As car lovers, most of us have looked at the lines on our favorite classic muscle car and thought, what if the manufactures could take those classic lines and tweak them to fit a modern platform? For Mopar lovers that became a reality with the introduction of the modern Challenger, built on the already in use LX platform. The modern Challengers hold true to the first gen cars so much that if anyone time warped from 1974 they wouldn’t have any trouble recognizing these cars.
We all have different taste and attracted to different models, but it wouldn’t be very cost effective for the major manufactures to tool up and build limited runs of a few hundred or even a thousand cars of 20 different models or so. Someone with an artistic flare can create a rendering of how they think a certain model may look dressed out in modern day clothes. One of those artist is a man named Doug Schramm who created his vision of what a modern day 1971 Plymouth GTX would look like. Doug laid out a beautiful rendering by taking the lines of the ’71 GTX and overlaying them on a 2008 Dodge Challenger body and finishing it off in classic B5 blue color.
For any rendering to be brought to life it takes the talent of an artist of another sort, one that works with steel. Steve Mirabelli is one of those artist. Steve is a northern transplant who has lived in NC since the late ’90s. Working in trade show display fabrication, he took that experience and decided to go racing and got a job fabricating race bodies. Eventually he landed a job at Hendricks Motorsports where he worked for 18 years until the racing industry changed and retirement was looking more appealing.
Not one to sit idle very long, Steve always has something in his home shop that he is tinkering with. Prior to building the GTX, he wanted to have his own modern classic muscle car. Steve has always been partial to wing cars especially the Daytona. Wanting that Daytona look with all creature comforts of a modern day car, he set out to build a Daytona on a modern day Charger platform. Seeing this car up close and more than once, it is still a stunning ride.
Steve came across Doug’s original rendering of the GTX in blue and found it appealing but was still working on his Daytona at this time. Nearing the end of his Daytona build, he found an updated rendering of the GTX now wearing a power bulge hood and bright orange paint and renamed Orange Crush.
The wheels started turning and Steve decided he was going to bring this GTX rendering to life. Staring out with a wrecked 2010 Challenger R/T, the first order of business was to get the accident damage repaired so he had a straight and square body to work off of. Steve’s many years in race car fabrication came into play when looking at how to attack this build. Steve called it a “green house down build.” This is a term used by body hangers when reskinning a wrecked race car body and everything is replaced from the windows down.
Knowing he wanted some big shoes on this build, Steve went with a set of 12 inch wide Coy wheels wrapped in Nitto tires. The new Challengers are limited on wheelwell space, but that wouldn’t be a problem for Steve. With as much offset toward the inside as possible, the wheels were mounted first and the car was built to fit around them. He used a couple sets of reproduction ’71 GTX quarter panel skins for the rear quarters as well as the front fenders with a lot of hand fabrication in the mix. By stretching and channeling the rear quarters and fenders, a true wide body version was created.
Next came tying the front to the rear by hand fabricating new door skins. The trunk lid had to be modified to meet the lines of the quarters and the rear bumper. Up front the entire hood had to be created including the inner structure with the top side paying homage to the 1971 Power Bulge hood. More custom fabricating needed done to create a new grille while retaining the stock Challenger headlights. Grille surround and front valance were all hand formed.
Once all the fabrication work was complete, it was time to move on to bodywork and paint. The color of choice was Tangelo by House of Kolor with a matte black hood and accents. The interior is basically stock 2010 Challenger other than the seats being recovered in Katskins white leather and some matching door panel inserts. Drivetrain is all stock 5.7 Hemi with the 5-speed automatic trans. The brakes were upgraded to the optional Brembo brake system. In all, Steve estimates about 1,800 hours of work went into the build.
Half way through the project Steve was approached by an interested buyer, a deal was struck and ownership would transfer at the end of 2021 before Steve could even get the car around to any shows to display his talents. When we spoke to Steve recently, he told Mopar Connection Magazine that the car was currently listed for sale with the auction site Bring A Trailer and would find a new home.
This entire build was documented on Steve’s YouTube channel. You can watch the entire transformation throughout a series of 75 videos. The custom work begins around video number 20, with the first few videos showing the repairs needed to be completed from the accident. There are also videos of his Daytona build on his channel. What started life as a vision of a modern take on a classic muscle car by one artist, was brought to life by another artist. Sometimes dreams do come true.