Perhaps no other category of automobile captures the imagination of stateside enthusiasts more than the muscle car—arguably the purest distillation of automotive Americana, and one that continues to enthrall across generational divides. The enduring allure of these brutes from the late 1960’s and early ‘70s is clearly demonstrated in the burgeoning number of modern interpretations of the era’s most noteworthy models, a trend that this reimagined vision of a 1968 Dodge Charger exemplifies.
The team responsible for the Mopar monster, Pennsylvania-based ExoMod Concepts, began with a modern-day Dodge Challenger Hellcat as the donor vehicle, and then let their creativity redline. The result is the new C68 Carbon series, with each transformation taking roughly 1,500 hours. It’s a process that sees the specialists begin with a Hellcat and, according to ExoMod, “strip it down to the safety cage” before reconstructing it with carbon fiber in the guise of a widebody ’68 Charger.
The bygone model selected for the overall aesthetic is the first year of the second-generation Charger, an easy choice for ExoMod’s CEO, Rick Katzeff. “It’s the original, iconic, bad-boy, muscle-car superstar from the silver screen,” says Katzeff. “Even though the Mustang was the hero car in Bullitt, most of us liked the rebellious nature of the Charger. The Dukes of Hazzard cemented this image a decade later.” When asked why the Challenger Hellcat is the ideal starting point for each C68 Carbon project, Katzeff simply mentions that “it has the identical wheelbase of the second-generation Charger, so it was a no-brainer to build on top of it.”
While the C68 Carbon combines old-school styling with contemporary engineering, a restomod it is not. “We don’t consider our cars to be restomods. It’s a modification to the exoskeleton of the car while retaining all of the safety, reliability, technical, and performance features underneath, including the factory ABS, airbags, the stamped-steel roll cage, traction control, and stability control,” says Katzeff. And, unlike a restomod, all the modern amenities are not added in after the fact, but retained from those already found in the Hellcat. As Katzeff cites, these include the infotainment system with navigation, cruise control, and the 18-speaker audio system.
One key revision, though, is probably the most noteworthy feature of the entire production—the 1,000 hp, 6.2 liter supercharged V-8 from John Hennessey and his eponymous Hennessey Performance Engineering. The Texas-based tuner, long known for souping-up supercars from other manufacturers, has gained further renown after developing his own 1,817 hp Hennessey Venom F5 hypercar—and convertible variant—from the ground up. But while the latter’s power train produces 1,193 ft lbs of torque, the mill in ExoMod’s machine generates a still-striking 948 ft lbs at 4,200 rpm. And the engine is covered under a two-year/24,000-mile warranty with Hennessey.
Along with being far more powerful than the current Challenger Hellcat, the vehicle relies extensively on carbon fiber, which makes it a total of 400 pounds lighter as well. And while the original 1968 Dodge Charger comprised a reported total of 96,100 examples and can now be purchased in concours condition for less than $70,000 (at least according to Hagerty), there are only 10 examples of the C68 Carbon underway, each priced at $379,000.
Queried as to the greatest challenge the project presented, Katzeff says that it “has been “educating the public” as to the nature of the build. “It’s a brand-new car underneath, with vintage looks made from high-tech modern materials,” he notes, “but you don’t necessarily see that at first glance.” What you do see is a muscle car for the new millennium.
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Click here for more photos of the C68 Carbon from ExoMod Concepts.