How a $700 Beater Became the 11-Second Roadkill Crop Duster

How a $700 Beater Turned the 11-Second Roadkill Crop Duster


Here is an intro to the old fashioned for the younger technology of Roadkillers. That is the Crop Duster—a 440-engine-swapped 1970 Plymouth Duster that runs within the 11s—which was constructed for what at present could be thought of low cost for a classic muscle automobile. It is also the story of the resurrection of an outdated automobile that spent years wallowing in farm soil laden with sundry vegetal and animal residue.

“You are still going to have 20 grand duplicating that automobile,” David Freiburger says in his trademark deadpan. “That is the issue. That is costly.” However insofar that cubic {dollars} could be changed by fanatic hoarding, ingenuity, and elbow grease, that is it. “The important thing to the entire thing—the explanation why folks suppose it is cool—is the six pack scoop, Cragars, and stance. If it has the precise look, you may get away with loads, even with the remainder of the automobile being junk.”

However the Crop Duster in all fairness quick, too. Its finest quarter-mile with out nitrous is 11.78 seconds at 115 mph. It is in stark distinction to the pattern of fussy restorations and high-dollar paint jobs, and though its shabby look is a pleasant disguise and a cash saver, sharp-eyed gearheads see via the sun-baked rust job.

One Mopar Results in One other…and One other…

The Crop Duster is a case research of what occurs when one of many Roadkill mission automobiles goes proper in all of the splendidly unsuitable methods in a course of that may finest be known as “unintentionally on goal.” The trail to unintended success is lengthy and could be traced again to Freiburger’s roots as a Mopar man that led to his first big-block-swapped ’68 Dodge Dart that turned well-known because the Cheap Thrills Dart in HOT ROD journal in 1995.

“The Low cost Thrills Dart was a ’68 Dart that I bought out of Choose Your Half in Solar Valley, after which I purchased a ’67 Imperial that had a later 440 in it,” Freiburger says. “It was like a ’68 440. Possibly it was a supplier alternative or one thing, I do not know. So we took the 440 and the transmission out of the Imperial and put it within the Dart and did a bunch of stuff to it. That was again after we nonetheless used correction components up at Los Angeles County Raceway. I believe the factor solely ever ran 13.10 at LACR, which corrected to love a 12.69 or one thing like that.” The automobile is remembered as the primary actually butchered, dirt-cheap mission in HOT ROD journal, and for the dual hose clamps used as transmission mounts.

Normal Mayhem Reporting for Obligation

The Crop Duster buildup episode began like many others: Discover a serviceable chassis, load it up with stuff that occurs to be mendacity round, then creatively derby the whee out of it earlier than the authorized division finds out.

The Duster began as a curler that Steve Dulcich purchased 16 years in the past for $700. Dulcich was the editor of Engine Masters journal, a longtime good friend of Freiburger’s, an confederate within the Crop Duster episode of Roadkill, and the present co-host of each Engine Masters and Roadkill Garage on the MotorTrend App. He is additionally traded automobiles with Freiburger like baseball playing cards, and two years in the past, Dulcich swapped his Duster for a ’68 Dart Freiburger had mendacity round, which had additionally been Dulcich’s at one time. In actual fact, it had by no means even left its storage spot at Dulcich’s farm. Sure, it is sophisticated. Whereas pondering what to do for a brand new episode, Freiburger realized it was staring him within the face: Take the outdated 440 and trans from the Normal Mayhem ’68 Charger and throw it into the moss-covered Duster sitting on Dulcich’s grape farm.

That is what occurs in Roadkill Episode 40, however not with out some extra backstory thrown in for coloration. See, considered one of Freiburger’s outdated automobiles was one other ’70 Plymouth that had been in-built Automobile Craft journal within the late ’90s; that automobile turned identified merely because the Orange Duster. It was a 12-second automobile with a dirt-cheap 360-cid small-block V-Eight and a four-speed, and Dulcich had painted it a gleaming Hemi Orange. Because the paint was drying 13 years in the past, Freiburger bought the automobile to Dulcich to fund his now-wife’s engagement ring.

“Regardless that that is like a pleasant automobile,” Freiburger says with a tinge of remorse, “we parted it out to construct the Crop Duster, so the Crop Duster has the 8-3/Four rear finish, disc brakes, and leaf springs that I had within the Orange Duster once I owned it.”

Swapping in a 440-cid Massive-Block Engine

Amid horseplay, catching issues catching on hearth, and parting out just a few different automobiles, we discovered that sure, you possibly can stuff a 440-cid big-block Chrysler right into a six-cylinder A-body—however provided that you have bought the precise motor mounts from Schumacher Inventive Providers, the precise headers from TTi Exhaust, a spare oil pan from a C-body (which is a full-size automobile, like a monster ’70s Plymouth Fury), a 26-inch radiator from a B-body (a midsize automobile like a Charger or Highway Runner), and loads of instruments. Famously, the super-nice TTi headers have been mashed like potatoes for additional clearance as a result of they weren’t designed to suit a 440 right into a automobile with energy steering—which the Crop Duster has.

Earlier than the 440 was put in, it was hopped up with some used components from the Dulcich stockroom: CNC-ported Edelbrock aluminum heads and an Isky 280 Megacam hydraulic flat-tappet camshaft. In dyno testing a lot later, it was revealed that the used low-compression 440 made 439 horsepower. Together with the used transmission, a used B&M Holeshot torque converter, the 4.10-geared rear finish from the Orange Duster, and the outdated exhaust system from the Normal Mayhem, the Crop Duster blasted the quarter-mile in 12.39 seconds at 113 mph on M&H drag radials. That is not unhealthy.

Taking Crop Duster to the Subsequent Degree With a 383-cid Massive-Block

However not ok. When the brand new present Roadkill Storage was launched on the MotorTrend App, Freiburger and Dulcich made the second episode all about hopping up the Crop Duster with a smaller yet stronger 383-cid Mopar big-block with 70 extra horspower, a recent TCI-built Torqueflite and Tremendous StreetFighter converter, a brand new Holley gasoline system, a 125-hp NOS Powershot nitrous system (as a result of, you realize, Roadkill), and the mission to go 11s on motor. The actual motive for the brand new engine was as a result of the 383 has a decrease block deck top than the 440 although it’s the identical engine household, so the headers match higher. With the 383, a recent set of TTi tubes barely wanted a ding to suit into the Duster even with energy steering.

“I do not know why I actually wished energy steering on this automobile,” Freiburger says. “It is ‘trigger I wished to drive it round in visitors. I normally tear energy steering off a automobile. I wished the one-finger motion on this one. We went manner out of our approach to make the column shift work on this factor. It is onerous to do with the TTi header. It’s a must to take the crossbar that runs from the body over to the transmission and put an enormous whooptydoo in it.”

The “new” 383 has roots in HOT ROD journal lore, being the engine from Freiburger’s very first Mopar, the 1970 Dodge Tremendous Bee referred to as mission Rumble Bee. (That automobile now sports activities a Dick Landy-built Hemi that Freiburger rightfully considers an untouchable piece of historical past.) In 2008, the 383 was freshened with a 0.060-inch overbore and new Diamond pistons and used for 2 huge intake-manifold shootout tales that appeared in HOT ROD. The retired 394-cube low-deck was then tapped for obligation within the Crop Duster and given a Comp Cams strong flat-tappet cam with MM-series lobes, Edelbrock heads, and a Performer RPM consumption. The domes of the Diamond pistons have been massaged right down to a 11.25:1 compression ratio by Dulcich, who milled them with a wooden router earlier than hand-smoothing the domes.

Relating to his alternative of a 383 big-block over the extra common (in a Duster) 408-cid stroker small-block, Freiburger says: “The factor is, you could possibly construct a 408 Mopar small-block, however the commonest possibility for a small-block cylinder head is the Edelbrock head, which is a 170cc consumption runner and possibly not fairly sufficient for that many cubes, whereas the big-block head flows extra and this can be a smaller engine, so it is a greater bundle for rpm. I shift it at like 6,800 and it overruns a bit bit and truly makes the shift at like 7,100.”

Chasing 11s at HOT ROD Drag Weekend

To vet the rebooted Crop Duster’s bona fides as a quick avenue automobile, Dulcich and Freiburger drove it on HOT ROD Drag Weekend in March 2016, which took them from the Los Angeles suburbs to Phoenix to Tucson, again to Phoenix, and at last to Fontana, California, for an episode-wrapping check session.

“If you happen to get on the freeway like after we drove it to Arizona, it will stand up to 190 [degrees] or so, nevertheless it’s completely bulletproof so far as I’ve by no means overheated the factor,” Freiburger says. “The important thing to that could be a 26-inch B-body radiator, which is the radiator that was within the Normal Mayhem. We simply compelled it to slot in the A-body by reducing that little lip off the again of the core assist in order that you could possibly put the radiator additional ahead in order that it would not intrude with the water pump and all the things.” The underside assist was additionally dropped an inch and a half.

The Crop Duster racked up greater than 1,000 miles throughout Drag Weekend, interspersed with drag racing at every host metropolis. Freiburger and Dulcich completed the tour with solely minor roadside repairs, however that 11-second timeslip eluded them. The issue appeared to be gasoline hunger, so in fact the fellows engineered an all-new gasoline system with bigger line and stand-alone gasoline supply with a Holley Black pump for the nitrous system. That wasn’t it. In the long run of Roadkill Storage Episode 2, we discover out {that a} worn fuel-pump pushrod was ravenous the engine, making it fall flat at 5,200 rpm in excessive gear. Off-screen, swapping the nitrous gasoline system for the mechanically fed gasoline system lastly pushed the Crop Duster into the 11s, producing 11.78 at 115 mph. The nitrous, now with out its personal gasoline system, must wait. (Freiburger brazenly goals of 10.90s on the squeeze with the automobile simply as you see it.)

Block-Lengthy Burnouts With out Breaking the Financial institution

Regardless of its accomplishments, the Crop Duster is a polarizing factor. As a high-profile mission, it must be hosed down with shiny blister-packed components then slathered with one of the best physique and paint cash should purchase. However what would that show? You can spend $80,000 to make a $40,000 automobile? This Duster leans onerous into the passion’s gale-force wind of correctness. In selecting the Crop Duster, Freiburger championed common of us wrenching their junk at residence. Because of this, Mopar guys now have one other instance of how actual efficiency could be obtained and not using a second mortgage.

Hoarding is an enormous a part of any price range Mopar program. “We have now an enormous pool of components, however there are quite a lot of Mopar guys like that,” Freiburger says. “However even in case you have been going to construct this automobile from scratch, I imply, it is not rocket science to seek out an A-body, particularly in case you can stay with a ’74. You want a beefier rear finish; that is going to be costly. 383s—guys are giving these away. Inventory crank, inventory rods, Diamond pistons. It’s 0.060-over, which is a bit a lot. It is 395 cubic inches. The block’s executed after now!”

The Crop Duster’s detractors cite flaws comparable to rust holes, cracked upholstery, and light paint, however they miss the purpose solely. If you need a prettier, dearer position mannequin, simply think about it painted with a brand new inside and be executed. That is one thing Dulcich actually desires to do. In the meantime, the Crop Duster is about making robust selections on the fly, reducing frills, sticking doggedly to an aesthetic, and, maybe counter intuitively, spending huge the place it completely counts. Balancing efficiency, look, and value is about strolling a tightrope few folks really pull off within the grand efficiency/worth equation.

Subsequent up? Driving it round. And doing block-long burnouts. It is a Roadkill automobile doing Roadkill issues.



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