The advent of the LX platform models by Chrysler has brought some new fans into the Mopar family. The design cues of the Challenger coupled with special packages has resulted in a lot of people stepping up for one, even if they had no prior association with Chrysler products. Take Joe Manzella for instance. He had been a car guy for over 25 years, owning some non-mainstream cars like a Studebaker truck, and a '66 Ford Falcon. He decided to put that all aside to go Dodge.

"After many years of fixing cars, I decided to buy something and drive it daily," says the 45-year-old from Simpsonville, South Carolina.

Back in the day, you would go into the dealership and pick and choose the options you wanted; this is why some cars are one-of-one or in very limited overall production. Things like that don't happen anymore. Instead, the factory creates limited-edition packages with many options already included. The '12 Yellow Jacket was one of those.

Based on the SRT8 6.4 Hemi technology, there were 1,000 Stinger Yellow examples built. The original Yellow Jacket was a custom auto show Targa-top roadster that represented the restyling of the '71 Challenger—it never went into production. The cars that showed in 2012 featured either a five-speed auto, or a six-speed manual transmission, with differential ratios decided by the transmission chosen. Stainless steel exhaust, big four-caliper Brembo brakes, controlled performance suspension, 20-inch wheels, a 19-gallon fuel tank, and a possible 23 mpg (if you can keep your foot out of it), were part of most '12 SRT8 models. What made the Yellow Jacket special was the flashy color with unique black graphics, special interior trim, and exclusivity. We were surprised when not one but three of them were on hand for the season-opening Tilted Kilt show in Fort Mill, South Carolina, this past spring.

This car was optioned with the Auto-Stick and optional Harmon-Karden sound system. With his background in hot rodding, the car didn't stay stock for very long. However, since he intended this to be a low-maintenance daily goer, big changes to the factory 470hp package were decided against. Instead, Joe began to do some subtle graphics changes to the exterior and some engine dress-up under the hood.

On the hood, a company Joe calls Copper Genius created a set of custom Bee-logo'd 392 Hemi emblems. They were cast in metal, and custom painted. Under the hood, three-dimensional chrome valve covers with cut-out callouts showing the displacement, chrome pieces over the shock towers, and covering on the electric boxes came from American Car Craft. Speedlogix custom black dress-ups use the Yellow Jacket logos, too, including a new throttle body. That and the Mopar intake were all that affected the power combination.

As we mentioned, Joe bought this car to be a daily driver. Since bringing it home, he has put 11,500 miles on the car, driving as far away as Myrtle Beach, for the weeklong Mopars at the Beach since he picked it up in March 2012.

While there are guys who have made extensive changes to their late-models, when it comes to practicality, sometimes less is more, especially when the car is an SRT8; from that angle, Joe's Jacket is smokin'!

Fast Facts

'12 Yellow Jacket Challenger
Car Owner: Joe Manzella - Simpsonville, South Carolina

Mopar Power
Engine: Pumping out 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque and being used as a daily driver, Joe chose minor changes to the engine. A cold air intake from Mopar, a Speedlogix throttle body, and canister dress-ups are offset by chrome covers from American Car Craft over the valve covers, shock towers, and electric components. The final touch was custom stainless lines replacing the factory versions.
Transmission: Factory Auto Stick features five forward speeds and optional paddle shifting in drive.
Differential: This one has the 3.06 four-pinion LSD (limited slip differential).
Horsepower and Performance: Factory says 470; highway speedo at 180 mph tells the rest of the story.
Sure Grip
Suspension: One of the coolest changes in the SRT8 line is the use of computer-controlled suspension, which Dodge calls ESC (electronic stability control). This distributes braking, traction control, and so on, or can be turned off if you want to "he-man" it.
Brakes: Dodge also upgraded the four-wheel Brembo disc brakes to the maximum size that can fit behind the 20-inch wheels; with 14.2 inches up front, and 13.8 inches on the rear, all with four-piston calipers. Coupled with the ABS system, 60-to-0 is claimed to be scant 117 feet; we did try it out …
Wheels and tires: 20x9 alloy wheels in all four corners, with fat 245/45s up front and even fatter 275/45s in the rear.
High Impact
Body and paint: Limited to 1,000 examples, this one is Stinger Yellow with a black grille and black graphics. To this Joe added some custom lettering under the hood, and custom 392 Hemi emblems to make it his own one-of-one.
Interior: Truly upscale with leather and special Yellow Jacket accents. This also includes the Karman-Harden 18 speaker setup, heated steering wheel, and Auto-Stick/paddle shifter on the WA580 transmission.