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Custom 2010 Challenger

Pike Customs stretched this 2010 Challenger SRT8 the old-fashioned way!

Brad Bowling - September 16, 2011 12:00 PM

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We first saw Tommy Pike Customs’ modified muscle cars in an invitation-only garage display at the Charlotte (North Carolina) AutoFair two years ago.

The attention-grabber of the group was a 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8 that TPC had widened by six inches using nothing but sheetmetal and sweat – a Canada-bound car we were unable to photograph before it left the area.

A second chance to document one of TPC’s handmade Mopar widebodies came our way recently when Tommy Pike invited us for a long-overdue visit to his shop. He had just finished an eight-inch Challenger conversion that the new owner was eager to receive, but Pike could stall the delivery a few days if we were interested.

TPC (www.tommypikecustoms.com) has been doing custom and restoration work for nearly two decades in Greenville, South Carolina. Pike gave us a tour of the 35,000-square-foot facility.

The crew performs everything from basic oil changes to ground-up projects.

TPC’s in-shop to-do list was an exciting blur. There was a yellow ’73 Plymouth ’Cuda getting a 440 stroker motor, five-speed transmission, Hotchkis suspension, Wilwood brakes, and TPC re-fresh; a 1,000-horsepower 2005 Mustang GT that ran 215 miles per hour for Motor Trend; and a candy sampler of Corvettes and Camaros.

Symbolically sitting in a room by itself was the sinister masterpiece we drove two-and-a-half hours to see.

“A customer in Georgia saw the first all-metal widebody we did on the Canadian Challenger,” Pike told us. “On that conversion, we added six inches of metal to the rear quarters; this owner wanted to up that to eight inches total.”

From every angle, it is impossible to mistake the Pike Challenger for a stocker – even in profile, the panels appear fuller, more muscular. Grafting fiberglass would have been much cheaper and less time-consuming, but that option was never on the table.

“The owner was very specific about what he wanted,” Pike said, “and the work had to be all metal.

“We cut the front fenders and rear quarter panels from the top body line down to remove the factory steel. Then, we applied one custom cut metal patch after another and about a thousand spot welds. We re-attached the factory fuel door, which required elongating the filler neck.

“There is no shortcut for this kind of work. Everything about the process takes a ton of patience and a really good eye to build the curve the way you think it should look. Getting it mocked up properly is the critical part. It was a team effort, but Tal Looper and Matt Bouchard deserve most of the fabricating credit.”

When the stock Challenger rolled into TPC six months ago, it was wearing Dodge’s Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl – an attractive color that reflects a blue-green tint under bright lights. The owner requested it be finished in a solid deep black without the metal-flake effect.

“The only other changes we made to the body were to shave the door handles and black out the turn signals and side markers,” Pike said.

The widebody conversion makes the modern Challenger look more like its 1970-’74 predecessor, it also allows the use of ridiculously large rolling stock.

“MHT Luxury Alloys in Garden Grove, California, manufactures my wheel line,” Pike said. “We had to use three-piece wheels because of the sizes and offsets involved in this project. It took them nearly three months to make these to our specs.”

The rim upgrade gave the Challenger 10½-inch wide wheels in front and 13-inchers in the rear. Nitto NT05 tires measure 275/40-20 and 315/35-20, respectively. The grooved brake rotors are the Brembo units Dodge installed at the factory, although Pike painted the calipers black and re-lettered the Brembo logos in silver.

Even in SRT8 form, the stock Challenger sits too high for modern muscle car fans. The widebody’s ride height dropped two inches after the installation of a Hotchkis suspension with coilover shocks and a rear swaybar.

The interior now sports a Hurst shifter with an old-school pistol-grip handle; the glass received street-legal 35 percent tinting.

“I don’t like to modify a car just for the sake of changing things,” Pike told us. “Dodge does a great job with its leather and suede seats, so we left everything alone on the inside.”

When we shot it, the only powertrain upgrades were a custom strut tower brace, a sprinkling of Billet Technology caps, and a Corsa Performance Exhaust cat-back system. While most people would be happy with the SRT8’s standard 6.1-liter V-8 that produces 425 horsepower and 420 lbs-ft of torque, this widebody owner intends to drive the car for a few months and return it to TPC for a power boost. Pike told us he’s researching which twin-screw Roots-type supercharger would best suit the driver’s needs; Lysholm’s 2300 series is the front-runner right now.

“It’s always fun to make the plans for these projects,” Pike said, “but I really enjoy being there when the customer gets to see the finished car for the first time.”

No doubt there was a Challenger owner in Georgia who looked like a kid on Christmas morning shortly after we took these pictures.

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