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SpeedKore Gives Vintage Muscle Cars New Life

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Bugatti Veyron seem a bit boring? Why not try something with nearly the same ungodly power output…with a look from 1968? Such is the vibe at SpeedKore, the Grafton, WI, speed shop that’s in the contact lists of celebs like Kevin Hart, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., who patronize the outfit for its ability to do one-off resto-modded Detroit metal at a level pretty much without parallel.

Take, for example, SpeedKore’s latest creation: “Hellucination” is a 1968 Dodge Charger that’s been thoroughly worked up. Emphasis on thoroughly. Just about the only parts remaining from its donor car are the firewall, its eight pillars and roofline. The rest were put aside in favor of fully modernized go-fast parts, chief among them a 1,000-hp Dodge Hellephant 7.0-L V8 crate engine. A ZF eight-speed automatic helps corral all that power, as do a reinforced frame (with a concealed roll cage), double A arm front suspension and four-bar diagonal link rear. Like a modern race car, most of the body is carbon fiber, including the entirety of its floor and wheel tubs, lending it strength and lightness. The interior is light-years better than anything MOPAR put out in the 1960s, with hand-stitched leather seats, a 3D printed console and a 2,000-watt sound system.

Rear end of vintage sports car
Nate Rose/Kahn Media

The name of the buyer on the Hellucination order sheet isn’t your average rich guy. This custom job belongs to Ralph Gilles, chief design officer at Stellantis, which designed notable rides like the Chrysler 300 and 2014 SRT Viper. Gilles says his intention was to “honor the forefathers” who created this machine 54 years ago by tastefully modernizing it from tip to tail. And increasing its speed.

Gilles isn’t a typical SpeedKore client. The firm’s resto-mods are so pricey and exotic—Hellucination, for example, is a two-year, seven-figure build—that they often get treated like show horses and are sometimes called “trailer queens.” Rides like this often get carted from car show to car show instead of being driven. Not Hellucination. After accepting delivery, Gilles immediately took it to GingerMan Raceway in Michigan for six sessions. Then he hit the road, putting over 2,000 miles on the car in a little over a month.

Interior of vintage sports car
Courtesy Image

“Gilles was a tough client, but also a dream,” says SpeedKore’s Tom Porter, who managed the project. “He knew exactly what he wanted—a true ’68 Charger in every sense, made modern all the way. When we build these cars we want to see them driven. Ralph does just that.”

For years, men’s mags like this one have been championing high-dollar resto-mods from boutique manufacturers like Singer, which takes vintage Porsche 911s and makes them drive as if they came off the line in 2022, rather than 1972. Now SpeedKore is showing American metal the same kind of over-the-top love. We’re all for it.


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