Video Dodge ✅ Stellantis chief designer Ralph Gilles is best known for icons like the Chrysler 300 and the fifth-gen SRT Viper. But a 1,000-horsepower, carbon-fiber-body Hellucination 1968 Dodge Charger built by SpeedKore is his pride and joy. What started life as a rusty barn find is now a completely custom restomod powered by a 7-litre ‘Hellephant’ V8 pumping out that headline horsepower figure and a staggering 950lb ft of torque. Yeesh… ✅ This 1968 Dodge Charger Has A 1000bhp ‘Hellephant’ Engine | Top Gear American Tuned ft. Rob Dahm
⏩ Video content: This 1968 Dodge Charger Has A 1000bhp ‘Hellephant’ Engine | Top Gear American Tuned ft. Rob Dahm
– Oh, this makes me feel alive.
– [Rob] This is a 1968 Dodge Charger.
At least that’s what it says
on the registration.
But it’s name and iconic shape
are only the beginning of this story.
Although it looks like a Charger,
almost everything about it has been changed, upgraded.
The body is all carbon fiber,
right down to the floor.
It’s got a custom frame, a wider track,
and a limited production Mopar Hellaphant crate engine.
It’s a classic American muscle car
that’s also from the future.
It’s what you might call, a hallucination.
– And I’ve had the opportunity to drive
a variety of older cars,
but I almost would say that this is not
an older car, at all.
– [Rob] The Hellucination Dodge Charger
was built by Speedkore,
but it comes from the mind of Ralph Gilles,
Chief Design Office of global auto-maker, Stellantis.
Ralph has been design-lead behind cars like
the Chrysler 300, and the fifth gen Dodge Viper,
and was the CEO of Chrysler’s
Street and Racing Technology division,
known as SRT.
Ralph invited me to his place outside of Detroit
to check out the Hellucination Charger up close,
and talk about what inspired him to build this car.
– Ralph, it is an absolute honor to meet you.
– Pleasure to meet you too Rob.
(mellow music continues)
– I’m a little overwhelmed, in a good way. (laughs)
The ACR, or the Viper, that’s something that,
being from Detroit, I know you for,
but I wanted to learn a little bit more
about all these other unique cars.
– This is where I keep my favorite things.
You know, I grew up loving cars as a kid,
and one of the ones that started it off for me
is the GTB,
and the designer of this is Giugiaro,
so he’s one of the probably most famous designers
of our time,
and there’s a lot of lines and proportions
that we still use to this day.
So the long hood, short deck,
that wonderful Giugiaro shoulder, I call it,
is on the Challenger today.
Then there’s the Evo Lancia Delta,
this is more the racing influence
so these were all-wheel drive,
with 225 horse power turbo,
and won five rally championships.
This was also a rally car,
so a boss of mine,
when I interned in France, had one,
and I fell in love with the way it drove.
Then there’s the Viper.
So, this is the gen five Viper,
and this is a 2016 ACR.
I think the first one off the line.
And I took it right to the race track.
– [Rob] You started getting into actual project cars.
– Yeah, I’ve always basically just been a Bolton guy,
and then I saw what Alfaholics was doing
with these generations of Alfa.
My favorite year of Alfas is the GT.
This was my first real restore-mod.
– [Rob] Okay.
– Where I took a car I’ve loved,
and all the style of the Giugiaro design,
but again trying to make it drive
as modern as possible
while staying true to the historic shapes.
And I love this car, this is one of those things,
I will never sell it, you know?(laughs)
– Mm hm.
– No one can ever buy it from me.
– It’s iconic.
– And I built this thing in my living room.
I was building the wiring harnesses,
and just putting stuff together all over,
it took a long time, but.
– I wanna learn a lot more about this car.
– I had to bring in the reinforcements on this one.
This required going to the professionals.
– So this is the Hellucination.
It’s a 1968 Charger,
which is one of my original love affairs.
I’ve always loved Mopar, I grew up watching TV shows
where this car was the hero.
It’s a mixture of things I like about modern day cars,
older cars, race cars, my whole life basically,
things that have really checked the boxes for me,
are all in this one build.
It was literally a rusty barn find.(laughs)
We kept the cowl, and Speedkore did the rest,
and really started from scratch, custom chassis,
and of course the all carbon fiber body,
built around one of a hundred Hellephant engines.
– [Rob] And you were saying that it even has
air conditioning and everything?
– [Ralph] Yeah, a sound system,
it’s got a crazy sound system, and air conditioning.
As a designer, I wanted the car to look like a sketch,
actually go down the road as if it was a sketch
that came alive, and that was the idea of the stance.
They nailed the stance to get as low as possible,
but it’s sketched after the famous turbines
that were on General Lee.
– You were saying that this is a carbon chassis?
– Yeah, so this is the first one
where they experimented with a tub,
so the whole underfloor is kinda made
like a super car.
You know, the entire tub is creating the transmission tunnel
to allow the entire drive train to live
way up inside the car,
which has the side effect of making the car very stiff.
It’s a mind freak when you drive the car
because it doesn’t feel at all like what it looks like.
It really drives like a racer.
– [Rob] Ralph, aside from being an iconic designer
is also somebody who is capable of appreciating
what it takes to build a variety of aspects of the car.
So he not only wants it to look good.
He knows what a car should handle like,
and that influences his decisions
when he’s creating vehicles.
It shows fully.
– One of the things I never do on any of my cars
is make the interior look good,
and that is quite the opposite here.(laughs)
This is a work of art, all by itself.
– [Ralph] You’re looking at an interior
loosely inspired by the ’68,
so the dash is still pretty much the same way
of the ’68 with the six dials.
I think they’re iconic, the big gauges.
We worked with Cape Customs out of California.
They did all the upholstery.
So those parts were built in Milwaukee,
then shipped to California,
a few times actually, to get it right.
These are sport bucket recaros,
which is again, part of a bit of the mind freak of the car.
– [Rob] Yeah.
– [Ralph] You sit in there,
you feel like you’re in a race car.
And the steering wheel, this was machined,
out of solid billet.
The diameter of the steering wheel
is the same diameter as the original wheel,
so it feels very sporty,
but also gives you that vintage hallucination.
That’s the whole point of it,
you’re hallucinating right?(laughs)
– So it’s kinda like you’re vibrating back and forth
between the past and the future.
The console is all 3D printed controls and dials
that power the windows and the air conditioning.
We didn’t want a radio, so it’s all Bluetooth audio.
And, of course, you can recognize that shifter
out of a Redeye.
Probably the only thing I’m not crazy about,
that’s literally just coming out of
one of our production cars.
The pedals are also 3D printed centered aluminum.
– Until I got into building cars more advanced
I don’t think people even appreciate
that, that pedal was man hours.
– Yes. (laughs)
– It was just one thing,
and it’s like, okay I finally got the pedal done.
– [Rob] Well and like, even something as simple and subtle
as the tach.
– [Ralph] Fun story there.
My daughter designed the tach.
– [Rob] Did she?
Yeah, she designed the gauges,
and the Hellephant,
which is very similar to the actual Hellephant
that we put on our production car,
but she stretched it to give it more velocity,
so it’s actually, the ears are pulled back
– [Rob] That is cool.
– [Ralph] So we had a lot,
bit of a family project.
– [Rob] Yeah.
– [Ralph] She helped me pick the colors as well,
and, of course, I wanted a pop of color,
so the anodized orange sets off the seats,
and all the stitching throughout.
And then the roll cage,
which is an extremely critical part of the build,
so that is totally functional,
the cages go back to the suspension load points.
It’s also basically the integrity of the vehicle,
makes it much, much safer
than the original car ever would be.
– And they have it tucked right-
– Yeah, yeah, you don’t kinda really see it’s there.
– I didn’t even realize they had a roll cage.
– Yeah, they did a nice job integrating it,
but it literally is part of the body of the car.
Gives it the firmness.
– I’d love to see the thing that powers this car.
– Yeah, lets, wanna take a look?
– [Rob] Oh my God.
It’s a work of art.
– Same reaction a lot of people have.
And I have it every time I open the hood,
I just get reminded of how much,
blood, sweat, and tears went into this project.
They made 100 Hellephant motors,
they are all aluminum 426 7.0 liter motor,
so it’s a full liter bigger than a Redeye engine.
And it’s a number that a lot of Moparians respect,
you know the 426.
– There’s so many different things
that your eyes can just fixate on,
and like for me, it’s as simple as like,
the headlight wires, I can’t see those.
– Yeah. (laughs)
– They’re there.
– [Ralph] And you know car culture better than anyone,
the first thing that happens at car meets,
is people want to see the engine, right?
So you open the hood, and Speedkore took that into account,
as we did, thinking about that event.
How do you present the engine.
One of my favorite cars is the Viper, as well,
so we made the hood open the same way,
the gen five, and the gen one and two Vipers open.
So that’s kinda cool-
– So that’s a nice nod.
– [Rob] This already does not feel like,
what the car looks like.
– Yeah, yes, and it’s quiet,
– Like I wanted the exhaust. – Yeah.
– I mean, it’s loud when you get on it,
but it’s not bad.
– Which is like, the right combo.
– [Rob] ‘Cause you don’t wanna like neuter it,
when it’s under power,
but you want it to be good while you’re driving-
It’s just cruising.
– When I first drove around the track,
it was one thing,
but we took it down to the Power Tour,
and we went through the Smoky Mountains in it,
and it just got smaller and tighter as I-
The more I drove it, the more confident I got,
and all of the sudden I think,
we should take this to the Tail of the Dragon. (laughs)
– You actually did the Dragon with this?
– No, I wanted to. – Okay, yeah. (laughs)
– It’s that much fun to drive.
– [Rob] Yeah.
– [Ralph] Yeah, zero body lean,
it does exactly what you’d expect it to do, ya know?
– Yeah, I’m expecting the whole like sway.
– It doesn’t, ya know?
It’s like tight,
the steering wheel just,
you think about it, and it just goes, ya know?
– [Rob] Aside from the design of a car,
what other aspects of a car really feed your soul now.
– [Ralph] What feeds my soul is when
guys set up car clubs and stuff like that,
over a car you designed.
– That’s cool.
When I go to Carlisle,
I go to a meet,
and I see a clump of people together
with all the m&m colored Challengers,
and they’re all friends because of the car.
– That’s what inspires me, ya know?
It’s like, it’s not just a commodity,
it’s not just an a to b device,
it’s something that defines who they are,
it’s something they express themselves with.
– You were saying that the car was kinda built
around the engine.
That makes me wonder, what about the chassis?
How did you adapt?
– Yeah, it’s got some great Detroit Speed gear
that I’d love to show if you want to take a look at it.
– Yeah, I’d love to.
– [Rob] That is not what I would have expected
underneath a Charger.(laughs)
– Well, meet the underside of Hellucination.
Very few people, unfortunately, get to see this.
It, to me, is impressive underneath,
as it is on top,
just the amount of craftsmanship,
and thoughtfulness that went into the layout.
I really give those guys a lot of credit.
– Now this is the Detroit Speed setup.
It’s a double wishbone front suspension,
with the Penske shocks.
– The, almost, the downside to me
of something being so well-engineered like this
is that when you look at it, you forget
that there are all these other things going on.
– Yeah. (laughs)
– And it could be like, oh well that’s easy. (laughs)
It’s not easy.
It’s like, I wouldn’t even have noticed it.
– Yeah, when I first got it,
I put it on the hoist right away,
just to enjoy.
I was here for a long time
just appreciating every detail they put into it.
– [Rob] You know, at this point in my life
I’ve realized that it’s not just about power,
it’s not just about handling,
it’s, a car really is so many different systems
all working together in harmony.
You know, when you start, you have to pick something,
you have to pick handling, you have to pick power,
and so you start with one,
and then you end up,
your dream is to end up with something like this.
What a nasty car.(laughs)
– Oh my God.
– [Ralph] Well, Rob, what do you think, man?
– That’s deceiving.
That thing looks like one thing,
and drives like a completely different animal,
but still has like your roots, the DNA of it.
– Yeah, it’s kinda mixing my favorite things,
you know, track car, muscle car, you know,
retro-build, you get it.
– Yes, yeah.
Well I’ll tell you what,
one thing I have learned is that
cars often, when built this crazy,
take on their owner’s personality.
I know that when I, I felt a lot of personality in the car,
and I feel like,
you know this car far more than I do.
Obviously the car is designed
to do a lot of different things,
and, of course, road course is
one of the more technical, complex ones,
but I did notice where we are at right now. (laughs)
– I will step away from the vehicle.
I mean, oh my God.
Join Top Gear’s tuning correspondent Rob Dahm for a tour around Ralph’s car collection and a fist hand experience with the Hellucination
Subscribe to Top Gear for more videos: http://bit.ly/SubscribeToTopGear
01:39 Ralph Gilles Car Collection
03:15 The Hellucination 1968 Dodge Charger
07:14 The 1000bhp Hellephant Engine
MORE ABOUT TOP GEAR:
Want to watch a bit of Top Gear on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.
Want to share your views with the team? Join our BBC Studios Voice: https://www.bbcstudiosvoice.com/register
This is a commercial channel from BBC Studios.
Service & Feedback https://www.bbcstudios.com/contact/co…