First impressions mean a lot these days. That's why if you choose to drive a beige Camry I’m going to assume you have a neatly-organized collection of khaki pants at home arranged in order of lightness. In your world, driving quickly is reserved for serious croquet injuries or your wife giving birth. You only talk about g-forces when discussing fun facts about astronauts and you’ve never said the word “braaap” for any reason.
On the other hand, show up in a race-ready Porsche 911 with ITBs and wide wheels and I’ll admire your gusto and panache even if you're here to rob me.
That got me thinking, what are some of the craziest vehicles someone could feasibly make street legal? Take a gander at the web and you’ll find that each of these machines has been made street legal at least once. Do you have what it takes to break the mold and drive one of these outrageous things on the road?
These Are the Craziest Things to Make Street Legal
I’m not talking about those lawn-mower-engined excuses for go karts you find at your local tourist trap. Those are for children and drunk rednecks to brag to their friends that they managed to drive in a circle for 3 minutes without causing a five-car pileup. While that’s better than most Californians do in a day, it’s not exactly crazy.
What’s crazy is going 130 miles per hour in a vehicle that’s no larger than the chair you’re sitting in right now. I’m talking about shifter karts like that which has a Honda CR125 engine. Driving one on public roads is only for the brave – your whole cart is no taller than a truck’s tires – but there’s nobody stopping you from making a shifter kart street legal.
Formula 1 Cars
The full-size version of go kart racing, Formula 1 is something the United States historically just isn’t that into. Since you’re reading this you’re probably inclined to disagree, but keep in mind that Formula 1 has 4.6 million Instagram followers to the 139 million followers of Selena Gomez. And she doesn’t even have wheels.
Formula 1 cars are high-revving pulse-pounding machines that most S2000 and 350Z HR owners think they drive to work every day. A real F1 car is nearly inoperable on public roads – the physics that make the steering, grip, and suspension work on a track literally don’t exist at regular speeds. But neither God nor country will say you can’t make an F1 car street legal, so go right ahead.
Race-prepped track motorcycles allow regular people to taste the excitement and raw g-forces of F1 racing without all that silly safety equipment and crash protection. You can take any old Craigslist bike and race it all-out at your local track: no special equipment is required, beyond proper safety gear and maybe a touch of craziness. The double-edged sword is that while this costs far less than other forms of racing, the danger – while statistically no higher – is far more palpable.
The meanest track bikes around are highly modified beasts that make over 200 horsepower at the wheel and weigh well under 500 pounds. Cue Jeremy Clarkson saying, “As a result, it has twice as much brake horsepower per ton as a Bugatti Veyron!”
Sadly, motorcycle road racing is about as popular in the United States as afternoon tea breaks. But since modified track bikes are generally much cheaper than stock examples of the same model, a street legal track bike could be your ticket to waxing every turbo LS and blown Mustang that comes your way. Legally, of course.
Two Stroke Dirt Bikes
Near the opposite end of the two-wheeled spectrum lies the wild world of two-stroke off-roading, where riders often achieve 30 miles per hour atop smoke-belching machines covered in mud and animal excrement.
Nonetheless, two-stroke dirt bikes are making a comeback these days. If you thought they never left, you already know how much fun one of these bikes can be. Two strokes have been around since the dawn of time but street-legal examples died out back in the 1990s. That won’t stop you from slapping a license plate on a newer one and BRAAAPing white smoke at that guy in the beige Camry on your way to work.
For all the left turn jokes and jabs about running booze, NASCARs are some of the most insane vehicles on the planet. That's because they adhere to super strict rules that restrict everything from materials to power delivery methods. To stay competitive, a nearly 800-horsepower NASCAR engine must be completely rebuilt after almost every race. Hell, the cars in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series events still use carburetors. Keepin' the old-school spirit alive.
And if you've got the spirit of Dale in your heart, do what Cleetus McFarland did and find yourself a secondhand NASCAR to make street legal. His neighbors better love the sound of horsepower in the morning, and by "neighbors" I mean anyone living within a mile radius of his house.
The Mahindra Roxor
The Roxor is what happens when a vintage Jeep CJ takes one of those glitzy lifestyle wellness courses and becomes a completely new person inside and out.
Mahindra has been producing Jeeps under license since the 1940s which means the Roxor is essentially a CJ right down to the part numbers. Except instead of the old an Iron Duke and four-speed combo, the Roxor gives you a 2.5-liter turbodiesel inline four backed by a 5-speed manual transmission. It can tow more than its own weight, and it can wheel itself out of nearly any situation. The only problem with the Roxor is that it’s not technically a car.
It’s sold as a UTV because that classic Jeep styling won’t pass modern safety standards in the US. That’s why it’s electronically limited to 45 miles per hour, but no matter: remove the speed sensor, add some blinkers and a license plate, and you’ve got yourself a brand-new Jeep CJ for way less than a restored one. Absolute genius.
Of course, you'd spend close to $20k on a Roxor just to get out-wheeled, out-muscled, and out-moxie'd by anyone driving a military Hummer.
If one vehicle is a universal symbol of masculinity, it’s not a Jeep – it’s a Hummer. Commonly known as the H1 to distance it from that redneck chariot called the H2, the original Humvee is every off-roader’s dream come true.
Massive tires. Burly body. Enough ground clearance to scale a wall. Enough torque to pull down a wall. There’s not much a Hummer can’t do, and with a license plate it can even become your weekly grocery-getter or the most epic Uber in town. Just don’t drive over parked cars in traffic, ok? Promise?
At the complete opposite end of the manliness spectrum is this snazzy stiletto on wheels. If awkward 90s buzzwords words like “wacky” and “zany” come to mind that’s because this shoe-car-bike has been around since the Internet was young. There’s a 1972 Honda CB350 hiding under that dainty exterior and a full-custom tricycle frame holds it all together.
The Street Legal Stiletto goes to show that you can literally drive anything you want on American roads, but what about off them?
It's kind of sad when a Volkswagen Beetle can make your friend’s fiberglass-fendered Tacoma look like a Traxxas RC truck.
Real trophy trucks are full-custom machines that can achieve nearly 140 miles per hour over rough terrain like sand, rocks, and San Diego pavement. This Beetle can too, but unlike Ken Block who goes through lots of trouble to make sure his shenanigans are legal, this guy decided to skip all that. According to the LA Times, in 2016 national hero Blake Wilkey "pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor charges of reckless driving, one count of exhibition speed and one count of failing to obtain a special event permit. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail and placed on three years probation."
If you want a taste of that thrill, there are places that will put you behind the wheel of a trophy truck and give you professional driving instruction on a closed course. How cool is that?
If you thought that Beetle was something out of GTA, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
This event preceded the first version of Grand Theft Auto by a good 2 years. Some might say it helped inspire the franchise, with the driver achieving a solid 5-star wanted level in record time. It’s crazy to watch him roll over cars like they’re made of cardboard, but that isn’t even the only time someone has stolen a fully-equipped tank and paraded around on public roads. Spoiler alert: you're gonna get caught.
Aside from all the wanton destruction, it’s perfectly legal to make a tank street legal as long as you have the proper plate, title, registration, and visibility if necessary (blinkers, mirrors, and so on). Yes, that means there are ways to legally buy surplus tanks – there’s actually a huge market for older ones, but the military likes to hang onto the more modern examples. Gee, I wonder why.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
Now that you know it’s possible to make nearly any vehicle street legal, which one would you drive? Let us know in the comments below. And whatever you choose, Dirt Legal can make it happen.
Author: Justin Dake