When working in your home garage, many times the parameters of your mission forces you to sub out a job that deep inside, you know you could do if you could only afford the right tools. More often than not, that road is paved with broken glass, making the ability for you to get it done on a budget almost impossible. On a recent visit to Xtreme Restorations in Slatersville, Rhode Island, we came across a '68 Road Runner being updated into a fire-breathing dual-purpose street/strip racer. We were just in time to follow the design and installation of its rollcage using affordable tools that would be well within the limits of most homebuilders. Team member Richard Desautels told us that if you want to go fast, you'd better have adequate safety to back it up. With a 1,000hp Keith Black injected Hemi bolted in, this is one serious car and the 'cage had better be all business. Adding a stout rollcage will not only bring additional strength to the chassis, but also plenty of safety in case it's ever needed. High-performance driving is serious stuff and the team at Xtreme infuses plenty of race-proven performance engineering into all of their fabrication.
Getting started, it's important to have the exact dash, steering column, seating, and safety belts on hand as they will all work into the final equation regarding the design of the 'cage. Once the interior of the car was gutted, Richard wasted no time in obtaining his baseline measurements for the main hoop. Allowing for 2.5 inches off the roof and sides, he first obtained an overall measurement of the hoop. He then followed by using an angle finder to determine the inboard contour of the B-pillar and then the roofline. To create a template to draw from, electrical conduit is light, cheap, and easy to work with to get the basic shape of your 'cage and, in the interest of saving money, it's also important to measure twice and cut once, he told us. Once test-fitted, it was time for Rudy Desautels to get started using the affordable JD Squared Model 3 tubing bender and M3B Round Tube Die Set for up to 1.75-inch tubing. Following along with the incorporated degree pointer system and conduit template, producing top-quality wrinkle-free bends proved to be a breeze. For all points to be matched to the main hoop, the JD Squared tube notcher is another low-cost tool with massive capabilities, allowing even a newcomer to dial-in cuts like a pro. Richard spent time studying each completed 'cage section as it was mocked in place advising us that the 'cage should be well balanced from all angles when you step back and look at it. As the work progressed, the seats and safety belts were also set in place to allow for exact measurements to accommodate their individual proportions. To wrap it all up, you'll need to prep and paint the rollcage and surrounding areas to protect them from corrosion. The completed installation not only looks clean and well designed, it will add strength to the chassis. But most importantly, it will add safety to this ride.