2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8: Shape Shifting

Ultimate Auto of Orlando, Florida, took this Challenger back to the future.

Story: Evan “Evo” Yates

Photography: Will Stern

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, the term “widebody” was more akin to the body-kit family and was hardly taken seriously, as they usually resembled a school project with wild fender extensions, funky inlets and Testarossa-style design cues. Vehicles rockin’ the extended body panels went quiet for years in custom-car culture until being revived in 2008, when suitable platforms were more abundant. Since then, widebody Challengers and Camaros have been droppin’ on a regular basis, but few have changed the course, producing predictable outcomes and, at times, corny carbon copies. In a refreshing turn of events, when NBA All-Star Rashard Lewis entrusted Ultimate Auto with his sanctified SRT8, the UA crew were given an opportunity to think outside the welder and take it back to the drawing board—literally.

Rashard Lewis and Ultimate Auto (formerly Ultimate Audio) of Orlando, Florida, connected back when the All-Star was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2007, and the relationship blossomed from there. “We began revamping cars he already had at first,” explains UA owner Joe Labon. “And then we started doing complete builds for him.” Fresh off completing a Bentley Mulsanne and a Mansory-equipped Rolls-Royce Ghost for Rashard, Ultimate Auto got the opportunity to flaunt their vehicular prowess when Rashard delivered a candy-red Challenger for a complete overhaul. Entrusting UA with virtually complete control of the build, Rashard knew Joe and his skilled squad would take the Challenger to a level few have ever seen. “At the time, he didn’t know what the widebody would look like,” says Joe. “I sent him a few pictures and assured him we would make him a one-off custom car like no one has [seen], and he said he trusted us.”

The most complex, expensive and time-consuming portion of the build was the exterior modifications, which could perhaps be overlooked by those unfamiliar with the Challenger and/or custom cars. That being said, every single body panel on the Challenger was modified, down to the spoiler. And instead of cutting and pasting like some shops, Ultimate Auto took it to the next level, encompassing techniques utilized by new-car manufacturers when developing prototypes and concept cars. The UA team clay-modeled the car in-house to fabricate the new fenders, doors, quarters, and front and rear fascia to produce a legit one-off ride guaranteed not to have a twin on the streets. In addition to the obvious body modifications, small, subtle treats were added, such as the Corvette ZR1 push-button door entry located under the brim of the widebody and the custom outlets for the exhaust. And, of course, an upper-echelon ride would not be complete without the perfect set of rolling gear perched under the freshly fabricated wheel wells. A set of 24-inch Savini SV-34c wheels with matte-gray faces budded up to glossy black lips were mounted, 10 inches wide in the front and an outlandish 15 inches out back. Under the custom hood is proof this muscular Mopar ain’t just about the façade—it’s got the run, too. Nestled neatly under the acrylic window is the MagnaCharger Magnuson supercharger with its complementary cold-air intake and MagnaFlow exhaust mated to the factory 6.1-liter Hemi.

After six months of specialized surgery, the marvelous Mopar is complete and cruising the streets of South Beach. And Rashard, the newly acquired Miami Heat player, is more than thrilled with Ultimate Auto’s results. The bar has been set once again for widebody coupes. Who’s got next?

Spec The Technique:

Year/Make/Model: 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8

Performance: MagnaCharger Magnuson supercharger; MagnaFlow exhaust system; K&N air intake system; DiabloSport tuning system

Exterior: Custom handcrafted front fenders, door skin and rear quarters, all widened; Corvette electric door handles; ACS Composite ZR1-style hood; custom front and rear bumpers; custom two-tone black over charcoal paint; smoked lights; color-matched trim

Interior: Custom suede quilted headliner, seats and door panels, with hand-stitched details

Ice: Four JL Audio C5-525 components in front, C5-650 in rear, two HD600/4 amps, two HD750/1 amps, two 12W6v2-D4 subs in custom enclosure with basketball-court hardwood floors

Wheels/Tires: 24-inch Savini SV-34c wheels, 24×10 front, 24×15 rear; Pirelli P ZERO NERO tires, 285/35/24 front, 405/25/24 rear; custom-painted matte-charcoal face with gloss-black floating center caps

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