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Fans often ask what happens to Roadkill cars after the filming of the show is over. Some vehicles are used later in the series, while others stored away until shootout episodes or until another use brings them out of hibernation, and some are sold. But this 1961 Cadillac Coupe de Ville is set to do things no Roadkill car has done before: go over 200mph with A/C and a back seat.
Okay...maybe it isn't the first one. The 1980 Chevrolet Camaro that co-host David Freiburger has campaigned at Bonneville with Keith and Tonya Turk has been faster. But that Camaro doesn't wear license plates, either. And that's the plan behind the Cadillac - eight seconds in the quarter-mile, with all of the creature comforts that you would expect to find in a 1961 Caddy.
Finnegan and Freiburger resurrected the Cadillac out of an airplane hanger in Season 8 of Roadkill (Episode 89; “Two Cadillacs, Too Reliable!”). Unfortunately, the car was too reliable (have you seen the show?) so the car was saved and stored away. Ultimately, the Cadillac made it's way, under Mike's direction, to MRC Fab in Kernersville, North Carolina.
When the body was first removed, the team was astounded by how rigid it was. Fresh off the showroom floor, a ’61 Cadillac Coupe Deville should weigh just shy of 5,000 pounds. The inside of the Cadillac’s rocker panels are reinforced and feature mounting tabs that sit on the chassis. The body will remain removable, with the floor pans welded to the chassis. A rubber seal around the floor pan edge will keep the interior mostly watertight when it butts against the body.
MRC Fab owner, Jimmy Bullard, is a veteran circle-track racer who is now applying his competitiveness and love of racing to hot rods. Bullard and MRC Fab developed the Mittler Bros. Hydroshox, a system that combines coil-overs and hydraulic ride-height control.
Once the Cadillac arrived, the team chopped up the floor pans, which sent Mike’s fanbase into a furor. “That car was incredibly rust-free,” said Jimmy. With only 61,000 original miles and likely the original paint, the comments were aflame with bitterness. “Until they saw the stance,” laughs Mike.
MRC Fab built the billet spindles and tubular control arms in house. The coil-overs are from Viking Performance. The rear axle is a Quick Performance 9-inch, and the MRC Fab team built a tight 4-link rear suspension that leaves room for a back seat. The 454ci Chevy is the engine from the original Roadkill ramp truck and is just sitting in the engine bay for mockup purposes. The final engine will receive a billet motor plate.
The Caddy sits on Weld Alpha Pro wheels, wrapped in Mickey Thompson Pro Bracket Radials with rear tires measure 32x14.50R15. Underneath the body is an MRC Fab 2x4 chassis with an 8.50 E/T cage. The car will likely run faster when it’s all dialed in. “I don’t want to drive it around the street with a funny-car cage,” said Mike. “But it’ll have the capability to run faster.”
The rear end is Quick Performance 9-inch with 40-spline floater axles, Viking coil-overs, and Wilwood brakes. Mike’s insistence on having a functional back seat meant the team had to build a four-link rear suspension with frame rails that hug close to the rear axle. The roll bars delicately flow around the factory steering column, A/C vents, and door panels, slightly hidden behind the A-pillars.
Tom Nelson of Nelson Racing Engines is building the powerplant, a Dart Big M cast-iron block with mirror-image turbos. Alcohol fuel will be used in place of an intercooler and plumbing. Two fuel systems with 16 injectors and two fuel cells will allow for both pump-gas and Alcohol in proper Drag Week fashion. A Holley Performance Dominator ECU will handle engine management. The final goal is 2,800 horsepower, with separate street and track tunes. A Gearstar Turbo 400 with trans brake and a Gear Vendors under/overdrive unit will handle shifting duties.
The inside of the Cadillac’s rocker panels are reinforced and feature mounting tabs that sit on the chassis. The body will remain removable, with the floor pans welded to the chassis. A rubber seal around the floor pan edge will keep the interior mostly watertight when it butts against the body.
There’s still plenty left to be done, but the Cadillac is on its way to Mike’s home for finishing. The plan is to have it running this year. “It’s all conjecture until we do it,” said Mike. “It could blow up! But the first time it goes 8.99 with A/C and a back seat full of friends, that’ll be it. That’s the goal.”
Making his best vroom, vroom noises, Mike poses in the driver’s seat of the Caddy. I told him it was a cheesy photo idea, “but I like cheesy,” said Mike.