Wild child Challenger show car
US aircraft manufacturer Lockheed’s high-tech research unit, the Skunk Works in California, has developed some of the United States’ most secret aircraft, including the U2 and SR-71 Blackhawk spy planes and the F117 Nighthawk stealth fighter.
But way up north, in Michigan is another SkunkWerks, a not-so-well-known Chrysler division that produces customised, “straight from the factory” vehicles.
Dodge’s retro-look Challenger pony car, which is set to debut as a production model in 2008, formed the basis for a SkunkWerks project, the Super Stock, shown at this month’s SEMA speciality equipment show in Las Vegas.
“For me, the funnest part of this project was actually creating things out of thin air,” says Steve Melcher, who designed nearly 100 parts for one of the team’s 2006 SEMA vehicles.
For the Dodge Challenger Super Stock concept project, the team “took a Dodge Magnum underbody chassis and a Challenger concept shell, and married the two,” he says.
The Super Stock Challenger was designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 392 Hemi V8, and showcase Chrysler’s new Hemi anniversary model 392 aftermarket crate motor.
One of the 1970s’ most iconic muscle cars, the original Challenger debuted in the northern autumn of 1969 as a 1970 model. Although it was only produced from 1970 to 1974 (188,600 sold), the Dodge Challenger earned a reputation as one of the most desirable of the original pony cars, with rare examples currently selling in the US for six-figure prices.
Build leader on the Super Stock project, Roger McCallum, says the projects gave team members the chance to use their own creative abilities and past experiences.
“Whereas some other projects are more rigid and you don’t have that opportunity, (a car like the Challenger Super Stock) makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
“When the car is done, you might see it at SEMA show or an auto show. That’s a
great feeling.” n