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The best (and mostly worst) street car tributes to NASCAR


The best and worst NASCAR paint jobs on street cars

The best (and mostly worst) street car tributes to NASCAR

We've all been there. Driving down the road, half-focused on the traffic around us when suddenly it appears: A Ford Tempo painted to match Matt Kenseth's early-aughts era DeWalt Taurus. The shade tree paint job is so hideous you don't even notice the unmatched tires, nor are you annoyed by the sound of its muffler, so jimmy-rigged it sounds like an angry bumblebee. Since these bastard children born of an unholy Cooter Davenport-Robby Reiser alliance are rarely seen in the wild, we've assembled 17 of the ... mostly worst ... street car tributes to NASCAR paint jobs.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. … No. 24?

“They see me rollin’ … they hatiinnn’…”

Say what you will — at least he got the headrests embroidered. Front and back.

Richard Petty Plymouth Volare

Slick paint job, but did you know that in the late 1970s you could buy a Plymouth Volare with decals in the trunk to pay homage to “The King”? Never mind that Petty hadn’t campaigned a Plymouth since 1972 — or that he bailed on Chrysler completely midway through the '78 season when the Magnum had become one magnum-size turd. This was back in an era where horsepower had so completely degraded that cubic inches were replaced with acres of stickers and decals.

Ward Burton Sun Prix

What better way to honor the exploits of Ward Burton than this stunning recreation of his 1997-2000 Caterpillar Grand Prix — in Sunfire garb. Back before General Motors began installing intermittent ignitions and went a few months between model-wide recalls, the Sunfire was the Official Car of Hot Girls everywhere, an honor it would also share with its Grand Am stable mate.  Extra points for this one, though, for featuring the swoopy rear blade that was PonTon specific back then — the same one that helped Bobby Labonte make a mockery of the field in Michigan and Atlanta. Upon closer inspection of this specific ride, it appears to be a Martinsville car given the nose damage.

Dale Earnhardt — Peter Maxx Monte Carlo SS

In 2012, I compiled a list of NASCAR’s ugliest paint schemes — it has been repeated by other, ahem, “authors” over the course of the past two years — but a common thread of e-mails and thinly-veiled death threats was the No. 1 placeholder given to the 2000 Peter Maxx scheme that Dale Earnhardt ran in The Winston. OK, fair enough if you were a fan of “The Intimidator.” But here’s the real litmus test: would you drive this multi-hued barf bucket down the street? This guy called my bluff, answered the call and is rubbing my face directly into this LSD-fueled family car. My boss at the local Chevrolet dealer when I sold cars in college called the 2000 Monte “about the sexiest thing we’ve had in this showroom in a long time.” Keep your pants on, boss …

Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet Lumina — (in)Bred for Racing

Admittedly, other than the muscle car era rides of 1964-72, the Gen 4 cars of the early- to late-1990s were my favorites. Dale Earnhardt’s Luminas, which claimed four of his seven Winston Cup titles, will be forever immortalized in this Z34 that stands before you. Not only is it “Bred For Racing,” it also features the height of luxury for Chevrolet’s demanding clientele of the ‘80s and ‘90s: the maroon interior. After I wadded up my Mom’s ’91 Lumina during my initial winter driving lesson, my Dad and I weighed the options of seeing if we could find a NASCAR-ized nose for the front wheel-drive sleigh. Thankfully, the cooler heads of the insurance company prevailed.

Kevin Harvick “Back to the Future” Goodwrench Monte Carlo

OK, this one turned out pretty damned decent to be honest (aside from the tackiness) … except for one small detail: this body style of the Monte Carlo ceased production in 1999, while Harvick ran this version in 2004-07. #FAIL

Matt Kenseth — Tempotaurus

Were you surprised when Matt Kenseth beat out Dale Earnhardt Jr. for Rookie of the Year honors in 2000? Not after you see what he was wheeling! The lettering- and font-matching are uncanny, though hopefully Robby Reiser managed to pull out that caved-in front fender to avoid a tire rub. Also, as with the previous Lumina, I spy maroon mouse fur upholstery!

Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Big Red Replica

It’s one thing to have bought one of the Intimidator packages on a mid-2000s Monte or similar Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr. offerings — but this just takes it to a whole new level. 

Hood pin stickers: Check. 

Fluorescent tape to index wheel and jack on pit stops: Check. 

North Carolina state flag next to name on roof: Check.

These testaments to fandom aside, I think my favorite feature might be the Drakar Noir cologne sponsor sticker on the lower rear quarter panel. Ahhh, the King of Beers coupled with the scent of nightclub desperation!

Boys … AVENGE ME!!!

I was trying to think of something similarly snarky and sarcastic to say about this one, but it actually looks kinda cool. Mark Martin won five IROC championships before the series disbanded (after running out of production Firebirds for four years), with the Dodge Avenger proving to be the best racing and handling car the series had. If only Dodge had seen fit to make this one a rear drive to compete with the Camaro and Mustangs of the day …

Jeff Gordon — Monte Carlo Z34

This one is pretty period correct, but if you’re going to go all out and get every single accurate decal why cheese out and go for some generic mailbox lettering on the taillight panel? I snapped this one at the Brickyard 400 in 2007, proving this guy was way ahead of the curb in another area: flat-black, spray-painted factory rims. 

The Home Cherricrocker Chargalier

I managed to hook this one driving through the infield at Indy a few years ago as well, and thought I’d share given the No. 43’s recent triumphant return to victory lane in Daytona. As the love glove emblem on the quarter panel can attest, “I don’t know why they call it Hamburger Helper Clark, I think it does just fine all by itself.” (H/T Cousin Eddie) 

This conflicted Stewart fan went home happy that day, as Smoke stole the show in the closing laps then said “bullshit” in his interview to the 250,000 in attendance.

Rusty Wallace — Grand National

What better way to salute 1989 Winston Cup champion and Hall of Fame member Rusty Wallace than by ruining a 1987 Buick Grand National? An iconic paint scheme of the ‘90s for sure, but that doesn’t mean you have to sully a turbo Buick with it. Seriously. I get physically angry looking at this. And how about you just put all the Miller stickers possible on the front fender while you’re at it.

DW … Give Me a Dew!

Or how about a “Don’t”? Darrell Waltrip won titles in 1981 and ’82 in the first generation of the downsized cars after the automakers abandoned the land-barge look of the late ‘70s. This one is actually pretty nice, even with the green wheels (any self-respecting Waltrip fan knows you gotta chrome those bad boys). For all that’s made of the Gen-6 car looking more like production cars, this one takes the cake without really even trying. 

Penske Matador on the Floor

Irony here: Penske makes shocks and this car looks like it has none. Actually done pretty well with a sweet old school paint scheme to boot. We’ll throw the AMC guys a bone here and give a tip of the cap for this one.

Swervin’ Skittles Grand Prix

I’m tasting the rainbow against my will on this one, but it may be cool only because Ernie Irvan actually signed the dashboard. Pretty rad American Racing Rims too, as well as that CoT spoiler that was such a big hit with fans, drawing “The Fast & the Furious” kids in droves back to the track. I found this heap on a sale site and it could be yours for the princely sum of $7,995. That’s all?!

Jeff Gordon — Camarotruck

It's bad enough to own a ‘78 Camaro, but even worse to convert it into a monster truck … or is this a monster car? Whatever. I'm pretty sure the decal and paint cost more than the whole contraption, which actually turned out nice — but it's still a Monster Camarotruck. Only one question: Can you barrel it into Turn 1 at Pocono with no brakes? No worries about hitting the wall, because you can just drive through it!

Honorable Mention: The General Lee has seen better days

Tough times must have hit Hazzard County once Bo and Luke left to pursue their NASCAR dreams. I am assuming this is Coy and Vance’s dilapidated shit bucket we captured, scattering Pontiac plastic (redundant?) all over Montcalm County. Mich. Even Cletus could’ve caught this thing on Hazard's endless miles of dirt roads on his worst day after a box of Krispy Kremes. Joking aside, props to this guy for investing in the proper “01” door decal, flaring the front fenders out for maximum downforce and front tire clearance, and to the U.S. Air Force sticker in the quarter window. Semper Fly.