Gone are the days of cool inside projects from Detroit that were flown under the radar of the parent company. Where employees-make that enthusiasts-worked nights and weekends to develop cool performance projects and parts. Will we ever see those days again? Probably not. But that doesn't mean there aren't a few rebels at the helm of inspiring projects, those of legend. Today's Mopar Performance Group is fortunate enough to have some dedicated car guys developing products and grinning ear-to-ear when a high compression Hemi is fired up. Thanks to them, we now have a new legend in the making.

If you haven't seen the Mopar Direct Connection Dodge Challenger out at events, make sure you swing by their booth and pick their brains about the car. You'll soon find that you're talking to your buddy, the guy in the pits next to you, the guy in the right lane. They are the team at the Mopar Performance Group, and they're just like us.

This isn't just any regular Dodge Challenger, it's actually something of a historical icon of its own, being the first new Challenger VIN 00001. One of the original Drag Pack cars. Instead of crushing this masterpiece of metal craft, a small team comprised of Dale Aldo, Brian Falzon, Albert Kalaj, Evan Murphy, Richard Hwang, and David Daunter, decided to use it for something else. "With the new Mopar Performance aluminum block (PN 5153898) in development, we wanted to find out the limits and needed something to test it in," says Brian. "I talked with Dale about what we were thinking, and he got the ball rolling and eventually the approval from management to use the car."

Once the project was moving forward, it was clear that it was going to be challenging. "We wanted to build the car in part to let Mopar fans know that we were just like them, and we wanted to make a connection to them," says Dale. This resulted in the resurrection of the Direct Connection within Mopar, something that had really been in hiatus since the '80s- or at least it didn't have a test car in the fleet. This program develops parts for the public based on the needs of the performance junkies. The new Dodge Challenger would be doing just that, as it would develop parts for a whole new generation of automobile from Chrysler, the LX platform, and the new Hemi engine.

Working mainly on their own personal time-nights and weekends-the small team built and conceived the plan for the car, rooted in rich history and heritage. Arrow Racing assembled the aluminum block with Diamond pistons, Scat 6.0-inch rods, and a Scat 4-inch crankshaft installed. Compression was dropped to 8.56:1, ready for an onslaught of boost. A Mopar Performance 392 cam and experimental heads were added to optimize power output before it was lowered between the strut towers.

Brian and the Direct Connection team then mocked up a custom single turbo setup to feed the beastly low compression Hemi. Once all the piping was routed, a single 88mm Turbonetics Y2K ball bearing turbo was mounted to shove air through the Turbonetics T41768 intercooler, regulated by a Turbonetics New Gen HP Wastegate. The fuel is sucked from a five-gallon aluminum fuel cell with a Weldon DB2025 pump into a set of Mopar Performance fuel rails, now available for purchase.

The power is delivered to an MPR/Strange rear end through an ATI transmission with a 9-inch converter. Once this power has been managed 3.70 gears and 40-spline axles punish a set of Goodyear drag slicks and hurl the 3,400-pound LX Dodge Challenger-with driver-down the strip.