Off-Roading a Lifted Chevy Caprice: Only On RoadkillCan you think of a better ride—a ’99 Chevy Caprice—to a bar in the middle of the desert?See all 10 photosJordon ScottAuthorMotorTrend StaffcontributorMay 4, 2021
Can you think of a better ride—a ’99 Chevy Caprice—to a bar in the middle of the desert?
Why are inappropriate cars the most fun? You’d think with a lifetime of off-road driving behind him, David Freiburger could come up with a better choice for a desert-bombing vehicle than a lifted Chevy Caprice on 26-inch wheels, but this is Roadkill, and Mike Finnegan has the same sensibilities. Let the Bubblicious Bunker Bar off-road adventure begin!
Related: Catch up on the Bubblicious odyssey only on the MotorTrend App! Relive the introduction of the Bubbled Caprice on Drift This, watch Lucky Costa literally drive the wheels off during the Holiday Hooptie Challenge, and follow along the continued adventures on Roadkill!
It might surprise you to learn that Bubblicious—as Finnegan named it for the Hillarious Car Shootout last season—hasn’t breathed nitrous since joining the Roadkill fleet. Mind-blowing, right? The two man-children that strap a bottle to every piece of junk they can haven’t gassed the V-8 in this Caprice yet? What’s even more confusing is this retired cop car and taxi cab already has nitrous plumbing; the Drift This crew likes tire-melting power just as much as Finnegan and Freiburger. That oversight is about to be corrected.
How to Define Your Hi-RiserSee all 10 photos
Unless you’re a Dirty South car culture aficionado, you’re probably wondering why this 1999 Chevrolet Caprice 9C1 (that’s the heavy-duty variant for police vehicles) is called a Bubble. You might even be thinking, «I thought builds like that were called Donks or Boxes?» The answer is, yes—but also, no. Finnegan and Freiburger weren’t sure, either, then Brian Scotto of Hoonigan came to the rescue, giving the guys a proper education in lifted road cars.
Bubbles, Donks, Boxes—they’re all «hi-risers» or «skyscrapers»: full-size, American, body-on-frame sedans that get lifted the same way you would a pickup truck or SUV, and they’re usually from the malaise era and later. A hi-riser isn’t just about the lift and the big wheels, though; the bodies and interiors are canvases of some of the most detailed and eye-catching automotive artwork on the scene today.
A G-Body Buick Regal could be made into a hi-riser, Cadillacs are very popular options, and even mid-size cars like the Chevy Monte Carlo get the skyscraper-treatment—but none of those are a Bubble, Box, or a Donk.
The funny nicknames refer to specific models of Impala and Caprice. The Donk is the 1971-1976 Chevrolet Impala with the big trunk (ahem, badonkadonk) and the Impala badge that looks like a donkey. A Box is the next generation of Impala/Caprice: 1977-1990 with those wonderfully malaise-y square bodies. And that leaves the Bubble, so named for the rounded contours popular in the early 1990s.
When In Doubt, Add NitrousSee all 10 photos
HOT ROD shop manager Calin Head was kind enough to repair the damage inflicted upon Bubblicious during the Holiday Hooptie Challenge, and now Finnegan and Freiburger are ready to return the 4.3L V-8 to NO2-gassed-glory. Yes, all the haters from the Holiday Hooptie Challenge were wrong about David Freiburger being wrong. Many a keyboard warrior tried to correct one of the fathers of modern hot rodding, saying Roadkill’s own car was equipped with the 5.7L LT1 V-8. They were wrong. Freiburger is the first to admit he doesn’t get everything right, but he knows an L99 4.3L V-8 when he sees one.
He’s also seeing an empty bottle cage, incomplete nitrous plumbing, and not nearly enough tire smoke behind a very pink and purple ’99 Chevy Caprice. And he and Finnegan are thirsty for adventure. Like, actually thirsty. Remember the trip to the desert bar, accessible only on dirt, that FInnegan and Freiburger drove to in a Jeep rat rod? Well, they want to do that again, but this time at a different bar: The Bunker Bar somewhere outside of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. You can’t drive to a bar in the middle of the American Southwest in just anything, and Roadkill continues to prove that the most inappropriate vehicle for a given situation is often the best choice.
That’s why Bubblicious is getting its nitrous back, making a few passes at the dragstrip for posterity, then hitting the dusty trail. Who says 26-inch alloy wheels and low-profile street tires can’t work off-road? Not David Freiburger. The way he looks at it, he’s riding on 30-inch tires with plenty of ground clearance. Freiburger used to work at Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Offroad, so he probably knows what he’s doing. If he’s lucky, Finnegan will get the color-matched Playstation 2 inside the car working, and the guys can enjoy some gaming on the way.