It’s finally happening! David Freiburger make his street monster dreams come true, and the Hemi Gremi is being built! You may remember the racing and driving of 1975 AMC Gremlin Roadkill bought for just $ 700 to take on a Toyota Prius in Episode 17, but you’re probably thinking of the Prius crushed by the tank rather.
However, the time has come, no more false starts or excuses: Freiburger has a real 426 Hemi, a Sam Strube Model A drag racing chassis and two of Mike Finnegan’s buddies, Andrew and Matthew Calkins, on the bridge. for help. Welcome to the Roadkill float, Hemi Gremi!
Why did it take so long for the Hemi Gremi to come to life? Have you ever tried putting a Mopar 426 big block in the engine bay of a AMC Gremlin? Packaging issues aside, Freiburger doesn’t care about straight-line speed for once. The Hemi Gremi is all about style and fun, which made it difficult to build the bench race. The original plan was to make a straight axle front suspension like a 1960s Gasser, but the longer the Roadkill the crew and friends examined it, the more they realized that they were only complicating things. Trying to get the front axle solid to accommodate the Hemi engine and integrated into the Gremlin’s monocoque was going to be a manufacturing mess.
1970s Street Freak built using 1940s hot rod techniques
Enter Sam Strube and his Ford Model A drag racing chassis. The name and chassis should sound familiar – this is the same builder that made the rails for Freiburger’s F-Rod Model A drag car. The Model A chassis takes care of all the complex suspension geometry issues before the guys were going to have to figure it out on their own. Freiburger opted for a straight axle, not a rear axle as seen most often on Model A hot rods, which only adds to Hemi Gremi’s cartoonish stance.
The Model A chassis had to be shortened to accommodate the AMC’s shorter wheelbase, making the scale bar and hairpin pivots right next to each other, adding so much to the comedic street monster stance. The big challenge is to modify the Gremlin’s monohull to fit a ladder frame.
At first, the plan was to pair the body and chassis with Jeep CJ-7 style body mounts, but this idea was quickly scrapped after a fit test. The only way to properly build the Hemi Gremi is to channel it by cutting slits in the ground and rails of the Gremlin frame to fit the Strube frame as both pieces have always been designed this way.
It makes sense that the team would use a traditional hot rodder technique to lay the Gremlin hull onto the Model A rails. With most of the floor and all of the transmission tunnel cut off and everything but the outer sheet metal in front of the abandoned firewall, the Hemi Gremi is basically a top Ford Model A 426ci Mopar V-8 under the hood. Well, Freiburger says he wants a balaclava, but the cartoon plan of the Gremlin street monster shows twin carbs on top of a tunnel jack obscuring most of the forward visibility, as it should.
Street Freak Gremlin designed for burn-outs
The Gen-II 426 Hemi entering the Gremi needs all the induction help it can get. Freiburger says he picked it up in the mid-’90s when Mopar first introduced its performance crate engines, and he’s been waiting from a house. The small cam, heads, and low 9: 1 compression “only make about 530bhp,” according to Freiburger, but that should still be more than enough to turn those Pro-Trac N50-15 rear tires into steam. Freiburger says he wants reliability, but it’s Roadkill, which means it’s only a matter of time before the 426 sees some form of enhanced induction.
And that’s everything this street monster is meant to be: a tire-spraying laughter factory. Street monsters were never meant to be racing cars. They have always been stylish posers built in homage to an era before suspension and tire technology overtook the power of racers. David Freiburger has fast cars; the previously mentioned Model A is designed to run 9s. He also has cars that can burn-out. That’s, like, the whole point of Roadkill, is not it ? Any possible excuse to melt the tires. What Freiburger doesn’t have is a car that can be driven comfortably on the road, broken in with impunity, and looks hilarious while doing so. Except now he’s doing it. And you can watch all the fun.