RK Nation: Ben’s Inspired-By-Roadkill-To-Resurrect 1981 Chevy Camaro and 1971 Dodge Pickup

When Freiburger and Finnegan started Roadkill, we’re not sure they ever considered that they’d be influencing fans to pick up forgotten projects. However, RK Nation member Ben Locker cites binge-watched Roadkill episodes as the inspiration for his renewed 1981 Chevy Camaro project. Locker grew up in Ohio getting rides around town in his dad’s 440-powered Plymouth Roadrunner and he picked up on Chevys after his brother-in-law showed him his 396-powered ‘78 Malibu. So as a teenager, Ben bought this Camaro off his brother-in-law’s twin brother in June 2005.


Like so many of us, Ben’s tale of Camaro ownership has been filled with peaks and valleys. The car was a $300 project with a V6 and the six-pot got tossed in the trash immediately. “The V6, however, was just too weak so I got a 350,” Ben says. “With my brother-in-law’s help, we put a cam, intake, and some better heads on it.” A 350 Camaro? Even if it’s rough around the edges, you can’t go wrong with that.

“Then it threw a rod bearing about 3,000 miles later,” Ben says. Whoops. His brother-in-law then sold him a Big Block Chevy 402 for cheap, which Ben sent for machining and then he reassembled it.


Things got frustrating for Ben from there: “Little did I know, the jelly motor mounts were letting the engine move so much the air cleaner was hitting the hood. Roughly 300 miles later, the air cleaner stud broke off and was sucked through the motor. Two pistons and two valves were luckily all that got damaged. The block and everything else was fine, but I was done. I parked the car and left it [in] November 2005.”


That could have been the Camaro’s end for Ben. It could have sat on the Back 40 and returned to the earth, but earlier this year, Ben watched a Roadkill episode for the first time. Then he watched all of the Roadkill episodes in short order. We’ll let Ben tell that story:

“After binge watching all the episodes, I was thinking and realized the car had been sitting for over 10 years. Having been inspired to make sure it didn’t go another year not running, I put the engine back together with new pistons. Got a custom-ground Douglas cam and replaced valve springs, and shimmed them. Got a stall-converter and TH350 trans, new Edlebrock intake, headers rebuilt, a Holley carb for it, new valve covers, new coil springs and shocks, and finally I threw it all together on a three-day weekend. A few weekends later, it’s driving under its own power but the brakes rusted out and [it’s had] several other problems from sitting for so long. I replaced the shift cable and did some other small repairs last weekend.”


That wasn’t enough for Ben, either. He immediately set to work fixing up his dad’s ‘71 Dodge pickup that had been sitting around for two decades. And dang if Ben isn’t industrious: “I started with the usual: fresh oil, filters, spark plugs, wires, distributor (used one once on the ‘74 roadrunner), key switch, rewired much of the harness, and finally it fired up and ran. Still needs more work. I just rebuilt the carb last weekend.”


We think he’ll probably get around to that, too. Neither of them are lookers, sure, but with the right inspiration from our foolish misdeeds, Ben has gotten them fired back to life. You can check out Ben’s RK Nation page and Instagram account for more on these projects.


We love stories your stories like this, too. If you share your projects on your own Roadkill Nation page, we might share your stories on Roadkill.com or in Roadkill Magazine. If you don’t yet have one, you can get your own RK Nation site right here.

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Roadkill Fall 2016 Cover