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19 August 2019

Driving your vintage NASCAR '68 Charger on the street, with a water pipe roll cage

By Iain KellyIain Kelly

Our road laws in Australia mean the notion of digging an old, dilapidated car out of a field or junk yard and driving it hundreds of kilometres home just doesn't fly. Thankfully, that isn't the case in America where there are now plenty of guys and gals doing this and making shows about their adventures.

Arguably the kings of this category are Mike Finnegan and David Freiburger, the hosts for Motor Trend's hit show Roadkill. These guys have even taken real-deal race cars with stripped-out interiors and road-tripped them across state lines. But even they have limits.

Although Finnegan already has an unbelievably sweet 8-second blown Hemi-powered '55 Chevy known as Blasphemi, plus an LS3-powered El Camino pro tourer, he always wanted a ratty '68 Dodge Charger to beat on. Last year he found a genuine ex-NASCAR Charger and picked it up, turning it into an episode of Roadkill with pro-drifter and Hot Rod Garage host Tony Angelo.

Nicknamed the Death Metal Charger due to how sketchily built it was, the car had huge issues with tyres, the home-built nature of the car including a roll cage made out of water-pipe and stick-welded together, the driveshaft smashing into the floor, the eight-lug circle-track wheels, the dry-rotted tyres exploding, and more, which all made the road trip so entertaining. But Finnegan intended to drive the car around when he was at home so he's now gone through the race car and made it safer.

Note I didn't say "safe", just "safer". So along with replacing the busted steering box he has gone through removing some of the water pipe roll cage so he could fit proper seats (and a cup-holder), clearanced the tailshaft to the floor, then also got the suspension... well, less sketchy.

A country where you can legally drive old big-block drum-brake-equipped race cars that have water pipe for a roll cage? God bless America!