Opinions on a late-model Dodge Challenger that has been transformed into a retro-modern take on a Mopar Wing Car are going to vary wildly, from love to hate, with very little middle room. On one hand, the Challenger is the first car in the Mopar lineup that could hang with the street-going versions of the Plymouth Road Runner Superbird and Dodge Charger Daytona. It has the right options: stout V8s, a row-yer-own manual trans, and rear-drive. But the iconic nose cone and wing on the Challenger will rankle more than just the die-hard Mopar guys. Even Chad has thrown in a couple of cents on what he thinks about them (not a fan). But is there a place for them?
Randy Kirkley certainly makes a strong case for one. His 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT-8 is the kind of car that can grab attention just about anywhere, but what we really dig is that this isn’t just a body-kitted Challenger…it’s a full-on build that gets beat on like it was a cheap rental. It still wears Hemi Orange and the carbon-fiber stripes that it probably left the factory with, but that’s about where “stock” really should end. Under the hood is a 528 cubic inch Gen 3 Hemi fed with a Paxton blower that pushed the acceptability limits of NCM Motorsports Park’s stringent noise level rule pretty hard as it repaved the launch point at the autocross. We watched Kirkley as he threw the Challenger into corners and powered out of them with the rear tires ablaze.
It’s built up and runs like the Devil is on it’s heels, but lots of cars can do that. What is it about the Challenger that really has our attention? Well, let’s look at a couple of things on the car itself. For starters, there is the “kill list” on the front fender, reminding us of a WWII-era fighter’s kill markings, but in cute, fluffy creature form, ranging from squirrels with commitment issues to fresh venison. Should you be surprised that Kirkley has re-made the nose cone more than a couple of times? There’s the Road Runner’s natural enemy, Wile E. Coyote, as the mascot of “Acme Team Racing” in lieu of the standard Superbird logo. Or there’s the very concerning, “I RACE NAKED” banner across the rear bumper. We were not going to ask if that is a legitimate warning.
Hunkered down over it’s Forgeline wheels, the Challenger looks ready to rock just about any racing venue you could run it at. Silver State, Bonneville, Optima…the car can handle it all. We might have even heard something about an alcohol-drinking engine for serious attempts…the aero package is a Petty-designed kit, and it functions as it should. You might not approve of the look, but if you are going to go to the trouble of converting a Challenger into a Wing Car, going full-kill race car with it is always a great step as well. You jumped into the deep end of the pool, so who cares if you do a cannonball on the way in? Just please…don’t do it naked, ok?