HOT ROD Garage Season Premiere: Tony Angelo and Lucky Costa Have a Project-Car Party at Famoso Raceway

HOT ROD Garage’s Tony Angelo and Lucky Costa need to change the brakes on this 5.9L Cummins-swapped 1970 El Camino and get it sold at auction or they’re going to lose the shop! No, that’s not right. Tony and Lucky need get this 1973 Duster with a Gen III 5.7L Hemi running and driving or the bank is going to foreclose on the farm! Wait, that’s still wrong. The HOT ROD Garage guys need to run 10s in this LM7-powered 1979 Camaro or they’ll—be disappointed?

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That’s the great thing about HOT ROD Garage—there is no scripted drama, no team of behind-the-scenes technicians doing all the work, and no faked dramatic build deadlines. It’s just Tony and Lucky (and occasionally shop manager Calin Head) building cars to go have fun in.

But the boys didn’t want to embark on a new build in the new season of HOT ROD Garage until they took care of some old business first. The Dieselcamino needs a brake job and has only been driven 40 feet, albeit pulling a 40,000-pound car hauler. The Mythduster has never left the shop and needs exhaust, a new gas tank and headlights, among other things. And the budget-built drag car, Bonemaro, is in serious need of some re-gearing if Tony and Lucky want to improve on the 10.60s they were running before they smoked the transmission. If they can get all that done, they get to go to Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California, to have some fun with all three cars!

Dieselcamino: 1979 Chevrolet El Camino with 5.9L 12-valve Cummins

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The Dieselcamino is the best-looking car the HOT ROD Garage guys have ever built. The paint and interior are nearly mint and that beast of a 5.9L Cummins makes 900 lb-ft of torque! If you recall back in episode 62, Tony and Lucky did a comparison of the most popular engine swaps—LS, 2JZ, and the 5.9L Cummins—where the 5.9 received a host of upgrades: a bigger turbo, bigger injectors, upgraded P-pump and governor springs, and a tab holding the death pin in place. Just a few months after that, they dropped it into a street/strip 1970 El Camino missing one engine and transmission and, thus, a monster was born. But other than some burnouts and pulling a loaded car hauler, Tony and Lucky have yet to do anything with the…car? No, truck—whatever it is, it deserves some action.

Before they get going fast in a straight line at Famoso Raceway, they need to make sure they can stop. Blue brake rotors are never a good sign and the rear brake lines are shot, so a complete brake job is underway. New rotors, pads, and lines up front; new lines and springs in back with some love for the shoes and drums too; a quick bleed and the Dieselcamino is ready to rock!

Mythduster: 1973 Plymouth Duster with a Gen III 5.7L Hemi and Carburetor Conversion

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The Mythduster was an attempt at an impossible task: build a fast Mopar for cheap. Tony and Lucky started with a mess of a 1973 Plymouth Duster, but it was only $2,250. The Duster had some decent wheels and tires, nice seats and carpet, and good suspension upgrades already, but the “rebuilt and zero-mile” 318 in it was a total lie and none of the trick undercarriage parts were dialed in. Plus, the rest of the interior was a mess. For only $1,500, the guys got a Gen III 5.7L Hemi out of 2005 Dodge Charger and proceeded to turn the potential of the Duster into reality. Then they blew the budget out the window with A-body Hemi swap parts, long tube headers, and a Brawler carburetor conversion. But they never finished it.

Mythduster still needed a completed exhaust system, some gauges, ignition switches, headlights and—most importantly—a new gas tank. Now that it’s all buttoned up, it’s time to see what the Duster can do at the drag strip! Or at least see what it will do before Tony destroys the welded-up rear end. Because Tony breaks everything.

Bonemaro: 1979 Chevrolet Camaro with a Turbocharged LM7

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The Bonemaro was built to serve one purpose: build a 10 second car for $10K. They started with an $800 1979 Camaro and stuffed it with the 5.3L LM7 V8 out of a 2002 Chevy Avalanche. The build totaled out to $4,900 and then it was time to start making power. A cheap turbo kit, a bigger cam, better injectors, stronger head gaskets and head bolts, and upgraded valvesprings went in and off they went to the dyno. At 9 psi of boost, Bonemaro made 530 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, plenty of power but now the issue was traction and safety. Those were taken care of with a mini-spool kit in the stock GM 10-bolt rear-end, weld-in unibody sub-frame connectors, slapper bars and the passenger-side race seat out of Roadkill’s General Mayhem.

Before Tony and Lucky achieved their goal of running in the 10s, Tony broke everything. Again. A new LM7 short block, new turbo, and new shifter later and the guys finally got it to run in the 10s. Then Tony broke the transmission. Now it’s time to get serious. A new Turbo 400 built to handle the now 550 hp, a 3,000-rpm-stall torque converter to get into the boost off the line, and some 3.73 gears to keep it there are all going in and we’ll see if Tony can get the Bonemaro down the Famoso Raceway dragstrip even faster.

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All work and no play make Tony and Lucky dull boys. It wasn’t hard to convince them to load up all three cars and haul them to Auto Club Famoso Raceway to see what they can do. But if you want to see the results of all their hard work, you’ll have to log in to the MotorTrend App and check out the season premiere of HOT ROD Garage.

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