at Carolina Motorsports Park.

Rather than just give it away, the LeMons community responded by offering to ferry the car around the country with a different team taking its reins for each race. There wasn’t really a practical goal other than to have fun, but most expected the K would nab LeMons’ top trophy, the Index of Effluency at some point. The Reliant soon showed that expectations can be a bad thing to have.

 gingerman

Rather than recap each race and transit, here is an extremely brief overview of the highlights and lowlights:

  • The first team to take it over, Sputnik Racing, registered and tagged it so it could be driven between races on the street. This proved a blessing and a curse (mostly a curse) many times over.
  • Since the 2012 Season Ender, the K has from Florida to Washington and from New Hampshire to California. It crossed the country no fewer than three times and traveled around 25,000 miles (A lot for any car, let alone a 25-year-old beater of a Plymouth Reliant), split between the car itself, planned towing, and unplanned time on flatbed. It also wracked up more than 4,600 race miles, meaning K Car has seen almost 30,000 miles of movement in the past year.
  • By the K’s final race of the season, it was on its eighth motor. It had destroyed four (and was on its fifth) before receiving a . It then blew up three of those, naturally.
  • The Reliant took home a couple of event-specific trophies and an unprecedented three I Got Screwed awards.
  • K-Car fanatic Steven McDaniel —where it predictably broke—on the way to Buttonwillow Raceway in June. In December, six-time LeMons overall winner Mike Taylor . It eventually proved too frustrating and the good folks from another HCOTY nominee, Stick Figure Racing, generously lent Taylor their tow rig to get it to Sonoma.
  • After 12 miserable race attempts, the K finally took home the IOE at Road America.
  • Teams who ran the K, led by unofficial Steward of the K Doug Kirchberg, cobbled together a fittingly out of a small sampling of broken parts as a tribute to…something.

Here is Murilee Martin’s brief video of lowlights from the race at blustery Monticello Motors Club in April:

And here’s Murilee’s season-long lowlight reel:

It’s unclear quite how many different people raced the K this year, but the number is likely well north of 50 and possibly closer to 100. That’s a lot of different people who have driven it, wrenched on it, rewired it, towed it, commuted it, paid for it, sweated in it, frozen fingers for it, fretted about it, slept on it, wept on it, limped it, and pimped it. Which is to say nothing of those who have followed it, cheered it, and jeered it all season long.

The K switched hands a remarkable amount of times to unite hundreds of crazy souls in what can only be described as mass-masochism. Since the Hooniversal Car of the Year is an Internet contest, it’s only logical that an idea spawned on the Internet and executed in truly poor LeMons fashion deserves the vaunted HCOTY title.

Photos copyright Eric Rood/Redusernab 2013

  • I've touched it, so that's something. Long live the K-tastrophe!

  • skitter

    I think we have a winner.
    It's both so much more and so much less wretched than you'd expect.
    It has done things so much greater and so much worse than an appliance car.
    And the forum, if alerted, is so much closer and less likely to be banned than years past.

  • psychoboy

    As the last guy to race the 4 cylinder version of this fine racing machine (Eagles Canyon, May 2013), I have to wholeheartedly support this nomination. The K it forward is brilliant in its foolishness, and resplendent in its terribleness. It is, at once, proof that the worst ideas are often better than the other options, and that never giving up is more valuable than never getting started.

    Long live the K.

  • psychoboy

    also…

    Scrotium

  • cruisintime

    Any car with an engine count on the side gets a thumbs up from this old boy. My 57 Chevy had a few go through the engine room.

  • Nuclearspork

    I think because this may be the worst car ever built(and I mean this specific car not just K cars in general) is part of why it deserves to win. It accomplished what great cars would never attempt to do and somehow survived.

  • "…paid for it…."

    In the interest of full disclosure, I'm guilty of having thrown some money towards the effort of bringing The K to The Ridge, so there may be some bias underlying my enthusiasm.

    Most of my enthusiasm, however, arises from having pitted next to it and seeing its team do everything they could to keep that car out on the track.

    • Zaxbys

      While the car did everything it could to keep itself in the pits

  • LeMonster14

    Who votes on this? Is it internal or up for the masses??

    • BlackIce_GTS

      Most certainly the masses. The best part of HCOTY is when some single-interest forum gets wind that a car they like is up for something-something car of the year and spamvotes their preferred candidate into the stratosphere*.

      *This is two to three times the flight ceiling of a Cessna 310.

    • Eric Rood

      Here's the kickoff post:
      http://redusernab.info/2013/12/02/light-em-up-the-

      Not sure when voting starts. Next week, maybe?

  • ninjacoco

    This must win.

    MUST!

  • NSF

    Never in the annals of history has such an undeserving wretch of a car deserved to win as much K deserves to win this auspicious award..

  • Mike C.

    the K must win. the blood sweat and tears and dollars that she has extracted are measured in barrels.

  • DC Doug

    Mike, we're going to need the full weight if RB behind this.

  • dculberson

    You have my vote with this one, Roody.

    I've driven it around the pits at CMP and it is truly awful. Of course that was pre-v6 swap days, now I'm sure it's closer to a Ferrari to drive.

    • Rover1

      But not much closer?

  • Felis_Concolor

    All praise the Ks!

  • dc doug

    Erik – don't forget our 6,400 mile round trip tow from Orlando to Thunderhill… Sasha & I on the way up, me solo on the return.

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