Story: Marcus Amick
Photography: Scott Dukes
One glance at former Mr. Olympian Kenneth Wheeler and there’s no doubt that he knows something about American muscle. During his near 20-year run as a bodybuilder, the California native was a five-time Ironman Pro winner, a four-time Arnold Classic winner and placed second for Mr. Olympia three times before retiring at peak physical performance.
Now he spends his time flexing his muscle on the street in an absolutely wicked 2007 Dodge Charger that packs 815 horsepower and 880 lb.-ft. of torque. And Wheeler, or “Flex,” as he’s known in the world of bodybuilding, is quick to offer up the official dyno sheet to back it up.
Though the Charger was just a 3.5-liter SXT when he bought it, Flex got turned on to customizing it after attending an annual LX Platform Festival held in Irvine, California, for owners of Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers, Challengers and Magnums.
“After seeing the cars there, I was like, ‘Wow, here I am with a V6. I need to do some work,’” Flex says. Growing up drag-racing VWs, what Flex wanted most was more power. But due to some technical challenges with the car’s ECU, beefing up his Charger wasn’t just a matter of dropping in another engine. He took the car to builder Josh Rickards, who replaced the standard engine with a custom 7.0-liter 426 stroker with SRT8 running gear, after working out some of the kinks in the computing software.
The car, which doubles as a promotional tool for sports nutrition company AAEFX, where Flex is a partner, features a list of custom accoutrements: House of Kolor paint by Jamie Torrez of Demented Customs, an audio and video system by Sound Wave and 22-inch USW Blaze 2.0 wheels are just the tip of the customization iceberg.
Under the hood is where Flex’s Charger really makes a statement. Completing the appropriate “muscle” theme is a Hellion Power Systems twin-turbo kit—twin 64mm Turbonetics turbos, Turbosmart 38mm wastegates and a custom fuel system finishes off the boosted kit.
And this ain’t just a showpiece; it’s Flex’s everyday vehicle. “When I go to the shows, I see a lot of these guys who trailer their cars in. I call them ‘trailer queens,’” says Flex, who prefers driving the Charger over his 2005 Lamborghini Murciélago. “I drive it everywhere. A custom car like this is a great way to show who I am.”
Spec The Technique:
Performance: 7.0-liter 426 stroker; Competition Spec (6.1-liter-based SRT8 running gears); Wiseco HP reverse dome pistons; Stage I Street high-flow cylinder heads; Stage I camshaft 114 ISA 232 236.564.580; Built to Run High Boost (20+ lbs); 5% ATI damper; Corsa Performance Exhaust; Hellion Power Systems Twin Turbo Kit; twin 64mm Turbonetics turbos; two Turbosmart 38mm wastegates, e-Boost2, Race BOV; 80 lbs injectors; Fore Precision Works 6.1 fuel rails; LX3 fuel hat, fuel pressure regulator, 2-1 y-block and fuel filter; three Walbro 255 LPH fuel pumps; DiabloSport tuner; ProTorque performance 2800 stall converter; Level 5 1,000hp axle/hub set; Southern Hotrod SHR NAG1-HTCr transmission; full Pedders suspension; full air ride by AccuAir; Brembo Gran Turismo System six-piston calipers with 15-inch discs front, four-piston calipers with 15-inch discs rear
Interior: Custom-painted fiberglass tweeter panels, upper dash trim piece, interior dash trim, fiberglass lower front door panels, lower rear door panels, fiberglass sub enclosures and amp rack; suede headliner, carpet rear deck lid; custom fiberglass headliner; custom rear plates for rear-deck speakers; custom carpeted trunk panels
Exterior: House of Kolor Cobalt Blue Kandy
Ice: Four pairs of Memphis 15-MSQ6 6.5-inch 2-Way components, 16- MCH1300 75Wx4/1100Wx1 Class D amp, two 15-MOJO10D4 10-inch subwoofer 4ohm, 17-4GKIT four-gauge amp kit; two Concept CHR-920B 9.2-inch widescreen monitors, two CHR-700D 7-inch widescreen monitors; GT Factory Diablo Elite door system; Pioneer AVIC-D3 Double-DIN/AM/FM/CD/DVD/navigation
Wheels/Tires: 22-inch USW Blaze 2.0s; Nexen Roadian HPs, 265/35/22