First off, a clarification: this is not a Dodge M4S. There are up to, but no more than, four official Dodge M4S prototype vehicles, and there are visual differences between them all. For the sake of this article, the car most people know as “the Wraith” can be called a Turbo Interceptor, since that name came about around the same time as the movie.
The Dodge M4s was commissioned by PPG Industries as part of their deal with CART racing: one Chrysler product, one Ford product, and one GM product would be created and used each year for pace car duties. The M4S came about when a Chrysler executive had seen pictures of a tube-chassis Pontiac Fiero done up for racing and decided that maybe Chrysler should get into the mid-engine game. Chrysler decided that a tube-chassis mid-engine car would be fine for testing purposes, and virtually copied the build, except for adding seven inches of wheelbase over the Fiero to an even 100″. The body was molded in fiberglass and the engine and transmission (a Cosworth-headed twin-turbo Chrysler 2.2L mated to a Liberty-modified Chrysler five-speed transaxle) were installed. The result was a 440hp test mule that ran 195 miles an hour around Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds before the over boosted engine popped the head gasket.
Then there is the Turbo Interceptor. Movie executives wanted a futuristic car that nobody had ever seen before, and with the M4S, Dodge certainly had it. While the chief designer, Bob Ackerman, had his reservations about the idea of his prototype being used by movie folks in Hollywood, he eventually relented…kind of. Two running vehicles, using Volkswagen engines, and four body shells were made off of the PPG Pace Car M4S, and the actual M4S was allowed to be on-set for a week, under guard, and was only used for close-up shots. One scene that is known to be the actual Dodge is where Rughead had to attach a device to the Wraith’s engine. Sure, the rocking and glowing part is Hollywood BS, but you are seeing the back of the engine bay in honest detail.
Now, about this car for sale. This is one of the two movie rollers that was recently restored to a high level. The car has been restored, and in place of the VW mill is a supercharged Pontiac V6. It’s not the M4S’s psychotic four-banger, but it will get the job done. It will run and drive, it doesn’t have a VIN and isn’t street legal, and it is undoubtedly expensive at $150,000. Considering that there are only a handful of these things period, the cost isn’t out of line. We’d love to see someone with the bones to pick this up do up a nasty little 2.2L combination and actually wring it out on a track. It’s low, it’s mean, and it could be yours!
(Thanks to Nick for the tip!)