True speed freaks are never content. It's like a drug that you build your immunity to, and have to push the limits even further as you increase your tolerance. When a speed freak decides to build a Mopar, they usually start slow. As the addiction takes over all bodily functions, you become consumed in the drug and you end up with a car so far from where you started, you sit in the corner of your dark bedroom rocking back and forth telling yourself "it's going to be OK." For Chris Carlson, this scenario may have played out a little differently-sans rocking back and fourth, but the end result is the same-one extreme Challenger.
Chris' Challenger started life as a 340 Rallye car that was B5 Blue. When he got it, the paint was in poor shape and there was a little rust on the doors and quarters. "I couldn't believe a northern car was in such good shape with very little rust," he recalls. It didn't take long before he was tweaking the small-block and making the E-Body look better. "I had the panels replaced and painted it Plum Crazy. It had some of the ugliest interior you have ever seen. It was plaid blue, and I didn't change it when I painted the car Plum, so you can imagine," he jests.
He ignored the eyesore inside his car to focus on getting the Challenger moving. This started simple with a few bolt-ons, and it wasn't long before he was installing a nitrous bottle in his trunk and spraying in an additional 150-horse kick in the pants. With the car smoking the tires, Chris decided to paint the car again and selected a cool pale orange that was commonly confused for pink. "That got to be too much, and I just had to change it again."
This time he decided to just build the car from the ground up. "I realized it was time to redo the whole thing from the inside out." This started with his color option. Back when Plymouth was still kickin', they produced an underpowered hot rod called the Prowler. Plymouth only offered them in a handful of colors and one of them was called Prowler Flame Orange Metallic-offered in 2000. He sent the car to Barton Collision in Spokane, Washington, where it was media blasted and sprayed with this color. They installed a T/A-style hood, front and rear fiberglass spoilers, and a flip-top gas cap. The bumpers were rechromed by Tripple Plate in Spokane. Once it was out of the paint booth, Barton Collision applied new Rallye door "strobe" decals.
The plaid blue interior has...
The plaid blue interior has been scrapped in favor of a more subdued black color from a donor car.
Chris took the car home and began to tear down the suspension to construct a chassis strong enough for its soon-to-be-added power. With the help of his brother, C.W., and friend, Mike Ethridge, they completely revamped the suspension. All the bushings were replaced with poly pieces, and heavy-duty sway bars from Firm Feel were installed along with Edelbrock Performance shocks on all corners. Up front, the factory control arms were replaced with CAP Automotive upper and lower tubular control arms supported by heavy duty Torsion bars and a "firm feel" steering box.
The rear was extensively modified to make room for the large, 11-inch-wide rear tires. A Mopar Performance spring relocation kit was put in place, and big-block leaf springs were installed to help put down the power and make the car sit with a killer stance. Shelley's Performance in Spokane installed a custom 8 3/4-inch housing with Moser Axles, 3.55 Motive gears, and a Detroit True-Trac. With the suspension all buttoned up, it was capped off with a set of custom J-Line wheels measuring 17x8 up front and 17x11 rear. The wheels wear Michelin Pilot Sport 255- and 335-series tires, respectively. Sitting behind the massive wheels are 12-inch Wilwood rotors with four-piston calipers to slow the Challenger down quickly.