Why not!? Rear-wheel drive plus power, equals fun!
When David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan started filming Roadkill—the show started because the guys used to do these trips and write articles about them in HOT ROD magazine—they set out with one goal: have fun doing real car things. It might not look like it, but this cobbled-together 1956 Nash Metropolitan is the perfect expression of that mentality.
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You wouldn’t be too far off in thinking Finnegan and Freiburger only like muscle cars or vehicles with engine compartments big enough for big-block V-8s, but all they really care about is whether or not a car is fun to drive.
For a land barge like the Crusher Impala, all 700-plus horsepower and 400-something cubic inches of supercharged V-8 are necessary for the requisite Roadkill fun (read, burnouts). In a tiny car built for the autocross course, like the Metropolitan, that threshold for fun (read, danger) is much lower.
Trash Metropolitan = Roadster Body + Mini-Truck Chassis + Turbo Inline-Four
Die-hard fans of classic American roadsters are looking at this particular example of a Nash Metropolitan and thinking, “That’s not a Metro.” You’re right, it isn’t. This homebuilt autocrosser is a Frankenstein-esque amalgamation of the previously mentioned 1956 Nash Metropolitan body, a 1978 Toyota mini-truck chassis, and the turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four out of a 1988-ish Ford Thunderbird.
Stretched over a foot, hood from a Hudson, tack-welded fender flares, floors made of plywood, no roof to speak of (in a car from the Pacific Northwest, no less); this recipe of mishmashed garbage magically turning into something great is in no way a first for Roadkill, but unlike the Rotsun or the Vette Kart, David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan didn’t build the Trash Metropolitan.
Every so often, the Roadkill crew will do the unthinkable: buy someone else’s project vehicle sight unseen. Usually, that only leads to headaches and more money to get the vehicle ultimately where you want it. This is Roadkill, and that means Freiburger and Finnegan aren’t even going to lift the hood of the sporty little Nash before embarking on an 1,100-mile road trip.
Hit the Road, Worry Later!
But that is the essence of Roadkill. Freiburger has been saying for over a decade, “Don’t get it right, just get it running, and then go drive,” and he means it! He and Mike Finnegan are the kings of the inappropriate vehicle. It’s the adventure, the triumph in the face of adversity, that make these trips fun for everyone.
It doesn’t matter that the Metropolitan pukes oil out of the valve cover, somehow smoking the guys out in a car completely open to the elements. It matters even less that the gas pedal is over a foot away from the brake pedal or that it was made from a windshield wiper arm. The front fenders hit the tires over every bump and push the lightweight racer around, but that just makes the ride more exciting!
Windshield wipers in one the wettest areas in the United States? Who needs ’em! Not Finnegan and Freiburger. They’ve got rear-wheel drive, a Tremec T5, and just enough power from the turbo 2.3 to get into trouble—another perfect day at work for Roadkill.
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