Steve Strope, proprietor of Pure Vision Designs in Simi Valley, California, has produced his portion of masterpieces-each custom-built Mopar exceeding the previous in workmanship, ingenuity, and originality. Many will remember the graphite gray '70 Plymouth Road Runner, aptly named Hammer, or the eye-frying red '71 Plymouth GTX-R-two vehicles that altered the contemporary image of modern musclecars. Steve's Pure Vision Designs was recently commissioned by George Poteet to fabricate a purely original, NASCAR-inspired '68 Charger.
George Poteet is a legend in the hot rod world. His name has been linked to some of the most influential cars in the market, most notably "The Sniper" custom rod, and a soon-coming '68 Barracuda, built for nothing less than a land speed record. Though intimately tied to some of the most advanced hand-built hot rods, George has a sweet spot for vintage, bare-bones race cars. When George told Steve he would like to have a '68 Charger, Steve volleyed back with a NASCAR-based plan-the embodiment of a street legal stock car, enabling him to cruise down the boulevard or boil a dry-lake bed's sand into glass. (Yes, you read it right. The plan is for this Charger to streak across Bonneville's dry-lake bed before this issue reaches the newsstands.)
A rolling Charger was found at the Restorations by Julius paddock in California. The body required both quarter-panels, a trunk, and rear window channel to be replaced as cancerous oxidation had consumed too much factory steel to salvage. Before any cosmetic work could be procured, Red Zone Fabrications was enlisted to design and create a chromoly cage, which was installed and anchored to the sub-frame and floor pans, as well as tie the subframes together for added rigidity. With the tubular connectors in place, the underside channeling was relieved to house the Red Zone-fabricated, NASCAR-style, side-exit exhaust system featuring Spin Tech dual 311/42-inch flat oval mufflers and tubing that would all link to the Hemi via tti headers. Additional body modifications were made at that time to accommodate the colossus 345/30ZR/19 rear rubber by widening the rear wheelhousings and fabricating vertical outer walls. Budnik applied gorgeous Muroc II billet 18- and 19-inch rims for the Charger with Cup and NASCAR-type racing in mind.
Cosmetically, the Charger is flawless; the signature razor lines and scallops are scalpel-sharp. All of the bodywork and paint was handled by the artisans at Gold Coast Custom, where the sheetmetal was rubbed, massaged, and sanded over and over again to give George one of the straightest B-Bodies to come out of Michigan. All seams and panel overlaps were blended and covered. Each of the four specific-to-'68 turn signal indicators was removed. All the panel gaps were aligned, filled, and outlet holes for the C-pillar emblems and wheel opening trim were eliminated, and the front valance received extensive refashioning. The brilliant white paint was accented with a solid red '70 Charger tail stripe. NASCAR-inspired cues appear throughout the car with Pure Vision-crafted front window security tabs, rear window braces, rear bumper aero jackets (covering the gaps between the quarter-panel and the bumper edges), and a one-off rear spoiler. Authentic Daytona A-pillar aero covers were also employed to bring this Charger closer to a '69 Charger 500 with each alteration.
The NASCAR-heritage theme...
The NASCAR-heritage theme is found throughout the car, even down to the placement tabs found on the windshield and window braces on the back window.
Super stock Chryslers in 1968...
Super stock Chryslers in 1968 didn't look this sparse. Zolotone paint adorns the interior that has no fabric, vinyl, or leather. This is an outstanding example of function over form.
Race inspiration continued internally with the cabin resembling nothing of the preceding production passenger version. Pure Vision attacked the factory dash board, modifying it to house a vintage NASCAR-inspired dash cluster with Stewart Warner black-face gauges (featuring a 160-mph speedometer), and indicator lighting. A wide-angle rearview mirror and mesh covering for the overhead dome light also added to the competition-ready theme. Absent from the interior is virtually everything else-no carpet, headliner, package tray, center console, back seat, or door panels. Covering the cockpit is red Zolotone truck bedliner paint sprayed over every inch of the interior tin, including the floor boards, trunk, ceiling, and Red Zone custom tin door panels. Not missing any details, Steve added his touch to things like the door handles, clutch and brake pedal arms, and window cranks by drilling holes for weight savings (though not a considerable amount). The trunk is awash with competition series equipment. Locating the battery in the trunk for weight distribution was a no-brainer-it was one of the primary steps racers made to convert their stock vehicles into race machines. An ON/OFF breaker switch was stationed between the rear left taillights to manually sever the electric fuel pump in case of an emergency. A customized bladder-lined 14-gallon fuel cell from Fuel Safe was tied into the floor and rollcage in a customized cradle that utilizes the factory gas flip-top filler door with a custom fill tube.
Both Steve and George have dealt with amazing engine combinations, the likes of which reach up to 1,000 horsepower. Though impressive, both car builders coincided that a more practical output was more appropriate for this application. The stroked Ray Barton 472ci Hemi was tuned to run on civilian 91-octane, dynoing at 605 hp with little cajoling. Unique to this car, Steve applied the same use of a drill to the throttle cable/return, power steering, alternator, and throttle brackets. An original magnesium NASCAR short-track, dual-plane, single four-barrel intake manifold rests atop the block with a dirt-track-style air screen protecting the K&N air filter from debris. A NASCAR crossover breather tube with dual filters tethers the valve covers together, while the top of the core support was boxed and received the same "punch hole" weight saving treatment. The sanitary state of the engine compartment is staggering-Pure Vision tucked all the headlight wiring beneath the wheelwells, while hiding all the firewall looming underneath the dash inside. One of George's initial requests is manifested in a Pure Vision-designed, manual cable-operated headlight door system. Interestingly enough, a NASCAR-correct Corvette expansion/overflow tank was located and used as well, affirming George's claim that the Charger was intended to be a race car, no matter how pristine Steve made it.
A stout five-speed Tremec transmission from Keisler Automotive is situated beneath an easily removable gearbox cover for quick changes and modifications. An 831/44 rear with a Mopar Performance aluminum carrier housing containing a set of Randy's Ring and Pinion 3.55 gears spins the meaty Michelin Pilots. Wilwood provided their massive SUV-grade 14-inch rotor and six-piston caliper system for the front and a 13-inch system with four-piston calipers for the rear, enough stopping power to bring the Charger to a standstill in milliseconds. Tubular Magnum Force A-arms are connected to boxed lower control arms with billet tie-rod sleeves. Fat Man Fabrication 2-inch drop spindles give the Poteet Charger the signature stance that makes it look so menacing. A fast ratio power steering box from Firm Feel and Hotchkis sway bar direct the front rubber where to go, with the 2-inch drop rear Eaton Detroit leaf springs responding accordingly. Other various items, such as a floating remote oil cooler, remote coil mount, and custom 3-inch leaf spring in-board alteration, were all fabricated or modified in-house by Pure Vision as well.
The 14-inch SUV-grade rotors...
The 14-inch SUV-grade rotors are used to bring this monster to a halt. Wilwood's six-piston calipers are unrivaled when it comes to the custom car market.
There are not many who would dare to batter this exceptional piece of rolling hardware in the ways that George Poteet proposes, but we think it might be the most fun we've ever had to sit in the custom red leather cockpit by Rob Mangus, grip the wheel, and pin the needle down at 160 mph.