When our hosts at EBC Brakes greeted us after our 10-hour flight with, “Do you want to go straight to the pub or would you like to check in at the hotel first,” we knew that we were in for a fun trip in England. Our gang was David Freiburger, Steve Dulcich–host of Roadkill Garage, Levi Rugg the video boss, and me, Elana–in charge of documenting the journey for you guys. We were in Northampton, England to visit our show sponsors at EBC Brakes. EBC has been a generous supporter of the Roadkill shows, and we were curious to see its facility. It’s huge! Not that we should be surprised, EBC makes more than 5000 different brake parts for everything from race cars to windmills. The team at EBC had arranged a meet-and-greet with fans and customers, and invited a wide range of cars to display in its front parking lot. We were expecting a big crowd, but it was so much more than we thought that people had to park miles away and walk in. If you had a long walk, we’re sorry, and if we didn’t get to see your awesome car, we’re even more sorry. We will be back. No question.
Here’s a quick look at some of the cars we saw at EBC, starting with a jet-lagged and very silly video.
Now some close-ups of some of the blurry stuff from that video.
Luke Dale brought out a clean, sleepery 1968 Dodge Charger. From the (American) driver’s side, the car looked like just a stock survivor Charger with a nice redone interior–already a rarity in England, just ask Jonny Smith. Walk around to the passenger side though and you’d find yourself greeted with a side exit exhaust tip and a sooty door. Yes, Luke swapped a 1998 Mercedes diesel engine into a Dodge Charger. Insanity, and well done. Even more well done knowing that it was finished up and made running in just a week in time to get to the show. “It’s very smooth and comfortable,” he told us.
Simon Downs brought out a 1971 Opel Commodore GS/E, a rare car that isn’t Australian, despite the Holdeny details. It’s powered by a 2.5L straight-six that’s fuel injected and we want one.
Sometimes we ran into folks away from their cars, but still enjoyed talking. Neil, Jane, and Logan Galley wanted to give a shout-out to Finnegan (who wasn’t able to join us due to family commitments).
The day before the show, we were talking about cars we hoped to see, and Dulcich and Freiburger mentioned Mini Coopers. There were a bunch, including this one, which is also in the “How to Build A Mini,” book!
Also, we think that’s Ben Garrett, but the notes just said “red Mini,” and there were several in the photos. So one of these belongs to Ben and Jo Garrett.
One thing we kept hearing from people was, “I had no idea there were so many American cars near me here!” That makes us happy, because we’d like to think of Roadkill as sort of showing you all the fun you can have with cars in your own backyard. There really were a ton of amazing American machines though, including Caspar Phillips’ 1958 Chevy Biscayne, which he bought at age 19 as his first car, had shipped over from the US based on three blurry photos, and spent 20 hours getting home from the port (normally a three hour journey from his home). Caspar rebuilt the gearbox in his parents’ living room and works on the car in various parking garages. He once had a wheel bearing fail in Italy, so he took half the balls from the other side, and replaced the damaged ones in the crushed races, then drove home 700 miles. Why have one wheel fall off when you could have two? We imagine that 1968 Chevy parts aren’t easy to find in the Italian countryside and in the end, he made it home. Caspar drives the 350-powered Biscuit as a daily, and says it was Roadkill that gave him the idea to do so. Good! You rule, Caspar.
If 19 seems young to have your own car, how about Jamie Bell, who can’t even legally drive his 1967 427, 4-speed Camaro yet?
Another 15 year old solved his no-license problem by bringing a scale model ride, complete with customized exhaust smoke.
Cool deal, Sam Scott. If it smokes out the back pipe, it’s accurately Roadkill.
Speaking of accurately Roadkill, how about these Generals Mayhem and Maintenance models that Christina Pritchard made for us?
Christina and her friends, Jono Carman and Andy Clayton share a 1991 Ford Sierra. They aren’t roommates and they don’t even live near each other. They just plan to swap it around every few months so everybody gets a go.
The best story of the day went to Rogan McGilp, who at age 16 started building a custom hot rod for his brother David, who is in a wheelchair. “I wanted to make something with hand controls, low enough to get in and out of from a chair easily, and with room in the back to put the wheelchair,” Rogan told us. The result is a completely custom rod with the front end of a 1951 Popular, a ladder rear, partial frame rails from a 1939 Lanchester, a handformed aluminum body, and the gem in the crown, a 326ci Jag V12. The engine is topped by two sky-high 600cfm Holley carbs, and backed by a TH4 trans and Jaguar IRS rear end with 3.83 gears.
Rogan says the body isn’t meant to be any car in particular, but it’s most inspired by a 1929 Ford. “I didn’t have the money to buy a body, plus the originals aren’t big enough for a chair.” He did the shaping all by hand, “grunting and swearing.”
“I’d never been taught, I just seemed to know what to do.” Rogan says. Along with his brother, one of his crew members is in a wheelchair, and Rogan said he wanted to build a car with a purpose, to bring attention to the fact that being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t love cars, and participate in car culture. Rogan also did the best burnout of the burnout contest, so good all around, Rog.
Let’s talk about the burnout contest.
On second thought, no, let’s not.
Here’s a nice Pontiac. That’s Jake Smith’s 1964 Catalina. It’s a 389/automatic car that he brought into England from Arizona. He says he doesn’t drive it enough, so tell him in the comments to drive it more.
Along with cars, we learned about some of the local car issues, most pressingly, the campaign to save one of England’s only three dragstrips. Look up Save York Raceway for more. Remember, if you don’t support racetracks while they are open, they don’t tend to reopen. Keep ’em around. You never know when you might need one.
Freiburger and Dulcich never even got to see most of the cars in the show, because they were handing out stickers and autographs NON-STOP from 10:00am until the show ended after 4:00pm. You guys really like us, and we are humbled and honored.
Speaking of humbling, our very good friends Mick and Deb came out to the show, and they brought a surprise, Drag Week legend Jeff Lutz, and NHRA top fuel driver Clay Millican. How cool and wild is it to travel so far and meet up with some of our best friends?
We were happy to hear that money being made at the show went to a local children’s hospital, and in the end we raised more than 1300 pounds for the kiddos. A large part of that was from Frank Hall, who made a very generous donation from his own racing profits, which was then matched by EBC founder Andy.
We could keep going, but we want you to get to the gallery, so we’ll end with a look at one of our favorite cars from the show. Pipey McGraw’s 1969 E-type Jag. Yes. Yes, we know what you’re saying, but when you ask Jag restorers for the parts they throw out, then make those parts all fit together around the cab of a real E-type on type of a tube chassis, you can put in as many Mazda 3-rotor engines as you like. This thing is so good, and we might have to go back to England just for a chance to drive it when it’s all done. Yes, Pipey? Maybe?
Thank you to EBC Brakes for having us, thanks to everyone who came out for bringing your cars and yourselves and for all the cool presents that we don’t deserve but absolutely appreciate. England, we like you, and we had a great time. Let’s do it again soon!