Grown-up men, in beat-up cars, behaving badly. For many, including the makers of Roadkill, this is what sums up the show…
The hosts of the show take on the worst cars they can lay their hands on, build them to crazy levels and then go about putting them through Herculean trials. Despite all the love they show to cars, decimating one is also cool, because, as they say, roadkill. Meaning, it’s okay to do what they do because it’s fun and can be done, and YOLO.
Want to drop a car off a cliff? Cool. Driven over another with a tank? Roger! Try to build up a pile of scrap into a race machine. Gotcha. Basically, this is boys gone wild with their toys, and most of it is still unscripted, unlike the ‘propah’ TV shows that have lines and scripts and studio setups.
It takes an autophile to know one, which is why Roadkill has been going strong since 2011 and despite a channel shift, continues to garner praise and followers. Today, Roadkill is on Motor Trend On Demand, and its success has been such, it has spawned plenty of spin-offs.
But where did it all begin for Roadkill? Here’s the history, the backstory, and the anecdotes…
It All Began With Hot Rod
Back in 2011, David Freiburger, the F-Bomb Camaro owner, the host of Roadkill was the editor-in-chief of Hot Rod magazine. To go back a little further, Hot Rod was founded in 1948 by Robert E. Petersen and its success led to another magazine being launched in 1949, this one being MotorTrend.
Angus Mackenzie from Motor Trend recalls how a conversation between him and Freiburger started it all. Before he joined Hot Rod, David Freiburger had produced some independent video content using the worst-looking cars doing the most awesome-looking stunts. Mackenzie wondered if David would do something like that the wheels began to turn. Like fate, on the table lay the new Hot Rod magazine, a special edition on hot rods, and the title read Roadkill.
The rest, as they say, is history.
How did it all start, you ask? It started with the words, “I’m Freiburger. That’s Finnegan. This is the show where we play with cars and you point and laugh.” And with that, Roadkill was born.
What The Audience Loves About Roadkill
Men behaving badly with cars. This is the key takeaway from the show that’s real but nearly always chaos unfolds onscreen. In episode 17, a Toyota Prius is run over by a tank, because everyone hates the Prius, we guess. Then in episode 83, Freiburger and Finnegan cackle with glee as they catapult cars off a 300-foot-high cliff in Alaska.
And when you reach 100 episodes, how do you celebrate? You take a Dodge Dart and drop it 1,320 feet from a helicopter on a map drawn on a lake bed. Because you can. And because, once, in an episode-long, long ago a blindfolded Finnegan threw a dart at a map of the US to see where they should buy a car and drive it back to LA, on a shoestring budget of $1,500.
But inside all this OTT madness lies tons of information. Each car they make, destroy, ridicule, and do things with has a history, and the information is relayed freely, in the form of banter, so easily that you may even miss it.
IMDb gives Roadkill a rating of 8.3 and users feel it’s the most fun they have had while watching a car show. There is no unnecessary drama or tension, no money that needs to be made or spent, no car that has to build according to hoity-toity dreamers who know nothing about the car, to begin with.
The show is pure, unadulterated fun. And it’s about amazing cars and the marvelous things you can do with them. Enough said.
From Discovery to MotorTrend
Today, you can watch all of Roadkill on MotorTrend, free if you don’t mind the ads, paid if you want only content, and none of the marketing fluff. The popularity of the show has not dropped and spin-offs like Faster with Finnegan show the audience is ready for more.
What really works is the chemistry between Freiburger and Finnegan, and the other cast and crew of course. And the fact that it has no studios and direction. The show is basically a stand-up improv comedy about cars, done by people who know everything there is to know about wheels and have a great sense of humor.
There are no scripts, just generic ideas that steamroll into an episode and have given us cars like the VetteCart, General Mayhem, BlaspHEMI, Pig Pen, and The Disgustang. Some of these cars are still alive, others have been broken and destroyed. Some even have been sold to people who are relatives of the people who run the show.
To us, it’s a show you must watch, at least once. Thereafter, you will be hooked…
Sources: MotorTrend, IMDb
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