Samuel Hard runs HardUp Garage in the UK, buying, selling and building cars. As part of his daily work, he’s attended trade fairs like SEMA (the biggest tuning and after-market show in the world) countless times. This year, however, he did things slightly different. In order to reach SEMA, Hard took a Dodge Charger who started life as a movie prop, turned it into a Nascar race car, and drove it from Lincoln, Nebraska to Las Vegas while raising money for charity.
Sam, how did you start HardUp Garage and end up working on this crazy project?
I’ve been working in the automotive industry all my life and for years I was a certified Mercedes-Benz mechanic. A few years ago, I turned my life upside down because I met a man called Richard Rawlings, of GasMonkey Garage fame. I had the opportunity to sit down with him for a couple of hours and talk business and that gave me a clear and new perspective on what I wanted to do in my life. I changed everything and started buying, selling and building unique cars and that’s how I’ve been making my living for the past few years. The funny thing is that I usually work with partners to build the cars. I’ve never taken the time to build a car myself. When a lot of people started asking me to do just that, I thought I should build something special for this year’s SEMA show and that’s how the Idea of building the Nascar Dodge Charger from the Fast and the Furious came about.
That’s a very specific choice of car. Why this car and how did you build it?
When you’re my age and you love cars, you’ve grown up watching The Fast and The Furious over and over again. So last year in February there was an auction from the failed F&F live show, and they had a lot of movie cars and prop cars on offer. I bought two of them. One of them was this 1970 Dodge Charger. Although I say Dodge Charger, it was actually a bit of clown car. It was an all-electric car that had an air jack in it that would make it do wheelies. I decided to strip out all of that and put the guts and heart from a Nascar racer inside it. It was a long and tiresome process, but I managed to pair the both of them together and make the Charger roar once again.
Why did you want to drive it from Nebraska to Vegas?
Although everyone called me crazy, I entered the NAS Charger in the 2019 Radical Drive-Off competition. An event in which builders and enthusiasts from around the world drive their creations from Lincoln, Nebraska to the finish line at SEMA in Las Vegas, Nevada. The road trip was about 1,400 miles long and it was one of the best experiences of my life. During the trip, I also decided to do something for charity. I’ve been in a charity organisation for a long time, so why not combine this trip with raising some money for charity? I managed to raise over 1000 pounds from charity donations made during the trip.
What’s it like driving what is essentially a race car on the public road?
(laughs) It’s loud and uncomfortable, but all the more rewarding when you arrive. The biggest challenge was that, because it has the dashboard from a race car it doesn’t actually have speedometer, so I was guessing the speed limits most of the time. Let’s just say my guesses weren’t always correct. (laughs again)
For the road trip, you teamed up with Motul. What impact did that have?
Yes, I met the guys from Motul during the Goodwood Revival and pitched the idea for the trip with this car to them. The Motul UK team absolutely loved the idea and they suggested that when the car arrived in Nebraska, I should not only change the oil to a Motul product but every other liquid in the car too. So, I did that, and it did wonders for the car. To be fair, the car hadn’t even been driven before the trip, so on the first day of the event the NAS Charger also did its first miles but it made it all the way to Sema without a single glitch.
Check out the full interview and build story here: