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Wildly Moded Street Car Freaks

Take a Ride on the Wild Side

Photography by ,

It's all about being different. Every car crafter you meet will tell youthat he built his car to be different. But when you're talking to a guywith a red '69 Camaro with a carbureted small-block and an automatic,how different is that? If you're going to be different, then gobig--make a splash.

Over the past few months, we've been collecting some examples of carsthat are actually well beyond "dare to be different." We're talkingabout real street freaks. These are cars that when you see them for thefirst time, they stop you in mid-step. These are cars that make youhonestly say, "Naw, there's no way he drives that on the street." Take alook at what we discovered out there cruising the boulevard.

Freaky Fiat

If you're old enough to remember, or you love those nostalgic drag carsfrom the '60s, then you'll instantly recognize Dave Dennis' '37 FiatTopolino as his contemporary version of those gasser classics. At firstglance, it would appear there's no way this Trimble, Missouri, machineis a true street driver. Sure, it's got license plates, but our initialinvestigation revealed a mechanical fuel injected small-block, whatappeared to be open headers, a tilt-body, and a 4-gallon Moon fueltank--hardly the kind of equipment for a highway star. But then westarted quizzing Dave and quickly discovered his Fiat was a street carfrom the very beginning. "I wanted that '60s gasser look, but I alwaysintended this car to be streetable." To begin with, the headers havemotorcycle baffles in those straight lengths of pipe ahead of thecollector, and there's a second hidden fuel tank in the rear of the Fiatwith an electric fuel pump that he uses both to prime the engine forstartup and to transfer fuel from the rear tank to the front. "I can get70 to 80 miles on the front tank, and then after transferring the fuelfrom the rear to the front, I know its time to start looking for a gasstation."

The small-block is an iron-block 327 with 11:1 compression, a "big"camshaft, and... OFI. "Yeah, you know electronic fuel injection is EFI,so I have old fuel injection--OFI." Hilborns are not renowned for theirstreet manners, but Dave has managed to tune his for decent idle andpart-throttle without giving up much at the top end. The 1,700-poundfiberglass-bodied Fiat has run a best of 10.72 at 125 mph, and Dave's inthere bangin' gears with a G-Force semi-clutchless four-speed with asingle-disc Ram clutch that makes this Fiat flat-out entertaining. "Youlift just enough to disengage the gears and then just pull thehandle--it'll bark the tires! It's a ride because when I shift it, thecar bounces and jockeys around and its kinda' scary. But that's whatmakes it fun! Generally, people only go on one ride with me."

Out back, Dave's feisty Fiat sports a custom-built 9-inch housing with4.56 gears and a single, ultra-long wheelie bar that appears to be anecessary evil. Undercover Chassis did the frame work and fabbed therearend. Dave works for Toyota as a field training rep, which is aboutas far removed from a street freaky Fiat as you can get. And that's theway Dave likes it.

Contender for the Boulevard Cup

John Cottrell has always had a penchant for banging gears and turningcorners. Before he turned this '99 Monte Carlo NASCAR Busch car into astreet freak, he owned a carbon-fiber-bodied third-gen Camaro. But thatcar was too difficult to climb in and out of, so he sold it and beganthe conversion on this ex-Ronnie Hopkins Engineering Monte Carlo.

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