Roadkill Trades a Plymouth Duster for a Ford Maverick!

Roadkill did not get their hands on the 2022 Ford Maverick at MotorTrend Presents Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge; that’s obvious when you pay attention to the boilerplate (powered by Dodge) and the fact that the new Maverick isn’t yet available for sale. But Mike Finnegan and David Freiburger did buy a definitely-not-Roadkill 1972 Plymouth Duster—Freiburger would call it “mint”— and traded that for the original Ford Maverick, all in the name of giving back to fans.

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Roadkill Nights—legal eighth-mile street racing held on historic Woodward Avenue in Pontiac, Michigan—wouldn’t be Roadkill Nights without the creators of Roadkill (David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan) in attendance. Coming back after the pandemic gap year, the event was business as usual: legally race cars on the street, look at other cool cars, and so on— but also not. Finnegan and Freiburger (with some help from Dodge) wanted to thank you—readers of our collective printed and digital pages, viewers of the MotorTrend App, fans of Roadkill, and attendees of our various events—for your support, and they did it by trading cars.

Kicking off the Giving Back at Roadkill Nights

Roadkill Nights, held on August 14, 2021, has kicked off a full week of car shows around Metro Detroit, ending with the Woodward Dream Cruise, every year since 2015. Nearly every car club in the area holds shows and meets during the week, and Finnegan and Freiburger showed up to a few of those intending to trade a nice car for progressively worse cars until, “I want to ride home on a tricycle,” Mike Finnegan said. Really it was a 1972 (or thereabouts) Ford Maverick, but the tricycle might have been a better choice.

Roadkill Nights is a bucket-list event for street racing enthusiasts. This year, 120 street-legal race cars competed for glory (and cash prizes) on a prepped, eighth-mile section of Woodward Avenue adjacent to M1 Concourse. The event is more than an excuse to close a section of public road and legally street race, though. Dodge, longtime sponsor of Roadkill Nights, puts on a huge show for spectators at M1 with thrill rides in SRT Hellcat Chargers and Challengers, as well as drag racing simulators, speed exhibitions, a good ol’ fashioned car show, some sort of celebrity race, and more.

2021’s celebrity race was the Hellcat Grudge Match, pitting TV against the internet. Four automotive builders of social media fame—Alex Taylor, Tavarish, the guys from Throtl, and Westen Champlin—all raced each other for a chance to go heads up for bragging rights against the leader of Team 256 and star of Fastest Cars in the Dirty South, Eric Malone. The trash talking and bench racing was fun, the street racing was close, Alex Taylor won the grudge match, and Roadkill Nights did everything it set out to do: celebrate American car culture and bring like-minded people together to have a good time.

Giving Away a Plymouth Duster, Getting a Ford Maverick

The giving back started at Roadkill Nights with Chuck Branson and his 1972 Plymouth Duster. Chuck is a long-time Roadkill fan and even owns a couple cars from the show—coincidentally, the 1972 Ford Maverick (hilariously dubbed “Goose” by Finnegan) used in the cheap car challenge for episode 95 and the house-painted 1963 Plymouth Belvedere the guys had for a day when trading cars on HOT ROD Power Tour 2019 featured in episode 97.

Of course, Roadkill bought the ’72 Duster from Mr. Branson, but that didn’t count for “giving back,” that’s business as usual (sorta) for Roadkill. For the first bit of fan-appreciation, Dodge gave Chuck a brand spankin’ new Hellcat powertrain for being such a huge fan of both Roadkill and Mopar muscle cars! Chuck already has a good idea where that Hellcat is going to end up: in the ’63 Belvedere, of course!

A new-to-them car is purchased in most episodes of Roadkill, but the Duster was just way too good for the guys to even consider keeping. Not a single speck of rust, shiny paint that’s all the same color, a full and completely intact interior, a mild V-8 swap that cruises ever so nicely—it had to go. You might be wondering how trading one car for another is giving back, but we mentioned Finnegan and Freiburger were trading down. The idea was to swap the Duster with project cars owned by fans that weren’t as valuable, getting our noble hosts into cars closer and closer to the Roadkill aesthetic while at the same time giving those fans chances to own better cars than they had, for free.

The trading down was not a one-and-done deal, either. Freiburger and Finnegan wanted as many fans as possible to benefit from the trading. We won’t spoil who traded for what and how many times any more than we already have by telling you they ended up in a Ford Maverick nearly identical to Goose; you have to watch the episode for that (free trial, right here). But, we will tell you the trading is heart-warming and worth watching, with plenty of classic Roadkill shenanigans thrown in.

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