Hemi Gremi is nearing completion and it’s almost time for David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan to do what they do best—destroy tires in questionable junk! Roadkill’s 1975 AMC Gremlin has come a very long way from it’s first appearance with a Toyota Prius. The 426 Hemi is in place, the Gremlin body is attached to the Model A chassis; now it’s time to make a front suspension that works and show the world how to do a burnout—Hemi Gremi-style!
The Hemi Gremi has a singular purpose: look great and do burnouts. Okay, that might be two things, but burnouts look cool, street freaks are all about style—it’s all about looking good to Freiburger, whether that be the best-stanced AMC Gremlin in existence, or a cloud of tire smoke coming from 426 Hemi power, but the combination of the two is best.
Related: Just how many burnouts have Mike Finnegan and David Freiburger done on Roadkill? There’s only one place to find out, the MotorTrend App. Sign up for a free trial today!
What is a Street Freak?
David Freiburger is not building a Gasser. Gassers are any drag racing machine fueled by gasoline (very broad generalization, we know), and the term is now used to refer to race cars from the 1960s that had lifted, straight-axle front ends built to be as light as possible and aid weight transfer to the rear tires. Hemi Gremi is not a race car, remember, and Freiburger doesn’t care about how fast the old AMC actually is. Enter the street freak.
Street freaks were never built to be race cars. 1970s-era builders wanted to pay homage to the racers of the previous decade, but added stylish paint jobs into the mix and built their cars to show and cruise, not race. Freiburger has a vision of an outlandishly high-riding, obnoxiously tunnel-rammed, perfectly ridiculous cruiser—that can fry tires on a whim—and the best build-style for a car like that has to be a street freak. Plus he had this old Gremlin lying around, an extra second-gen 426 Hemi that wasn’t being used, it was kismet!
But if he hadn’t decided to stick to the cartoon build template (literally, they’re trying to match the stance from a drawing on a t-shirt), the Hemi Gremi probably would have happened much sooner, but would not be nearly as cool. Getting the Hemi into the engine bay of the Gremlin and trimming the hood to fit around it was the easy part, but that does nothing to add to the stance of a proper street freak.
What it Takes to Combine a Hemi, a Gremlin, and a Model A
If it were just a tall burnout machine, Hemi Gremi would have been done a long time ago. But David Freiburger wants to be able to roadtrip this freakish AMC without having to worry about reliability and driveability issues. That’s why the 426 Hemi is largely as Mopar delivered the crate engine to Freiburger oh-so-long-ago when they first released the line in the mid-1990s. A three-speed Torqueflite doesn’t cut it in a street freak cruising machine built for America’s modern highways, but a 4L80 with a fully manual valve body? That will do nicely, thank you.
The original transverse leaf spring front suspension on the Sam Strube Model A racing chassis is no match for for a fully-dressed Mopar big-block, so a conversion to parallel leafs (just like a 4×4) is a must, but that also means fabricating a new front suspension assembly almost entirely from scratch. Good thing Mike Finnegan’s friends, Andrew and Matthew Calkins, are still on hand to help out.
It’s hard to believe sometimes, but the Roadkill crew does care about their personal safety. Getting the caster angle set just right and spring perches mounted so the tires will steer properly and the suspension won’t bind are imperative for a safe and comfortable driving experience. Reinforcing the new floors, building a transmission tunnel, mating the 4L80 to the Hemi with the wrong torque converter and bellhousing—none of Hemi Gremi’s journey to completion was easy, except the burnouts at the end. There’s only one place to see it all happen—the MotorTend App.
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